Tuesday, January 29, 2008

There Are No Blue Ducks

WARNING: Personal rant ahead. May contain language or statements sure to offend someone.

Perhaps it's because I am housebound by the 48 below weather, but I am struggling a bit today with those people who seem to be offended by creativity.

This has been an ongoing theme in my life. I was raised by loving parents who just wanted to protect me from a harsh world, but who didn't understand that what I needed to do involved taking risks and accepting the consequences. I was often discouraged, criticized and mocked for stepping outside of their expectations or understanding, and I have struggled all of my adult life to overcome the insecurities that those early years have instilled.

And now I am witness to several small dramas being played out in the lives of young artists and actors that I know that reflect my own youth. I have tried very hard to understand the actions and motivations that drove my parents to say and do things that I found cruel, and now as a mother myself, I am once again seeing my peers committing those same errors with children who just need to express themselves and I am having trouble remaining rational about it.

I had a moment yesterday that I was truly ashamed of. I was chatting with friends about one of the young people who is currently struggling to reconcile his desire to act and dance with his need for his family's acceptance and I just blurted out words to the effect that his family were all horrible, stupid, mean people. I instantly regretted those words, before I even saw the shocked looks on the faces around me, but I truly felt them as I spoke them. I am genuinely fed up with people who mock or attack anyone who steps outside of their own comfort zone!

As a culture, North Americans claim to prize individuality, creativity and independence. Yet, anyone who exhibits any one of those traits is immediately the target of attacks ranging from gentle teasing to outright death threats. Look at the Dixie Chicks. It seems that most people would prefer to follow the lead of others, meet community approval and keep their heads down. If you are an artist, a vegan, a Bhuddist, an Atheist, a spinner and weaver, a puppeteer, gay or lesbian, tattooed, ethnic in any way, or just marching to your own drummer, you become the target of someone's anger and criticism.

This leads me to the title of this post. Eons ago, when my son was in grade two, he was given an Easter coloring sheet (that fall-back excuse to prove that art is being taught in school) that featured a duckling amongst some spring flowers--daffodils and the like. Being the marching-to-his-own-drummer type, he pulled out a pale blue crayon and began to color the duck. His teacher, looking over his shoulder, snatched up the paper and told him to get a new one. His mother, who was volunteering in the classroom, saw the look of bewilderment on his face and mosied over to check it out. The teacher waved the coloring page in my face and told me he had ruined it. "There are no blue ducks!"

Well, I did not see blue. I saw red. Who the fuck cares what color "real" ducks are when you are in grade two and given a coloring sheet?!? People who think that reality television is the height of entertainment; that opera is boring because it's in a foreign language; who think Picasso ruined art by putting two noses on people; who consider Chinese food an ethnic experience; who are more interested in Britney Spears' meltdown than her music; who go to church on Sunday and break all the ten commandments the rest of the week; who know you can't make a living weaving or dancing or painting. People who drive a truck or wait tables for a living; who dutifully purchase whatever Madison Avenue tells them to; who own an SUV, two quads and an RV; who decorate their homes according to Debbie Travis and entertain according to Martha Stewart--to the letter; who protest art exhibits featuring nudity because they're pornographic; who download free porn; who fill their family webpage with LOLcats and dancing babies....oooooh, I could go on! But I won't--you get the picture.

I want the world to be a kinder, gentler, smarter place. I want the world to welcome kids who need to paint or dance or sing or weave. I have fought hard to nurture and encourage creativity in my own kids, and I am reaping the dividends already.

So, here's my proposal. Let's all strive to nurture and encourage creative kids, be they our own or anyone else's. Volunteer for children's theatre groups, or teach an arts and craft class at the Y. Attend dance recitals and school plays. Buy chocolate bars and raffle tickets from kids raising funds for band trips. Color outside the lines, or color a blue duck!

BTW, I have nothing against LOLcats.


  1. Well put and I applaud your post. Let there be more blue ducks in our lives.

  2. That is really true.