Tuesday 4 December 2007

All we are saying... is Give Rats a Chance...

There's a new generation of rats in New York City.

They are not ashamed of their forebears, they are in fact proud of the fact that the rats of New York City did so much to contribute to the lasting legacy of the image of The Big Apple. The rats of New York city are legendary. But they have had a bad rap. And they have never been pretty.

However, there is now a new generation with new concerns, and this generation is, in keeping with much of the city they hold so beloved, that has sustained and multiplied them, feeling comfortable enough with their new status that they are keen to launch a pr campaign, in order to revamp their public image. It's a branding thing. And I am one lucky lady today, because I have gotten the gig. It's the highest profile job of my career as a rat finker.

It's also, I'm happy to say, an easy job. Because the rats of New York City have become a species for the city to be proud of. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been having meetings with some high profile leaders of the rat community here in the Park Slope/ Prospect Heights neighbourhoods and I have seen how they live. They have respect in their communities, they provide for their families, they live off the pickings of very sanitary rubbish bins and the very fine restaurant kitchens of the area.

Their offspring - ratlets I've decided to call them for the ground we can cover with the cute factor - are educated, well integrated into the community, and have ambition that their grandparents simply couldn't have hoped to have. They know how far it is possible to travel in this town; some of them have indeed ascended Manhattan's dizzying heights: you may know many of their faces, they have become leaders of business and industry and are visible, speaking their truth nightly on CNN and Bloomberg TV.

There are a few key concerns emerging from my conversations with the various rat communities of the city (and just like the human communities, the rat communities are diverse, in economic realities, education and prospects) that the rats on the ground would like to have addressed in the wider community, and through their media representations. They are fully aware of the centrality of their role in the New York story, which is comparable with, though inherently different from, the centrality of the cockroach community in the life of the city. And it's time for payback, now. It's time for recognition. Language is an important issue.

They have been inspired by the efforts of many minority communities in reclaiming the slang epithets that have been for generations used abusively against them. Street rats in Washington Heights and Inwood, the as yet ungentrified parts of Manhattan, aswell as many areas of The Bronx, have, for a number of years now, been fondly, informally calling each other 'vermin' and this defiant act of empowerment has been read as threatening by the human communities there. They wonder what the rats are planning and what is possible from here.

Well, most rats in New York City are really just very pleased to be earning a good living and having a warm home in a safe neighbourhood, and that's what we're really keen to emphasise in our public relations efforts. This is all about understanding between the two principle species in the city. Again, I am aware that our cockroach friends share the city equally as the third dominant species here, but they haven't hired me. Yet.

We all just want what's good for the children. Rat and baby, standing shoulder to shoulder, eating from the same bowl. And maybe this vision seems mad to you, seems so visionary as to be such a long way off, that it could never happen, that we humans could never see rats as an equal species, but here's where the fight begins. The fight of the triumph of human and, yes, vermin, understanding.

No comments:

Post a Comment