The Death Of The Shaman.
I’m starting to think that there’s an inherent need in Humanity to have someone tell us what to do.
It struck me whilst being made aware on Social Media last night there was a lot of global attention being paid to the Oscars and some Sci-Fi awards ceremony that was going to be hosted by Jonathan Ross but then wasn’t that somewhere deep in our unconsciousness, we have to have someone tell us what’s ‘good’. What lumps of art, of film, of writing, constitute some kind of examples of a standard of excellence.
Now, i’m someone who grew up reading William Burroughs, who wrote a line in the book ‘Naked Lunch’ that suggested that the key to understanding anything was recognising that what was on the end of your fork was flesh and anything else you thought about was some kind of denial or prettying up of the fact. I’ve taken that idea to heart in my life, possibly to an almost sociopathic degree, to the point that when I see the news, often my reaction is something along the lines of ‘Today, a woman wore a dress at a place where lots of other people were. Many people were shocked to see more than the socially normal amount of human flesh.’
I wonder about this kind of thing, because when I see something like an awards ceremony happening, all i can think is ‘Today, some people decided they liked this product more than the other products.’Which is fine, but it makes no difference to me. An awards panel might be comprised of six or seven people, but I can probably find six or seven people who will swear blind that Super Mario Bros is literally the greatest movie ever made. Clearly more than 60 or six hundred people had to have liked the thing in question for it even to have been in question to be nominated in the 1st place, so why would this particular bunch of people’s opinion have any more merit than the six people who automatically post ‘Reboot=FAIL’ anytime any kind of remake is mentioned?
All reactions are equally valid in my head, whether the first film you’ve seen is Transmorphs and you’re alright with that or you think ‘Sight And Sound’ is a bit lowbrow and mainstream. It’s just some entertainment, after all. It Doesn’t Matter. Do you enjoy ‘Lord Of the Rings’ any LESS because six guys in suits decided they didn’t like it? No.
Maybe I’m odd. I’ve never bought anything BECAUSE it was Eisner nominated, or tipped to win the Mercury Music Prize or won a Golden Globe. There are movies I like very much that have won an Oscar, but seeing the words ‘Winner Of Seven Oscars’ written on a DVD box never made me think ‘Ah, okay, if that elite panel of educated people like it, I should probably invest in this.’ But then, I have an almost sociopathic desire to not be told what to think and get quite angry with myself when I realise my purchasing habits are the result of an advertising campaign.
See, I was thinking whilst having a shave this morning that it used to be that the mystique and worship we bestow upon the likes of Miley Cyrus or somesuch today are akin to what we probably would have given the Shaman when we were living in tribes, but without the good reason to do so. The Shaman would advise you on your life because he knew what he was talking about. When to plant your crops, what to feed your cattle, he would hold ceremonies and be apart from the rest of us, dispensing wisdom. We would hold him in awe because he would talk from a magical place, be in conversation with the Gods. His role was to given wise guidance to our lives and he would be constantly questioned and worshipped.
Nowadays, obviously, we don’t have fellas wearing feathers explaining to you how to exist, how to dress, what to eat, what would be a strong look. That would be madness.
Nowadays, we have celebrities to do that for us.
I think we’ve unwittingly replaced the rituals of ‘less civilised; times with the God of Media. We have confessionals on screen and Jerry Springer is our priest, we share and seek absolution for our sins on social media, and we banish the heretics from the land for speaking blasphemy. We’ve replaced Delphi with Google. I don’t think it’s any great coincidence that the word used to describe how many people reading your thoughts on Twitter is ‘Followers’. i think maybe we all seek the deification granted to the wise ones by dressing like them, we know any ten of us will never have the influence over the global community that a Justin Bieber can extend by saying ‘Thanks’ and being retweeted a thousand times.
We take on the ticks, the habits, the dress of our idols (again, the word being used correctly, but I don’t think it’s a healthy thing.)we gaze for hours, waiting for a glimpse of the m, greedily reading magazines and visiting websites, either waiting for them to dispense wisdom or more likely hoping to see them in a candid state, so we can say ‘But you are NOT an avatar of perfection, we must kill the king to make room for a new king.’ It’s us who encourage paparazzi to chase Linsey Lohan and Bjork through airports until they’re cornered and can only lash out, not truly understanding the price of fame. But we’ve failed to understand just what it is we want. We demand wisdom from our chosen people of celebration. We’ve failed to realise that our Gods are not wise seers, knowing in the ways of healthy living, who will lead us to Shangri-La. They’re just people with cameras trained on them, this week’s news. They can’t tell us how to use dock leaves to cure the rash of a stinging nettle, they’re just people who sing some songs or say some words to a camera. We can neither be them nor rely on them/
We say on memes that we should stop making stupid people famous.Perhaps we’re stupid to ask too much of the wrong people.