30 March 2010

now the world don't move to the beat of just one drum

I woke up with the Diff'rent Strokes theme song in my head. Which is oddly relevant to the minor epiphany I just had.

So, Erykah Badu has a new album out (yay!) and everyone has their panties in a bunch over the panties that Erykah ends up not wearing in this video:

I didn't get it at first (did anyone? be honest) but her interview with the Dallas Morning News helped to clear some of it up for me. I already loved the song, but now I also love the video. I love the fact that in life she's nursing and unsure of her body and strips off her clothes in the middle of a Saturday afternoon in front of anyone who happens to be there. I love that she took the meme of assassination and JFK's assassination in particular to turn American "groupthink" over on itself. A couple of times.

[Turns out the blue blood that seeps from her head at the end actually is supposed to spell "groupthink."]

So she, already a music star, makes a video for a song and in that video challenges this idea of groupthink - which liberals want to think is exclusively a conservative thing and conservatives want to think is exclusively a liberal thing and Christians want to think is a Muslim thing and Muslims want to think is a Christian thing and hipsters want to think is a jock thing and jocks want to think is a hipster thing - and in doing so everyone is just showing their own groupthink ass. There's got to be an other if there's us.

She challenges groupthink by stripping naked in public; not just in any public, but at the grassy knoll in Dallas (where she lives). As she said in her interview, for her this is the Times Square of Dallas. It is recognizable, part of a shared consciousness both of people who were alive when JFK was assassinated and for those of us who learned of it later and saw the incessant Warhol-esque repetition of and desensitization to that moment. So is she being disrespectful or anti-American or irreverent or flip by filming her own creative assassination in that same place? I would say no. That shot, literal and film, does not appear in our own memories as an isolated frame. It appears over and over and over again. It is already unsacred. The image of the assassination is already removed from the reality of what happened. Lord, if a whole Seinfeld episode was made parodying it, then what she's done is by no means disrespectful. She is serious, at the least.

This train of thought led me to a very stoner epiphany this morning that I started to share with my friend Leah but will try to flesh out now. What if this death of groupthink is the evolution that we're anticipating, to culminate in 2012?

Erykah notes that her understanding of groupthink is something supposedly inherent in humans (and in any animal that congregates for safety and sustenance, I suppose) that makes us band together and ostracize the strange, impaired, sick, crazy, weak... you name it. Collaboration and community are necessary, I don't deny that. But not at the expense of setting up an enemy as a way to identify and strengthen your own group. [Don't get me started on the Tea Party cocksuckers.] So what if this shift in consciousness that we're looking towards is one away from the Wal Mart gene and instead towards true individuation which then therefore leads us to accept others as individuals. We would know that banding together is smart and can and will do so in a way that is constructive, but if people hold beliefs then they hold beliefs and not in a way that makes them exclusive or right or better.

Yeah, right. Like that would EVER work.

Because we're supposed to accept an individual who happens to be a serial killer, child molester, stock broker, or a Rush fan? (Just kidding stock brokers... and that's Rush the band, not Rush Limbaugh). Well, I have not come to a conclusion about whether I believe people are born evil or learn it or are in fact subject to various forms of demonic possession, but by the time 2012 comes we will have figured out what to do with those with a propensity towards violence or harm. Or maybe by then they will have figured it out themselves.

Okay wait, though. To finish the thought, maybe the evolution in consciousness and the extinction of groupthink then also means that no one makes it a priority to control anyone else. Individuals or groups. Instead each is involved in the mastery of self, and supporting others in mastering self. So if that's the case, if the impulse to impose order, control, dogma, etc. on another person is rendered vestigial, then we won't have to worry about the Rush fans. Heh.

It's deeper than all this but I think beautiful Badu is onto something, no surprise. I'd say that we could all take a page from her book but then that's groupthink as well, isn't it? Take a page from your own book, then. You know what to do with it.

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