Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Attack of the Clones

I’ve had a light-bulb moment. This doesn’t happen very often. When it does I like to relish the moment, let it linger in my senses for a while. Savour it.

I was lost in my imaginary world when it happened. Without warning, Bromley shopping centre morphed into the planet of Geonosis and I was attacked by an army of battle droids. Instead of being armed with lightsabers, this load of clones had Clinique lip-gloss and pocket hair-straighteners.

I’m talking about girls. Lots of tweenage girls aged 12 going on 30, with their identikit skinny jeans and waist-belts over cardigans. They hang out in large crowds and one is unable to detect any form of individuality. No wait. That’s a lie. One of the girls had black shoes instead of white. Rebel.

Lost amongst the identikit parade, I had my light-bulb revelation. Firstly, I am old before my time; born in the wrong decade. Or perhaps the wrong era. I am yet to decide which one.

Secondly, the idea that we have lost meaning of individualism saddens me. I had never thought about it before, not with any real ardour. I lived for three years in Brighton, a place drenched in eccentricity. During this time I shut my eyes to the rest of the world. It didn’t matter that beyond the boundaries of Brighton there was a growing epidemic of homogeneity. It is only now that I am fully aware. For the first time I am truly seeing.

With this renewed awareness, there is anger. Yes, reader, my light-bulb moment was one of anger. The aversion I feel to this spate of uniformity leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. It is perhaps unfair to lay all the blame with the clones- sorry, the girls. They don’t know any better. At aged 12, I was probably the same; yearning to fit in, to conform. It is only now, with age and experience, I know better. I wasn’t trying to conform. I was trying to hide. No one can make fun of the invisible girl, lost in a sea of sameness.

I’ll admit that I’m confused as to how we arrived at such a time. I assumed, rather naively, that our modern society encouraged nonconformists. Instead I fear we are on a slow descent into some scary dystopia. The kind only read about in science fiction novels. Oh, it may only be at an early stage, where everyone dresses and acts the same and listens to the same music and watches the same TV shows. But dystopias have to start somewhere.

So who or what is to blame? Is it the media, with its encouragement and celebration of the perfect image? What about mass consumerism? How can one possibly derive any sort of individuality when every shop produces the same monotonous output?

Reader, is my conspiracy-theory-crazed mind in overdrive? Is my insomnia-dazed brain thinking too much? What do you think?


  1. It is the media to blame. And the parents of course.
    Children are not allowed to express their identity because they have got to conform to an idea dreamt up by the corporations.
    Peer pressure is awful but parents should switch off the tv's and tell their kids no.

  2. The marketing geniuses have a lot to answer for but if it were not for the media, who will do anything to make a dollar, whether it be within reasonable moral grounds or not, are the true menaces here.

    But there is more.

    We now live in a society where parents pander to the whim of their children and governments and the law have taken away discipline from the world. Discipline is good, peer pressure is normal, freedom to do what you want without consequence is dangerous.

    However, after reading your post I have to say you have not grown old before your time and nor have you lost your individuality.


  3. You are very right. Media, peer pressure and probably the fact that some of these 12 year old girl's mums are now 27 doesn't help. You talk about identikit... I live in Bristol -
    the city of Vicky Pollard (Little Britain).... they do exist, unfortunately.

  4. Earlier, women were second citizen deprived of their rights , freedom.
    Today, women are still deprived of there freedom but the new tyrant is beauty, ageing, anti wrinkles, weight and it starts at an early age.
    We are still in bondage

  5. You all make some great points! And Umas, your comment is so true. I never thought about it in that way before. So so true.

  6. It is always up to the individual to decide matters. We live in an age where personal responsibility is no longer the norm. We blame the media, we blame our goverments, we blame, we blame, we blame. There is a cult of victimhood that is flourishing, and it will be our undoing.

  7. No one is to to blame but the individual. Yes the media, society as a whole, peer pressure, parents, etc. exude a certain amount of influence into our lives, but... Who's holding a gun to your head? No one makes you act, dress, or think like you do except YOURSELF. At least, that's what I think.

    I'm going to start following you, by the way. Great writing, darlin'.

  8. Just discoverd your blog and it looks very cool, became a follower and I will return definitely!

  9. Welcome Kye and Francois! Thanks for the great comments!

    I am pleased to have evoked such a debate with this piece of writing. :)

  10. Well now... if your light goes off in a small room - it will provide lots of light and seem to be very bright.
    If you walk outside with it... it may not even appear to be on at all.

    I do think it is worth responding by saying that your track record on partiality may need checking. However, you are an expert at employing hyperbole to make a point, and it is a great feature of your writing, so don't loose it.

    My point is that you are basing the whole issue of conformity based upon what teenage girls choose to wear, and you are only using a group of mall rats as your sample. You could spend months in the same Bromley Centre, and never see more non-conformity than an odd red or pink set of shoes.

    Point is... you are looking in the wrong place to find expression. Malls are the place for moulding and enforcing fashion, and the fashion police will never give that right away.

    Go walk in a park. Go to a place where you will get a greater cross section of the population. Re-establish your sense of hope in the diversity of the human race... and if you realise you get claustrophobic when surrounded by droids; avoid their domain!

    BY the way, I do like your style. You could very easily be a hysteria-generating media type, in some glossy magazine. Or you may write great novels. Keep it up :-)

  11. Joe, i confess i am a hyperbole expert and you know why? When one writes to make a point, we exaggerate everything to make that point. No one wants to read something that is half-hearted and a bit- what's the word? Bleh...yes, that describes it nicely.

    And you say that my arguement against conformity is based purely on teenage girls, well, yes it is! I chose that 'sample' because it just so happened to inspire me and i'll take inspiration from anywhere. I'd be a fool not to.

    Trust me, I am seeing the world. I know that not every single girl is a conformist but i emphasized the story for my writing. That's my prerogative.

    I kind of don't know whether to be insulted or be complimented by your last few points but seeing as i'm having a good day, i'll go with the latter!

    Oh and finally, partiality? That's what blogs are for!

    Please keep reading and commenting. I love to know what people think! :)

  12. Hi Lou, Words of wisdom, and it's the same on the other side of the pond. I realized it over fifty years ago, and have lamented the herd instinct ever since. Sigh! Thanks for following my blog. Come play anytime. :-)


Go on. It's free...