The story of the Emperor and his new clothes has always fascinated me for some reason. I see it being played out in real life every single day.
The original tale was written by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that they don’t see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as “unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent”. Finally, a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”
How many times have we kept silent for fear of sounding stupid? For fear of being perceived as slow, ignorant and incompetent. I know I’m guilty of this. On the isolated occasion, that I’ve been brave enough to admit my ignorance, I’ve realized that I’m not alone. Several voices have seconded mine. Yet, I’m afraid. Afraid of that one occasion, when I’m going to be the only one standing in the room.
Why do we care so much about the opinion of others? We see this extended to social media every single day. Teenagers today care more about the likes on their Facebook page than the grades on their report card. That necessity to obtain approval and validation somehow never leaves us.
It’s also some kind of power struggle. Where the weaker and meaker adopt the opinions and actions of the mightier and powerful. Case in point, Hitler’s power could only have blossomed in collaboration with the German people. None of this would have happened if the Germans hadn’t accepted him. Opposing him, would have meant a certain death. This kind of fear is rather different. One where you have a perceived lack of choice. Conform or perish.
Today, the fear is more of an “under the surface” kind of fear. Nobody is going to shoot us in the head if we beg to differ. But there could be subtler consequences. Voicing a view opposite to a superior’s at a board meeting could lead to you losing that promotion. For a celebrity, wearing the same dress for a second time on the red carpet, would have tabloids the world over speculating about a potential bankruptcy.
In an age where conformity is the norm, it’s refreshing to see certain companies and brands breaking through the mould. This is why I love Diesel’s “Be Stupid” ad campaign. It was released some time ago, but it’s one of their nicest campaigns. And so very relevant.
“Smart has the Brains.
Stupid has the Balls.
Smart has the Plans.
Stupid has the Stories ”
definitely resonate with me. We need more campaigns like this, that encourage us to Be Stupid. To take risks.
We want to be different but we’re scared of being the only ones who are different. We want to get those new jeans but we’re scared of looking too fat, too thin, too short, too wide, too young, too old. Too anything.
To quote Oscar Wilde, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”
So, let’s make a pact with ourselves to live creatively and bravely. To not be other people.
And the next time, you’re getting new clothes, I’d suggest Diesel is a good place to start. If we can’t live differently, at least we can live stupidly !