While we’re on the subject of clichés, let’s talk about Stuff White People Like. You might have heard of it. It’s a blog dedicated to listing the likes of a curious race of people that are worried about the problems of the world, yet not actually worried enough to do anything about it. They will scramble to any type of product that will alleviate this long-standing guilt for whatever they’ve done in the past.
A recurring theme in the blog is a constant struggle to be unique from one another without actually doing the work of being unique. This is done by going to movies that may not actually be funny, plays that aren’t actually interesting, and listening to music that isn’t exactly played well. Being unique actually surpasses the need to be entertained, well-fed and most importantly having the money to be both those things.
White people certainly don’t have a monopoly on all of the foibles brought up in the “Stuff”. This is what happens when human beings put the problem of food and shelter so far behind them that we are absolutely stumped over what to do next.
Why do we have this soul-aching need to be unique? It wasn’t enough we were all given our very own genetic code to play with and it’s not enough that we get brought up in the richest and most advanced society in History. This probably has something to do with the knowledge that not too far in the past terms like “2,000 dead from starvation” wasn’t an atrocious statistic in our society and in some societies it is still par for the course. We need to be unique to calm our fears that we won’t be the next statistic in a plague, famine, or ethnic cleansing that happens by. We want to know that we’ll be missed, and that the world will be poorer from our passing. The fact that homogeneous manufacturing processes have created all this largesse doesn’t help.
The only remedy for this frantic search for the unique is that sometimes you can be unique for doing something well. Years of art criticism and University theses have gone into establishing the “revolutionary” idea that simply doing something well is bland, banal, and a threat to the future of the arts as we know them. This love of the esoteric bleeds into other creative disciplines turning out many jacks-of-all-trades but unfortunately no masters. However what is and isn’t esoteric changes from year to year, as is the rule with all fashion. In time, your turn will come up, and you too will be famous, if only for 15 minutes.