I'm sure by now you've read every possible news article, giggled furiously at each meme and maybe even shook your head in disbelief at the blatant plagiarizing that happened at the 2016 Republican National Convention during First Lady hopeful Melania Trump's speech.
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Now, I'm not going to spend my precious keystrokes going over the fact that Melania stole passages from First Lady Michelle Obama's moving 2008 speech during the Democratic National Convention. Nah, son.
I'm not even going to spend my time debating those who view plagiarizing a person's words as "no big deal". Nope, not on this great day.
I won't eeeeeven touch the fact that the bias shown during "Melania Gate", versus how we know Michelle Obama would've been crucified had she done the same thing, is off the charts. No, thank you.
And you know what else I won't get into? I won't get into the decades upon decades of documented instances where people have stolen ideas, words, inventions, songs, pelvic thrusts (Hey, Elvis) or sounds from African Americans without as much as a band-aid over their eye in recognition (Hey, Nelly). Not touching that today.
But what I will talk about requires some transparency. Some honesty. Some downright ugly facts that break the mold of a major lie that your grandma, auntie, play cousins and even your favorite elementary school teacher told you.
Have a seat. Comfortable? Need some Twizzlers? Some tea (no Kermit)? Some Henny? Want me to light some incense? Are you ready to discuss the truth?
It's all a lie. Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery. It's not. Not even on the worst day of imitating someone does it ever become flattering to them or you. It's annoying. It's draining. It's wack. The sincerest form of flattery is being true to yourself...'cause let's face it...if you're not dope, your imitation is likely just as bad as Latarian "I Wanna Do Hoodrat Things With My Friends" Milton was. And that little boy was bad enough to serve as birth control (side-note: shout out to him for glowing up wonderfully).
Anyway...hear me out, nothing under the sun is new. NOTHING. Everything has been done before. EVERYTHING. As a writer, I, more than anyone else, understand that. I respect it. But you want to know the difference between someone people feel free being themselves around and someone people will only share bits and pieces of themselves with because they fear it being turned into the new "cool" way of living/breathing/acting?
It lies in Inspiration vs. Imitation.
When you're imitating, you're looking to take something that someone else has busted their butt creating and find a way to mimic for the purpose of trying on the facade of "originality" one pant leg at a time.
When you're inspired, you're open to the influences around you while allowing that to unlock the flavor for your own Starburst juice-fest.
Remember when you were in school and there was always that one kid who never studied, never came prepared but then wanted you to tell them all of the answers to the test? Or the 2-page essay? Yeah, don't be THAT kid.
You know him.
Be the person that takes the time to remain within the openness of inspiration. The one who can hear every word of someone's thoughts and still walk away crafting a personalized viewpoint. Even if it's similar in reasoning, it should never be identical in presentation.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way...let me ask:
Do YOU realize how dope you are?
Do YOU realize that you're cheapening YOUR own brand each and every time you imitate someone else's style, swag, goals, dreams, ideas, life?
Do YOU realize the phrase "Imitation is flattery" is merely giving you permission to "flatter" someone at the risk of your own individuality and thinking?
'Cause what makes them, them, will never, in a million years, make you, you.
Imitation will have you as the Great Value version of Beyonce's Lemonade, but you'll never be the real, fresh squeezed deal.
Imitation will have you as one of the replacement members of Dru Hill or Xscape. Close, but no crooning cigar.
Imitation will have you out here literally living in the shadow of that (or who) you're imitating. Who. Has. Time. For. That?
So, let's keep it all the way clear:
- YOU are enough to create your own idea. To walk in your own light. To be your own pen on the paper inked up from the inspiration littered around you.
- You are NOT flattering anyone by imitating them. If anything, you're freaking them out, having them lock their doors twice at night and giving their friends/followers ammunition to laugh like Def Comedy Jam was on and Russell "God Blesst" the crowd.
- You WILL miss your inspiration private jet if you continually wait for the imitation Greyhound Bus to pick you up. Believe me, inspiration is not waiting on you to give up the ease of imitating for the luxury of being you. It's YOUR choice to remain on a flip-phone (imitation) or upgrade to an iPhone (inspiration).
Be inspired. Don't imitate. Be led. Don't copy. Be You. Everyone else is already taken.
So, the next time you hear someone say that imitation is flattery...remind them, there's enough dopeness in all of us not to settle with being imitators.