The King’s new clothes
As part of an effort to broaden my movie watching habits beyond French cinema (AKA ‘Gaulywood’), I resolved to watch a few Hollywood blockbusters and nominees and winners from the more recent Academy Awards.
Noting that the Academy was responding to criticism regarding a lack of inclusion and diversity among the films and people it had traditionally celebrated, I was expecting more of an eclectic mix of characters, storylines and settings. This I did get, although there was one particular universally lauded movie that I was looking forward to, but ultimately found unwatchable – chaotic, nonsensical, and derivative.
I dare not criticise this otherwise refreshingly unconventional film publicly for fear of being labelled one of any number of things, but it got me thinking; has social media sucked us into a vortex where there are only two possible paths, one of either blinkered single-mindedness, or otherwise of stubborn, deliberate divisiveness, with the common ground on which thoughtful discussion and healthy argument exists gradually fading away? Now there only seems to be two choices; agree and share the anger or outrage of the masses, or disagree and simply create more of it. There’s little space for peaceful dialogue, you’re either one of us, or one of ‘them’. Woke, racist, bigot, lefty, snowflake, cooker, elite – the 21st century has brought with it an insult for each of us, or new age scout badges to strive for, depending on your tribe.
Are we so engulfed by our own echo-chambers that we’re forgetting what we like and don’t like? How to recognise our own values? How to just accept and ‘be’ ourselves? And that it’s OK to respectfully disagree and swallow our self-importance for long enough to listen to others’ views, and possibly even consider how they were arrived at?
It kind of reminds me of being in high school and caving into peer group pressure, you know; smoking, skipping class, and shoplifting*. We complied because we didn’t want to be different, or even noticed at a time when we were at our most vulnerable.
I’d love to come out and say how much I disliked that film, discuss it reasonably with others that saw it, and yes, especially people who loved it and can articulate why, rather than just mime some rhetoric they’ve read or heard from others. I just wonder if the divisiveness of social media and other factors has pushed us past this ability, and into a world where I’d be shouted down and shunned, but probably also invited to join One Nation.
I think we need to keep trying to find the balance, not to give in to division as an inevitability, and in the meantime consider that sometimes, unpopular as it may be, the king might actually be in the altogether.
*Obviously I never did this
Photo: Pexels by Nikita Skripnik