In the last few months, I’ve been having deep discussions over the depths of identity with a friend. Identity as a subject, a word that has many meanings – it branches into what “identity” means to an individual, a group, a society. In the outlines of this particular blog, it gave examples on what to talk about. How does the female gender affect music videos etc., but knowing myself, I wanted to delve deeper into the subject. As it affects many things, culture, gender, sexuality, which is a ripple effect to a single individual, a collection of people and a country.
It also withholds tiny clichés, most notoriously in school, religion and the music subculture; using myself as an example. I am a Goth, way before I started dressing up in black clothing, wearing black make up. It was a simple trait I had throughout growing up; I was drawn to the gothic, the dark, the weird. Not that I’m going to go into the detailed background of the origin of the word, the origin of the subculture. But as a whole, it is a form of identity, despite the fact there are many others like myself. Clichés, though they concentrate on the eccentricities of a group, Goths, Punks, Jocks and so on…there is also the lack of identity, the titled “sheep”.
The recent election for the Alternative Vote is a remarkable example of a country of “sheep”, the clones of society; think the same, do the same, say the same. “Monkey see, Monkey do” and other well-known phrases. Prior to the Conservatives speaking against the new electing system, the polls held a great number of people saying “Yes”, it was a positive self-awareness of change. However, because of the “convincing” words of the prime minister, the polls faltered and everyone voted “No” at the last-minute – I was one of the few that voted “Yes”. I wanted to be heard, wanting to express my feelings and thoughts on our…crap collision of a government. Because large majorities of the country were afraid of change, of standing out from the crowd, which shows no self-awareness, no sense of identity as a person, no individual thought.
One of the conversations I was having with this friend, involved the subject of controlled society, stolen freedom of individuality, was based on the books “Time Machine” by H.G Wells, and “A Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. To some extent “War of the Worlds” by H.G Wells was about identity – humans against the war machines, extraterrestrials, the strength of wits and instinct. Even “The Matrix”, “Planet of the Apes”, they were all about identity, controlled identity.
The Matrix, is a cleverly structured film, is showing how the evolution of the human race is held in this large computer that controls everything, what an individual sees, feels, and thinks. If one questions that for the first time, they are targeted, and punished. A Brave New World follows along similar lines, and was done before The Matrix, it speaks of the human race being controlled in not only on what they should think, and feel, but what their part in society is, they are given a specific role in society, and they must follow it.
In the past, notably within British history everyone was identified by class; the upper class, the upper middle class, the working (middle class) and the poor (peasant). Even to this very day, you still see that, more so now the Conservative government are in power again (not trying to get political); this government is still based on concentrating on the people who make the most money. That’s capitalism, that’s what they work on, that’s what that government was built on. In a way, the governments have their own identity, how their politics work, they are attached to a certain group of people. For example, Labour was (still is…sort of) Socialism, a political philosophy of fairness, everyone got their fair share in opportunities, concentrating on the middle class, working class. Liberal Decromacy follows along the same lines, only they broaden their views to everyone, including those who don’t get enough money, its fairness to all. However, moving away from politics…in the 21st century, there still is identification by class. The monarchy is the stereotypical rich, upper class, with inherited fortune. And the homeless people, the stereotypical poor, who have no inherited money, and have to sleep on the streets. Black people, who were of people of slavery in American, British and African history, who have gained power; whether it’s in show business (films, music) and sport.
Planet of the Apes and Time Machine are expressive in the reversed roles of human society, the future of the human race portrayed as slaves, sheep, cattle, with no trace of individual thought, bred like animals, treated liked animals. The soul protagonist of both are men of the past trying to change the future, trying to show the future it doesn’t have to be that way, they could expand. It’s also expanding on the potential loss of intelligence, which is closely related identity, as it’s a form of self-awareness, individuality.
Identity besides class, greatly affects gender identity as well, as previously mentioned in the beginning. I’m going to give stereotypical traits of what a man should be, how a man is portrayed and how a woman in portrayed, how she should be in the role of society:
A man is supposed to be the “hunter, gatherer”, he is supposed to work, bring money in so there is a roof over the head of his family, so there is food to be cooked and fed to the family. He is supposed to strong, supposed to protect, and spread his genes around, to continue the bloodline. In the past, it was the man’s side of the family that was in power, he had the inheritance, it was his money that the woman married into, his family name.
