Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Death of Individuality

Back in the 1970’s I can still recall quite a few things that stand out from today.  Cars were much more distinguishable.  TV shows were more distinguishable.  Bikers were bikers.  As for cars, you could tell a Corvette, Mustang, Camaro, El Camino, Chevelle, GTO or Barracuda from almost a mile away.  If you could make out the body shape that far, you could identify it without question.  I can’t tell most cars today while standing right in front of them unless I see the name on the side somewhere.  TV shows like All In the Family, MASH, Gilligan’s Island, The Munsters, and The Beverly Hillbillies were unique.  Now every show is a clone of another.  Like Friends, or Seinfeld, or any one of the bazillion Disney Channel shows with kids making their parents look like complete idiots and disrespecting them at every turn.  Bikers in the 1970’s rode bikes that they, for the most part, assembled themselves.  And they looked it.  Parts borrowed from other models, worked, as long as they fit.  The people that rode them looked like they actually worked for a living.  Usually a shitty Godforsaken job of some kind, but a real manual labor job nonetheless.

Today we have shiny showroom Harleys being ridden by people that look like day traders or retirees.  Nothing wrong with that, but if you’re going call yourself a “Harley rider” or a “biker” you need to stop shaving and rub some grease on you and your bike to be more convincing.

This all came back to me today while taking note of the cars and people I see each day as I make my 64 mile roundtrip commute to and from work.  I counted, roughly, about 20 to 22 red Ford Mustangs.  Brand new models, not older ones.  I also counted about 8 to 10 of those brand spanking new Harleys with well-dressed riders, and about 6 or 7 Red Dodge Chargers, a few silver ones, a few black ones, and so on.  They all look alike to me.  And the quantity of them is disturbing.  It screams “I want to be like everyone else”.  America was never like this before.  Prior to this past decade, we were known around the world for individuality and uniqueness.  It’s what fueled innovation and creativity.  It’s why we led the world in so many diverse areas from entertainment, to technology, to art and arguably literature.  We’ve devolved into a soup of blandness and corporate molding.  It’s really sad and I hope to do whatever I can to instill in my kids the ability to see that and work around it.  Don’t be another clone.  Be yourself.  Be different.  Don’t drink a cold one and get another lame-ass Celtic tattoo on your arm.

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