The following reflections from Matt Walsh helpfully uncover the shallow “authenticity” of our identity-obsessed age:
I don’t believe that Grayson’s affinity for My Little Pony has anything to do with “individuality” or “self-expression.” This is a cartoon show produced by a subsidiarity of the multinational conglomerate known as Hasbro. The Pony gear is mass produced kid’s apparel, which his mother likely bought at Toys ‘R Us, Target, Walmart, or some such place. This stuff is packaged, marketed, and sold in bulk. Individuality? Hardly. Call it whatever you want to call it, but “individuality” isn’t involved here.
As mentioned above, many bloggers and internet commenters have lamented that Grayson is being made to feel ashamed of “who he is.”
So he is defined by his affection for cartoon unicorns, is he? That backpack speaks to the very substance of his soul, does it?
This is precisely the problem with modern culture (well, one of the many problems). We all walk around following fads and trends — some of which are DESIGNED to elicit glares and guffaws from non-trendy “prudes” — and then we act as if we’ve been attacked on a molecular level when someone expresses distaste for our plastic-wrapped, calculated, corporately constructed “image.” I’m not accusing nine-year-old Grayson of falling into this category, but this does describe many in the Outraged Mass who choose to hoist up a My Little Pony backpack, and march under it like a battle flag.
To prove my point, the “Bronies” have turned Grayson into a martyr for their cause.
What are Bronies, you ask? I was unfamiliar myself until recently. Evidently, these are a sub-culture of grown men who love My Little Pony. They gather together on internet forums and discuss the show. They congregate at Brony Conventions.
They are involved in a fad that is one in a long line of similar fads, all bound by one goal: to do bizarre things, then dare anyone to call it a bizarre thing.
I, for one, will take the challenge. It is bizarre for grown men to be such passionate lovers of a little girl’s cartoon show about unicorns.
Yes, it is bizarre. But bizarre ain’t unique these days. It isn’t individualistic or bold. It is precisely what it purports to attack: collectivism.
You should read the whole thing before accusing Walsh of being an insensitive asshole, since he repeatedly makes clear that the bullying is unjustified and should be punished. Of course, he will still be called an asshole, but that is par for the course nowadays. As far as I can tell, the millennial generation (those, like myself, born in the 80’s or 90’s) solely value a rather clearly identifiable pair of attributes: kindness/nicety and tolerance. These are fine qualities, to be sure, but they have a tendency toward banal self-assertion and ritualization of the same, to put it mildly. Saner generations would have called it narcissism, but apparently Jesus identified himself with the narcissistic credo’s of his day, not (as I thought) the sinners falling on their knees.
Image: “The Oak Tree” by Michael Craig-Martin (1973), a famous and influential work of existential and postmodern “conceptual” art. In this instance, the artist defines the essence of a thing — or, as Sartre said, “existence precedes essence” — because essence is not a given or “out there” in the reality of a thing.
Needless to say, I despise this “art.”