Does Factory Kill The Magic?
by Haniya Khalid
My playlist shuffled through and stopped on Viva Forever by Spice Girls. I was immediately taken back to a musty living room in the early 90s, ensconced in a baby pink comforter and completely lost in the visuals of the music video: bright-eyed, animated fairies planting lipsticky kisses on the cheeks of a young, non-animated face. The surroundings were green. They were in a forest, maybe, and the Girls, now in faery-form (it sounds better if I say faery, doesn’t it?) were fluttering around, tiny and hummingbird-like, making some point that didn’t quite translate. It made little to no sense, yet somehow paired with the poppy aaahs of the song, it hit you somewhere; took you someplace. A CGI-fairy-freckle-kissed heaven.What made it, and so many other random memories from our childhood so precious is that as children, we tend not to question things too much. And though analysis can lead to a cathartic A-ha! moment, that warm feeling of when things just click into place, there is a mystery and a magic that is lost when boundaries are completely and finitely defined.
Like going to your favorite chocolate factory.When I eat a Ferrero Rocher, I dont really want to know much about it. I want to peel the crinkled gold foil, roll it into a ball in my palm and pop the whole chocolate into my mouth. I want to bite past the hard, nutty core, into the soft chocolate and let the velvetty flavor hit the roof of my mouth–and then everywhere else. That’s it. At the most, I will turn the dark brown paper doily into a boat, or fill it with paper clips and thumb-tacks and continue whatever it was I was doing before the mini-ecstasy took place. I don’t want to know how it’s made, nor see the insides of the assembly line it takes to drop that one chocolate I ate into a pile of thousands, maybe millions of chocolates that will be distributed around the entire world. That I am sharing this mini-ecstasy with thousands, maybe millions of people just like me. I especially don’t want to know about Jon Doe, and how he works at the factory, or the plant, and starts his day at 6 am to turn on some Vonnegut-esque machine, how my entire mini-ecstasy is his bread and butter. And I absolutely, in no possible way want to know about the calorie content or sugar levels in this tiny chocolate, how much nutritional value it does or does not have. Hec, I do not want to know anything at all. I want to keep the factory, Jon, and any other potentially damaging information (damaging to my ecstasy!) safely away from me.
And just like that, the goofy fun of music videos is pretty much over. I can no longer dreamily stare at Britney Spears’ sparkly green eye-shadow or admire the color-coordinated sets of Destiny Child’s Say My Name without immediately picturing every piece that goes into it: the set designer, the makeup artists (now on Instagram, with their skills and products available for everyone to see), the costume designers, the choreographers. An assembly line unto itself.
Maybe it is more cathartic to understand the breakdown of something if contributes to the buildup of something else, or another iteration of the same thing.
Or maybe–just maybe– there is a sweet spot of knowledge: when you know enough and right before you know too much. And if this sweet spot exists, is it in our control to manage, even manipulate it? And if it is something that we control, then is the resulting magical-fairy-dust-on-your-shoulder feeling as organic as it was in that musty 90s living room? Probably not. It may be worth trying, though- if only to be hit somewhere. Taken someplace.