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Who Killed Adulthood?


Yes, adulthood is dead. Yes, my generation now listens to children’s music, reads children’s books, watches children’s television and attends movies for children. (Me included.) But, contra A. O. Scott, “feminism” didn’t infantilize people my age; the economy did. And not only is being trapped in Neverland a pretty hellish existence, it actually stands to set feminism back.

I loved reading this essay! It said so many smart things in a way that’s totally get-able and argumentatively tight. Much worth reading.

There’s room for both these writers, there’s a time and a space for both of them. I’ll never sing Radiohead at karaoke, and I’ll never sit down and put on good headphones and a Blink-182 album so I can get lost in it. And it doesn’t make anyone worse or lesser, because I-V-iv-IV — and the philosophy it implies — isn’t genre, or demographic, or good or bad. I-V-iv-IV is just math, and math doesn’t care what’s cool. It just is.

Superworse: What’s Yr Take on I-V-vi-IV: A Relatively Non-Combative Post About “Let It Go,” Criticism and Karaoke 

Sady wrote a pretty thoughtful essay navigating between two essentially meaningless but contentious poles in cultural criticism. Such is the power of dialectics. You should read it!

I spend most of my time, professionally speaking, writing about movies and books, and during quiet moments, I like to entertain myself by imagining what might happen if the equivalent of poptimism were to transform those other disciplines. A significant subset of book reviewers would turn up their noses at every mention of Jhumpa Lahiri and James Salter as representatives of snobbish, boring novels for the elite and argue that to be a worthy critic, engaged with mass culture, you would have to direct the bulk of your critical attention to the likes of Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer. Movie critics would be enjoined from devoting too much of their time to “12 Years a Slave” (box-office take: $56 million) or “The Great Beauty” ($2.7 million), lest they fail to adequately analyze the majesty that is “Thor: The Dark World” ($206.2 million). What if New York food critics insisted on banging on about the virtues of Wendy’s Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger? No matter the field, a critic’s job is to argue and plead for the underappreciated, not just to cheer on the winners.

I finally got around to reading that NY Times article on poptimism that everyone is so incensed about. Unsurprisingly, I was not all that incensed. But this bit made me laugh. 

Yes. Imagine a world where people are called “snobs” for not paying enough attention to YA lit. Imagine a world where George R. R. Martin gets a front-page review in the New York Times, Stephen King is unironically compared to Dickens, and questioning the literary merit of Harry Potter inspires a fucking riot. 

Imagine a world where it might seem that 99% of all film discussion is aimed at the Marvel franchise. Imagine a world where Disney is so fetishized that people produce roughly fifty-nine “Disney Princesses as [perfume bottles/Game of Thrones characters/extreme skateboarders/notable labor advocates throughout history]” pieces per day, without Disney paying them to do so. Imagine that world. 

Imagine — if you can wrap your mind around such a ridiculous and unlikely scenario — a world where a click-based economy leads to “it sold a lot, therefore it’s good” being regarded as a legitimate critical stance in regard to all art forms, just because you, too, are only “good” so far as you can get lots of people to read you. 

Just. Imagine. It. 

(via sadybusiness)

Reading the article quoted supra and thinking about it a bit made me recollect a thing I read by Chris Ott, on his homespot:

This is because the only music the press talks about is “new” music, rather than “good” music - there’s no suggestion that maybe a record isn’t worth evaluating at all, that it’s just something some people did. People who like music tell other people who like music what music they like. That is the only legitimate referendum.

So it’s not so much about disliking new music as not believing it is inherently worth comment, yet seeing it used to prop up lifestyle advertising and fuel the content furnaces of our many web concerns. That cheats old music of its due and gives unfair advantages to lesser, unproven new acts.

The reverse was true in the past - we wanted to dislodge dinosaur bands and get newer music on the radio and in the magazines. But the Internet/information economy is in control of who you hear/about and when, and they need to create constantly “new” spectacles for you, lest their coverage appear tired and their trusted status erode.

A few things:

  • Pop is now.
  • Pop is wrapped up with identity politics.
  • Pop is youth-oriented.
  • Pop is popular.

What wouldn’t the wheels of capitalism jizz all over in their pants about the above? (And it would be jizz… #patriarchy.) Just like voting for Obama in 2008, in a vacuum pop seems to have this almost ironically grave import - but in practice it’s just the same old shit, different day. (Guantanamo, Bush tax cuts, deportations, war on terror, global imperialism, NSA, leadership failure, economic failure, environmental failure, etc.)

Like all things that are sort of bigger than any one or two things you can hold in mind at once, pop has a shitload of stuff going on that you can seize upon and say, “Yeah…. but!” Go ahead! I’m listening to the Sky Ferreira album, which I bought with my own god damn grownup money from iTunes! It’s just important, I think, to those, especially — not to sound too solicitous, over it, and better than you — for the younger and more susceptible to being inflamed, to keep a level head about your idols and figure out how they’re screwing you behind your back (whether they want to or not). Because they are. Anything that’s popular is.

Art and Artist


There’s a special feeling that you can only possibly get when you learn that your boyfriend intentionally tried to pick a fight with Dan Harmon because Dan Harmon was picking a fight with feminists on his Tumblr. 

You guys. I am the biggest “Community” superfan that I know of. I am a person who is hugely, nerdily, obsessively into a sitcom. I have used every social platform available to me, and many paid TV-reviewing opportunities, to make everyone in the world love “Community” as much as I do. It’s as embarrassing for me as it is for anyone. And even I can admit: Dan Harmon is a straight-up douchebag.  

He spends his days online trying to find someone with 63 followers who doesn’t like “Community,” so that he can bully them into deleting their social media accounts. He’s made it clear that he only hired a bunch of female writers for “Community” because he was forced to by the network. His commentary contributions on the first-season DVD alone were enough to turn me off of Dan Harmon, The Person — it was the weird, sweaty commentary on how Britta was the sort of woman he would like to fuck, coupled with the idea that he liked a woman who was “like a suitcase, you could just pick her up and throw her around;” as a relatively weathered and sassy woman who identified a lot with First-Season Britta, the idea that “women who have been through a lot and have thereby become guarded and cynical” are sexy because you could potentially subject them to future shitty treatment, because that is what we’re used to, so you could get away with a lot of bullshit while still not being the worst thing we’ve ever been through, was one of the more profoundly appalling things I’d ever heard, and explained a lot of relatively horrifying things about my life, and made me approximately 900% more glad that I am not dating any more — and his “romantic advice” this Valentine’s Day at the AV Club made me feel intensely sorry and/or afraid for every woman he has ever dated, or will ever date. (One question was basically “my wife is an addict,” and he told the dude not to be so judgmental and to just get high with her. In another Q&A, he maybe-jokingly recommended gaslighting and psychological abuse, on the rationale that “you can’t make bad people stop being bad, but you can make them fear your attention.” See: Dan Harmon trying to bully someone with 63 followers off the Internet because they don’t like his stupid sitcom.) Dan Harmon said “Her” was a great movie. Dan Harmon said “Her” was a great movie! And when I heard about that, my only thought was “of course he did.” It’s a movie about sad, weird beardos buying idealized fantasy-women to jerk them off and listen to them complain about how no-one likes them enough, so, like, there is no way that Dan Harmon wouldn’t love that movie. 

And yet, I love “Community.”

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This is a really nice essay exploring the always present issue of disliking the artist and liking the art. (Damn artists, why can’t *people* be like art — aestheticized arguments and ideas — rather than small, weak things that crave sunlight and orgasms?)