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Archive for the ‘Lit. Theory’ Category

I’m going to retract the invective I wrote about Gawker a few days back, but just for this post. Gawker’s Rumormonger has a lengthy thread on Tucker Max that holds a true literary gem:

The more I thought about it, however, the more the fact that TM is basically lying in his stories began to bother me. His whole hook is that these stories are “true.” Anyone could just make this shit up and pass it off as fiction, it would get e-mailed around a few times and be forgotten. But Tucker presents it as true, that it actually happened to him, and it didn’t, he’s lying and that’s unacceptable. What gets Tucker his attention is people going “Man, I can’t believe that this actually happened to someone, that shit is so crazy!! I wish I were him.” In short, he was interesting because he represented something that many people wish they were but don’t really have the balls to be. Unfortunately, he wasn’t really that person, Tucker is more a persona than anything else.

The people I know who worship TM, do so because he’s “living proof” that a man need not be perfect to score. I’m not a frequent Tucker Max reader (to date, I’ve read but half of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell) but I’ve always defended my fascination by arguing that reading his misogynistic stories allowed me to make important sociological-cum-psychological observations about male behavior. But what if his various books, blogs, stories–his entire mythology–were nothing more than a great big fiction?

More importantly, I wonder how many men have dicked their way to success using TM as a placebo?

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The New Republic’s

When black people dance, they dance like this. But when white people dance, they dance like this.

You have now essentially experienced every episode of “The Arsenio Hall Show.” You have also now essentially read the entirety of Stuff White People Like, a comedic blog which may have recently popped up in your inbox, forwarded to you by an enthusiastic friend (him or herself no doubt, like the blog’s author, white).

For those few who haven’t yet seen it, read about it in the Los Angeles Times, or heard about it on NPR, the blog was created by a 29-year-old aspiring comedy writer in L.A. and it is, by its own description, “devoted to stuff white people like,” presented as numbered, encyclopedia-style entries, e.g. #1 Coffee; #5 Farmer’s Markets; #69 Mos Def; or #79 Modern Furniture.

A few observers have already pointed out, rightly, that Stuff White People Like isn’t about white people in general, but rather about a very specific demographic sliver of left-leaning, city-dwelling white folk–in other words, people like me. These people have previously been trapped and tagged alternately as yuppies, or Bobos, or (by yours truly in New York magazine) grups. Basically, they embody the uneasy marriage of urban affluence and liberal (and/or progressive, and/or alternative, and/or “indie”) ideals. For example, there are plenty of white people in America who fairly obviously don’t like (#15) yoga or (#46) The Sunday New York Times or (#28) not having a TV. But it’s much funnier and, at least on its face, more original to say “White People” rather than “Yuppies.” I mean, if someone sent you a link to a blog called “Stuff Bobos Like,” would you even open it, let alone forward it to all your Bobo friends?

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Where were you when you learned Playgirl had boxed up the back issue with Burt Reynolds on the cover, turned off the coffee maker, and locked the door? I was crying in an office in Washington, D.C.

It’s not just a magazine with an ambiguous audience. (Does a picture of a dude stroking his fully erect wang appeal more to women or gay men?) It’s a feminist institution.

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Ryan’s recent anti-Steampunk post revived my interest in SP culture, so I thought I’d share this satirical imagined monologue by Marco Kaye:

No, I won’t take off my topcoat. And that’s exactly my point. I understand your confusion. The nascent trend I have latched onto is difficult to define. Maybe I can explain it to you with the new mods I’ve been working on. No, Mom. Not like in Quadrophenia, although I appreciate those mods’ fondness for tailor-made clothing. These mods.

This looks like a late-18th-century organette, correct? Look again. It hides the Dell laptop you got me when I went to college. This bronze hand crank turns it on, and I’ve hidden a miniature photo printer where the tune sheet is supposed to go. I even installed Linux. I’ve put a lot of time into this since I quit my job at Anthropologie, which is something else I wanted to tell you about. Don’t get up and go to Lowe’s yet. But when you’re there can you get me a two-speed fan capacitor?

You’ll appreciate this, Dad. Would I ever lose this cell phone? It’s got a back plate of soldered brass. I created the aged patina with simple ammonia and salt. I’ll replenish that soon, if you’ll quit bugging me about it….

If you want to label me retrofuturistic so I can fit into your compartmentalized worldview, that’s fine. But look past my airplane goggles. This is my lifestyle….

Don’t shackle me to your outmoded ways of work. Trade and barter are more valuable to me than any coin. Besides, I’m plenty busy guest-hosting a blog called The Neon Corset. My band, Shades of Crimson, has taken off. We just booked a gig at the Rusty Rudder.

Don’t look so crestfallen, Mom and Dad. At least I’m not into cyberpunk.

Kaye’s satire requires as least an introductory knowledge of Steampunk, which means that laughing at this essay equates in some ways to laughing at one’s self. Steampunk is so fucking cool.

BTW: While researching an article on emo for Reason, I came across two ’90s emo acts with which I am now very much in love. I know I’m late to the party on these two, but here are my current fave’s: Sunny Day Real Estate and My Bloody Valentine:

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Reason.tv did an interview with Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory U. and author of the Dumbest Generation. His thesis in a nutshell? Facebook makes us dumb shits:

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Vids are fan-generated mash-ups of tv clips and music. They normally tell a story or present a close reading that conflicts with a show’s established relationships (the most famous vid suggests that Spock raped Kirk). Vids are assembled with actual footage, and as Alice Marwick at tiara.org points out about my favorite vid (one that suggests Scully and Mulder had an affair), judicious editing together of certain scenes can alter the perception of the actors themselves:

Ms. Anderson used to find the whole idea [of Mulder & Scully pursuing a romantic relationship] ridiculous. “There was always part of me that thought, ‘What’s so special about these two, and will everybody not shut up about it?’ ” she said. “And then, while we were doing this movie, somebody sent me a link to a YouTube montage that a fan had put together of Mulder and Scully. Clips of our growing intimacy through the series. One, it was really moving, and two, I couldn’t believe how many times we held hands and actually kissed. And I was left with my very first understanding of what the fans were on about. I finally kind of got it.

Here’s the Spock v. Kirk vid:

And here’s my favorite vid of all time, Scully and Mulder, in love:

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