Rage Against The Machine, but why?
“WE’RE MAD! WE’RE PISSED OFF! WE FEEL LIKE BREAKING SHIT! WE’RE ANGRY AT HOW THINGS ARE GOING! POP CULTURE CAN SUCK IT! MEDIOCRITY ISN’T THE ANSWER!” But do you have the answer? Are you the answer?
It seems age appropriate for every millennial to be pissed off at everything, and thus to react in varied ways — some would make passive-aggressive listicles out of their feelings, while some others would express themselves in the form of noise-rock. The spectrum of dissent, if one must call it, is rather wide and fascinating.
But here’s what’s bothering me — why is there always a dearth of objective creativity when it comes to people reacting to the “system”?
While our reasons for being pissed off at circumstances and events can be simultaneously justified and disregarded, depending on how we look at them, it’s worth considering how we must choose to make a display of our pissed-off-ness, if you will.
Here’s the problem with feeling trapped by something “systemic” — your imagination too gets limited to that system. A good example of this would be the slew of anti-Trump songs that happened around about the election time — all the songs were consistently pathetic.
Are they wrong in making anti-Trump songs? No. Could the songs have been better? Yes. What went wrong? Trump had set the bar quite low(and basal) when it came to social conduct. You could talk trash about him, but you would get down to his level, and on a leveled playing field, he’ll win on account of experience.
Without digressing further, let’s talk a bit about what can be done when everything seems to be against you. I have two suggestions, neither is optional, and both are mutually exclusive:
“There is no spoon”
By which I mean, we need to keep ourselves and our imaginations at a higher standard than anything that governs us. An imagination that is boxed, gets blinded once it is freed from it. Don’t let the box dictate what you must think. And, on that note, not everything creative you do, even if it’s a reaction due to the box, needn’t be a reaction to the box.
When we at Tadpatri Talkies did ∆ NEWS — though everything we do comes from a necessity of a new kind of content to exist, or one might call it a reaction to what content is in India at the moment — it was not a response to anyone or anything in particular. It wasn’t even a parody of postmodernist performance art, which we did borrow from, but it was in all honesty, a load of dumb shit that we found hilarious, and we still do, and we did a gag out of it on the audience, which worked out surprisingly well. The same could be said for Badboy Bandya.
This is what we understood from our idols like Monty Python and Spike Milligan, and some personal favourites like Bill Bailey and Eddie Izzard(who lately has become quite political, but only slightly more in his act, as I’m pleased to report).
Sometimes a reaction due to something can be a reaction away from it, and it’d still be beautiful.
Showing gratitude is the new Punk
Being forced to be confined to your box — a cubicle, a relationship, a noxious circle of friends, social media circle-jerks — warps your perspective about those around you. Maybe there are people who don’t want to be reminded about the box. It’s not that they’re ignorant about it, but they have made peace with it.
But we seem too pissed off to care all the time — to care for the bus ticket vendor, the door man at the office, the subordinates you’re working with, your superiors too, everyone who is with you in one of the many concentric boxes. The least we can do is express our gratitude to them — and I don’t mean go all out and make a show about it — just a simple smile and “thank you” to anyone who does something for you.
It, from where I see it, does two very important things — it serves as a very soft way of giving credit, something that has been a very difficult thing to come around lately, and it also is a nod to how they’ve done, so some of them might get inspired to do better the next time. I would speculate that, culturally speaking, every Arigatou, followed by a respectful bow, has been instrumental is making people’s perception of Japan as the place of craftsmen. It’s unfortunate how that has gone out of fashion, and for that let’s bring thankfulness back.
Let’s be a kinder punk, if there’s such a thing, to build a more tolerable world, albeit in the box.
We will always have these existential issues about our meaning, how external influences are defining us, loss of the self, mortality, the presence of pineapple on pizzas, and more such issues that come with their own gravity, which can really bog us down. Barring the obvious choice of letting pineapple be on a fucking pizza, dealing with the rest can be troublesome, which is where we can learn to be fluid with our imagination, and perhaps appreciate what we have first, before we wave our fist at an abstraction.