Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Turning my world upside down.

Last night before bed, I started reading Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. I knew I couldn't read too much, since it's due back at the library today (I can't renew it because someone else has requested it), but I wanted to see if I should re-request the book.

So, wow. Within the first 10 pages, Mr. Klosterman has single-handedly refuted many tenets of our "this is what love is/should be" philosophy
(I'm assuming here about the rest of you, but I think there's a certain collective generational ideal about these kinds of things). I'm still kind of reeling.

Let's review some of his thoughts.

On John Cusack/Lloyd Dobler: "I cannot fathom how he isn't the number-one box-office star in America, because every straight girl I know would sell her soul to share a milkshake with this motherfucker. ... But here's what none of these upwardly mobile women seem to realize: They don't love John Cusack. They love Lloyd Dobler. ... We all convince ourselves of things like this--not necessarily about Say Anything, but about any fictionalized portrayals of romance that happen to hit us in the right place, at the right time."

On Coldplay-type emo music: "Coldplay songs deliver an amorphous, irrefutable interpretation of how being in love is supposed to feel, and people find themselves wanting that feeling for real. They want men to adore them like Lloyd Dobler would, and they want women to think like Aimee Mann, and they expect all their arguments to sound like Sam Malone and Diane Chambers. They think everything will work out perfectly in the end (just like it did for Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones and Nick Hornby's Rob Fleming)..."

On witty banter: "...people assume there is something profound about having a relationship based on witty conversation and intellectual discourse. There isn't. It's just another gimmick, and it's no different than wanting to be with someone because they're thin or rich or the former lead singer of Whiskeytown. And it actually might be worse, because an intellectual relationship isn't real at all.
My witty banter and cerebral discourse is almost completely contrived."

On When Harry Met Sally-type relationships: "The problem is that the Harry-Met-Sally situation is almost always tragically unbalanced. Most of the time, the two involved parties are not really 'best friends.' Inevitably, one of the people has been in love with the other from the first day they met, while the other person is either (a) wracked with guilt and pressure, or (b) completely oblivious to the espoused attraction. Every relationship is fundamentally a power struggle, and the individual in power is whoever likes the other person less."

So. Woah.


Blogger fabulous girl said...

This sounds like a GREAT book club book.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Colin said...

If you can wait until the end of the month, I can lend you my copy of the book.

I quite enjoyed it. I don't agree with everything he says (by any stretch) but I like the way he says it. His list of questions he asks people is fabulous (I think there are 22 of them).

12:56 PM  
Blogger fabulous girl said...

ooo! Can I borrow it next?!

1:20 PM  
Blogger winnekat said...

Maybe we should read it for the next book club! Then we all get to read it.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Colin said...

When is the next book club?

1:49 PM  
Blogger winnekat said...

Still TBD. Host undetermined too.

1:54 PM  
Blogger fabulous girl said...

I suddenly feel my right hand raising itself ...

4:14 PM  
Blogger BS said...

We may have to make this a bi-coastal book club.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous rotorglow said...

Hmm... (I begin all of my pensive moments this way...)

So, I'm curious enough about the uproar (wrong word, but it'll have to do) to maybe read this myself. The thing is, I have to say that last part about Harry having met Sally seems completely dead-on to me. (Except maybe his either/or extremes of "oblivious" and "wracked." I think there're shades of that, not just black and white.) Maybe that's just because I've been on both sides?

Relationship "ideals" sound good to me too, but I can't say that's one I'm surprised people are getting around to debunking.

Lest I cause offense, I'll avoid the Coldplay topic...

Lloyd Dobler did have that cool Fishbone shirt, though.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Colin said...

When I read the book, I succumbed to the urge to quote a few patches of it in my LJ. Here's one of the ones I really liked:

