Well, I’ve been meaning recently to have my FAQ’s page updated with a new question. Problem is, there’s no short answer, so I guess I’ll have to do it here.
Often times, when people see me after a performance, or just out and about, they’ll come up to me and ask, “What’s with the cape?” or, “Why are you wearing a cape?” The latter is usually only asked by people who don’t know me. On the spot, I usually give some quick response that questions their view of social norms or sarcastically undermines the premise of their question. This isn’t meant to be rude. I just don’t have the time to give everyone a full answer, and I at least want to give them the intellectual tools to find it on their own.
My first cape was part of a costume where I was playing a stock cartoon villain in a live action production. After production was finished, I got to keep the costume and I started wearing the cape with every day ensembles. I liked it so much, I bought more capes for my wardrobe. So, the short answer is, “Because I like it.”
But that’s not the answer people are looking for. When people ask, “What’s with the cape?” what they’re really asking is, “How did you get the courage to buck social norms?” Very rarely, people actually ask that in more obvious language. Often, they point and laugh or make rude comments about it. This latter group isn’t yet ready for the answer and just wants to bring themselves up by tearing me down.
But, if you’re asking the question about the cape, at least now you know what you’re really asking, so now I can tell you the real answer.
As the great bard, William Shakespeare, once wrote, “To thine own self be true.” Sure, there is an evolutionary benefit to following the herd, but we need to understand that instinct. We need to know why we have it. Then, we can begin to understand when we should do it, and when we should not.
Historically, if we alienated all the people in our lives, we would simply die. That’s still the case today to a far lesser extent, but we have so many more options today. Societal progression is a lot faster than evolution. However, we still do need to fit in to some degree in order to successfully function in society.
Now, I’m not the best at picking up social cues, but I have noticed one thing. Whether your appearance fits in has little to do with whether you fit in. If you look like everyone else, you’ll never meet new people because you won’t be noticed. Sure, you don’t want to paint a swastika on your forehead or dress like a thug, but the little eccentricities in your appearance help you stand out. Standing out can and does help you fit in. Besides, where do you think trends come from? Someone has to break the rules in order to set a new trend.
With Gene Simmons, it was clown make-up and a tongue he could lick his own arse with. With Jedward, it was hair that couldn’t be messed up by a lightning strike. With Lady Gaga, it was buying her outfits in meat and seafood department of the supermarket. With me, it’s capes… And, neck ties and vests over short-sleeved shirts… Among other things.
So, whatever little eccentricity you always wanted to add to your wardrobe, go ahead. Don’t be afraid of what people might think of it, or of you. People who think less of you for wearing what makes you happy aren’t people you want to spend your time around anyway. If you can’t even be free to be yourself, how can you ever expect to be free from the tyrannical influences in your life?
So, all this said, it finally makes sense when I tell you the real answer: I wear the cape for your freedom.