You gotta make way for the homo superior
Imagine being David Bowie in 1971. You’re regarded as an alien freakazoid by most of the world, but you’re also a dad. There’s a song on ‘Hunky Dory’ that has been interpreted to have all sorts of weird influences, but really, it sounds like a guy in his early twenties who is confronted with a baby who is his son:
‘Oh you pretty things (oh you pretty things)
Dont you know you’re driving your
Mamas and papas insane?
Let me make it plain
You gotta make way for the homo superior’
These pretty things are the future of what we are. I was one of them back around the time Bowie wrote that song and now I am nearly forty. Tomorrow my godson Ryan will be a year old. The experiences that formed my childhood and adolescence are completely different from those of children today in many ways; the world has changed greatly as any adult with a reasonable memory can attest to. Things have not always been this way and neither will they remain the way they are now indefinitely. Assumptions that underlied my worldview growing up are now very much up for question in this world that Ryan is learning about.
For example, when I was a child, Dr King was a recent martyr and the great wounds of racial animosity in America were still fresh and were in the earliest stages of scarring over. As a student in the Chicago Public School system I experienced the turmoil that forced integration by busing kids across the city to non neighborhood schools could wreak. I heard adults around me speak in casually racist terms about the need for whites to stick together and keeping blacks in their place even as a completely different message was to be found in tv shows, movies and books. I heard schoolteachers, clergy, and many other authority figures talk about how blacks needed to be patient and wait for change, that if they clamored for too much there would be trouble. There is an excellent chance that Ryan’s first memory of the President of the United States will be a black man. Mine was Nixon. Things change.
So much of what we can hope to become is determined by our expectations. Our expectations can limit our reach and put caps on what we hope for. Our expectations become the parameters of our thinking and prevent us from seeing truths that are plainly evident before us. It’s a real phenomenon. If you would like an example of this in action, follow this link and watch the video. Try to count how many times the ball is passed. I bet you can’t. It’s really difficult and I wasn’t able to do it; I doubt that anyone is smart enough to be able to do it. Go try it right now. Seriously. I’ll wait.
The cover of the album Bowie released before ‘Hunky Dory’ featured him reclining in a ‘man’s dress’ and he continued to utilize androgynous themes throughout the early 70’s. He was demonized for it and his bisexual escapades were a source of controversy and scandal. At the time gays lived in hiding for fear of persecution and outright violence. It wasn’t until 1974 that the American Psychiatric Association voted to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Today, homosexual couples have legal rights and can even be married and raise families. Things change. Of course, these changes don’t come easily. There is always great resistance to any alteration of the status quo because the assumptions that form the status quo prevent people from imagining the world any other way than the way it is or was. Consider the irrational fear that marriage between men and women will be undone because of the acceptance of homosexual unions; it’s as if conservatives fear that they couldn’t prevent themselves from staying straight if homosexuals were to be treated as equal people.
So, did you count the passes? Great. Did you notice the guy in the gorilla suit walk through? Most people don’t. This experiment is an excellent example of how our expectations shape our perceptions. Once you know the gorilla is there, he is comically obvious, but when you believe that what you are supposed to be doing is counting the passes you ignore it. There are many other experiments that illustrate how our idea of what constitutes what is obvious and in plain sight has more to do with what we expect to see than what we do see.
Consider what Ryan will think decades from now of the spectacle our society is making of itself over the prospect of Barak Obama becoming President of the United States of America. Consider what he will think of those who insisted that expansion of fossil fuel consumption was our best solution to dealing with our energy crisis. Consider what he will think when all of the debts this country has accrued over the last eight years come due. I’ve thought about these and other things and it’s why I vote the way I do and advocate the politcal solutions that I do.