Re: Guest Post - Adulthood

1

And I've long said that no one writes books or movies about people with small children because it would be too fucking boring to depict it realistically

Depict it unrealistically, though, and you're quids in. HBO is currently making a mint out of a series virtually all of whose characters are parents of young children. (In some cases those children are dragons, but still.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:04 AM
horizontal rule
2

Eraserhead?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:06 AM
horizontal rule
3

Poltergeist!

But the general point is correct. Parents of young children are so boring that, even if you are writing a book about and for young children, you still have to think of a way to get the parents out of the picture first, which may be a) they're dead b) they've gone to Peru c) they've sent the kids to the country to escape the Blitz d) they're in another universe accessible only through a magic wardrobe e) it's set in a boarding school f) other.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:10 AM
horizontal rule
4

A lot of this is nostalgia for a view of adulthood that he had when he was a kid. Plus, a refusal to to realize that the Smiths broke up like 25 years ago. The smiths were good but so was benny goodman.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:17 AM
horizontal rule
5

Heh. I'd misread that. I thought he was saying that being able to recite Morrissey's lyrics was a sign of the squareness he was hoping for.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:19 AM
horizontal rule
6

5: I almost posted a comment that thinking that being able to recite Morrissey's lyrics marked him as not square enough was in fact an indication that he was plenty square and really needn't worry.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:20 AM
horizontal rule
7

Wheels within wheels.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:21 AM
horizontal rule
8

Anyhow I assumed the original piece was a useless getoffmylawnish thumbsucker and nothing I've seen since has led me to think otherwise.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:21 AM
horizontal rule
9

What wheels? Why wheels?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:24 AM
horizontal rule
10

The wheels are a metaphor.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:25 AM
horizontal rule
11

It's the kids' job to adopt a worldview in which anything the parents do is square.

The parents don't have to make an effort to be square.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:26 AM
horizontal rule
12

I like to think LB was holding her ear-horn up to the screen while typing 9.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:27 AM
horizontal rule
13

6 is exactly right.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:27 AM
horizontal rule
14

11: Sally and I have worked out a system where I make fun of her, and she glares at me and hisses "You think you're funny, don't you. Mom. If that's even your real name."

I think this means that I'm satisfactorily filling the role of square person in her life.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:28 AM
horizontal rule
15

It would be sort-of hilarious if the very idea that anything your parents do is automatically square is one only held by one or two generations, and the fact that we think it marks us as old.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:28 AM
horizontal rule
16

I am just mentally amalgamating this post with the "How are we all going to die" discussion for excuses for the Unfogged parents not to be present in their children's adventure stories.

"...their father loved them very much, but, one day, shortly before this story begins, he had disappeared because a clause in his contract of employment forbids the use of his name or likeness in any unlicensed publication, such as this one, and so the children were left on their own..."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:29 AM
horizontal rule
17

15: It would be even funnier if that idea was purely an artifact of lead poisoning -- teenage alienation emerged in the fifties because of leaded gasoline. Kevin Drum would plotz.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:31 AM
horizontal rule
18

17: Speaking of KD (the ultimate adult's adult -- to connect to thread) -- do you think he'll cheer up now that he has kittens?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:34 AM
horizontal rule
19

The Birth of Adulthood in American Culture

It seems silly to have to point out the glaringly obvious fact that a lot of "adult" books are plain terrible, and they can be terrible every which way. But for the purposes of this discussion, let's be clear that many "adult" books are way more "immature" than even a half-decent YA novel (meaning that the author has ideas to share that will be of some interest and use to an adult reader).
Even a relatively light-on-ideas speculative novel for young people (Divergent, say) is about a thousand miles ahead of half the "adult" stuff on the bestseller lists--get-saved or get-rich Life Full of Purpose snake oil, dumb, pompous narcolepsy-inducing would-be Literary Fiction, warmed-over Dean Koontz etc., etc., etc. I mean this not just in terms of entertainment--although, that too--but in terms of providing useful, interesting moral and philosophical questions for the reader to think about, and test against his own ideas.
Educated Americans no longer think of their country as the center of the universe, but see their country as one among many; American novels, plays and stories seek a diversity of voices and opinions; same with the better American schools and workplaces. In my lifetime, despite some really terrible setbacks--in politics, especially--Americans have been slowly but steadily growing into the literal truth of the idea that all people are created equal, and that all voices should be heard.

Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:37 AM
horizontal rule
20

There's something cultural that happened where having fun at all got marked as juvenile -- adults having fun in ways that used to look perfectly adult now look like they're pathetically trying to hold on to their youth. I'm trying to pin down what I mean by that concretely: some of it's Bowling Alone kind of stuff -- forty-something parents used to literally go to bowling leagues. Help me out with this, though. I'm not pinning it down, but I think there's something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:40 AM
horizontal rule
21

The sixties?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:41 AM
horizontal rule
22

It's probably pretty difficult to go bowling non-ironically in a great many parts of the U.S.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:44 AM
horizontal rule
23

21: I think it's more the imaginary 50s dreamed up in the 70s. Do you remember how much fun those 50s teens were having?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:45 AM
horizontal rule
24

I always have to explain to people here --" that wasn't an actual gutter ball, it was ironic."


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:47 AM
horizontal rule
25

22: bowling is just drinking with scores. And the scores don't matter. That should appeal to all the irony seekers non-ironically. (one of the most beloved bowling alleys in Mobyburgh is in Hipsterton.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:49 AM
horizontal rule
26

adults having fun in ways that used to look perfectly adult now look like they're pathetically trying to hold on to their youth

What kind of things are you thinking of, specifically?

("This book contains adult themes". What, like despair? Mortgage refinancing? Divorce? Senility? Those are adult themes. Sex, drugs, drinking and bad language are teenage themes.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:50 AM
horizontal rule
27

What about a book about a three way with your mortgage agent and senile parent's caretaker?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:52 AM
horizontal rule
28

The scores do very much matter if you've seen a competitive league. It's something that I vaguely knew must happen at times. That is, I knew there is such a thing as professional bowling because of that guy was on Letterman so often and Kingpin. But seeing it in person was still a surprise.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:53 AM
horizontal rule
29

Last time I went bowling I won a free bowling party for 15 people on the only strike I rolled all night. Then I failed to book the party in time. Then the bartender found $5.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:55 AM
horizontal rule
30

Actually, I think the last time I saw an intensely competitive bowling game was before Kingpin.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:58 AM
horizontal rule
31

I think the "death of adulthood" has to do with the shitty economy and lack of job security. A lot of people my age live with roommates, don't have a car, and/or depend on their parents for some kind of financial support. Even members of my age cohort who are doing relatively well likely don't feel that they have enough financial security to have kids.

I know that there's always been a class of people who can't afford to own a home or a car. I don't mean to imply that poor people can't achieve "adulthood." But it's tough to feel like an adult when you were raised to imagine your own adulthood including a professional career and you're muddling along with temp work.

NB I did not click any of the links in the OP, or read past the first paragraph of the OP itself.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 6:58 AM
horizontal rule
32

28: bowling leagues are very much a different beast. The only people I know who do them non-ironically are from deep redstatia, so fair enough.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:05 AM
horizontal rule
33

20: Didn't The Dude kill off bowling as an adult activity?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:12 AM
horizontal rule
34

I'm not going to read any long article that starts out with a few paragraphs of navel-gazing about Mad Men. And now I have the Mark Ronson cover of "Stop Me If You Think That You've Heard This One Before" in my head.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:16 AM
horizontal rule
35

32: I used to work with a serious bowler who was in a league. Born and bred in Connecticut (Red Sox Nation Connecticut, not NYC commuter Connecticut).


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:17 AM
horizontal rule
36

Remember when that tech millionaire bought the PBA so that he could live out his dream of being a professional bowler, despite not actually being a good bowler?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:18 AM
horizontal rule
37

Ah, it was the RealNetworks guy. I can't find the original article, about what a shitty bowler he is, but here is a follow-up from 2004.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:20 AM
horizontal rule
38

Re: kids and adults, I think there's a lot of baseless clinging to mid/late-20th century models of childhood/adolescence/adulthood going on.

Just as one example, it seems to me that the kind of fiercely tribal identity formation that used to be centered primarily around popular music is no longer a ubiquitous feature of American teenagerhood. Not that the fiercely tribal identity formation doesn't still take place, but I don't think music is the primary locus any more.

25 years ago, it would have seemed that that particular way of relating to popular music was some kind of timeless aspect of being a teen, but in fact it was the product of a specific era. Other aspects of the way kids relate to the rest of the world might be changing as well.

