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23 June 2011, 12:00 pm 6 Comments

Cynical And Southern: “Radical” People Can Be So Damn Generic

This post was submitted by Jeremy Gloff

There are only three things in life I am certain of:

1) Matt and Kim are the most annoying band to ever exist.  Period.

2) “Born This Way” is the most overhyped turd of an album to ever be released.  Exclamation point.

3) I despise the word “radical.”  No question.

When I visited New York last year I read an article in a zine from a girl who prefaced her name with about seven adjectives. She was a “radical feminist punk vegan queer blah blah motherfucking blah” writer. And as I perused her article one side of me “aww-ed” at the cute idealism of pre-packaged youth, while the other side guffawed at the explicit self-stereotyping going on. Who exactly was this girl underneath all the niches she’d subscribed to?

I counted twenty times in her piece that she declared she was radical.

Mohwak?  Check.
Patches on a dirty jacket? Check.
Piercings? Double check.
Homogenized “rebellion” against society? You bethcha.
I sadly knew everything about this girl before it was revealed in her article.  Right down to her taste in music, her clothes, her belief system, and the soy milk and humus she made of point of saying she was snacking on.

I am certain if I sat down with this girl we’d get along famously.  If you dig past the shroud of generic labeling that people encase themselves in, there’s always something golden to find.

Fitting a stereotype is inevitable in our current world.  At this point it seems like everything has been done.  But with the “radical” movement there seems to be such a large breach between the self-image and the actual image.

If you are blatantly fitting a stereotype be self-aware enough to fucking proclaim it and own it.  I scoff at pre-packaged outsiders.  As of late it seems the least radical thing someone can do is to be “radical”.  (The conservatively dressed man from Utah I met on a bus recently had so many twists and quirks that revealed themselves as I spoke to him.  Now HE was radical.)

I have tons of friends that call themselvses “radical kids.”  Many are neither “radical” nor are they “kids” at this point.  I adore them.  They are wonderful people.  But I like them better when I ignore their self-imposed identifying adjectives. What a bunch of unnecessary baggage.

To be as predictable as the mainstream you are supposedly rebelling against (right down to the taste in music, clothes, and belief systems)  strips the word “radical” of its power and  substance.

I found the radical girl in that article fitting a stereotype to a T.   The rebellion she saw in herself was only gaudy costuming.

A sincere and more effective rebellion against society would be to not fit into any box. Now isn’t that a radical idea?

more Jeremy Gloff at JeremyGloff.com

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  • Doctor Whom said:

    It’s yet another manifestation of the “nonconformist, like everyone else” syndrome.

  • Levi said:

    CocoRosie is the most annoying band ever to exist.

    Jeremy, try going to school with one or two dozen of these kids. Yeah…

  • oddboyout said:

    You’re quite sure that piece wasn’t comedy?

  • Chris said:

    I totally agree… some things are radical. Putting your ass on the line and collectively striking at work at the risk of loosing your home is radical. Standing up as an illegal immigrant at the risk of being jailed or deported is radical. Soldiers who quit in protest of the war are radical. Ordinary people who actively support these and other acts have a stake in the word as well.

    Just because the cross stitch club full of punks, you write a zine or just being your vegan isn’t in and of itself radical. They aren’t bad things to do, but nor are they very hard or particularly challenging in a liberal capitalist country, especially when you carve out a separate under world for yourselfs and others to live in.

    Anarchists, I beg you, please stop killing this word! The whole “personal is political” therefore “radical” is empty rhetoric and kind of lazy.

  • claire said:

    you’re just stereotyping. yeah, there’s a lot of assholes who call themselves radical while they lap up their trust funds and perform their oh-so-predictable patch sewing, zine making lives. on the other side of things there’s a whole lot of us radicals who work for change and don’t fit the stereotype. i have a normal job, i’m not a vegan, or a punk, and i don’t listen to matt and kim. but i do consider myself a radical because of my politics. so i don’t understand the haterade towards radicals. we could use more people trying to make a difference, in my opinion. and i don’t mean with zines, but with direct action (which is what i do).

  • Megan C. said:

    I (probably) couldn’t have said it better myself.