Let’s face it folks, it’s 2010, we’re living in the future. We were promised Flying Cars, and there are Flying Cars.
Star Trek promised us instant wireless communication and flat powerful computers, we have both.
There’s one aspect of the 20Teens that no futurist I’m aware of predicted though: rampant Alter-Egos.
This got pointed out to me from two very different directions yesterday: NPR and Io9.com an awesome Sci-fi blog I follow.
First, on my drive to work yesterday morning NPR’s Morning Edition had a great story about female Popstars taking on outlandish, sometimes even Drag Queen-esque personae. Some perform as both themselves and as their character à la Beyonce/Sasha Fierce, while others are “on” all the time, Lady Gaga for example. The story went on about the freedom that an Alter-Ego brings, quoting a fan/emulator of multi-persona-ed rapper Nicki Minaj:
“Sometimes I’m shy,” Britney says. “But when Roman — or Nicki — comes on, that just goes out the window. I don’t think about it anymore, I just do it. That’s why I like Roman. That’s why I like being Roman.”
Someone can “take off their Clark Kent glasses” and become their own personal Superman. Which is where the Io9 post comes in. Their managing editor Charlie Jane Anders has this incredible knack for finding the glorious in the inane, and yesterday she pulled it off in a big way. She managed to almost make me want to watch Hannah Montana with her post Hannah Montana is the First 21st Century Superhero.
Despite the apparent ridiculousness of that statement, she makes a pretty good argument for it. I highly suggest you read the whole post at the link above but I’ll give you one line so you can sense the thrust of it:
Hannah Montana revolves around that most basic of superhero concepts: the secret identity.
Apparently the show explores the duality of the fictional Miley’s life. She puts on a chintzy wig at night and goes out on stage as Hannah Montana, rock superstar, but by day she’s the unpopular freak at school (which parallel’s some of Lady Gaga’s comments about not fitting in during her youth btw). She plays these roles willingly because she wants to be the superstar, and lead a normal life, having her cake and eating it too. Now, comparing this to how Lady Gaga describes her youth, it doesn’t sound that far fetched, except Gaga wasn’t yet a star, she was just Stefani Germanotta, high school drama geek. The real world doesn’t quite allow for Secret Identities, at least not to the Hannah Montana extreme.
Everyone has an alter-ego, a role they play. Whether it’s the asthmatic stringy gamer who always plays the Tank class in MMOs, or the uptight lawyer who weekly goes to karaoke to let out his inner Bon Jovi. The existance of the internet and Social Networking sites have extended that capability. Karaoke Lawyer can now spend his days tweeting about his moments of glory, and celebrities can perpetuate the image they want to have, 1 on 1 to their fans, allowing them to be who they want to be in private.
All of us do this to a lesser extent. At work I’m daily much quieter, subdued and mild-mannered than I’d be anywhere else on the planet, disguising (at least a little) my wackiness. With friends I can chat for hours about anything or nothing, occasionally hamming it up to get the most out of a joke. Finally, when waiting around at an audition or backstage with other actors, I’m more loquacious than normal (if that’s possible) more of a ham (again, if that’s actually possible), leaping from shtick to shtick in a single bound.
Which of these is the “real me?” Is it all of them? Is it none of them? I really couldn’t tell you for certain. I don’t feel that any of them are a lie, but I’m not sure that any of them are necessarily full pictures. The important part is, I’m out in the world sharing these personae with everyone I know, not keeping them in some Fortress Of Solitude.