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The Conformity of the Non-Conformists
“What Jefferson was saying was, Hey! You know, we left this England place
'cause it was bogus; so if we don't get some cool rules ourselves - pronto - we'll
just be bogus too! Get it?” - Jeff Spicoli, Fast Times At Ridgemont High.
In the good old days, or at least in movie clichés, there was a clear and definite distinction prominent in high school cliques: those who were popular and those who were not. The unpopular masses criticized and berated the repulsive mediocrity and social stagnation of the usually wealthy and or beautiful minority, while the popular showed only disdain for the seemingly clueless recluses. Dominant in both groups, however opposed they were, was a feeling of comfort and complacency, leading to the conformity that plagues the class stratum in high school and is perpetuated later in life. And as much as I would enjoy proclaiming a social upheaval where the individual was king, only a superficial revolution has transpired and an institution of raging hypocrisy has been created, similar to the one Jeff Spicoli so eloquently described above.
In the past few years the “unpopular” group has shattered into a myriad of subsections all of which share in this neo-rebellious subculture. In the sixties the free living and loving attitude brought about through the “hippie” movement was fueled by the hippie antipathy towards “the man” and an extensive use of drugs; however, the driving force behind this new conventional dissidence is disappointingly, conformity. Rebellion has become conforming to anything diametrically opposed to conventionalism. This bandwagon mentality, inherently evident in human nature, has created and nurtured a social homogeny of rebels. These “rebels” have lumped and squeezed themselves together, elbow to elbow, in the category of nonconforming conformists, thereby killing the fundamental ideals of individualism. An individual can no longer be identified as such if and when society thrusts the square peg of their ideals into the round hole of the mainstream. However, those beliefs have not become extinct, they have merely been shrouded in a blanket of confusion and false similarities.
The zenith of opportunity for society, the true individual, has not been lost to memory and likewise never will become a Holy Grail figure. True individuals will always exist but will do so in dangerously marginalized numbers. They do not fashion themselves to fit any certain mold, but rather hold values that they personally agree with. They can assimilate with the majority, and can appear to be conformists, but do so only when they feel that the majority is right. Likewise they can behave, wear, and look however they wish as long as the motivations do not include coercion from society. They can be wearing mini-skirts, long dresses, shorts, American Eagle, tie-dye, plaid shirts, long chains, all black, or nothing at all. They can be democratic, authoritarian, capitalist, communist, anarchist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, and anything I may not have included. There is no possible way to classify everything that true individuals embody due to the infinite diversity found between them.
Then there are the hypocritical nonconforming conformists. They come in several opposing subgroups but all have the same philosophy: do what the “popular” does not. These groups label themselves as part of a subculture and in so doing they unknowingly place restrictions on themselves, therefore conforming to their nonconformity. Specifically, my problem with this category is that they are on a warpath against “the popular crowds indoctrination into American Eagle and Hollister’s conglomerative establishment.” In this mindset, they fall prey to an old saying: “the pot calling the kettle black.” The following classifications are not inclusive of every person in the group being described but are overall generalizations.
The easiest group to wag my finger of hypocrisy at would be the clique that is known as “scene.” This division has only two major characteristics-- their clothing and music. Honestly, the superficiality of the scene crowd is their most defining quality. Their hair is frequently jet-black or alarmingly bleached and always choppy. It’s quite rare to find a girl, if you can even find one, in this category that has hair longer than shoulder length. The pants the males wear are tight enough to make me wince and they appear to be aspiring drag queens. The clothes are always riddled with ludicrous eighties neon colors, most of which should have died along with the eccentricity of fashion in that decade. They display a sycophantic devotion to certain genres of music, almost exclusively “indie” rock bands. In their minds, a band will immediately become hackneyed after a total of ten fans have been accrued, creating an “indier than thou” mind frame. And for some reason, unbeknownst to me, they have a pathological obsession with placing “xCORE” at the end of every phrase.
Then there is the group of egomaniacal and warmongering “bros.” This group has strength in numbers constituting a super minority. Their body frames tend to exhibit malnourished frailty, gluttonous obesity, or synthetic muscles derived from injections and pills. Being inebriated a majority of the time, “bros” are especially not aloof in respect to the world of drugs. Mostly fabricated, many of the stories in this group pertain to the inhuman dosage of drugs taken and survived. The “bros” fashion requirements are the most stringent in adherence to a hive-like mindset due to Famous and SRH’s duopoly over this divisions clothing. However, unlike the superficiality of the “scene” crowd, the “bros” have a specific behavioral trait that influences their interactions amongst themselves and society at large: belligerence. This hostile attitude yields needless friction and a superfluity of altercations; a mere bump of the shoulder with a “bro” can escalate into a storm of fists and blood-not to mention an expedited trip to the office.
The punks are the final group that desperately need disillusionment. This category, unfortunately, was the progenitor for the groups mentioned above. The punks were given life out of a British youth anti-establishment movement in the seventies. These rebellious roots aid in the explanation as to why the punks and their offspring have a capricious loathing of anything considered “mainstream.” Punks are extremely close to “scene” in their appearance, with exemption of the suffocating pants. Punks also seem to exclusively wear sleeveless shirts and studded belts, bracelets, and necklaces. Neon colors have simply been transplanted from clothing onto liberty spike hairstyles. This class also exhibits a quarrelsome attitude, but not to the incessant extent of the “bros.” Music is the most defining quality of this group and their most favored bands usually have the same anti-government views as the punks.
Although these groups attempt to dissent from the control of the populace, they continually fall victim to society’s Vulcan death grip. Their futile endeavors to distance themselves tend to narrow their groups category into a massive list of requirements. If people truly aspire to be individualistic it would behoove them to cast off society’s shackles and posit their own freedom. In better terms than my own, Dr. Seuss once stated, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”