The words “I’m not a prude” are usually followed by proof to the contrary. So I shall allay any expectations by not using them.
Have you ever found yourself in a group where people have gotten increasingly carried away with themselves, taking things a step further and further into unsavoury behaviour? I’m sure you have. We all have.
I remember walking home with friends late one night when I was eighteen years of age (more than 20 years ago now!). There were around ten of us there. All male. Some general horseplay and possibly rowdy-type behaviour was going on (I honestly don’t recall, but I can imagine). When you’re inside a group like that you don’t notice and don’t see yourself as others do.
Suddenly one amongst us leapt in the air and smashed the window of a parked car with his foot. It’s not the type of thing any of us was familiar with. Why did he do this? What happens next? How did it come to this? Why did my friend believe it was an acceptable thing for him to do?
None of that mattered. No questions were asked. There was a yell of glee and an air of excitement and we all ran.
We made it down the street, across a bridge and along the quay on the far side of the river when suddenly a car screeched to a halt before us and two policemen jumped out (in plain clothes, but we knew). They lined us up against the wall of the river and began asking questions.
The thing was, I was disgusted at my friend who had broken the window, but I wasn’t about to rat him out. Whatever I thought didn’t matter. These were my friends, my people.
To make a long story short, we were let go eventually, but not before I learnt a lesson: In a group you are one. You are perceived to be one and you can easily lose the thought-faculties and rules you might otherwise live by.
(I used this photo in the previous post I know, but it’s appropriate here too and possibly since that night, it’s how I feel about all groups.)
My point is, people let themselves be swayed and changed and defined by the prevailing thoughts around them. That’s no bad thing in itself of course. We all need to change if we’re to get anywhere. But sometimes a group acts dumb and everybody abdicates responsibility simply because “everybody else is doing it”.
This mad group mentality works on a larger scale too. Outside our immediate circles (chosen by us or otherwise), we are all the time swayed and prodded and yes defined by “popular culture”. Like it or not, believe it or not, you buy a product, you are making a statement. You are entering a group.
And it’s not always easy to see it from the inside.
I was standing in a busy shop a few weeks back when a tall, white, acne-ridden, late-teen, male ambled across my path. I say ambled, he was more like swooshing in a swagger. His feet were performing a lithe forward-motion cartoon moondance (as opposed to the more traditional backwards step) while his arms swayed beneath his puffed-up shoulders. His trousers were down around his thighs in a fashion I’ve only seen on certain angry TV shows set in LA. He wore a baseball cap that was a size too small. Instead of fitting snug on his head, it sat gently atop his hair. Sideways. If he moved quickly it would surely fall off. A gust of wind from a passing truck would have blown it away.
Pardon me for being judgemental, but it was the stupidest outfit and gait I have ever seen. I nearly broke down laughing.
I would have too, only this young man had a look that seemed to dare you to laugh. Having seemingly gone out of his way to make himself look hilarious, he clearly wanted you to laugh at him so he could thump you to death. It’s the kind of perverse I-dare-you logic I’ve only otherwise experienced in a certain school vice principal, but I won’t go there.
Anyway, the reason why I’m telling you this is to point out that this chap is quite likely a perfect alpha-male, role-model member of his group (nobody struts like this without a group), but to ‘us’ outside this group, it is ridiculous.
Now, the point I’ve been climbing to:
I believe popular culture is coated with a ridiculous amount of soft-porn that has become so part of the norm it’s hard to see it for what it is.
Every single TV show aimed at girls over 7 years of age is about “boyfriend issues” and shopping (unless of course that show is making a point of being NOT about that). Females, we are informed, are interested in and do nothing else. Having established this in the media itself, products and adverts can easily hook into this whisked-up simplistic evaluation and provide a reinforcement that YES -THIS IS THE WAY IT IS!
You better believe it girlfriend!
It is my contention that it may (MAY) be true for a large sector of females that they are interested only in boys and shopping, but I would be inclined to poke it with a big chicken & egg stick first. However, this is all that the media is looking for. It doesn’t matter if only as little as 20% of females feel this way (either before or after the indoctrination process.) What matters is they have the undivided attention and immediate loyalty of the largest single “group” of young females when they cater to this sector. 20% of half the population is a big number. Now buy the phone.
The rest can hang -or learn to join us.
Meanwhile boys are pumped with violence-porn from an early age. In time they will learn the joys of anger and a swinging fist. Being able to channel and use this violence at the right time is the only way to get on, they learn.
But for now let’s concentrate on the girls…
On my daughter’s fifth birthday (she’s now eight) she came running in to show me what her auntie bought her: It was a Barbie-type doll with impossible measurements (as they have) with long blonde hair to her bum (as they have) with a skimpy loin-cloth warrior-princess type outfit, caked in pink, green and purple make-up.
I took one look at her and blurted my assessment aloud: “She looks like a porn queen”, I muttered, almost in tears at how the system was already corrupting my own beautiful princess.
Lucy emitted a squeak and quickly leapt in the air before running off.
I heard her running back to my sister-in-law (who had been aided by Mrs. Rumm in her selection I hasten to add) and excitedly exclaim “he said she looks like a porn queen!”
Well what was I supposed to say?
Thanks for corrupting my five year old with impossible and ridiculous and tarty and dangerous dreams of what perfection means?
Anyway, I believe this kind of indoctrination reaches a climax in late-teens/ early-twenties and best exploited in turgid so-called-movies by rapacious Hollywood directors such as Michael Bay. Witness Transformers and Transformers 2 (and everything else by him). Sex and violence without consequence, guilt or remorse.
“It’s the norm.” If you’re not in, you’re not with the group. Now buy the watch.
And if you don’t like it you can suffer the wrath of the largest group of young quick-to-anger people who have been indoctrinated from a very early age to believe this is what is important and this is what is integral to their very existence (and they would be right because this is what their group is based upon). Now buy the pants.
Have I rambled? Have you anything to say on any of the above? If so I’d love to hear what you think.