May 28, 2012 | by  |
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Mulled Whine With H.G. Beattie

DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS: ADAPTABILITY AND THE MYTH OF THE KARMA CHAMELEON.

I am a cultural desert and assert nothing to the contrary. I have not read any Christopher Hitchens. I feel about Richard Curtis the same way you probably feel about Scorsese. I only realised last year that my then-method–learning Wayne’s World off by heart and referencing it at every available opportunity–was, as it were, less than zang. Conscious efforts to culture oneself are probably doomed to fail. I lived with a couple of drama students last year. I consider this to have been a “cultural journey” that led to me grouping youth theatre in with socialism and Scrumpy: i.e., they make sense to other people, but put that thing back where it came from or so help me. A shout-out: if you’re reading this, bbdolls, want to come over for dinner? About time you were re-treated to my ‘specialty’–tomato paste with a side of food.

Being blissfully uncultured and also probably not in the same room as you right now means that I can intrepidly assert, without trace of irony, such trivial minutiae as: Boy George described Culture Club’s ‘Karma Chameleon’ as being about the fear or alienation that one incurs in trying to please everyone. “Karma-justice” is his term of choice for nature’s way of paying you back if you don’t act true to how you feel. See, I feel that Boy George’s hyphenating of those two words was a bad idea. What he seems to be telling me is that if I don’t “act true” and tell him so, I will need to up my dosage. Condemning chameleon-like behaviour is bollocks. This song is bollocks. I hear “red, gold and green” and I think of my fifteen-year-old teenage dirtbag brother making our parents drive around last year with a Rastafarian flag stuck to the roof of their car to counter the plethora of All Blacks ones. To wit: “but the Rastas win every year, mon.” Boy George never intended that. Surely.

Acting in a chameleon-like manner is probably what permits you to leave the house, given that you’re incontrovertibly bat-shit crazy. It is indisputable that were you to talk to your employer the way you talk to your friends, shit creek would beckon: bid a hearty hasta mañana to your paddle. On a personal level, this gets me off the hook for acting differently at work than at home, at vicbooks than at my Sensible Sentencing Trust meetings, and most importantly when I run into my dad’s friends than when I run into them with their wives in tow. (Oh, get off the moral high ground; self-esteem is relative and I’m only going to put on weight from here).

I don’t think that “chameleon” behaviour– showcasing different sides of yourself around different people–should necessarily be construed as trying to please them. You should probably think of it as pragmatism. You should probably also tell yourself that “at least I don’t spend my weeknights thinking about the philosophical implications of 80s pop hits.” Finally, you should probably give me a gratuitous laugh for saying that Boy George should stick to the cream of sum yung gai.

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