Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Symbolic Gestures

Chef Cthulhu has made a comeback.  His Columbus Day post was a classic mini rant about commuting among idiots and other social commentary.  He also opined about the silly seriousness too many of our fellow citizens place on holidays.  He went on about how we as citizens are expected to celebrate holidays in specific ways according to what appears and I agree some kind of arbitrary list of rules that when jumbled together could cause confusion or better yet, some excellent off the wall ways to not celebrate a certain holiday.   He called it a "mad-lib" list.

I probably have projected more into what he was thinking about when I commented -

"Please refrain from wearing solid colored speedos to that next Tea Party rally. If you must wear a speedo, please make sure it is the red or blue one with stars on the crotch and the stripes on the butt."

But because I am becoming more and more disgusted with our stupid infatuation with symbolism drawn from everything and anything people might want to read into, out of, or draw from because they have only one thing on their mind, whether it be God, Country, Taxes, Pinkos, Queers or what color we wear in what neighborhood - I decided that rather than get angry over this stupidity, I would try to poke fun at it.

So with fun in mind, I figured my comment on his blog deserved further expansion as a post here.  And as is my habit, I always try to find an image that comes as close as possible to enhancing my thoughts as I write them down.

Imagine my glee when I found this image of American manliness in about .000004 seconds on Google.

I know and understand that humans and symbols are inextricably linked.  I guess it comes with the ability to think beyond the instinctual habits of breathing, eating, sleeping, and fornicating.  But I swear to ____ (name your favorite deity) that much of the symbolism we favor indicates many of us on any given day are just barely beyond those instinctual actions.   And also that by using a symbol in one way and assuming others get it and are not put off just highlights how clueless many of us are about what symbols used poorly can do.

Take for instance this fellow.   I do not know him.  He is just some clown I found when I googled "Flag speedo, images".  For argument's sake though, I will assume (yeah, I know what assuming does, but that boat sailed years ago for me) - I assume he is exhibiting his patriotism while Vay-Kaying on some beach somewhere.  I hope he wasn't shot, stabbed, beat down or humilated by young folks sporting six pack abs shortly after exposing himself in such an in your face way.  Even old farts should have the right to decrease their tan line in peace.

The flag desecration crowd - and I mean the purists who frown on stars and stripes displayed in any way other than from a flag pole - I can just hear the tsk- tsk- tsk and imagine frowns turning into ugly scowls.  And should this fellow be part of any parade where men are bumping and grinding to the sound of the Village People, I would guess the flag desecration police would be joined by the holier than thou bump and grind police and this fellow would be found dead in some alley with his speedo around his knees and a flag pole.......... Hey, sorry about that, but I do still have a vivid imagination.

But of course, this fellow would never be caught wearing this particular outfit in a parade waving a rainbow flag.  Everyone knows that if nothing else, the Gay crowd know fashion and this guy is obviously clueless.  The hat just does not work with the drawers.  Add in the fact that he is several pounds over what would be considered decent exposure,  no gay guy would be caught dead looking like this. 

All of this brings me back to my point I guess.  A point that so far has not only eluded you but apparently me also. 

Our recent uptick in using symbols to identify others of similar intent or others we despise has gotten so out of hand as to completely lose any real relevance in the sane exchange of ideas.   Instead of just using them subtly and politely, we Americans seem determined to use them to intimidate rather than show allegiance.  Symbols have become weapons of our ongoing social struggle.  Instead of helping us to feel better about ourselves, they seem to have become nothing more than expressions of anger and frustration over a societal situation most of us feel has or is spiraling out of control.  And rather than realize that our problems are not one groups fault, but all of our faults, we use symbols to attack rather than unify. 

And before everyone here thinks I am aiming my derision solely at one side or the other, I am not.  I find the symbolic bump and grind of men wearing speedoes at a parade to be absolutely as stupid as wearing tea bags on hats or an athlete raising a clenched fist on the podium at the Olympics.  I get it that America is angry.  But in your face symbolic gestures do not resolve the problems.  All they do is continue to feed the anger.

