Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The World's First Schizophrenic, Bipolar Store Mannequin

I never thought about it before but I guess it’s true. You can measure the level of inclusiveness and egalitarianism of a modern, advanced society by examining the diversity of its store mannequins.

Store mannequins pretty much all look alike except the female ones have boobs. None have genitalia. Store mannequins are all about the same height and weight. This summer the JCPenney store in Manhattan decided to shake things up by featuring some crippled mannequins in its windows, including one in a wheelchair and one double leg amputee. They weren’t the first store to do something like that. Kohl’s has had mannequins in wheelchairs before.

This was a noble and laudable attempt to challenge and radically change all the fucked up notions there are out there about cripples and our bodies. But I’m sorry to report that this grand social experiment was a giant failure. I know so because according to the JCPenney people, public reaction to the crippled mannequins was overwhelmingly positive. That’s a real shame. Because radical change never occurs without pissing somebody off. The more fucked up a notion, the harder it dies. That’s what makes it so fucked up. I believe it was Frederick Douglass who first said that.

And some notions about cripples and our bodies are so monumentally fucked up that surely they won’t die without considerable backlash. It can’t be that easy. These notions are rooted in supremacy and when supremacy feels threatened it attacks. So I would have felt much more encouraged had someone firebombed the windows featuring the crippled mannequins or busted the windows and stolen the crippled mannequins and hung them in effigy or dragged them through the town square tied to car bumpers. Then I’d know we were really getting somewhere. Then I’d know we were getting down to the root of it all.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the effort and it has inspired me to open a store of my own someday so I can pick up where JCPenney left off. I’ll feature the world’s first schizophrenic, bipolar mannequin. I’ll make a big deal out of it. I’ll have the mayor come for the great unveiling. And when the shroud is removed it’ll be just an ordinary mannequin wearing ordinary clothes. It looks just like the guy next door or the guy in the next cubicle. It looks like you and me. And maybe the assembled crowd will be pissed off at me for teasing them like that, for promising them a freak show and turning it instead into a cheap lesson on acceptance. Maybe they’ll feel so cheated that they’ll riot! Won’t that be great?

Actually, if I want to truly and accurately represent the full human spectrum of schizophrenic, bipolar people, I’ll have to have two mannequins. One of them with have to have boobs.

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