The Disruption of Extreme Individualism, as Seen in a Commercial

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The commercial below is a humorous illustration of the clash of cultures. As the scene opens, we see a formally clad orchestra performing the famed Brandenburg Concerto. The focus then shifts to a percussionist at the back of the orchestra. The man proceeds to bring the entire orchestra to a halt by engaging in a wild solo reminiscent of the excesses of a 20th century rock guitarist.

While the ad is humorous, it also is a sad commentary on what has happened to our culture. The orchestra bespeaks a kind of order, one that stays within a framework so that the musicians can work together and make beautiful music. To some this may seem stuffy and confining, but the rules make the game; the boundaries make it possible to move forward together.

The over-the-top solo illustrates the modern tendency to emphasize wild eccentricities, to focus on the one rather than the group. The entire solo performance says, Look at me!

We see a lot of this today. Strange, problematic, egocentric, and even bizarre behaviors demand attention and are celebrated. Just as the commercial illustrates, though, the effect is that the collective “music” ends and the everyone is forced to focus on the one, the individual—and the individual gets more bizarre by the day.

Individuality has its place in any culture, but too often today wild excess means that our collective song is stopped and the stage is commandeered by ever wilder and more excessive displays.

Something to ponder as you enjoy this amusing commercial. It helps us to be able to laugh at ourselves just a bit.

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