Friday, May 9, 2014

I Ain't Gonna Drink the Flavor Aid

You’ll note in that title that I don’t use the cliched beverage mix of legend. This is one of those piddly little things that bugs the beewhoozis out of me. (I heard that in a 1932 movie this afternoon and liked the sound of it, so I’m adopting it for my own. I am nothing if not adaptive.)

The story would have you believe that the poor unfortunates who committed suicide at Jonestown drank poisoned Kool-Aid, something I’m sure the good folks at Kool-Aid would, I’m sure, love you to forget – or at least be accurate about.

The cultists drank, for the most part, poisoned Flavor Aid – something I’m sure the good folks at Flavor Aid would rather I forget and not mention.

Because nothing says "mass suicide" like fun-loving straws.

What a cheerful note on which to return, eh?

Another thing that bugs the hell out of me is the taunting “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did …” line. Well, no, she didn’t. (And, yes, I know it's an analogy about the difficulties women face in society.) Look at the numbers Astaire and Rogers committed to film; you can count those moments she’s “backwards” on the fingers of one hand and have digits left over. I’ll stipulate the high heels; that’s almost a given, but Rogers – as talented as she was (even if I find her Oscar-winning performance in 1940’s “Kitty Foyle” stultifyingly boring) couldn’t do half of what Astaire did; even in the numbers he created for her, those numbers feature her dancing, jumping, or even roller-skating in a forward motion and never doing as much as Astaire does. By intent, in their duets, he does the heavy lifting in order to make her look good. Put them side by side, she looks great; put them head to head, and she pales to the point of vanishing. There’s a reason Astaire is one of the most important dancers of the 20th century. 

 Not a lot of "backwards" here.
I must add here, in 1993, I saw one of Astaire’s tuxedos on display at the National Film Museum in London, and it looked like it had belonged to a child. He was only 5’7”, and when filming, always came in at 140 pounds.

Not actual size.

But I’ve digressed yet again.

My point was going to be that there are moments in life when we have to draw lines. We can go along with the crowd and drink the powdered-drink mix of the moment, or we can stand alone, clear-eyed and sane, and think “These people are part of a cult!”

I’ve just deleted a paragraph vaguely describing a circumstance I found myself in that kind of involved that mindset – and even that seemed to either give too much away or had the potential to lead the wrong people to believe I was describing them.

Not the friends in question.

Wish I were brave enough (or stupid enough) to describe the actual situation, but to do so would needlessly – and pointlessly – hurt the feelings of some very nice (if probably still misguided) people, and there’s no need for that, so I’ll have to figure out a way to deal with the situation in generalities.

And even then, I don’t need to “deal with it;” it’s not like it’s either weighing on my mind or will affect me unduly. I know how I feel or felt and no amount of peer pressure or retrospection will change those feelings. If nothing else (besides being adaptive), I’m stubborn. Legion are the cases of my disliking something that society or, at least, my friends have deemed delightful or moving or entertaining (and vice versa, I assure you). I have my reasons (my aesthetic, if you will … or even if you won’t) and don’t do it out of a sense of contrariness – though I do have a contrarian streak in me. (Or do I?)

On the other hand, I’m reminded of the “Seinfeld” episode where Jerry urges George to do the opposite of what his gut tells him to do – and leads to George having great success in life. 

 Not a cult member.

It’s certainly possible that I’m in the wrong and the everyone else is – or was – right, and that the thing in question was – or is – all that these folks claimed it to be.

But that’s not the case.

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