It so isn’t my intention to be some sort of overly sensitive psycho when it comes to the matter of Only children but I just can’t help noticing when certain (unintentionally disparaging) things are said, in this case by director David Fincher of Gone Girl. When discussing his lead actress Rosamund Pike he said in a copy of last year’s Metro (Wednesday 1st October 2014, page 35) that ‘After talking for two hours it dawned on me that there was something hermetically sealed about Ros. I said: “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” And she said that she was an only child.’
Pike plays Amy in Gone Girl, another only child and for me, being described as ‘hermetically sealed’ would not be a compliment, even if the director goes on to say that it was a useful character trait for a part in a movie I happened to be playing! Pike could after all have had a number of siblings and still possessed this composure and control but no, it was all too easily explained away by her sibling-free status.
I have a number of friends who are only children and they are all different, why would they be the same? It says nothing at all about a person apart from whether they have a sibling or not. It gives no indication as to whether they are emotionally secure and have friends, were brought up in a vibrant, nurturing community or were lonely and miserable, neglected or molly coddled. There are many different facets to everyone. It’s like saying that all red-heads are fiery, or all blondes are dumb, those who wear glasses are nerds or twins live in each other’s pockets and are co-dependent. Judging or making huge generalisations in this way, based on one factor of an individual without knowing anything else about them just makes no sense in my book. If someone is an only child it simply means they have no siblings. It really says absolutely nothing else about them or their upbringing than that. It shouldn’t mean that if you are gregarious then you obviously had too much attention (because you were an only child), quiet and a loner, introverted and shy then you obviously struggled to connect with peers (because you are an only child). Bright and quick-witted, successful and confident, then you could be branded precocious (because you are an only child).
I am so looking forward to the day when someone can say that they are an only child and it just doesn’t mean anything else, apart from that. There is no subtext, no sympathy, no reappraisal of their personality or trying to make sense of it in light of this new information (like director David Fincher did above). It has been proven that only children, as a group, are not well-liked and that is because individual merit is cast off and replaced by centuries-old generalizations that are now thankfully accepted as being entirely and utterly incorrect. This message still needs a bit of help however to gain traction and to filter through into the popular consciousness of the 21st Century so that only children in the not too distant future can hold their heads up high and never feel judged on such a spurious reason again.