Normal.

It’s a word that so many of us hope applies to us, yet in reality, we are denied that application. But what is “normal?” I recall a line of dialogue from Star Trek: Generations where the all-too-forgettable villain says to the blind Geordi LaForge, “Normal is what everyone else is, and you are not.” Sure, the line is lame. But then, so was the movie.

But outside-the-norm characters are a huge sell for movies. Aren’t they? Not so sure? Well, let’s just look at some of our biggest blockbusters:

  • The smartaleck pilot saves the world in “Independence Day.”
  • A young boy suvives his parents’ murder and saves the day in the Harry Potter movies.
  • The sensitive dreamer saves the galaxy in “Star Wars.”
  • The risen-from-the-dead goth avenges his own murder in “The Crow.”
  • The computer hacker nerd becomes the chosen one in “The Matrix.”
  • The teenage 98-pound weakling saves the damsel in distress in “Spider-Man” after being bitten by a genetically-altered spider.
  • The three-and-a-half-foot hobbits save all of Middle-Earth in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Okay. Too much sci-fi and fantasy? Let’s look a little more down-to-earth:

  • The geeky girl gets the hero in “Speed.”
  • The suicidal martial arts expert gets the girl and blows up the bad guys in the Lethal Weapon movies.
  • The quiet, reclusive son wipes out the enemy mafia in “The Godfather.”
  • The vengeance-seeking anti-hero gets his revenge and lots of explosions in “The Punisher.”

Quite simply, Americans love to root for the underdogs. When someone’s getting picked on or beaten down, there’s that faint hope that the poor little underdog will rise up and take hold of the kind of victory that draws headlines across the world. I think there’s good reason for that…because in most cases we ARE the outcast… the underdog… the “not normal.”

At one point in our lives, we’re always a little bit outside of where we want to be. We all went through that first year of high school or the new recruit in that first job. To be more specific, most of us are a little bit different… the pizza face, the four-eyes, the geek, the nerd, the jock, the hoodlum…the list goes on and on. Quite simply, I don’t think there’s a single person who hadn’t been picked on at one point or another during their childhood.

Now what happens when we start looking at other more permanent external differences? Most of us will grow out of those sophomoric titles, but some of them tend to stick. Some of the more obvious differences are those of different ethnicities, sexual orientation (or perceived sexualities), gender identities, or geeks and nerds. Yes, geeks and nerds are still around… and they’re proud to be nerds. Just ask Bill Gates.

Sadly, there are those who insist on asserting their “normalcy” over the rest of us to the point of being bullies. I read a blog a few weeks ago that blasted liberals for promoting things that weren’t “normal.” The person, who of course wrote anonymously, also said that the “normal people” were going to make the rules for the rest of us.

I had to think about that for a moment. If he were so normal, wouldn’t he (or she) have felt that his sentiments were normal enough to sign their name to it? Alas, they are no more normal than most bullies… they have big mouths and small egos that are easily bruised.

So in the end, are any of us normal? Sure, some are more well-adjusted to society than others, but the reality is that normalcy is a nebulous dream of idealism that most of us will never achieve.

My brother once had a t-shirt that said, “why be normal?” Good point, I think.