Just a couple of writers on a road trip through life. Hop in, hold on, and don’t forget your rain boots.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

No Offense

That spray tan makes you look like an Oompa Loopa, no offense. Really? No offense? Well aren’t you shocked ‘cause here I am offended.

Some people are easily offended and some aren’t. It is the way of the world, I suppose. Some of the worst offenders are celebrities. That crotch shot of Britney Spears all those years ago was just gross. And we all asked, what was she thinking? Then there was the rantings of Mel Gibson to his girlfriend that would make even Marilyn Manson blush. We asked, what the heck is the matter with you? What about Kanye West’s spotlight stealing of Taylor Swift at the VMA's? We said, come on dude. Really? And the latest? Miley Cyrus’s new short hair cut and scantily clad body at some music performance. Now honestly, I’m not sure why we all think this is such a big deal. I mean, she is an adult. Well, by years on this earth she is, maybe not otherwise. The point in all of this is simple. We all get offended at certain things at certain times. And what we learn is that we all make mistakes, but we leave the really giant ones to the celebrities. It’s more fun that way. But what if it isn’t a mistake? What if it was on purpose?
You’ve probably heard the saying, art imitates life. Sometimes I think this line is so true and other times I think it is a load of hog wash. I mean, have you seen some of the stuff artists produce? While it is pretty, I don’t especially think I can apply it to my life. Once I went to MoMA with my husband. One particular artist placed a bag of kitty litter in the corner and called it art. What?! If I did that, my husband would ask me why I left the kitty litter out and didn’t put it away?! And how is this imitating life? I think it is imitating an inanimate object, but whatever. Needless to say, its meaning was lost on me, but I wasn’t particularly offended by it. There was, however, some art on the bike path at Venice Beach in Southern California that I was instantly offended by. It took me a minute to calm down, but I somehow managed to walk away without going completely postal. I won’t say exactly what it was because its content isn’t appropriate here, but it was bad and it offended me big time. And I think that was the point. They got a reaction and a strong one at that.

What do you think? Creepy or beautiful?

Someone once told me that it isn't art unless people love it and hate it with the same amount of gusto, that if you offend someone, you are on the right track. I have a perfect example. I love this painting my mom had commissioned for me as a gift. It hangs proudly on my living room wall. People have one of two reactions to it: 1.) they think it is the most beautiful painting they have ever seen, or 2.) They think it is dark and creepy. There is no middle reaction with this painting. People either love it or hate it. Another example, I hate when an author kills off one of my favorite characters in a book. Or have you ever read a book where one or more characters disgusted you? Even with this blog, I seemed to have managed to offend a few people with what I write. Recently, I wrote a short story and embellished a family member’s death a lot. My husband said I would likely offend my family. It gave me pause. Should I write it anyway? Does this mean I am on the right track? Passion is passion. You can love my work with a passion, or hate it with equal measure.
I did end up changing my story a bit so as not to reflect this family member in any way, but was it the right thing to do? Artists must stay true to their craft, even at the risk of offending someone. I’m not suggesting that you go out of your way to offend someone. That would be totally malicious and that isn’t a good thing. But we should try to go for shock and awe. It imitates life, like art is supposed to do. Humans are unpredictable, which is why human behavior is so fascinating. And our fascination with human behavior is excellent material for artists of all kinds to imitate in their own medium.
So, go hence forth and create art that will shock and awe. You might offend some people, but it wouldn’t be righteous art if it didn’t.
Stephanie D. Birch is creating an epic board game called Shock and Awe. While it hasn’t been picked up by Hasbro yet, she is making plans to make an infomercial starring a drunk Joan Rivers and perhaps a Kardashian. To hear more shock and awe stories, contact her at birchwordnerd@yahoo.com


  1. LOVED this! 'Don't you feel dumb now?' That's where you brought me when you talked about offending people... lol

    1. I was telling Jake about that lady tonight and how you said, "Don't you feel dumb now" to her. He and I are in agreement. It was awesome! :-)

      - Stephanie D. Birch

  2. In 2013 I resolve to shock and offend more often than ever before!

    1. Yeah! A fellow Freak in arms! You rock!
      Stephanie D. Birch
      Writer Freak