Thursday, February 25, 2010

The American (Idol) Dream

Today is my first random Friday post. If you read my State of the Blog address, you understand what's going on here. If not, check it out and you will understand what is going on here.

I watch American Idol.

Actually, I just started watching American Idol for the first time this season, and it was sort of an accident. I needed something to watch while I work out, and American Idol is conducive to being workout background noise.

Having said that, I am thoroughly enjoying watching the show. And, yet, for whatever reason, I feel the need to justify my watching American Idol by telling all of you that I only watch when I workout. This, might I add, is a lie. I now watch the show even when I am not working out because I got sucked into the Idol machine.

Why, then, do I feel the need to place a disclaimer on my viewership? Is it because I don't want to admit I am watching a show that’s biggest draw is a pompous British guy with man boobs who wears shirts two sizes to small?

Well, yes, partially.

Mostly, though, it’s because there is a certain stigma attached to a 22-year-old male watching American Idol alone in his living room. That stigma is, "wow, what a fag."

Because of this societal pressure, I distance myself from American Idol. Yesterday, when a coworker asked me what I did the night before, I responded, "sadly, I watched American Idol." I felt compelled to add that "sadly" to the sentence even though I wasn't actually ashamed, and watching American Idol isn't actually sad. And yet, in a world where the omni-present quest is normalcy, I felt compelled to make myself sound more like a "normal" 22-year-old male.

This essentially means being the guy who says, "what kind of fag watches American Idol?"

The ironic thing is, one of the things I fear most is being normal. To me, being normal is synonymous with boring, complacent and average. In a world where "you seem so normal" is meant to be a compliment, I think to myself, "what does normal mean? And why the hell would anybody ever want to be it?

When you take the concept of what is considered an ideal American life, you think of a married couple with good jobs, a nice house, and beautiful children. You think, wow there is the American Dream. They are living such a nice, peaceful, perfect existence. Everything is sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.

On the surface, there is nothing wrong with this ideal. I, too, would like to get married, have a nice house, and have beautiful children someday. Who wouldn't?

That ideal, however, is not what makes a person normal. In fact nothing makes a person normal. The fact is, the people driven so completely by this idea that "I don't want to be perceived as the weird guy who has lawn gnomes in his yard, or a polka dot painted house" are chasing the impossible: normalcy.

And more importantly, why, if someone truly wants lawn gnomes or polka dots, would not having them make them normal? And even if it does make someone normal, doesn't it also make them less happy?

That thing that makes me saddest about these questions is how I personally fit into this "normal" mold. It is clear at various points throughout my average day that I am performing task, or speaking in a way so as not to be perceived as "weird." Most of the time it is irrelevant because weirdness is all relative, but every time I censor myself, or react contrary to my first instinct, I wonder am I simply behaving this way because I think I am supposed to?

If every part of me wants to tell someone off, or how I really feel about them, or whatever the case may be, and I don't say anything, it is most likely because I am afraid of their reaction. We have all been conditioned to think that nobody has the same weird thoughts in their often equally fucked up brains, so expressing myself wouldn't be beneficial to anyone. And certainly this can be true sometimes. Maybe your honesty will be off-putting because they don't feel the same way, and maybe they will give you one of those "are you serious?" or "what the fuck is wrong with you?" looks because they think you are nuts. Then you'll walk away embarrassed, and they'll walk away thinking, "what a nut job."

The fact is, however, while the person you tell your feelings (negative or positive) to may not feel the same way, and they may react like you are bat shit crazy, you can be sure that they have felt the same way you feel about them, about someone in their life. Even if that someone isn't you.

Yet, you are the odd one because you don't want to live in a world where normalcy reigns supreme.

Of course, I say all this from my high horse, knowing that I will today, like everyday, go through an average day. I will perform functions that will be considered normal. If I come across someone who annoys me, and I won't tell them they annoy me. I'll just continue about my business, and hope I can just get through another normal day.

And there, of course, is that word again.


How will I achieve today? American Idol isn’t shown on Friday after all.

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