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September 25, 2011 | by  | in Features |
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Weirdness, Appreciation & Flava Flav

Weirdness is such an underappreciated quality. Now, now, calm down and don’t give me that look.

I can see you, narrowing your eyes and getting ready to turn the page because you think this is an ode-to-freaks sermon. You’ve probably already glimpsed your course’s resident weirdo this morning and wondered how anyone in a pink ski jacket could listen to that much Metallica. Maybe you’ve just had your day spoilt because the seemingly average guy you almost asked out followed you down Cuba Street talking about his exotic keychain collection. You’ve had enough of weirdoes and their eyebrow-raising ways. But that’s alright. This is not a tirade against you or a beat-down of normality. It’s a celebration of peculiarity and the way it makes life just that little bit spicier. Weirdness comes in many forms. The scale ranges from “I carved your name in to my arm last night, want to see?” (extreme) to “I think blanket man is Jesus” (mild). It affects people in different ways. Some like to play soccer while wearing swimming flippers, or eat grass when no one’s looking. Others are afraid of the colour blue.

Weirdness has also lead to greatness—think of Alfred Hitchcock’s macabre possessiveness, Virginia Woolf’s inability to write sitting down, or Walt Disney’s penchant for mice. The world isn’t exactly unsalted either. Forget global warming, dictators, AIDS, and the oddities in Animal of the Week—the planet is home to far more inexplicable occurrences. There’s a 24 carat gold toilet, eight-metre-long fingernails, Kim Kardashian’s fame, two-headed kittens, snake-charming, hot-dog eating contests, sword-swallowing, Hello Kitty, spoon-balancing, Silvio Berlusconi’s face, Flava Flav, 50 per cent water Just Juice bottles, Pez dispensers, and the fact that I got a whole page to write an opinion column when I am notoriously devoid of them. The point is that too many people these days fear the unusual. From radical hair colours to radical philosophies, being too different is cause for concern. It’s been one of the most damaging and insidious forms of close mindedness in history, yet each generation shakes their head and refuses to believe that it’s their problem. We take decreases in racism and sexism as proof that we’re more tolerant and enlightened than we really are. And that’s what keeps it going. Ethnic cleansing and racial segregation both start in the same place as the urge to belittle the fat guy with the Bon Jovi tee shirt or whisper ‘slut’ at the leggy Goth girl whose only infraction is being prettier than you. It seems like a stretch, I know.

This isn’t to deny that we’ve come a long way, because we have, and we should all be proud of that. It’s simply a reminder that everything gets better when we take a minute to chill the hell out, let go of the fear, and ask ourselves why we can’t try to appreciate those less conventional than ourselves. The freaks. The weirdoes. The nerds and the crazies. The people who talk to their reflections, act like they’re acid-tripping when they’re not, or are self-taught experts on Norwegian stamps. This isn’t a call for more anti-bullying facebook status updates. It’s an appeal to be a little nicer, maybe a smidge more understanding. If you don’t agree, that’s fine. It’s just an opinion.

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He Tāonga

:   I wanted to write this piece, in order to connect to all tauira within the University, with the hope that we can all remind ourselves that we are a part of an environment which is valuable, no matter our culture, our beliefs or our skin colour. The ultimate purpose of this