My brother likes to greet me in different languages – mostly Spanish. I am not a linguist, and no matter how many times I’m told what the correct response is, I can’t seem to remember when he starts throwing words at me. Even if I did remember, it would be an automatic response – something programmed in that I didn’t have the know-how to change to suit my own purposes.
How many automatic responses do we use on a day-to-day basis? How many times do words come out as simple puffs of air, devoid of meaning because they are expected? It’s a dance, things we say to keep up apperances, to show the world that we are functioning human beings.
But words are important. The thoughts we convey with words are also important. And it’s something I didn’t realize until I started looking.
Media is saturated with stories – books, movies, TV, comics, the web… they surround us, telling us who or what we should be. I could talk about advertisers, but that’s been done, and really… those aren’t the stories we tell ourselves, not in the same way.
Take the recent Suicide Squad movie. Harley Quinn was one of the strongest characters in that movie… but she was broken on a fundimental level. The relationship she had with the Joker was one of abuse. To women starving for a powerful role model however, she was like water in the desert. She was feminine power, and when the words we have, the words we have been given are broken, she seems like the best we can get. Utter instability, an abusive relationship, and a life sentance in prision.
I could go on a whole rant about how women tend to be portrayed in action movies, but let me leave by saying this: words are powerful – even the ones we think don’t matter. Even the ones society expects us to say.