Last Halloween, I wrote an op-ed for The Gargoyle called “Costume Policing” talking about how the politicization of costumes seemed to get in the way of a proper cultural exchange. During the writing of that article, there was a part of me that kept on asking “what the hell is the big deal about this shit?”. After all, did Chad wearing that lazy Mexican costume while pounding tequila shots lead to any further turmoil in the Middle East? Are the bigoted costumes why the Canadian economy is in decline? I’ve certainly been seeing the “we’re a culture not a costume” poster for the past couple years, so it must be an urgent matter. And if we want to be more recent, it seems like Starbucks is bringing back the drama with their new coffee cup. Remember last year when conservatives nearly exploded from the lack of holly-jolly the dreaded red cup of communism those baristas gave us? How dare they ruin Christmas! Nevermind that the Eaton Center just had a winter wonderland bukkake as soon as we went into November, I feel threatened!
The trivial often seems to become some travesty to someone. And the news can’t help but indulge in these thinkpieces. Maybe they just serve as pointless filler to pad in between the more urgent issues, but perhaps to some those are the urgent issues. I don’t believe Christmas is threatened when people say Happy Holidays (though I am of the belief that if I said Merry Christmas I meant it with good intentions; it’s not like I pissed in your place of worship or lack thereof), but some people truly see that as some threat. Our poor neighbours to the South find themselves turning any small matter into a battleground for the culture war, with alt-righters and progressives having a veritable pissing contest over what domains are their own. I mean they took Pepe, now we must take him back! #SavePepe
Part of me does find the exaggeration to be quite absurd. I come from Venezuela, where there’s a lot of absurdities to face already. Especially now where the smallest problem is figuring out what to wear to go out to the supermarket to wait for a long line to hope to get any food as you try your best not to be torn apart by thugs or the police or people who revere the bus-driving dictator piece of shit, later wondering how the fuck an oil-rich nation became one suffering horrible inflation and poverty. But hey, that doesn’t mean we feel for you! We do feel your pain when it comes to the small grievances. Focusing on them distracts us from the larger horrors that we face. Maybe such a feeling is the same that you all face.
But if such does not apply, I think there may be something else to it. See, Canada’s a swell nation. So is (or maybe was) the United States. It’s the reason why we immigrants do our immigrating, as we see you as a safe haven from the collapse of our homeland. No country is perfect though, and you have your own problems to face. There’s some large and some small. Now while the large are indeed important, they also take a lot of time to fix. We need our intellectuals, our political leaders and our savvy pundits/late night comedians to help us through them.
In the meantime, we can tackle the small problems, those that are well within our reach. We don’t necessarily want to feel as though our tackling of these problems is just meaningless. If such is the case, then our efforts were wasted and we would have to try to deal with those larger problems. And they’re tough, we need to invest so much time into those. We’re busy folk, damn it! So in order to make those problems a lot more important, we inflate them. Sometimes, we can find that those tiny breadcrumbs that we deal with actually lead to a greater conflict, that those microaggressions have an impact that further emphasizes the corruption of systemic injustice. Other times, we’re just trying to justify our angry yelling. In this process, what seems as minor does in fact become the major, because it is one that is well within our reach. It is one that we can have a dialogue on because it’s surface-level, allowing for everyone to understand it and make their opinion on the matter as fast as possible.
Our walks of lives are quite different and as such our priorities are quite different. What one might consider as innocuous, the other may see it as morally reprehensible. And as such, everything becomes contentious as a result. So very little in this world is agreed upon universally. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people object to oxygen. But especially in these privileged wonderlands, we want to distract ourselves from the utter boredom of our lives. And the only way we can is through conflict. So don’t get too flustered if someone starts a petition for bringing back a cancelled TV show or if a newspaper publishes a smear campaign towards manbuns. Just remember, that you too have small things that feel a lot larger. And yes, I am talking about penises.