This is part of a weekly series called “Ty Talks” in which The Lantern’s Ty Anderson offers his take on the week’s pop culture news.
“I have to poop.”
Those were the words I cried to my third-grade teacher during a field trip to the Toledo Museum of Art, and those were the words for which I was punished. “Tyler, you can’t say that,” she said. Never mind the fact that they were true, and never mind the fact they were necessary.
Speaking the truth cost me a week of recesses, and I couldn’t understand why. I’ve never been one to bite my tongue. I’ve always believed that truth was more important than tact, and I’ve never understood the appeal of beating around the bush. Throughout elementary school, I was the child constantly reprimanded for the words he said.
In this past school year as a columnist at The Lantern, I’ve written on everything from Pope Francis to Kim K’s rear. I’ve touched on topics that were starkly serious, and I’ve touched on topics so ridiculous that they probably didn’t even deserve to be published. I’ve expressed unpopular opinions, I’ve shared borderline-inappropriate anecdotes, and I’ve pissed off a lot of people in the process. But through it all, never once did the people of The Lantern say, “Tyler, you can’t say that.”
And for that, I am immeasurably grateful.
This column has always been focused on pop culture, but at its core, I’d like to think that it was something more than that. Behind all the jokes, behind all the snark and the over-exaggerations, I’ve had a goal. That goal was to urge readers to not take life so seriously and to challenge the general consensus.
It’s easy to see Kim Kardashian’s bare butt on the cover of a magazine and think “OK, she’s a whore.” But what if she’s not? What if there’s another side to the story? What if there’s a side to Kim’s booty that is soft and tender and somehow deeply, really human? (OK, that might have been a bad example.)
My point is that calling Kim Kardashian a whore is the easy route. Society tells us she’s a whore, the comments on every article ever written about Kim Kardashian tell us that she’s a whore, so it’s easy to come to the conclusion that Kim Kardashian is a whore.
But maybe in the back of your mind, you disagree. Maybe you think it’s cool that she’s proud of her body, or maybe you think it’s cool that she’s marketed herself so well as to become one of the most recognizable faces on the planet. Personally, I think Kim Kardashian is great. I think she has genuine character.
And genuine character is the rarest, yet perhaps most beautiful aspect of human existence. Yet so few people actually let that character show. We allow arbitrary rules, taboo topics and tender feelings to limit what we say and what we think. And in the process, we limit ourselves and our contributions to the world.
It saddens me to say that this is my final column. But before I bow out, I’d like to leave you all with a final thought. A final piece of advice. That advice is to always be the loud voice — a voice that speaks up and questions the general consensus. The voice that brings light to the unpopular opinions and the controversies, because you just might find that they aren’t so terribly unpopular or controversial. And most importantly, never, ever allow somebody to look at you and say that “you can’t say that.”