Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! You're a little late to the party, we had our "turkey day" about 6 weeks ago; nevertheless, enjoy. Living in a border town, I feel I'm entitled to partake in the festivities of both our great nations (and yes, this is simply a clever rationalization to allow me to feast without guilt). But I digress.
As November draws to a close, I've noticed, and no doubt you have too, the barrage of advertising coming at us for the upcoming Christmas season (sorry, Holiday season, or whatever they're calling it now. Sorry, I'm not trying to be exclusionary or disrespectful, but to me, it's Christmas, it's been called that my entire life and I attach no spiritual or religious connotation to the word, it's simply a term to describe the holiday, just like "Carl" is a term that has been assigned to describe me). These advertisements annoy me, and I think they annoy me a little more each year. They're really a fine mirror of what's wrong with society, hence my rant and my new painting.
First the rant. I've noticed that in the past few years, say 20, it has become increasingly important to fit in. You have to have the right clothes, the right shoes, the right look. You're not getting the ladies? That's because you're not wearing Body Spray X. You're not watching the latest post-apocalyptic drug dealer futuristic whatever show on t.v.? Well, that's it, that's why you feel left out of the water cooler conversation. People rush out to get surgeries to look like celebrities, to get their butt, their boobs, whatever. Newsflash, even those celebrities don't have those attributes, well, they have them, but they paid for them, just like you want to. Everywhere we turn, someone is telling us what we need, what we need to look like, smell like, what we need to eat, what we need to own, and on and on. Heck, they're even telling us what we need to think. The news, which used to be simply a reporting of the facts surrounding the significant events of the day has become a weird mix of some information with entertainment, all cleverly slanted toward the prevailing popular opinion. We're so far from the ability to think for ourselves that we've been fooled into thinking that we are. We follow the bunny, and why not, the bunny is harmless, it's cute and funny and clever, and it's everywhere, until we're so far down the rabbit hole we think that burrow is actually the world.
Even those that seek not to conform fall into line. They seek out others who also wish to go against the grain. Then, they form a group, and they begin to fall into line, dressing alike, talking alike, etc., conforming to the non-conformity, anyone see the irony?
So why is this? Well, to me, it's obvious. My painting is called Heading Down the Rabbit Hole and it explains just that. Humans, as a species, feel the need to group themselves together. We want to be part of the group, to belong, to be "in"; it's an emotional need that feels almost as real as hunger or thirst. Advertisers, the media, they know that and they play on it. Remember being a teenager and just having to have that brand of sneakers or you'd "just die"? Well there you go. What's more disturbing now is that this has been extended well beyond products into how we think, how we speak and how we vote. Personal opinions and ethics have somehow become a public matter where daring to express the wrong one holds one up to such ridicule and hatred that we've moved from "just dying" without the cool sneakers, to "just dying" if anyone finds out we think or feel "xyz". We've fully followed the rabbit into the hole, people, and if you look closely, he's not cute, he's not clever, and he's not funny. On the contrary, he's sinister, he's sneaky, and he's dangerous to the very thing that makes us great, our differences.