Friday, January 21, 2005

W.W.Chuck Klosterman.D?

I felt both a little bit spanked and intrigued when I read this in Esquire, excerpted below. An interesting counter to some of my feelings of late about the election, swearing in, etc.

Do you want to be happy? I suspect that you do. Well, here's the first step to happiness: Don't get pissed off that people who aren't you happen to think Paris Hilton is interesting and deserves to be on TV every other day; the fame surrounding Paris Hilton is not a reflection on your life (unless you want it to be). Don't get pissed off because the Yeah Yeah Yeahs aren't on the radio enough; you can buy the goddamn record and play "Maps" all goddamn day (if that's what you want). Don't get pissed off because people didn't vote the way you voted. You knew that the country was polarized, and you knew that half of America is more upset by gay people getting married than it is about starting a war under false pretenses. You always knew that many Americans worry more about God than they worry about the economy, and you always knew those same Americans assume you're insane for feeling otherwise (just as you find them insane for supporting a theocracy). You knew this was a democracy when you agreed to participate, so you knew this was how things might work out. So don't get pissed off over the fact that the way you feel about culture isn't some kind of universal consensus. Because if you do, you will end up feeling betrayed. And it will be your own fault. You will feel bad, and you will deserve it.

Now, it's quite possible you disagree with me on this issue. And if you do, I know what your argument is: You're thinking, But I'm idealistic. This is what people who want to inflict their values on other people always think; they think that there is some kind of romantic, respectable aura that insulates the inflexible, and that their disappointment with culture proves that they're trapped by their own intellect and good taste. Somehow they think their sense of betrayal gives them integrity. It does not. If you really have integrity—if you truly live by your ideals, and those ideals dictate how you engage with the world at large—you will never feel betrayed by culture. You will simply enjoy culture more. You won't necessarily start watching syndicated episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond , but you will find it interesting that certain people do. You won't suddenly agree that Amelie was a more emotive movie than Friday Night Lights , but you won't feel alienated and offended if every film critic you read tells you that it is. You will care, but you won't care.

You're not wrong, but neither is the rest of the world. And you need to accept that those two things aren't really connected.

Insightful or just bullying?


Pam said...

This makes me feel like screaming "Fuck you!" and agreeing whole-heartedly at the same time.

Sometime back this young earnest pup showed up on my front porch fundraising for the Roadless Areas Act, or somesuch thing. We had a long talk about, of all things, snowmobiles. Do I want snowmobiles in the same places where I'm going snowshoeing? No sir, I do not. Do I think this means snowmobiles shouldn't get to go anywhere? No sir, I do not. I get that some people really like to go snowmobiling. As long as they can find a place - and I think that recreational land use plans should provide this - where they can pursue their activity without making a dog's breakfast out of natural treasures, well then, have fun, I say.

Thing is, I do feel that The Other Side is making a dog's breakfast out of, well, everything. It's fine if they watch - and enjoy - Everybody Loves Raymond. Only it seems to me more and more that Everybody Loves Raymond is on every channel, all the time.

Luckily, I hardly spend any time at all thinking about Paris Hilton.

Josh said...

I'm confused as to why you sense the post to be bullying in nature.

Drew said...

I don't think it's bullying. I think it's somewhat accurate (and somewhat just Columnist Bluster).

Asking such a huge question "is this bullying?" was more asking "do you agree or disagree?" Kind of a device, like talking about a controversial idea and then asking "so do you think that's a good idea or is it really bad?"

I'm not asking because I can't decide if it's a good or bad idea. I'm asking because I want to see how a reader responds if she doesn't know whether or not I think it's a good or bad idea.

for what it's worth, I'm also delighted that Pam responded with a story that illustrates the ambivalence I'm feeling right now.

Lillian said...

I call crap on a theory that puts Democracy in the firing line of a Theocracy. If we can vote ourselves out of a Democracy, that just doesn't make sense.

Also, I am frustrated by the continued op-ed pieces that take the views of the majority (christian, white mostly, etc.) and twist their position into that of a victim.

There are two examples that show this, the first being the hullabaloo over Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays. The folks who said they were feeling left out because no one was saying Merry Christmas comprise the majority. No one was telling them to limit their holiday banter.

The second is the recent articles I've read about the shocking rigidity of the left in enforcing politically correct behavior. Now, I'm not into people defining how I act & political correct behavior can be as limiting as following a literal interpretation of the bible in living one's life, but I smell a rat & here's why: the objections to raising issues that express intolerant views (pro-life, the evils of homosexuality) are not victim stances. They are intolerant stances. If folks are hung up on why it's so important to be tolerant, I would rather they figure it out, vs. use the tools of the left, or worse, of the oppressed, to manufacture a more intolerant society.

So, the article fits into what I've seen recently, a conservative yelp of joy and mouths talking through the slobber of intolerance with the mask of victimhood to make their chatter more palatable.

But really, you should hear my mother talk about republicans. She curses a lot until her face goes red. Some folks worry for her, but I figure, hell, how are you going to get her to stop doing that now???

Sinical said...

My problem with this group of Paris Hilton worshipers, Everybody Loves Raymond watchers, and George Bush voters is not their political persuasion. It is much larger than that, although I do hate their politics. The problem is that the group of Bible thumping rednecks are being fed lies by our leaders and their media. And the damn fools are eating the shit like it's a glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut.

The one statistic that really illustrates the problem best is this... 75% of Fox News viewers believe there is a link between Al Queda and Iraq, while only 25% of viewers on all the other new stations believe there is a link. Frightening...

My problem with the above group is they have convictions based on non-truths. Just because a person has strong convictions doesn't mean they are right. This editorial seems to imply that I embrace the hate mongers that chastise gays. That's just the damn problem now, Americans embraces ignorance because its the standard. If ignorance is going to be the standard, then I'm going to be the weird fucker that looks for the truth.

Jason B said...

Per usual, I'm parsing this one. Why did they choose "pissed off?" "Pissed off" is where both of the sides of this debate are, and I'm just not idealistic enough to believe that ignoring the mud slinging keeps me clean. I think the anger and ambivalence over the article centers on on that emotion. And that's the right wing "Limbaugh-style" bullying Andrew's referring to. I think it's important to stay "pissed off." Not getting pissed off = apathy. It's not hard for me to feel ok about staying pissed off.

Would the debate here have been the same if they had said: "Don't take it personal because people didn't vote the way you did"? That statement hits my own ambivalence on the head. It's very hard for me to not take it personally.

And yet this is what the right wing learned to do in the late 80s and 90s as their political capital eroded. They created a cognitive dissonance within their party that didn't worry so much about resolving all the conflicts in the party line (Christian, war mongering, laissez-faire Capitalists, defense heavy-spenders), as long as all their various constituents get SOMETHING that they want. It's a lot harder to name call the republicans now. I've met many in person and in message boards that are secular college-educated voters for George Bush's terrorist agenda or for his lower taxes policy. So what's your choice, continue getting hammered because our centralized-humanist agenda is in the minority and marginalized by the press, or start fragmenting the message in favor of picking up new constituents?

The Stranger fired this warning flare in November, with its urban archipelago article ( However, it misses the hidden downside. We will start siding with big businesses as long as they only pollute or exploit red states. We will push only for urban based terror defense policies, to the detriment of rural broadband access. We will push for urban based tax exemptions (e.g. writing off rent) It's no longer HUMANIST, but it might push for humanist policies as defined by the urban populace (gay rights, universal healthcare, renter's rights, technology unionization).

What do I think? Well as someone raised in the rural south, I'm trying not to take it personal.