Want it or not, we all suck at something. And I don’t mean below- average, kind of muted, hope-they-don’t-notice bad. I mean SUCK, as in the world would be better off without us trying oh- so- hard to produce something that will absolutely, indubitably end up in everybody else’s discard pile.
I don’t watch American Idol. I don’t watch it because 1) I hate the commercial breaks and 2) I get invariably disappointed when the winner is chosen on grounds dictated overwhelmingly by horny, Kardashian- loving, homogenous hoards of teens.
What I do watch, religiously, is the auditions. I love the thrill of hearing raw talent, I feel the tremor, I envy the infinite possibilities these guys open themselves up to. But the most exciting for me- in a very screwed up way, of course- are the bad ones. The ones who come decked out and full of confidence, defiant, indulgently pardoning the fact they had to take time off their very busy schedule to compete alongside the commoners, standing firmly on their feet and producing sounds that belong in a Lynch movie. The ones who are so painfully off that you end up thinking it’s a joke- only that it isn’t. The ones who are so shocked by the rejection, they get angry. The ones who say they’ve been singing since they were three, and my- voice- teacher -says- I’m- the- best- they’ve- ever- heard- the- judges- don’t- know- shit- and- who- the-fuck- is- Randy- anyway?!?!
We live in a world where conflict is only ok if it happens overseas (but even then war is masked as a fight for democracy). Where the face- to- face conflict is shunned, and where avoiding the hurtful truth is highly prized as a sign of civilization, or diplomacy, or kindness. Where the competition is so acerb everyone wants to be a winner, yet we’re less and less prepared to deal with the results because it’s not nice to call someone- our even ourselves- a loser.
And so we tweak it. While the reality doesn’t change, the words that describes it get edulcorated, made friendly, wrapped with a bow and presented as an alternative that somehow changes the whole perspective- which is not entirely unhealthy. The problem is the further we move away from reality, the easier it gets to forget it and sulk in the warm, treacherous waters of political correctness. Words are becoming increasingly more important than the message they carry, just as packaging is becoming more important than what it contains.
Losing became “it’s the journey, it’s not the destination”. Ugly became “beauty comes from the inside”. We don’t have “fat”, we have “horizontally- challenged”. We don’t have bad taste anymore, we’re just color- impaired. We’re not bad students, just bad test-takers. Cheesy is romantic, and small dicks can rest assured that “size doesn’t matter”. In a world where everything is a competition and everyone is eager to partake, we’re getting rid of all the ways to describe everyone who’s not on top.
The result, the way I see it:
1. “Everyone is a winner” makes non-winners lazy. Why try harder, if being part of a competition is enough?
2. “Everyone is a winner” makes the winners lazy, too. Why even bother if everyone gets the laurels just the same?
3. We’re losing words like “lame”, “ugly”, “stupid”. Which is too bad, because they’ve been used in every language, for millennia, and they’ve always had a purpose. (Also, I’m a huge fan of Baudelaire, the symbolists, and the macabre… Poe, anyone? Goya? Or is it different with art?)
4. We’re getting more and more sensitive, making the others more and more careful, making all of us bigger and bigger hypocrites.
5. When we sugarcoat it too often and for too long, we end up not seeing the reality at all. The reality-seeing part of the brain gets atrophied, like with those cave salamanders losing their eyes after eons of living in the dark.
And so, more and more, we suck at admitting we suck.
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