Isn't it about time we stopped being children and buried our insignificant differences so that all of us can begin to look for symbols that make us all happier?
__________________________
 
Okay so the post did not end up as cheerful as I hoped.  Hope it appears is getting harder and harder to get my mind around.  
 
Later.......................................

11 comments:

Randal Graves said...

Dude, seriously?

I hope that image isn't seared into my brain for too long, or I'm coming to steal your bike.

Drackar said...

Yeah...that hurt my brain too.

We lean to heavily on symbols, and are offended to easily when the things we cherish are not cherished by others.

Sadly, that'll keep happening.

Chef Cthulhu said...

"Our recent uptick in using symbols to identify others of similar intent or others we despise has gotten so out of hand as to completely lose any real relevance in the sane exchange of ideas. Instead of just using them subtly and politely, we Americans seem determined to use them to intimidate rather than show allegiance. Symbols have become weapons of our ongoing social struggle. Instead of helping us to feel better about ourselves, they seem to have become nothing more than expressions of anger and frustration over a societal situation most of us feel has or is spiraling out of control. And rather than realize that our problems are not one groups fault, but all of our faults, we use symbols to attack rather than unify."

Bravo.

I'm glad it made sense to you; when I read my post all I saw was the tired and disjointed ramblings of a guy who had just driven nine hours.

And no, a guy at the Gay Pride Parade would not wear that. Instead he'd wear red and white striped ass-less chaps, with a "white stars on a field of blue" painted ass.

...and he'd pull it off, Yog Sothoth love him!

PENolan said...

Cheery enough, MRMacrum
Cheery enough

Beach Bum said...

I get it that America is angry. But in your face symbolic gestures do not resolve the problems.

Deep down I simply can't figure out why America is angry. We have the resources and brain power to solve any problem we face. But like you said we rally to symbols that divide rather than unite. I just hope something comes along to shake us out of this collective funk, but I'm not holding my breath.

MRMacrum said...

Randal - Typical American - can handle blood spurting from throats torn out by maniacs wielding chainsaws, but show him a little skin and he gets all weirded out.

Drackar - Now that we're all broke, or almost all of us are, symbols I guess are all that's left to lean on.

Chef - Well maybe because I spent 17 years in a truck pounding the same highways you suffer now, I could sift through the sleep deprived slurry and pull something out of it. Or maybe it was just that what you wrote made sense in the frst place.

PENolan - I bet you say that to all the boys.

Beach Bum - we have no good reason to be this angry given that we still enjoy one of the most comfortable and safe societies on the planet. We have become a population of spoiled brats who cannot understand why we can't have our cake and eat it too.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

Add in the fact that he is several pounds over what would be considered decent exposure, no gay guy would be caught dead looking like this.

Heh heh heh!!! Too funny - I was going to describe some of the "fashion" I once saw following coverage of a Toronto Gay Pride parade, but Chef Cthulhu already described it perfectly.

Tom Harper said...

Would you believe that's a picture of Fabian, the teen idol from the late 1950s. He hasn't aged well.

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MRMacrum said...

El Cerdo Ignatius - My first real exposure to the Gay parade scene was in 1971 when I played hooky from college to go to Mardi Gras down in New Orleans. Many of their uh, I guess they could be called costumes, left nothing to the imagination. One fellow dressed in a see through southern belle gown with matching bonnet and parasol walked over to me leaning up against a light post on Bourbon Street. He handed me some beads and a bottle of some of the best sour mash whiskey I have ever tasted. We talked some. We drank some. But as soon as he realized the conversation was not going to lead anywhere, he took his bottle and moved on.

That trip was one of the best times I barely remember.

Tom Harper - Yeah I would believe it. The man has to be pushing 70 pretty hard.

Anonymous from Roma - You come back anytime. Thanks for visiting.

susan said...

It's occurred to me that many people exhibit chronic misapprehensions about their symbols. As George Carlin said, 'Leave symbols to the symbol minded'.