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Thursday, May 12, 2011


To my own credit (I think), I have tried to neither like nor dislike something because 'everyone else' likes or dislikes it. Fashion, for instance, is a mystery to me. Not just couture but fads of all kinds. I cannot find a way squaring that circle, of understanding how you can express your individuality by being the same as everyone else. Not that a shared enthusiasm for something is a bad thing. I am an almost lifelong Newcastle United supporter without even knowing why. I could - and maybe should - have chosen a more successful team.

Can't remember when I last bought a major item of clothing on a whim, haven't knowingly owned branded footwear for nearly thirty years. I know how tyrannous label nazism is, I have three daughters.

I know how we could debate endlessly the semiotics of branded goods, how brand values transfer and make lifestyle and status implications about their wearers/owners. I don't give a fuck about any of that. But as a human activity it bemuses me.

Human beings seem to crave acceptance. Acceptance springs from conspicuous ownership. This is the antithesis of individuality. I can't think of a single exceptional human being who has devoted themselves to a brand without being paid to do so.

And there's the heart of this little essay right there: 'exceptional'. How can anyone be satisfied by being part of the herd, by being one of the sheeple? As the old joke goes (and I first saw it in Hull University's rag mag Hullabaloo in 1972) 'eat shit, forty billion flies can't be wrong'. Maybe some kinds of shit are better than others, I don't know. But I ain't eating it.

Because blogging is a me-dium, I shall end my little rant as I began, by talking about me. If it comes down to a simple choice between being out of step with the herd or standing in a line outside a closed shop, waiting to buy some new thing that won't make a jot of difference to my life, I'll choose being out of step. I won't waste my time or resources trying to be like anyone else or trying to find comfort in the company of people like me. I don't need that validation. If punk rock taught me anything (irony of ironies - punk is painted as a movement/fashion/musical styling now) it's that you can only be oppressed and manipulated if you give your consent to it. I'm not suggesting my way is a better way. Just different.

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