“Isms in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an ism – he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon: ‘I don’t believe in Beatles – I just believe in me.’ A good point there. Of course, he was the Walrus. I could be the Walrus – I’d still have to bum rides off of people.”
This quote from Ferris Bueller has been on my myspace for about four years now. I know it’s lame to talk about myspace content now, since we’ve all grown out of it. But whatever. IT’S ON MY MYSPACE—I swear I only keep my account to do surveys and to change my profile song. Because for some reason, the profile song is still really important to me.
Anywayyyyy, back to the quote.
It really has had an impact on me. It seems to have somehow shaped the way I’ve viewed labels and how they apply to me, and it has kept me from pursuing any single word to define myself. It has given me a reason to just be myself. Okay, here comes my rant.
I think that the need to suddenly define one’s self based on a label might be a common trait among young people—I was in American Eagle yesterday and while I was paying, the girls behind me were debating with each other about what their favorite stores are and why:
“No, my favorite stores are Aero and Hollister!”
“Ally, you don’t even shop at Hollister!”
“Yes I do!”
“You have like one pair of jeans from there.”
“…It’s still my favorite store..”
The girls must have been thirteen, at most. I was paying for a pair of denim shorts and my face betrayed what I was thinking, as usual. The cashier could hear the conversation too, and I could tell that she was suppressing a smile as well. It was hilarious to hear these little girls so fervently claiming these (realistically) second-class brands as their own defining characteristics with an almost religious loyalty. Why would they do this? I mean, it’s obvious. The models are pretty, the clothes are pretty, and the perfume smells good. The stores give off an aura of the carefree nature of youth that arguably everyone wishes they could have possessed during their teenage years. The advertisements are an ideal depiction of the perfect summer. Who wouldn’t want that? But it’s a sales ploy and too many young girls fall prey to this brainwashing. They believe that if they can just own these clothes then they’ll be tall and thin and have long, smooth hair and all the boys will like them. It’s not true and it takes some time for this realization to sink in and dispel those [subconscious] notions.
So in middle school, two main factions form during the preteen frenzy to define oneself: the preps and the anti-preps. Sure, there are subcategories. There is gray area. But at the most generalized breakdown of the student population, that’s pretty much all there is. You are either defined by your abercrombie (little kids’ Abercrombie and Fitch) t-shirt, or your deliberate lack of one. I fell under the latter class, probably due to my delayed exposure to “normal” American pop culture in elementary school after going to a private Catholic school in Hawaii. As in any political arena, it is definitely undesirable to base your entire platform on the fact that you are NOT the other team. So right there, the position is weak, in my opinion.
But ever since the two factions made themselves clear throughout pre-teen culture, I’ve felt that it was odd that it is a trend in itself to “rebel” from what is widely considered cool. It seemed to me that the most rebellious thing someone could do would be to claim an undying love for Brittney Spears and not care who heard it. But then..you would still be rebelling against something. So the idea has become prominent throughout middle school and early high school for me that the purest form of rebellion against societal trends is to just disregard them entirely and do what you want. So I’m wary whenever labels are thrown around, especially when they are used to describe me. Common words to describe the character of a person further than their style of dress (actually, even including their personal style) kind of disgust me: emo, preppy, hipster, rocker, ghetto. Is this all we are? An amalgam of trends, past and present, that we use to define ourselves? It seems to be such a shallow way to go through life. Shallow, pointless, and silly, to be quite honest.
Music snobs annoy me as well. It seems like many people get some kind of superiority complex when they are able to scoff at the music taste of others, just because they like more obscure bands. It’s silly. Music is music. If it’s good, I like it. That’s all. You are not defined by what you wish to be; you are defined by who you are. If you like Jesse McCartney, then blast that sugar pop music until it fills your veins to their maximum capacity with feel-good lyrics and simple melodies. If Barbie musicals are you weakness then be proud of it. Don’t suppress it. Don’t be ashamed. Embrace quirkiness. Because when you hide who you are, the terrorists win. Your soul belongs to the Man and there is nothing you can do about it.
That being said, let’s be a little open-minded, shall we? This is “Lovebug” by the Jonas Brothers. Close your eyes if you have to block out the mental image of their desperately hip skinny jeans and “elegantly disheveled hair,” as Max Bemis so eloquently puts it. Just listen to the song. I love it so much–especially the explosion of the electric guitar near the end, although I’ll admit that at first I had a hard time admitting that I like a JoBro’s song. Enjoy it. Or try to. If you don’t like it, that’s fine :)
For an exponentially more crass and specific elaboration of this mantra as applied to life, see “Admit It!!!” by Say Anything: it is not entirely appropriate for me to post here, but it definitely gets the message across.