How a beatboxer on a London tube encapsulates what’s wrong with us

A recent viral video of Marv Radio beat boxing to an angry train passenger demonstrates a culture of toxic spirituality.

 

A video recently went viral of a confrontation on a London tube between a beatboxer and a passenger. While many have condemned it as rude and annoying, they do not go far enough. There is something much more nefarious happening. What the beat-boxer, Marv Radio, does here is a disgusting display of toxic-spirituality (yes, I just made that up), and masculine bravado, and a total disregard for the immense complexity of existence.

 

 

Let’s focus on the way he talks to his fellow traveller. At no point does he stop to let the poor man talk, and he continuously speaks from the perspective of self-appointed righteousness.

 

Marv starts off by telling our protagonist that “life’s ok” and that he just needs to “smile”. It doesn’t matter that Marv knows nothing about his fellow passenger because he knows full well that he himself treads the path of righteousness and therefore what he says goes. Marv’s preachboxing continues as he consistently refers back to the perceived disrespect that has been shown towards him. “This is my home, and home is where my heart is, home is where my art is”.

 

What he means is “don’t you dare ask me to stop. You should be happy that I’m sharing my art with you”. He then ignores the passenger’s attempts to end the confrontation, repeatedly saying “I’m not going to stop until you’ve calmed down”. This is troubling behaviour. Marv continually places the blame on the other man, deflecting any notion that he himself is the hostile party, in order to maintain his own saintly self-image.

 

By living a life of socially accepted or self-perceived “good” behaviours and pastimes, people can become wildly delusional about their own goodness. Through this thought process there is no room for your own mistakes and anyone who does not agree with you is instantly labelled as the “bad”: a lost, troubled, or evil person in need of change and guidance.

 

 

Instead, we need to learn to see these people as the human beings they are, those who have lived different lives, and therefore come to significantly different conclusions. If we completely shut ourselves off to any real communication with people we do not already agree with, we will often act aggressively when these situations inevitably arise.

 

We react aggressively because we are experiencing cognitive dissonance (and Marv perfectly displays how not to deal with it). Cognitive dissonance is basically when we simultaneously experience two conflicting ideas, thoughts or world views. Naturally, this is an uncomfortable sensation, so we adapt one of the competing thoughts in order to restore equilibrium.

 

Marv believes himself to be a kind, loving, and peaceful man (which, for the most part, he probably is). So when the passenger notifies him that he’s being inconsiderate and disrespectful, rather than simply admitting that he has made a mistake and accepting it, he goes on the attack. He begins by consolidating his position by asking if anyone else on the train has a problem, without leaving any time for a reply. He then claims to be the real victim, that he is being targeted for sharing his “art” with those around him.

 

Let’s ignore the paradoxical “I don’t care about you, I care about everyone” and finish up with Marv’s suggestion that, had the man asked him to stop more politely, this entire situation could have been avoided. This is highly unlikely and I’m sure there’s a logical fallacy for it somewhere. Either way, Marv has protected himself from any semblance of wrongdoing.

 

We see similar behaviour, on a larger scale, everywhere. From politics, to healthy living, to raising children. But these subjects are far more expansive than a confrontation on the tube, they impact the daily lives of millions. Accepting that the world doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and that we are, perhaps, more often wrong than right, could be the first steps. Marv Radio epitomises the self-aggrandising beliefs of our time, and the defensive tendencies we have when faced with competing world-views. It’s a long road ahead.

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