"However, sex is not the central theme to modern cereal advertising. In fact, selling cereal is not the central theme to cereal advertising. Saturday morning commercials for all the best cereals are teaching kids how to figure out what's cool. They're the first step in the indoctrination of future hipsters: Cereal commercials teach us that anything desirable is supposed to be exclusionary.
"An inordinate number of cereal commercials are based on the premise that a given cereal is so delicious that a fictional creature would want to steal it. We are presented with this scenario time and time again. The most obvious is the Trix Rabbit, a tragic figure whose doomed existence is not unlike that of Sisyphus. Since the cereal's inception, the rabbit - often marginalized as 'silly' - has never been allowed to enjoy even one bowl of his favorite foodstuff, and the explanation for this embargo smacks of both age discrimination and racism (we are to accept that Trix is reserved exclusively 'for kids').
"An even sadder illustration of cereal segregation is Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, arguably the most tortured member of the advertising community. Sonny is plagued with self-loathing; though outspokenly otaku for Cocoa Puffs, he doesn't feel he deserves to consume them. Sonny will do anything to escape from his jones, including (but not limited to) locking himself into a primitive skycycle and shooting himself into outer space. To make matters worse, he is bombarded by temptation: Random children endlessly taunt him with heaping bowls of C-Puffs, almost like street junkies waving heroin needles in the face of William S. Burroughs. The kids have cereal, and Sonny does not. Translation: The kids are cool, and Sonny's an extremist and a failure. And as long as they possess what he does not, Sonny shall remain a second-class phoenix, doomed by his own maniacal ambition for breakfast.
"Commercials for Lucky Charms star a leprechaun who replaced the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with a bowl of marshmallow-laden cereal, a narrative device that slightly overstated the value of the actual product. The Cookie Crisp mascot was a masked rapscallion named "Crook," whose whole self-identity was built on stealing cereal. In ads for both Cocoa and Fruity Pebbles, Barney Rubble went to ridiculous lengths in the hope of shoplifting Fred Flintstone's breakfast, occasionally dressing like a woman and/or rapping like Ghostface Killah. Time and time again, commercials for cereal assault children with the same theme: A product's exclusivity is directly proportional to its social cachet, which is the definition of calculated adult coolness."

3:36 AM  
Blogger winnekat said...

So yes, Rotorglow, Coldplay is pretty cliche and all that (although I think their first album is pretty damn good, if you can get past how overplayed "Yellow" was--I love "Don't Panic" and they also have this song "Careful Where You Stand" that I think is on one of their EPs), but I can honestly say that their song "The Scientist" was the soundtrack to not one but TWO separate breakups/tacit agreements to stop seeing each other for me. As in, I played it over and over and over.

What's that saying--it's a cliche for a reason, or something like that?

And I definitely agree with what you said about how the WHMS situation is rarely as black and white as he says.

Colin--that's great. I like that your comment is longer than my post. :) And when can we see this LiveJournal of yours anyway?

5:34 AM  
Anonymous colin said...

I'd already spent a while typing it up previously so all I had to do this time was copy and paste. Much easier. :)

It is kinda long, but at least I had the good sense to leave out the other two passages I quoted...

I try not to have their be any external connections between my LJ and me - that is to say, nobody should be able to find my LJ by my name, only if I tell you what it is. I'll make a slight exception here, though, and include the link, since this is only tied to my first name and not my full name. How ridiculous am I? :)

7:03 AM  
Anonymous rotorglow said...

Winnekat, sure, "Cliche for a reason..." I'll buy that, but that may be part of why I can't stand it. Yellow was an entirely unintentional and unwelcome soundtrack to a breakup for me (or rather, first of many many movements to that particular breakup symphony), and there's something unbearably (to me) cloying about it. It may all be due to the circumstances. But there are entire (incomparably) great records that I can't listen to anymore for the same reason, which are a much bigger loss for my mental playlist than Coldplay is.

Erratum re: my previous comment: by "both sides" I meant both sides of the power imbalance, not the "oblivious/wracked" dichotomy.

I've never been oblivious. Not once.... *cough*

8:20 AM  
Blogger Rainster said...

Now I need to read this book...

9:06 AM  
Blogger winnekat said...

Ooh, thanks Colin! (BTW, I just got A Million Little Pieces from the library and I'm planning on reading it on the plane to/from NYC this weekend. We'll have to talk about it when you get back here.)

Rglow--you are entirely right about the many many better albums out there. I agree that deleting Coldplay from your mental playlist (hee!) isn't the end of the world.

And I think I am just particularly susceptible to cliche. I mean, come on--I watch Laguna Beach and Making the Band and LOVE them.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous colin said...

Oooh I definitely want to know what you think. Have a good trip!

5:07 PM  
Blogger fabulous girl said...

How LOL is it that Kate's got Colin saying /Oooh!/. Tee hee.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous colin said...

Hmm... I'm trying to decide if that's something that I've just started doing or if it's something that I did before...

I might have to do some research now. :)

10:25 AM  

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