I took 10mg of melatonin and just had a rice cake with a dollop of cream cheese.
Let’s rock and roll.
Let’s rock and roll.
Everyone IN NY should read this
Everyone who wants to come to NY should read this
Everyone should read this if you’re thinking about NY in any way, shape or form.
It should be okay to smack people that do not abide by these.
(I’m KINDA joking)
Not because I’m difficult, but because I have issues with stuff like this. It makes me feel super uncomfortable.
1. [Intoned with patronizing misogyny, followed by boisterous laughter]↩
2. [Also preceded by statement “Needs something else those kids that watch that dumb Doctor Who bullshit are into.”]↩
You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.
A little over a week after the conclusion of the first half of the last “Mad Men” season, the journalist and critic Ruth Graham published a polemical essay in Slate lamenting the popularity of young-adult fiction among fully adult readers. Noting that nearly a third of Y.A. books were purchased by readers ages 30 to 44 (most of them presumably without teenage children of their own), Graham insisted that such grown-ups “should feel embarrassed about reading literature for children.” Instead, these readers were furious. The sentiment on Twitter could be summarized as “Don’t tell me what to do!” as if Graham were a bossy, uncomprehending parent warning the kids away from sugary snacks toward more nutritious, chewier stuff.
It was not an argument she was in a position to win, however persuasive her points. To oppose the juvenile pleasures of empowered cultural consumers is to assume, wittingly or not, the role of scold, snob or curmudgeon. Full disclosure: The shoe fits. I will admit to feeling a twinge of disapproval when I see one of my peers clutching a volume of “Harry Potter” or “The Hunger Games.” I’m not necessarily proud of this reaction. As cultural critique, it belongs in the same category as the sneer I can’t quite suppress when I see guys my age (pushing 50) riding skateboards or wearing shorts and flip-flops, or the reflexive arching of my eyebrows when I notice that a woman at the office has plastic butterfly barrettes in her hair.
God, listen to me! Or don’t. My point is not so much to defend such responses as to acknowledge how absurd, how impotent, how out of touch they will inevitably sound. In my main line of work as a film critic, I have watched over the past 15 years as the studios committed their vast financial and imaginative resources to the cultivation of franchises (some of them based on those same Y.A. novels) that advance an essentially juvenile vision of the world. Comic-book movies, family-friendly animated adventures, tales of adolescent heroism and comedies of arrested development do not only make up the commercial center of 21st-century Hollywood. They are its artistic heart.
From A.O. Scott’s “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture”
Initially I was astounded and flummoxed by the reaction many had to Ruth Graham’s essay on Slate. The general gist of the piece is that adults should carry some level of shame for partaking in the consumption of books literally written for children, particularly if they don’t challenge themselves to read actual literature, or at the very least “grown-up” fiction. It’s not a particularly damning indictment of YA, so long as you’re willing to embrace those books for what they are: kids’ stuff that make for easy reading by leaning heavily on shallow characterizations, and trite platitudes, and (in most cases) an absurdly naive world view (It’s Kind of a Funny Story, et al). These books tackle real world problems that The Babysitter’s Club series rarely explored, but not in a way that could or should be construed as mature, sophisticated, or grounded in any sort of reality.
Unfortunately, many adult YA readers read blog posts about Graham’s essay and acted as if she had stormed into their bedroom, ripped every fantasy book about a shallow dystopia off their book shelves, and with those books cradled in her arms screamed “you’ll get them back when they’ve burned to ash!” These people threw honest to God temper tantrums over Graham’s essay that showed they either hadn’t read it or, perhaps more worrisome, hadn’t progressed enough in their reading comprehension to grasp its meaning.
And THAT, I think, is where there’s a problem.
When I was a teenager, I naively thought that the rise of the internet would make people more literate. I was a regular little techno-prophet, expressing this to early and late adopters IRL and on LJ. I saw people voluntarily writing more with a keyboard than they ever would have with just a pen or a pencil. Some may bemoan the passing of the hand-written letter as a means of corresponding with loved ones (though not to the degree that they’d ever have use for a fake handwriting service like the one that employs Spike Jones’ groan-inducing protagonist in “Her”), but the reality is that more people communicate by email than they ever did through the postal service.
I haven’t become a Luddite, or anything resembling a technophobe, but the things I read on a daily basis in my facebook feed and twitter timeline have dissuaded me of that notion. People are writing more, but they are not writing better. It has forced the issue of literacy, but it has not made people more thoughtful in what they express or how they express it. The reaction to Graham’s essay was one of many contemporary examples of what happens when everyone is given a prominent voice, even if they have nothing to add to the discussion.
I was also reminded of some recent tweets from writer Natasha Vargas-Cooper that gave me pause:
Missouri just enacted a 72 hour wait period on abortions! How will strong female leads on premium cable roll that back?— Natasha VC (@natashavc)September 11, 2014
Internet feminism is bankrupt. Juvenile and useless.— Natasha VC (@natashavc)September 11, 2014
U think legislators who r systematically dismantling repro rights give a fuck about gaming culture? Or female comedy writers on Late night?— Natasha VC (@natashavc)September 11, 2014
Fast food workers tried to go on strike and had dismal support, those are working (WOMEN OF COLOR) with no healthcare / childcare— Natasha VC (@natashavc)September 11, 2014
It is precious, useless jargon about ‘strong women characters’ on TV. There are strong women characters who are GOING ON STRIKE— Natasha VC (@natashavc)September 11, 2014
She’s absolutely right, and we’re all guilty of that bullshit. And it extends to our treatment of racism, poverty, and other issues where the debate isn’t how to address them but whether or not they even exist. The conversations more or less boil down to “Yuh-HUH” versus “nuh-UH” and rarely rise above it. Even if you think you’re on the right side of history, the obsession over winning the argument has become detrimental to the cause.
This is not to say it’s a direct result of reading YA, a conclusion that will be reached by more than one reader. As Scott points out in his piece, the concept of adulthood has always been, at best, a veneer to protect a shallow patriarchy and hide our own insecurities. It’s one that’s still employed by a sneering conservative movement that has been tilting at windmills so long it doesn’t even bother sharpening its sword anymore.
However, I do think that embracing childish whismy in adulthood has made us more susceptible to manipulation under the guise of fandom. It’s made us more proud of our consumption and more sure of the righteousness of it. This has led to television’s ascendancy into a higher artform, but it has also made it easier to distract us with news about tentpole blockbusters and viral videos where a handsome couple has “those hilarious arguments couples always have” (the sort of “am I right guys?!” comedy that would rightly get you labeled a hack in the world of stand-up).
In short: it’s okay to enjoy things and pursue happiness, so long as we don’t try to over-simplify things to the point where our enthusiasm for consumerism drowns out the plight of those less fortunate. We are given more options than ever, and less shame in our fandom. In some ways this is wonderful, but if we don’t start becoming a little more discerning in what we take in, there’s going to be a reckoning.
Let’s just hope it’s in the form of a dystopia where _______ is outlawed/prohibited, but one teen will _______ the system by _________.
Just pretend someone sent you a can of tomato soup and spnd the next 4-5 hours pretending you’re working on a big mystery as to who that person is/was.
"There was a note attached, said it came from a man named Campbell. But it left me with more questions than answers. Who the Hell was Campbell, and why did he kill all those tomatoes?"
- Excerpt from my new book, Soup Noir