Friday, July 31, 2009

Killing Kenny: Introduction

Every year, I attempt to look at some aspect of the world I find interesting. It usually comes from reading some book or pasting together ideas from any number of sources, and it gets to the point where one single blog just won't do it justice. The scope is too large. (In 2007, I looked at Neil Postman and the Media, and in 2008 it was the Medium of Architecture with the rise in gas prices.)

Steven, in a facebook conversation, called me "Unique," which is the highest compliment one can give to another, in my opinion. Many different things have happened recently which have made me think about myself as an "individual" person. What makes me unique? Why do people try so hard to distinguish themselves from the masses? Why have, in times past, people resisted so vehemently against individualism, and who profits from keeping people the same? Granted, I've been influenced by books and philosophies as I've been thinking this through. It might be helpful to list them here:

Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

There's no better way to start than with the show South Park, for as I was thinking about all this, an episode (Season 12, Ep. 14, "The Ungroundable") came to me, the one where Butler joins the Goth group (whom he thinks are actual Vampires) in order to stop Hot Topic, the store he thinks is turning everyone else into Vampires. Turns out that everyone has started shopping there and falling in love with the book and movie Twilight. The Goths, which had been individuals for so long before, were now cast into the masses of people that looked just like them, but not for the same reasons. They have the episode on if you want to see it.

And in the world of South Park, no other character is more unique than that of Kenny, who wears the orange outfit, pulled up past his mouth so he can't talk. In each episode (as if you didn't know already), they kill him off in different and grotesque ways. You could argue that it is the individual nature of Kenny that is killed off, generally by the forces in which the four boys fight in each episode, be it Disney, or Twilight or World of Warcraft. So the title of this series will be "Killing Kenny," in honor of the brave soul.

I'm very interested in why people want to have tattoos, piercings, dyed hair, and other physical expressions of individualism. And has this trend backfired in the form of Hot Topics retail store? How does materialism, the pursuit of goods through credit cards, capitalism, and the free market, actually hurt individualism? Does the NFL actually hurt the talent it tries to develop through parity, and what does that have to do with socialism? How does the education system hurt individual thinking, and how can we change public schools from producing brainwashed clones of today's youth?

So lots of thoughts, and hopefully I'll be able to make some sense out of all of it and tie it all together. It's worth a shot.

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