I’ve been thinking about control and rebellion and how our actions are often bound by the norms of our society, whether for better or for worse. Most of us act in a way which fits within given social, cultural and institutional boundaries even if these actions are contrary to what we would do if we felt more free. Sometimes we commit small acts of rebellion without anyone knowing except ourselves. Some people more so than others.
I’ve challenged myself to commit some small “acts of rebellion” and filmed them. I’ve just done a quick few to test the water so far. It’s definitely more difficult when it’s pre-planned than when it’s done spontaneously.
My first act was at the train station and I decided to dance to the song I was listening to on my headphones. I thought it was perhaps a bit lame, obvious and easy but it was my first attempt and I actually felt really nervous about doing it which made me realise I needed to do it. I did hold back a bit but made myself enjoy it too. It looks on the video as though no one is reacting at all but I saw in the eyes of those walking past utter mortification on my behalf. And then they pretended they hadn’t noticed anything. Very British I thought. Afterwards I felt like an idiot but exhilarated too. Why would I feel such strong mixed emotion that after doing such a simple thing as dancing to some music I loved? I bet people thought I was attention-seeking and attention-seeking bothers me. I should have let go more.
My next act was to push in the queue for the kids’ swing and sit on it for ages. Parents shot me daggers but, of course, didn’t say anything. Ha ha. Why should kids have all the fun!?! Out of order?
Finally I decided to picnic on what is left of the green space which was cleared to make way for an extra lane on the road. I felt really embarassed again but it was surprisingly pleasant. People really gawped from their cars but people walking past generally avoided looking at me at all.
These first filmed acts of rebellion felt a bit pathetic when I thought them up but were all surprisingly hard to do. They made me feel shame and then control and amusement. They posed the questions to me: What constitutes rebellion?; How does it make the actor feel before, during and after?; Is it transformative?; How does it make the onlooker feel?; Is there a point to it?; Are some acts more valid than others?
Me before and after an act of rebellion looking slightly reluctant and slightly smug: