Back on my book

Today's blog is the introduction to chapter 3 of my new book on friendship. I've been working on it tonight and don't have time for anything else fresh!

Relating in the public space

I’m a little bit embarrassed to say that I love reality TV. I especially like what I call the ‘fish out of water’ shows. Whether it’s the mums of two different families swapping houses for a fortnight, or an Aussie family going to spend a month with an African tribe, I like the idea of seeing how people react when they don’t belong.

Comedy films are sometimes based around this basic premise. Think of the oldie ‘Crocodile Dundee’, where Mick Dundee, a bushie from the Northern Territory gets transplanted to New York City. He’s never seen so many people in his life, he can hardly understand the accent and he doesn’t know why people look at him oddly when he says hello to everyone he sees on the street.

Then there’s Legally Blonde which dumps Elle Woods, a pink-loving Californian ditzy blonde and her pet chihuahua Bruiser with matching accessories into the middle of the serious, cynical, academic world of Harvard Law School.

The laughs in these shows come from watching the people who are the ‘fishes out of water’ learn the rules and find their place and some sort of acceptance in their new environment. We cringe as we watch them flounder and we cheer when they finally find their footing.

All of these shows are dealing with the idea of public belonging. In other words, they look at how people relate in the public space. In a previous series on belonging and friendship (check out the links to the right if you're reading this on my blogsite) we saw how public belonging occurs when people connect through an outside influence.

Mick Dundee was connected to his Aussie mates through his love of the bush and his pursuit of crocodiles. He expressed his belonging by the way he looked, the things he said and the cultural rules he followed.

Elle Woods belonged to the Californian sorority scene and clearly didn’t fit into Harvard Law. Just the way she walked down the corridor and tilted her head in class told everyone around her, “I’m new here and I don’t understand the rules.”