Monday, 13 January 2014

The Benefits of Being Fake

Except you’ve been hiding under a rock, or you mysteriously migrated to Mars, you must have caught the hullabaloo about the sartorial feats on the Golden Globes red carpet.

I’m not a big fan of celebrity award events or celebrity fashion trends, but I had to treat my eyes to the quirky blend of odd designs, clashes of bold colours and rolls of sweeping fabric floating across the red carpet because almost every site I visited was shoving the photos under my nose.

And no, I am not moaning about the coverage - it’s nice to have some fluffy news once in a while. Rather, I am scoffing at the contrived attempt at uniqueness and originality in the fashion designs. One newspaper commentator praised the celebrities’ fashion choice, saying:  “the world's biggest stars shirked trends in favour of individual statements …”
Hmm…not sure if they were making individual statements, or they were wearing dresses that their designers thought would make individual statements.

Anyway, down to my point. At best, the attempt at originality was an illusion. Why? The world cannot deal with originality. The world cannot deal with difference. Originality and difference is feared and avoided.  And if you want to get ahead in life, it’s best you blend in with the crowd.

Sounds terrible, I know. But the general aversion to difference is not such a bad thing in itself. It’s a messy, convoluted world out there and in order to construct meaning, it’s necessary for us to build stereotypes for easy navigation and categorization.  
These stereotypes produce norms, values and preferences, which dictate many of our actions.
It’s little wonder that Hitler was scrupulous about camera positioning during his speeches and in ensuring members of his entourage did not tower over him. He was vertically challenged, and he knew that in general there was, and still is, a preference for taller leaders.  So he tried to disguise his ‘deficiency’.

The status quo dictates that to fit into society, you need to  
Dress a certain way to gain respect and validity
Talk a certain way
Think a certain way
Act a certain way
Wear your hair a certain way (e.g. tales of African American kids being sent home from school for wearing ‘unruly’ hair that the school authorities deem distracting never go away)
Write a certain way (for aspiring authors,  you’ll literally remain a ‘household name’ (known only by your household) if your writing doesn’t tick the right boxes)
So, if you still have fancy ideas about trailblazing your way into history with some marks of originality, the world has moved beyond that.
Mass production for mass consumption is the order of the day.

Welcome to the new reality – enjoy!


  1. That is a tough take Fresh Angle. Because it seems that the only logical end for a person blending into society is to disappear! Originality is sought because seeing the same thing done every day is boring and monotonous. I do agree with you that a society will only acknowledge you when you fit into its accepted mold. What is acceptable differs greatly depending on the place and time. However, I think that the key is not to be afraid of being yourself. Every individual human on earth is unique, even our DNA's differ. That is the key to originality and innovation, not being afraid to be yourself, even if what you are differs from the general standard of a society at that time. Over time and given changed places, what isn't acceptable in China, will become acceptable in the United States.

  2. Well spoken, Dlaw. Thanks for your comment. I also agree that we shouldn't be afraid to be ourselves. Problem is, swimming against the tide can be alienating, and exact a huge price. On the whole, I believe striking a balance between conformity and originality is needed. Thanks again.

  3. Hi Oluchi. I've been an avid reader of your stories on Nairaland but noticed you've not been there for a while. Would really love to read more creative writing (fictional) stuff from you. Any chance of you returning?

    In the meantime, I just wondered if you've got any published literature. I sure would love to read them, if you got them.

    Your Avid Fan (Ms).

    1. Hi Avid Fan!

      I am greatly, massively flattered to read your comment. Thank you so so much.

      Indeed, it's been ages since I posted on Nairaland. I'm not published yet, but still hoping for a big break.

      Okay, now you've persuaded me. I'll look through my stock of creative writing and see what I can post.

      Thanks again!

  4. in my opinion,i think the world is facing originality problem,there is no encouragement for it.Not been patient and pressure from society to meet up with what is the latest can be a problem with coming out with the best,so the only way is to flow with crowd.I believe in balance as you rightly stated,originality remains the only thing that will stand the test of time,it should not sacrified in the altar of mediocrity.people who value it will always appreciate it.Good work

  5. That's a great point, Chuks. Our current 'microwave' culture demands instant gratification. But we mustn't forget only originality will stand the test of time. A balance must be struck somewhere. Thanks for your comment.