The woman is supposed to be the “receiver” of the man, she is supposed to be the house wife, supposed to stay at home, cook the food that was bought, have babies and raise the children she unwillingly bared for the man for nine months (explaining why women just love to hate men while giving birth, and happily breaking their partner’s hand; with the notorious line “This is all your fault!”). In the past, it was her family that sold her off to be married to the rich husband, and couldn’t divorce him without losing the house, the inheritance, and her dignity, and at the risk of losing the support of her family, as divorce was a disgrace, as was adultery.
Over the course of the last century, during 1918 and 1928, where the rise of Proportional Representation (Liberal Decromacy) came in, the roles of women have changed drastically, thanks to the beginnings of feminism, the Sufforates, they were allowed to vote; this then spread to women being allowed to work in men’s jobs during World War II when men were sent to war, to fight the Germans. Mechanics, Engineers, bomb constructors etc. Girls were allowed to have full-time education inside private and public schools, prior to this. Now, in this current century, women have the choice of going to work, earning money and having children, or just going to work, or just having children and staying at home (even working at home); they have the choice of getting married, not getting married, not taking their partner’s family name if they don’t want to. This leads to sexual identity.
Homosexuality, has only just recently been accepted to the public, previously men and women who were classed as homosexuals were disowned, imprisoned, executed as it was illegal. Homosexuality was the “blame” for the spread of AIDs, the HIV virus in the 1980s. It was a combination of things that disgraced it. It still is illegal in some countries, some areas of Africa, Islamic countries. It’s only in the Western world that it has embarked such as huge impact on people, the way everything is advertised. Homosexuality, whether it is women or men has its own sense of identity. Like the school’s Jocks, Nerds, Goths, Punks, in the homosexual culture, they have little clichés, all stereotyped by how an individual dresses. It varies, depending on the gender. How a person is addressed also depends on the gender, with a man they’re “gay” (which technically means “happy”) and if they’re a woman, they’re a “lesbian”.
Identity has a cost, if a person tries to be an individual, as an individual is classed as an eccentric, “standing out like a sore thumb”. It’s like for example a black sheep in amongst a herd of white sheep. That sheep is bound to be pressurized and forced out because it doesn’t fit in. Vice versa with a white sheep in amongst a heard of black sheep.
Using a terminology from the film “Inception” – in the film, within a dream, the people of little importance, who were just there were the immune system of the brain, the antibodies of the dream, just floating around. The “architect” of the dream couldn’t deliberately change the scenery with something or someone personal to them, as it would disturb the dreamer’s memories, secrets and thoughts; the individual part of architect becoming the likes of an infection, threatening the dreamer. Those “people” detect that change and swarm on the infection, eradicating it. If you really think about it, the human race are instinctively like a living, breathing, talking, walking antibody; doesn’t matter if they’re Caucasian, black, or Asian. It’s an instinct to protect what is accustomed to them, the norm for them. Anything that infiltrates that little “bubble” of “normality”, it’s considered a threat. They want to remove it like an irritating itch, a wood splinter in the tip of the finger.
It’s the same with any animal, you look at any mammal, reptile, amphibian, or fish in nature programmes, they all have an identity, that makes them the same yet unique, and how they treat each other. There’s class within the animal world. The relationship between the predator and the prey. In a Gorilla family, there is a distinctive mantle for an alpha male, he is the domineering character of group, the same with a lion in a pride. With anything different, they will push it aside, whether it is disowning (a runt in a litter, an elder) or killing. In a way, a controlled society isn’t necessarily man-made, it can simply be instinct of animals, people. That instinct to preserve something known, safe. Change is a big thing, through world’s history, there has been change, with the rise of women’s equality, homosexuality’s equality. Civil wars, revolutions of a country, they all happen because of a change of identity inwardly, not just of a single person, but a group of people. Whether that change is good, or bad is up to those people who create it.