Saturday, March 1, 2014

Stop! You're Not Liking it Right!

I'm reading Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt.  I like it a lot.  He reminds me of one my favorite bloggers Atrios in that he just gets to it in the most artful, expedient way possible. Check it:

"Relieved of Babbitt's bumbling and the soft grunts with which his wife expressed the sympathy she was too experienced to feel and much too experienced not to show, their bedroom settled instantly into impersonality."

Isn't that just great?  Don't you just fully grok that marriage, that Babbitt and that wife?  I'm going to spend this day in pajamas with Babbitt.  Jealous?

But I worry after my last post that you guys will think I spend my time indiscriminately liking things.  Like I'm some kind of whore with my affections!  Like I will like just any old thing.  And while it is true that I'm pretty easy to please, there are things I Don't Like.  And these things, as I've pondered them on my much improved commute times, break out pretty cleanly.  So lemme break it down:

My friend, Danno, and I have been arguing about Steppenwolf Theatre's production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for fourteen years.  I am not exaggerating.  I'm right and he's wrong.  You can stop reading now if you want.

But if you're interested in the crux of the argument, I thought the play was an overwrought pile of crap which wasn't so much sexist as it was the most hostile display of misogyny I'd ever borne personal witness to in which literally every asylum inmate was there because some woman had exerted control over him. Danno thinks I'm being unforgivably anachronistic.  Danno,

This was not Mrs. Cleaver vacuuming in pearls or even Ricky spanking Lucy (!).  Upon fourteen years of ruminating, I think instead it may be a reaction to a burgeoning feminist movement where women were  beginning to demand a piece of the creative pie.  The novel was published in 1962.  The Feminine Mystique came out a year later.  Something was likely in the air and the Beats wanted to remind the world that a good woman is one who'll feed you and fuck you and then step aside while you head out to Live an Authentic Life.  There's oodles of that in On the Road.

But I haven't read Cuckoo's Nest in a billion years, so I plan a re-read soon to see if I'm right.  It was profoundly evident in the performance amongst all the flailing arms and rapidly modulating pitch that indicate capital-A Acting.

*Danno totally disagrees with me.  He may have something to say.  Danno,

I can't with the sexist stuff.  I have no patience for art or culture that advances the Majesty of Man by shitting on women.  For example, any time a character articulates another character's weakness with a joke like "Did you forget your tampons?"  Especially, not for nothing, when the character delivering the joke is a woman.  Pisses. Me. Off.

But since Likers gonna Like, allow me to point you to Christopher Moore's Sacre Bleu which I just read and which featured a hilarious and interesting rumination on the nature of women as objects even in High Art.  This is something I'd never seen discussed before and the whole book had me thinking about the difference, or even if there is an inherent difference, between treating women as objects to create the Venus de Milo or treating women as objects to sell beer.  Interesting, right?

It's just not funny.  It's not edgy and it's not funny.  But purveyors of pop cultural racism and homophobia have this neat trick where if you object to the racism or the homophobia it's your problem cuz you're just just too exhaustingly over- sensitive.  In other words, the burden of sensitivity is on the object of rather than the vehicle for.  Neat, right?

You can discuss race and sexual orientation without being an asshole about it.  You can be funny talking about race and sexual orientation without being an asshole about it.  But if you're being an asshole about it, own it.  It's on you, motherfucker.

On another note: When I was a girl, I loved me some Gone With the Wind.  I can never revisit it now, though, because I will not be able to get past those happy, grateful slaves.  That's so fucked up, right?  12 Years a Slave was a great response to that.  If it wins an Oscar (and based on the movies I've seen, I think it should), those two movies should always be talked about in tandem, doncha think?

Narrative Manipulation
I have broken up with a lot of men in my life (uh… it may be worth mentioning that I have not broken up with any men recently).  But there has never been a more satisfying breakup in my life than the one I had with Glee.  I love musicals.  I loved those spunky kids breaking into song.  I loved the music and the clothes.  It was so gay and fabulous and fun.

But after a while, I just Could Not anymore.  The characters would be whatever they needed to be to advance A Very Important Lesson.  Like, is Sue Sylvester a Sociopathic Bully or is she a Pure Hearted Champion of the Intellectually Disabled?  She is both, Gleek!  Just never at the same time.  Ryan Murphy will have his shallow, bitchy cake and eat it too. I tearfully stepped away.

Honestly, I found the narrative on that show more confusing than Sponge Bob.  Shut up.  Sponge Bob is confusing.  He lives under the sea, but there's a beach!!!!!!

This is a Thing that MAKES NO SENSE:

And in the End
Did it ever occur to you that there is just absolutely not enough time in life to consume all the wonderful things there are to consume?  You will never read every great book, or watch every great TV show or see every beautiful painting.  Which begs the question: is this wonderful or depressing?  It's both, Gleek!  Like Ryan Murphy, I'll have my cake and eat it!