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Looking at the other side and finding out that you are already there

Posted in Opinion by Adele Todd on November 16, 2007

Ever so often a discussion leads to a post. The observation was about ‘straight’ lives and ‘gay’ lives. As my friend and I talked, I thought of how complex we humans make our world. I can completely relate to what he was telling me about straight perceptions. In fact I realised that what he was discussing was a manufactured, straight, white privilege that has not seemed to have died. You just have to pick up your average fashion magazine to see all the happy white people saying buy this and you can be happy like me. As the world gets browner, from mixing and global warming, it is clear that we in the arts are becoming more and more moved by our place within it. The gay artist wonders about the life of the straight. Everyone thinks that the other side somehow has it made. I remember my mother’s friend looking at two very happy gay men with disdain, saying, that they did not have to raise children, so of course on a Sunday they could walk hand in hand looking crisp and confortable while she had to leave half of her mind at home, worried to death about the kids as she ran errands on her Sunday.

A large part of the thinking is the media marketing of things. I was telling him that when I was in New York last week, almost everyone in the train to Manhattan had a Blackberry. I almost laughed at the way people looked as they toyed with their high powered gadget. Not having one myself, should I have felt somehow strange, somehow left out? Was I missing anything? These thoughts matter because as artists we are beholden to images and meanings in ways that encourage us to make a greater sense of our world because we naturally gravitate towards seeing it from a vantage point that is in some ways slightly outside the hustle.

Advertisers and moreso manufacturers endeavour to make products today that make us feel that without that particular doodad, life itself would be just a tad harder. All of the technology, that at one point would fill a whole room now, is now used to know the latest information on every type of trivia known to man! No, I don’t want your chain mail that will change my luck forever or the Euro, Pounds, US 1,000,000,000 that I won in a raffle that I did not enter.

Our talk led me to conclude that what drives us is the same thing that kills us. We spend an awful lot of time wanting to fit in and feel as though we belong, when most people can say that they still feel awkward in their own skins. Perhaps it is actually the discomfort that makes us better people, if only we did not try to dull it with distractions of all sorts.

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