BE FLAWLESS - and other such marketing faux-pas.
..........why marketing personnel should take time out to read a good book.
It's 3 o'clock in the morning and insomnia has me in its grip. I know I could be doing something far better with my time, but I'm cruising late night TV channels and they are full of teleshopping at this hour. And then an advert appears for a product that claims to make you flawless, and it sets me to thinking.
Do we really want to be flawless?
Now, if you've read my other blog posts, you are going to know that my answer to that question is a resounding NO.
But here is why.
From Bridget Jones to Blackadder - our most beloved characters are flawed.
If you grew up reading comics, Dennis the Menace - flawed, Garflield - flawed. Any of the Marvel or DC comic superheroes - all flawed. Read any classic, from Moby Dick to Emma, War & Peace to Catcher in the Rye - the central characters - all flawed. Favourite films - I would bet that whichever film you cite, the main character, the hero of the hour - flawed.
(Personal favourite - The Shining. Way way way flawed!)
So why do we love them, these flawed people? Whether they carry a scar on their foreheads, drink too much, swear too much, have cunning plans that involve turnips or have very dodgy morals, these non-perfect characters appeal to us.
And that's because to be flawed is to be human. We can, one way or another relate to them. We don't love them despite their flaws, we love them because of their flaws.
When that oh so beautiful girl wakes up with perfect hair and makeup, when the hero runs around dodging bullets for three blocks but doesn't even break a sweat, when everything works out in the end and they go off happily into the sunset - we sigh in exasperation because we know that's not real - real life doesn't look like that. We are not person, we can never be that person, and actually we don't want to be that person.
It's not that it is even aspirational or enviable - it's just false; and we react to that; we don"t want perfection in our heroes because we are not perfect.
I'm not talking necessarily about physical flaws, fiction will often create a physical flaw as a metaphor for the character flaw - a visual reminder in case we forget during our 90 minutes of movie escapism. We don't need to carry a placard denoting our inner issues, we are usually far too aware of them, even if we don't always recognise the causes or the triggers. These are issues that may manifest themselves in physical ways, we over eat, we hide behind drab clothes, we avoid people, to the extremes where we cut ourselves, punch walls or starve ourselves.
Unfortunately for us, because we don't live in a fictional world; it is not enough to know that we have flaws, we need to know what they are, and whether we can accept them and move on, or whether we need to acknowledge them, deal with them, and treat them. Knowing that you fly off the handle irrationally is not enough, you need to know why, what triggers it and how to manage it.
That is what therapy is for. It can help us to see ourselves more clearly, identify our faults and learn to love ourselves despite them. If we can admire a flawed fictional character, we should be able to accept that flawed part of ourselves too and seek to find ways to stop it from defining us. Because these flawed characters that we love don't stagnate, they evolve, they grow, they develop beyond their faults, despite their flaws - and so can we.