Monday, July 14, 2008

Freak Out

Normates are odd. Truly and deeply odd. Not odd 'special' but odd 'weird'. There is a phrase I'm hearing a lot these days, a phrase that usually pisses me off. "Inner freak," would be that phrase and it's usually used by someone who is describing themselves as what was called, variously over time, wild, kooky, zany, madcap. Whenever I've heard it spoken, either by conversants within earshot or on a television interview - the person seems desperate to put it out there that they are just so ... incredibly ... different!

It's like some, if not a lot, of Normates are afraid of their normality. Like they want something about themselves to separate them from the crowd. "Look at me I'm just so ____ (fill in with something not particularly interesting)". "I ate all the chocolates in the house, that's just me! (No dear, that's could be any of us given the right circumstances.) "I just hate to be the first one at a party, you know how I am." (Yes, precious, you are exactly the same as I am.)

Then there's us deviants who all go through the 'We're all the same!" stage. Like those who don't need an inner freak because they wear an outer freak, want desperately to be considered normal. "Cut me, do I not bleed?" (Hello, that just proves you are a mammal.) "We all put our pants on, one leg at a time! (Um, liebschoen, no we don't.) I'm sorry but being different outside makes you different inside. This idea pisses people off but it's deeply true. After two weeks of being in a wheelchair, my insides began to reorganize themselves, my point of view shifted, I almost threw my back out by having to lift one preconception to make room for another.

So the different want to be the same. And the same want to be different. Is that irony? I never know what irony is. That's just me!

OK, all this is cute. Amusing or more AMUSANT.

But to get to the part that pisses me off. Often it seems that those normates who are busy embracing their inner freak, actually freak out in the face of someone who actually is a tad ... different. "I'm just so kooky and zany .... HEY, GET THAT FREAK IN THE WHEELCHAIR OUT OF HERE." "I'm just so different ... HEY, GET THAT KID WITH DOWN SYNDROME OUT OF MY KIDS CLASSROOM."

Having an inner freak, apparently is cool.

Being a freak, apparently is not.

I'm explaining this poorly. I know. I've tried to write this for four or five days and have just given up and decided that what gets put down today gets published today. It's a blog for heaven's sake ... I'm not getting graded on it. Anyways, this all came to a head when we went to see Hellboy at the Barrie Cinema. The movie is about a bunch of 'freaks' and 'oddities' who save mankind even though man is seldom kind to them.

There is an underlying message about acceptance and tolerance and there is a clearly stated sentiment about the wish not to be stared at by 'normates'. So, here I am, sitting in the theatre having that message really resonate with me. I've been stared at my whole life. First because I've been fat since birth. Second because I'm in a wheelchair now. Third, now mostly, because I'm fat and in a wheelchair. And I find the stares incredibly intrusive. Incredibly, incredibly, intrusive. So, when one of the characters, Hellboy's girlfriend, makes a statement that she wishes they (the normates) would stop staring at her, inwardly I cast that message around the theatre. (Get it, get it, get it.)

So when the movie is over, the family grouping sitting behind us. The one wherein the young teen girl was going on to her sister about her inner freak just before the movie, that one. They come round and when they see me, they all gape. They've just seen Hellboy, and fish guy, and a woman that can burst into flames to kill tiny tooth fairies that eat human corpses ... and after seeing all that made up difference, and after they yak about their frigging inner freak, they all, to a one STARE AT ME.

A stare is a hostile non-verbal message that who you are is repellant and disgusting.

So, to those of us with an outer freak - embrace who you are.

To those of you who want to have an inner freak - why not cultivate kindness and compassion, in this society today, that will make you truly what you desire ... a freak.


andrea said...

I would say the post came out just fine!

Inner freakishness must still be constrained by Normativity, preferably Heteronormativity et al. People are amazing [eye roll].

I would recommend renting the X-Men DVDs. You don't have to be a Marvel Comics fan to appreciate them. (Then you can play, "Which X-Man would you want to be?")


Jenny said...

They want to be unique, just like everyone else.

lina said...

this post really hit home. Wow, very beautifully put - and how often have I heard that 'inner freak' story - and yet hadn't thought how people still act .. around ...people ... people... unbelievable!

FAB said...

Here, here!

Kei said...

I agree with Andrea... your post came out just fine, as did your message.

Anonymous said...

I hope the movie was good, Dave, I am going to try and see it this week.


Helen said...

The blog is great, makes me think...When my hair curls I want it straight, when my dyslexia shows I want it hidden, when I feel threatened I let go my girlfriends hand, yet when I want to identify as different from the norm god help me I do. I hate the stares too. Sometimes I stare right back.
I haven't heard this inner-freak expression, might not have hit the UK yet. Do you hear the horus at the end of FREAKS the movie in your head? 'one of us, one of us, one of us...'

Anonymous said...

I too say good job, I got it and the message was quite clear! I must say that I'm not sure what "normal" is anymore! It seems to change the older I get! I just wish we could celebrate LIFE and the gift it is. Worrying about how others see me is a thing of the past, now I worry about how I make them feel. I love people, ALL people! I love their differences and their similarities! We are wondrous beings!!!

moplans said...

brilliant post Dave.

I am lucky to be surrounded by many freaks but you are right, those attributes are uncommon.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave, let your freak flag fly!

Shan said...

I, for one, like that you wrote the correct "normality" instead of the grammatical travesty "normalcy".

I'm a freak that way though.

By the way you're so right - it drives me bloody nuts too. Everyone is so damn special. I read an article once about the Barney generation "You're special! there's nobody just like you! you're a unique and beautiful snowflake!" and the sense of entitlement it has fostered. It was an interesting article - dude had a point.