Thursday, October 7, 2010

Alter Ego

An alter ego is a second self, a second personality or persona within a person, who is often oblivious to the persona's actions. It was coined in the early nineteenth century when dissociative identity disorder was first described by psychologists.A person with an alter ego is said to lead a double life.

A distinct meaning for alter ego can be found in literary analysis, wherein it describes characters in different works who are psychologicallysimilar, or a fictional character whose behavior, speech or thoughts intentionally represent those of the author. Similarly, alter ego can be applied to the role or persona taken on by an actor or by other types of performers.

Alter ego is also used to refer to the different behaviors any person may display in various situations. Related concepts include avatar, doppelgänger, impersonator, and split personality.

Performing Arts Usage

Alter egos are used by numerous performing artists who use stage or screen personae both to entertain audiences and to explore new identities for themselves. An early example of a musical group to make use of alter egos was The Beatles, who recorded and performed as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in order "to alter our egos, free ourselves and have a lot of fun". Alter egos would later be used for entertainment value by glam-associated artists such as David Bowie (as Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke) and Kiss, and to exploit horror themes by shock rockers Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson. Often, these artists are known almost exclusively by their alter egos; for example, Brian Warner (Marilyn Manson) is seldom seen in public without his horror makeup. In contemporary Hip Hop, artists such as Eminem and T.I. have used the alter egos Slim Shady and T.I.P., respectively, to explore divisions in their personalities. T.I.'s album T.I. vs T.I.P. even directly appropriates a Jekyll and Hyde plot. More subtle uses of alter egos can be seen in artists who redefine their image for an album, such as Christina Aguilera as Xtina, and artists who describe their stage personalities as different from their private ones, such as Beyoncé Knowles's identity as Sasha Fierce.

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