I’d like to talk about Boy George, not because his band rocked a few tunes back in the day, but because of his insight to his own identity.
I heard an old interview with him and he said a couple of things about his persona: one sort of funny, one remarkably self-aware.
The funny one is that he said, “for example, Miss Me Blind, a lot of black people really like Miss Me Blind, but they’re not really sure I should be singing it!”
And of his persona, his presence, even more directly he noted that everybody was fine with Ziggy Stardust, because David Bowie said, yes, it’s an act, yes, I’ll stop doing it at some point.
But when people asked Boy George when he’d stop looking the way he did, he said “never,” that it wasn’t an act, wasn’t a costume, wasn’t a mask… it is me… it is who I am… it is “real.”
David Bowie could do anything he wanted and it was fine… because he acknowledged that it “wasn’t real”… but for Boy George to claim that his “fake” identity was his “real” identity… that it wasn’t a thing he just wore for a show… that it wasn’t a thing he’d ever take off… that was too much for some people.
The costume that’s never removed…
The mask that’s part of your face…
Now that is a performance!
Lauren Jones said…
If you ever get a chance, read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel “Men At Arms” (read them all in fact!)
In the novel, a clown called Beano is killed and while the City Watch is investigating his death, they interview other clowns. There is quite an interesting insight into this subject I think. To most people, Beano’s nose is the lump of flesh in the middle of his face that he breathes through. But to Beano and the other clowns, his “real” nose was the red plastic one on the piece of elastic. To the clowns, that wasn’t simply an item from a costume, to be worn as an act and then taken off to return to “normal”. The red nose was the real nose because it was truly part of who they were. I don’t know if I’m explaining that very well, the book does a better job of it 🙂
Is an avatar a mask to be worn and then taken off at the end of the performance? Or is the avatar who we really are, the mask in fact not concealing truth but revealing it?
FRIDAY, 26 JUNE, 2009