Reading zines, both print and online, as well as rants and commentaries posted to newsgroups and various other internet forums, I see a wide variety of topics. Decriminalization of drugs, the mistakes made by those in office, vegetarianism, gay rights, corporate idiocy... and being a part of this scene as much as I can be, I, of course, have my own opinions and views on things, and I often get ideas in my head of things I want to write about. So I was trying to think of something to write about for this page, and I was munching on some candy. It was the new M&M's variety, with the cookie center. I got to thinking about how it's basically a rip off of the new candy called Astros. Then I got to thinking about how a lot of other candy products, as well as fast food chains, coffee shops, and countless other industries, are constantly stealing new ideas from each other. I also got to thinking about the cheesy concept of Aero's "limited edition" cappuccino bar. With all this thinking, I figured I was on to something, and intended to write something about all of this.
But something was wrong. Almost instantly, I started thinking about how it wasn't "cool". It's not angry enough, it's not very anti-social. I found myself almost wanting to post a message to alt.anarchism and ask them if they thought it was too lame of a topic to write about. This is not a good thing. In the zine culture, at least the "alternative" and anarchist/anti-social variety, it should be an "anything goes" spirit. Instead, we sometimes find ourselves looking to each other for permission and validation for our thoughts. Should we? I don't think so. This is one of the symptoms of the clique attitude that "alternative" culture is so opposed to. We're supposed to be trying to destroy cliques, not form our own.
We're all guilty of this. Both ends of it. No matter how liberal or "alternative" our friends are, when we're hanging around with them, just chatting, we will sometimes censor ourselves and decide not to say something that's on the tip of our tongue, for fear that our friends will think we're less "cool" for wasting breath on something so insipid. And on the rare occasion that someone forgets themselves and says something like that, they receive a look that says "that's just not cool"... or even worse, someone will actually say it out loud. Eventually, we all learn to shut up and act as we're expected, adhere to the rules. It all comes around full circle, and we become the clique clones. It's a double-edged sword, though. Part of the core of this culture is complaining about how boring, banal and insipid we find television and mass media, not to mention politicians and teachers. So would it not follow that we force ourselves to avoid that? To be honest, I really don't know. Maybe we can use our boring stuff to combat that of the mainstream. Next time your english teacher requires you to write a stupid essay, take my idea and complain for 5 pages about how M&M's ripped off Astros. Just a thought. Okay, so itís not a very good thought, but it's mine and I'm proud of it.
And isnít that what it should be all about? Say whatever the hell you want! All of it! Yeah, some of what you say will end up being crap, but thatís okay. If you train yourself to hold back, the good stuff might not ever come out. And no matter what others try to tell you, there is good stuff in there that has to come out. Interesting, I started out pondering the evils of the candy companies, and now Iíve come round to something totally unrelated. SPEAK YOUR MIND. SPEAK THE TRUTH. If you really want to, start your own zine. I havenít yet seen one zine that I thought was boring. So whatís holding you back? The cliquesters? Educate them, or cut them down, just donít give in.