Jostled Memory

I’m breaking from the haiku format for this post. As my very small readership has probably guessed, I’ve had a lot to think about since the election. An encounter with a Trump-loving Twitterer ended up reminding me of some old cartoon (or claymation, maybe?)

The phrase that brought on this recollection: “Normal people.” The twit of the day insisted that “normal people” would benefit from Trump’s presidency. Much like the phrase,”real Americans” it’s bullshit from top to bottom. The only time I’d consider the term meaningful is in contexts where superpowers, the supernatural, or cyborgs are a big deal. Just in case I get similar twits, here I should state the obvious: Human beings are diverse and individualistic. “Normal” is arbitrary and/or requires specific contexts.

I think the cartoon that popped into my head was something I watched as a kid, but wasn’t intended for children. Might have been something like Saturday Night Live or some other show I’d stay up to watch. The general theme of each episode was a protagonist desperately trying to prove to the audience that he’s a boring run-of-the-mill person, but cracks in the illusion would keep coming. By the end of the episode he’d violently attack some person or creature that was mocking him or poking holes in his masquerade. “Shut up, shut up, shut up! I’M NORMAL! I’M NORMAL! I’M NORMAL!

I remember this feeling of intense pity for the protagonist whose life’s ambition was apparently to be as dull as dishwater, and constructed these crumbling facades in a desperate attempt to convince himself and the audience that he was “normal,” His protestations only served to heighten how miserable he really was. I don’t even remember if whatever weirdness he tried to disguise was in any way bad or shameful.

There’s a T-shirt that’s been around for a while. “Normal people worry me.” Right now, that quarter-remembered cartoon feels like a highly concentrated form of that message. It just seems so forced and unnatural for someone to insist on “normal” being a virtue. It’s like Smith Comma John, Human for President, or that guy from Magicka who is not a vampire. That is why self-declared “normal” people worry me. If it was natural, they wouldn’t feel the need to announce it or impose such expectations on other people. That sort of “normal” is oppressive, and I don’t want to share their misery.