Defying convention and denoting creativity: Lessons from the Beanie Boy.
January 26, 2012
I’m in the Admiral’s Club at Laguardia airport when a young boy walks by me. He’s a regular looking kid, a bit disheveled in his ill-fitting blue sweatshirt and no-name blue jeans. But something else: He’s wearing a multi-colored cap with a propeller on top!
Really? I think to myself: silly enough here but a death warrant in the schoolyard. I mean what symbolizes dorkiness more than a beanie with a propeller on top? It’s like something Spanky wore on the ancient TV show, The Little Rascals.
Anyway, the lad sits down in front of a house computer and begins doing his thing. Again, like any other kid. But I can’t get over his crazy chapeau. It’s remarkable to me, in this day and age, that an adolescent boy would be caught dead in public wearing something so silly. He might as well have had a “Kick Me!” sign affixed to his back. I decide to sneak a picture. I don’t want to mock him necessarily but I do want to document this most anti of fashion statements. I upload the photo on Facebook, adding my line about the schoolyard.
Your comments come quickly and while some are snide (like mine) others are deeply supportive. Here’s a perfect example from my Facebook friend, Brian Collins:
i think the kid is astounding. he is wearing it with some pride. and it looks like it’s motorized. even better. if this makes the kid happy that’s perfect. and he looks deeply engaged on the web, too. great.
what we don’t need are any more cookie cutter kids dressed in oversized nylon football jerseys, cocked baseball caps and ratty jeans with their lifeless eyes glued to espn.
go, beanie boy, go.
Brian, you are so right. This kid deserves applause. He’s not a dork. He’s a maverick, a rogue, a boy who’s not afraid to defy convention. A while back, I wrote a post about how an advertising creative department is a lot like Romper Room. I think of that now…
The older I get the more I realize how important it is to stay connected to my “inner child.” The best creative people do not grow out of it when they grow up. We remain inquisitive like children. Lovers of fun. You see it in our bicycles in the hallway. Our dubious wardrobes. Our playlists. Our flirty snapshots on Facebook. Alas, you also see it in meetings, where we become pouting and defensive, wilting under criticism, frustrated by the grown-ups ruining our fun. I know we can be insufferable. Imposing MBA logic in Romper Room is bound to create problems.
And so we are. And so what? Defying convention is what makes us creative. I don’t want to lose that. Ever. Young man, I echo the words of Mr. Collins: “Go, beanie boy, Go!”