CURRENTLY: New York City, NY

Thug Life

More in the The Episodes, Philosophy

This Episode

Thanks so much to Elizabeth and Emma! Pittsburgh was an absolute blast.

The interesting part about Pittsburgh for me was when I spoke with Elizabeth about her family. Unfortunately, the interview had to take place in physical constraints of a car due to time limitations. Nevertheless, I do feel the visual anonymity of the interview stressed a universal uniqueness amongst participants that I am finding more and more with each stop I make. Sure, many of us don’t have 16 brothers and sisters or a 78-year-old father for that matter, but what we all do have is some manner of unique familial characteristics, ethnic traits, religious beliefs, and general personal attributes that in a broader sense make us quite similar to one another. We are unified by our individuality - I admit not too new of a realization.

“Average” Does Not Exist

However, many of the people I’ve met along the way who aren’t necessarily volunteers of the project but many times just passersby have expressed discontent with the “average” nature of their towns, families, or daily lives. This is obviously not the case for Elizabeth and Emma, but for many others it is. For the past 5 days I’ve been juggling terms like “nothing special” or “eh, it’s okay” while I’ve been filming towns and conducting interviews with people that are anything but. In my opinion, and only in my opinion, Americans have begun to perceive themselves in congruence with American media’s norms of uniqueness and individualism.

Therefore, the question forming in my mind pertains to why exactly some feel that certain aspects of their lives are uninteresting to others. I originally set out to find whether there was a cultural flattening effect occurring amongst America’s youth, and so far I have to say the answer is yes, but not nearly in the manner that I thought. Many people I’ve met thus far listen to the same music, dress in a similar style or are at least cognizant of such styles, enjoy many of the same types of hobbies, and have a relatively similar set of values and ethics at first glance. However, all of these cultural characteristics that one might have used to classify or categorize individuals into groups in the past appear to be nothing more than manufactured blankets thrown over a thousand rocks of all different sizes, shapes, and colors. It’s almost like certain aspects of what makes few unique have been reprocessed and sold to many. America’s youth is diverse, there is no question about that, but it’s in the manner in which they perceive themselves to be diverse that I find interesting. It seems to me that we strive to be dissimilar from each other but in the end fall into the conformity of searching for individuality though the wrong means, when the right means was there all along in our towns, heritage, and upbringing.

New Objective

I now aim to find exactly who or what is laying down these blankets or convincing individuals that they need to be blanketed with the false tools of individuality in the first place. Furthermore, what is the benefit of selling the illegitimate means of exclusivity to Americans? I’d love to read that business plan.

When it comes down to it, I’m simply shocked that many people fail to realize how utterly unique and interesting they or their towns really are. In all honesty, I fall into this category as well. But, why is that? American culture, towns, and people are fantastically interesting. I just wish they could see in their towns as a local what I see as a visitor. I would love to see a visitor’s perspective on my hometown. Again, these thoughts are spawned from conversations I’ve had with people in restaurants, bars, etc., not with the participants of this project. I’ve come to realize that the volunteers of this project tend to be more of the quirkier and free-spirited breed than to fall into this mentality. I suppose you would have to be to drive, house, and feed a random guy off the street.

3 Responses

  1. What kind of editing software are you using? If your software has any sort of color correction tools, bump up the brightness/contrast on your clips and bump up the saturation if you can. brightness/contrast makes your darker stuff more visible and saturation gives everything a richer look. either way, the trip is looking great and I’ve been checking every day for updates. see ya in california.

    Posted by dan on 20 September 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Posted by Stephanie Sutkowski on 22 September 2007 at 2:19 pm
  3. Glad to see you made it to Primanti Brothers. It’s rated on the travel channel as one of the top 10 pig-out places in the country. i made it to 3 or 4 places on the list.

    Posted by Bugsy on 25 September 2007 at 9:43 am

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