Tue | Jan 21, 2020

Garth Rattray | You may be a dinosaur

Published:Monday | December 9, 2019 | 12:11 AM
Waldane Walker, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts valedictorian, flanked by his parents.

When I saw the viral video of the valedictorian at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and heard his dramatic, profanity-propelled closing motivation, I honestly thought that it was a theatrical performance produced by students of that institution. When I realised that his speech was actually delivered at the graduating ceremony, with people of all ages, staff, friends, relatives and family in attendance at the customarily solemn and staid occasion, I was shocked.

Granted, his speech was well written, honest, emotional, cathartic, revealing and excellently delivered, but the spontaneous/unscripted expletive was disrespectful, uncalled for, and misplaced in time and place. His blind leap into dramatisation and a memorable, avant-garde valedictory speech truly wasn’t worth it. I wonder how the police can now charge dancehall performers for using curse words during their performances.

Cause for concern?

If, like me, you are concerned that this signifies the continuing deterioration of respect for others, discipline, rectitude, law and order…you may be a dinosaur. If you, too, are wondering what will keep anyone from using expletives and then retrofitting the circumstance using ‘artistic freedom’ under the cloak of ‘Jamaican parlance’, you may be a dinosaur. If you are surprised by the number of intellectuals coming out in support of the use of curse words at a graduation ceremony, you may be a dinosaur.

If you are perplexed, shocked and sometimes bewildered by heterosexual males with baubles, puffs and multicoloured dyes in their hair, you may be a dinosaur. If you are confused by seeing boys and men squeezed into (what we used to call) ‘pedal-pushers’ and tight-up, crotch-strangling, stretch jeans, you may be a dinosaur. If males with blouse-looking tops and weird-looking footwear confound you, you may be a dinosaur. If you’re wondering what the hell a metrosexual male is, you may be a dinosaur.

If you can’t wrap your head around scantily dressed women who parade around town in garb befitting some beaches or the boudoir, you may be a dinosaur. If you’re wondering whatever happened to decorum and modesty, you could be a dinosaur. If you are concerned that they are setting a bad example for young girls, you may be a dinosaur.

If you can’t fathom why so many people are aggressive, unkind and uncaring, you may be a dinosaur. If you are mesmerised by bikers and drivers who totally ignore traffic signs and red lights without any thought for their safety or for the safety of others, you may be a dinosaur. If you wonder why you have to ‘tek weh uself’ from drivers who overtake at speed, drive headlong towards you and force you to take evasive action, you may be a dinosaur.

If you fret about the amount of corruption at all levels within our society, you may be a dinosaur. If you just can’t figure out why so many people in authority seek and accept bribes without realising that their actions perpetuate the breakdown of our society, you may be a dinosaur. If you are confounded by the double standards that allow some citizens to get away with flouting the law, while others are prosecuted and even imprisoned for relatively minor offences, you may be a dinosaur.

If you wonder why, in the 21st century, many communities are still being left to formulate their own morals and survival techniques that ultimately impact negatively on the wider society, you may be a dinosaur. If you can’t come to the realisation that we are living in a time of new norms with a plethora of eccentricities, unbridled expressiveness and permissiveness, you may be a dinosaur. If you are frustrated and tired of corruption, unfairness, crassness, crime and killings, welcome to the club of ‘Tyad-o-saurus Vex’.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.