The above was written with the full knowledge that I might be totally wrong. People with teenage kids can let me know if they do, in fact, still identify with bands and music styles the way we did 25 years ago.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:23 AM
horizontal rule
39

I think there's a lot of baseless clinging to mid/late-20th century models of childhood/adolescence/adulthood going on

Boy, the generation that fought in the second world war wouldn't have stood for that kind of baseless clinging.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:25 AM
horizontal rule
40

NB I did not click any of the links in the OP, or read past the first paragraph of the OP itself.

Young people today have no work ethic.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:25 AM
horizontal rule
41

I'm of the right age, but I really never embraced or understood the concept of relating to popular music at that level. Possibly because the radio station in my town played (unironically) polka every day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:25 AM
horizontal rule
42

But mostly because, eh, it's just music.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:27 AM
horizontal rule
43

19: Is championing the honor of the YA genre the distaff version of the defense of comic books that nerds waged for the eons preceding validation-through-box-office-billions?

I suppose defining "adulthood" as the experiences, assumptions and tropes of the Disappointed Generation is its own kettle of fish.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:30 AM
horizontal rule
44

My late-20th c. imagination may be impoverished, but I somehow doubt you don't have Kids These Days who set themselves apart by their obscure musical tastes, and also burnout metalheads. The latter may be truly 80s-vintage, but they really seemed like that would never leave.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:39 AM
horizontal rule
45

Anyhow I assumed the original piece was a useless getoffmylawnish thumbsucker and nothing I've seen since has led me to think otherwise.

It is. Or rather, since I'm slightly more generous, it's badly suited to being a magazine piece and would be better off as five or six blog posts.

My sympathy for it was that, from the interview A.O. Scott clearly recognizes that himself, and wasn't trying to puff it up as any sort of important think-piece.

I think the "death of adulthood" has to do with the shitty economy and lack of job security.

Interesting note: in the interview (which I don't expect people to listen to), Scott specifically mentions that idea as his favorite critique of the piece.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:43 AM
horizontal rule
46

44: My proposal isn't that music identified subcultures have disappeared, just that they are not central to the canonical teenager experience in they way that they used to be.

Again, I could be totally off base on this.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:50 AM
horizontal rule
47

Actually read most of the article. Apparently patriarchy is already dead. Or maybe it is soon to die? Or has always been dead? The article is unstuck in time. He weakens his definition of it to mean something like "powerful men in suits are protagonists."

So people--men--have always yearned for the occasional break from societal norms by occasionally retreating from society some way. We've always had a heroic archetype of the man who is beyond the constrictions of civilization. So what? This doesn't change the reality of powerful men being powerful.

And even when they were pure patriarchs in his term that doesn't mean they weren't doing "boyish" things like having mistresses. So i really don't get where he's going.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:52 AM
horizontal rule
48

19: Is championing the honor of the YA genre the distaff version of the defense of comic books that nerds waged for the eons preceding validation-through-box-office-billions?

Yes. And I guess it's distaff-against-distaff, given the mostly female audience for "adult" (mostly genre) fiction as well.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:57 AM
horizontal rule
49

I read that piece when it came out, and my main response was, "Surely this is being discussed at Unfogged."

I think I kind of buy his thesis, but it's been 3 weeks now, so I don't recall much in the way of specifics.

One thing I'll drop here is the observation, which was current around the time that he died, that Sinatra was the last popular musician targeted at adults, not teens.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:57 AM
horizontal rule
50

46: The canonical teenager was always somebody who listened to whatever was on the radio and wasn't super-passionate about it. Music-identified subcultures are always already marginal.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:57 AM
horizontal rule
51

Sinatra was the last popular musician targeted at adults, not teens

What about Jimmy Buffett?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 7:59 AM
horizontal rule
52

it would have seemed that that particular way of relating to popular music was some kind of timeless aspect of being a teen

I think the "death of adulthood" has to do with the shitty economy and lack of job security.

I know more about twenty-somethings than teens, but my impression that filiation and cultural identities persist and prosper, but that the idea of progress, directional culture, local loyalties, and indeed generational conflicts etc have been diminished. A teen may be a Beatles fan, a Count Basie fan, a Cesaria Evore fan, and accepted as such by her peers. This doesn't mean that contemporaneous fashion has disappeared, but it is no longer normative and a source of peer pressure.

