THE DAWN OF SAMENESS
By Lawna Elayn Tapper
Saturday/Sunday, November 29-30, 2008.
You don't necessarily need a petri dish to start human cloning! Sometimes all it takes is the persuasion of the media and the influence of celebrity.
Yes, you, I’m talking to you! Have you ever asked yourself why you dress the way you dress, or style your hair that way? How similar does your house look to your neighbour’s? It’s no accident. You’re being controlled, but you live so unconsciously that you don’t even realize your perceptions are being vortexed and moulded to bring into being conformism’s ultimate prize – a kingdom of clones, conformism’s victory!
The individual has long been frowned upon and feared: associated with destruction and anarchy. Individuals are seen as non-conformists set on thwarting the values and norms that make people feel safe and sure that they live in an ordered society. Unless his genius is too obvious to deny, the individual is ostracized and mocked, but it is really his courage that is despised – and it must be squashed before it becomes infectious.
So this is how we are reared, from the off, afraid to be different. When are the masses ever genuinely taught to look beyond the surface and understand the depth of a character? This is true in families, workplaces, religions and communities. Who’s considered the ‘black sheep’ or the ‘freak’? She who dares to be different.
Diversity, by its very nature, is unruly – hard to control. This does not make for ease of governance. This is why they want us to dress the same, have our hair the same, visit the same places and think the same. We’re taught that where we see difference we should compete for superiority, fight and crush.
Believe it, you are controlled! Every age has its means of doing this, and today it is consumerism that is the drug that is intoxicating Western nations – striving to rob people of their individuality and destroy any inclination to be truly creative. And the media is the medium that drives consumerism, spreading its word and making it sound oh-so-believable!
In an essay entitled ‘The Role of Television in the Spread of Consumerism and Voyeurism,’ Yusuf Al-Khabbaz says this:
"Television allows people to consume images that otherwise most people would not have access to in the course of a typical life…It is primarily about selling. Television programming evolved hand-in-hand with consumerism…Television has spread the ethos of consumerism around the globe. It has also spread voyeurism, a more insidious form of consumerism, in the way it reveals what used to be private aspects of human life to public view."
"As you flick through your various publications of interest and watch your screens flash before you gluttonously, you are fed the norms. It tastes good and fattens, but the nutritional value is minimal as the false realities serve only to inspire fear or distract you from who you really are.
Then you wonder why your girls want to look like Biance and Posh Spice, and your boys aspire to be 50 Cent and …. is it still David Beckham? Anyone old enough will remember how Mrs. Thatcher castrated the unions with the long, hard and fruitless battle that was the miner’s strike of the 80s. And the massacre at Tiananmen Square, in China, when little people dared to demand democracy. It’s all put on to inform and remind you of your place."
In 2006, Portobello: Attack of the Clones won the Best London Film 2006 award. This 20 minute piece explores the threat that this well-established centre of individuality faces from high street chains, set on homogenising areas as they swallow up independent traders. The fact that this film won is testament to its relevance for the small retailer and more astute consumers.
And the fear of clone towns – a place that could be mistaken for any other because all its high street shops are national chains - is spreading: a survey by the New Economics Foundation revealed that 78% of towns in the UK have either become clone towns or are under threat of doing so! And there are also international grumblings about the same thing: in the US they have the ‘Keep Louisville Weird’ campaign which promotes shopping in local stores. There are also calls for the local banning of ‘formula,’ businesses whose services are standardized by their décor, uniforms, etc.
People are moaning about it now, but it’s been long in coming. It’s you’re receptivity to the messages on the billboards that keeps the wheels of fashion turning – but you object to your robotic acquiescence too late. For example, have you ever asked yourself why you chose to have laminate floors? Do you genuinely like them, or is it because you saw images of the home of someone with influence who said something about dust mites living in carpets?
Or maybe it’s because no one you know does carpets anymore! This may reassure you: I recently visited Allied Carpets. Just out of curiosity, I asked if their sales had been adversely affected by the ‘laminate craze.’ The sales assistant said: “For a little while there was a negative impact, but now we’re finding people are asking us to take up the flooring and put carpets back down again – it’s just too cold and hard…I knew it wouldn’t last, not in England!”
As is always the case, you do get a few people who genuinely like or see the benefits of what the fashion gods offer them. But for the most part, people follow blindly because they’re too fearful to do anything different, or to go against the grain in case they’re laughed at and forfeit the approval of their peers.
In recent years the government has been trying its hardest to eliminate the element of choice as an intrinsic aspect of our civil liberties; the smoking ban epitomizes this trend. Imagine, cigarettes are prohibited even in pubs, pubs which are licensed to sell drinks (the chief cause of outlandish and yobbish behaviour).
And night clubs, where people are known to be in toilets popping all kinds of pills and shoving cocaine up their noses! Would it not be more appropriate to allow proprietors to make arrangements that allow their clientele to make their own choice about smoking? It’s not that smoking’s right, but curtailing the element of choice in an environment that is as vice-ridden as a nightclub is wrong!
They want us to walk around with ID cards and implant chips in our pets and babies – apparently to guard against abduction. The government wants us to despise immigrants and view Muslims as terrorists – they’re just up to their old tricks, desperate to control us through the tactic of divide and rule. You’re not even outraged when American customs officers ask you to lay down your hands and give them your fingerprints. Shocking, that’s how docile you’ve become! You sit there – falling for it all, like a good clone who can only obey.
The wiser ones have long known the fallacy of sameness. Human beings, by their nature, are way too dynamic for this type of sameness – it is not conducive to their dynamism. Our interests, cultures and experiences are too diverse. And, by the same token, how we express ourselves is equally diverse. This is what enriches communities – it’s no downfall. Our challenge is to approach each other with a respect that is mutual, not competitive.
But there is parity even within diversity: no matter your colour, culture, religious or political affiliation, we all want the best for ourselves and our children, and that’s the only sameness that should count! From that will automatically come mutual respect and the space for each one of us to be who it is we are and are aspiring to be. Consequently, it also rules out cheating and killing because what we want for ourselves we will gladly give another – without any demands to be a mindless clone.
Lawna Elayn Tapper is with Rice 'n' Peas magazine, where this piece first appeared.
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