Thursday, March 31, 2011

Being a creep is the new blue

Do the words strange and odd share similar origins, I wonder. "Freak" certainly does. Decades ago you'd find freaks only at a carnival, putting nails in their nose, breathing fire, or having a second head. Then Elvis did a provocative dance, millions tried acid, followed by bellbottoms, mohawks, home pornography and cocaine. This all led the way for Ricki Lake, sappy underdressers, Kurt's suicide, Sinead O'Connor ripping the Pope's picture, The Real World, Korn, and a general feeling of being torn between individuality and tradition. The 90s felt like America's teen years before adulthood brought with it an innocence lost. It began to wither with the release of The Matrix, the Columbine Massacre, and got shot dead along with Lester Burnham. The Sixth Sense left no doubt we would soon be able to see dead people.

Y2K saw a people united and frightened before the information age — one nation under Microsoft. Brave changes were taking place in technology making way for societal growing pains and allowing new highs of pompousness and new lows of neurosis. Then there was 9/11, war, more war, SARS, Katrina, a tsunami, Haiti, an oil spill, another earthquake, another tsunami, and now radiation. But I'm falling off topic, this isn't about the Godlessness embodied by Lady Gaga, I'm still on Natalie Imbruglia and Eve 6.

Ah, I can still bask in the warm glow of mid-90s kindness. Remember when Seattle was sleepless because Tom Hanks needed love, and not because a bunch of smug hipsters drank too much coffee? The 90s were when you were too cool to style your hair, and in fact you made it worse by banging it. Beavis and Butthead were our only beacons for introspection. That's when the word "freak" was birthed. That's when Ricki Lake — aka white underground teen angst Oprah — hit her peak. You rebelled with baggy pants, eyebrow piercings and abusing cough medicine. Not only sailors got tattoos at this point. Nope, you could have "hope" written in Chinese on your tailbone to prove how unique you really were. You could wear latex or leather and whip men into submission for monetary reward guilt-free. In the 90s "freak" became a word of valor, "pimp" an attribute to be proud of, and "bad" a new synonym for "good."

From their origins as insults words often lose their power. Few wouldn't know at least some people proud to label themselves as punk, queer, bitch, cunt or asshole. Clever people know that vague put-downs rarely get to the root of a person. With their overuse comes the dulling down of its value, until the sentiment's blade is so harmless it takes on a new worth as an ironic, hardly-hurting budge, as inoffensive and dismissible as dirt on your shoulder. When words lose their power to marginalize, people are less able to stereotype, thus cutting out the bullshit and everybody wins.

Many thanks to men like Ted Bundy for prying open the floodgates. You have men like Adolph Hitler and Ted Kaczynski, and their objectionable behavior need not be questioned, but you'd have to be as mad as them not to see their intelligence or to imply their minds never sprouted a good idea. Bush did bad, and Lil Wayne's a socially-acceptable sociopath, yet we've allowed them to continue doing their thing.

Now is the time for "creep" to shine. I take it as a kind of compliment. All it's ever meant is roughly "I don't get it." It's a fine praise in line with "different"; synonymous with thinking abstractly and strange behavior. Question is, are these things bad? You could cowardly suppress all your odd behaviors or you could embrace them. You might be glad you did, or end up burying headless hookers in the desert. The point is try, question, and try again.

There's something to be said about how bad guys tend to be more interesting than good ones. Perhaps it's because there's many docile people that never questioned what good really is or why they should be it. If good is common sense, an evil person need at least have enough inner conflict to stray and question it. In a way, a conflicted person is less threatening to me. It means they're studious with their own sentience, and an active mind is open to thought and susceptible to reason. The unquestioning mind is the one I fear, as it won't know how to react in the face of catastrophe.

We champion our gunslingers, congratulate our bandits, pardon our war criminals, reward our whores, demonize our rape victims, sympathize with our rapists, glorify our serial killers, employ our drug smugglers, remain fascinated by our schizophrenics, drink our high-fructose corn syrup, read our WikiLeaks, tolerate Woody Allen and tell our Helen Keller jokes. Why not make a little space for the anomalies in the "general" category. Let's promote peace across the board and free the creep. After all, Thom Yorke is one. Now take after the Elephant Man and proclaim,

"I am not an animal.
I am a human being."

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