One of my favourite moments in the excellent Ray Donovan, the Showtime series about a family of Boston gangsters making a life in Hollywood, forced to move there following a disastrous one-two of criminal acts by their father - Jon Voight - and childhood abuse by a priest, is when Ray - our anti-hero, played by the outstanding actor Liev Schreiber - is confronted at a Malibu beach house by his latest client, a rich, psychotic life guru who advocates "Radical Truth" in his followers.
Steve pushes Ray to tell the truth, to say exactly what's in his head, right now.
To our delight, after pausing and fixing him with the still, considered stare that is his trademark, Ray finally says: "I think you're an asshole. And I'm only using you for your money".
What's happening here? The truth makes us laugh, as is the case with every good joke you've ever heard. But is anyone better off?
An important legacy of the utter transformation of our lives - both culturally and commercially - of our lives by digital connection on the network is an unfolding explosion of transparency.
Salman Rushdie, a few years ago, dismissed the rush to the new social confessional as "blurt culture". And we can see, from the perspective of one who makes a living purely out of le bon mot, what he means.
Whether the tide of universal truth - be it trivial or tremendously important - is a good or bad thing is discussed in infinite depth and detail elsewhere. But putting the social and cultural effects aside for now, where are brands and the businesses that own them left by the new transparency?
Are we seeing more or less truth in commerce?
Before diving into this, a important side note. We often speak of the truth as if it were, intrinsically and indisputably, the right thing to say. Jumping back, for a minute, to the uses and abuses of religion, I will always remember in my youth being lectured by an imposing, austere priest who taught at my secondary school.
"Just because it's true, Michael, doesn't mean you have to say it."
Think of the centuries of power, control and, yes, wisdom that lie behind that statement. We realise that the world we live in and the truth are entirely different things. When we sit down, finally, for a heart to heart with a friend, a colleague or a loved one, we're invoking more than "just the facts". We're calling into play a powerful, irrevocable and, let's say it, often dangerous tool.
We speak of the truth as if it mirrors, tracks if you like, our day to day lives. But the fact is that we very rarely apply it. Indeed, too much of it, whatever your moral preferences may be, is rarely, except in court, and perhaps, if you must, in therapy, welcomed.
Much of the time, we'd rather not hear about it. And much of the time, we're probably right. Humans are not, in the end, set up for too much reality. That's why we have that often-derided mental and emotional cushion, denial.
The truth, of course, has a sporadic affair with brands and advertising. Recall the late and great Dudley Moore, during his unlikely stint as a movie star, in Arthur, pitching a new strapline for Volvo: "They're boxy, but they're good".
Sidestepping "The Mind Manipulators" - in itself an inconvenient truth about the realpolitik of brand advertising that, most of the time, we'd rather not pay attention to - how do consumer brands relate to the truth?
Paul Polman of Unilever famously launched their laudable Sustainable Living Programme several years ago. He committed, not just to consumer and market, but to the financial markets, that the world's second-largest advertiser would double its turnover and halve its relative environmental footprint by 2020.
Whether this was career and commercial suicide or a smart political play - or indeed both - remains to be seen. But while the company has launched some remarkable and very worthy initiatives - Lifebuoy's hand washing promotions in the developing world are an example of serious intent and genuine impact - it's hard to imagine that Mr Polman's aggressive commercial targets will be reached.
Looking closer, though, we see the raw truth behind the USLP. Without many interventions like the Lifebuoy project, millions of the world's future consumers of goods, in the very - in fact, arguably the only - growth territories that Unilever and every other FMCG marketer has marked for investment, will die.
Pragmatic - and there's nothing wrong with that - is the word. We must, whatever happens, applaud the company's vision and courage.
Turning our attention to branding and brand advertising, we find a dismaying plethora of ersatz truth everywhere we look.
The awful word "authentic". Surely, at least in terms of the way the term is used, we mean some sort of appealing, getting-away-with-it echo of integrity. Miles Davis, for example, an epitome of authenticity and "cool" (let's not even get into cool ...) was a notoriously prickly, against-the-grain genius whose own encounters with the truth were often mediated through drug addiction. Believe me, that's not what we mean when we ask for brand authenticity ...
"Edgy" ... "Real" ... the list goes on. But we never, ever seek the Edge, or Reality or whatever, when we imbue our brands with these qualities. What we're looking for, most of the time, is a back story for the brand that has a bit of drama, a bit of jeopardy, a bit of Ray Donovan about it. We want to point to the edge, like a tourist in Rio, but we don't really want to go there.
When all else fails, we're entirely correct in demanding the truth. But we need to both grow up and use the concept with far greater care and pragmatism.
The facts are, whether blunt instrument or stiletto, weapons that rarely merit public consumption. And before we demand them of any person, institution or corporation, we must ask ourselves how badly we actually want the truth.
The machine of capitalist society (no judgment intended, by the way) is no more oiled by the facts than our daily lives are enabled by persistent, profound examination of our private motives.
The truth is important. But, all too often, it is and will continue to be more inconvenient than we ourselves, let alone the market, will bear.