Discerning the Dominant Chimp
It's all in the attitude.
We're all just a huge collection of stereotypes and cliches.
Admit it to yourself and you'll feel better. I promise.
Recently, it was pointed out to me that the "Dare to Be Different, Do It Big or Stay in Bed, I Just Got a Hunter S. Thompson Quote Tattoo'd on My Arm" pose is a cliché. And it's true. But is it any different than the "Conform to the Decorum and Archetypes That Society Accepts" or the "I'm Just Here to Entertain Them" or the "I Don't Need No Education; I Got Common Sense" clichés that surround me?
We both reject and wrap our stereotypes around us. We are all cliché because we are all so goddamned similar. What sets one apart from the other is attitude.
"You probably shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but if you do, you probably do it accurately.
That's the takeaway from a new study at Bangor University in Wales. Using several groups of test subjects, researchers discovered that, when shown images of chimp faces bearing neutral expressions—i.e. not grinning or howling—people were usually able to ascertain which chimps were most dominant, most active, and most sympathetic.
In one experiment, subjects were shown a juxtaposition of different chimps of the same sex (like in the image above), then asked to guess which chimp was more dominant. Fascinatingly, 70 percent of the subjects guessed correctly.
The dominant one has a quality of focus and purpose. The study also indicates that it isn't necessarily the biggest, strongest chimp that is considered dominant. Most interactions in the ape world are more about bark than bite; more about attitude than aptitude.
That said, attitude without aptitude usually results in bullshit.
When I see an angry artist, full of artistic soapboxing and rebellion but without the ability to translate that into a successful artistic creation, I smell it. Look for those who actually walk their talk and judge accordingly.
The Big Difference between chimps and humans is that chimps, while every bit as violent and nurturing as humans are, do not have the capacity for hypocrisy. A democratic senator who talks the importance of the economic needs of our poorest but votes with the Mega-Corporations is talking one truth but walking a different direction.
Attitude is the cliché. Aptitude is what you use to back it up.