Closer to the truth may be that the "teen" as we knew it 50 years ago is less identifiable, less "conceptually tenable" along with the adult.

As usual, the teen (along with the "child" a little earler) to a large extent was created by an "othering" done by adults, and then self-identified in forms of resistance. Part of that was historically specific to the smallish group born say 1935-45, neither greatest nor boomers, and their marginal place trapped between two power centers.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:02 AM
horizontal rule
53

I think 50 might be misreading 46. People who 15 when Chuck Berry and Elvis hit seem to have continued to value that music their whole lives, even if they were never engaged with the music in the way that members of "music-identified subcultures" do.

That is, people who delve into the mechanics of a band's music, or who track down every recording, or who explore every musician associated with a band are always a minority, but people who feel that a certain music plays a large role in their persona (?) are far from rare. Whether that's more or less common than it was, I've no idea - I still don't really know any teens, although that's going to change in the near future.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:03 AM
horizontal rule
54

I thought I remembered that Sinatra was famous for making the teenage girls faint. I guess that was young Sinatra -- but then the old men Rolling Stones aren't marketed to teenagers either.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:05 AM
horizontal rule
55

Sinatra was the last popular musician targeted at adults, not teens

Not at all. Wiki

Sinatra found success as a solo artist from the early to mid-1940s after being signed by Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the "bobby soxers", he released his first album, The Voice of Frank Sinatra, in 1946.

Bobby soxer is a 1940s sociological coinage describing the often very zealous fans of traditional pop music, in particular its creators like singer Frank Sinatra.[1] Bobby soxers were usually teenage girls and young adult women from about 12 to 25. Fashionable adolescent girls wore poodle skirts and rolled down their socks to the ankle. In high schools and colleges, the gymnasium was often used as a dance floor; however, since street shoes and street detritus might damage the polished wood floors, the students were required to remove their shoes and dance in their bobby socks, hence the phrase 'sock hop'.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:06 AM
horizontal rule
56

20: Didn't The Dude kill off bowling as an adult activity?

In my circle The Dude more or less invented bowling as an adult activity.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:06 AM
horizontal rule
57

Thanks for proving me right, bob!

!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:07 AM
horizontal rule
58

What about Jimmy Buffett?

I don't think "Maragaritaville" was written to appeal to people in their 30s, was it?

I don't know if it's really true of Sinatra anyway. On the one hand, he was absolutely a teen idol in the early '40s, and you could argue that he's no different from Paul McCartney, whose audience has largely aged alongside him.

But on the other hand, what he was doing ca. 1960 wasn't targeted towards the nostalgia of his fans - he wasn't doing Tommy Dorsey-style music, live or on record.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
59

Well, what U2 is doing now isn't targeted towards the nostalgia of their fans either.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:12 AM
horizontal rule
60

26: ("This book contains adult themes". What, like despair? Mortgage refinancing? Divorce? Senility? Those are adult themes. Sex, drugs, drinking and bad language are teenage themes.)

Well, exactly. Didn't sex, drinking and bad language used to not seem like exclusively juvenile interests?

A couple of years ago, there was a post here about an article in New York magazine about the contemptible juvenility of married women with children in Brooklyn, with their childish wine drinking and sex having and going out at night. That kind of attitude.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:14 AM
horizontal rule
61

I think of 26 every time I drive past an "adult superstore" or such. Oh great, my one stop shop for self-written wills and DVD box sets of The Mentalist.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:14 AM
horizontal rule
62

All I know is that I had to learn a short list of band names and be ready to spout the proper ones when somebody asked me what my favorite music was. It was like a job interview, except that instead of saying, "I'm a team player who respects authority while still using independent judgement" I had to say something like "R.E.M through Eponymous and the Police, but not solo-Sting." It wasn't hard, except for the time I didn't realize Jim Morrison and Morrisey were different people.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:15 AM
horizontal rule
63

But I guess the point about Sinatra's beginnings isn't really on point, because for thirty years he was targeted at adults. But...

Is the audience for (shows I don't watch and have no clue about) the singing shows like "American Idol" etc teenagers?

The loss of opportunities (to get career track, early marriage/kids, house) for the global generation of twenty-somethings will or should have a strong effect on definitions of "maturity." In part the "teenager" was invented to enforce discipline on twenty-somethings to act "like mature adults" in the regimented Fordist production regime.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:17 AM
horizontal rule
64

Adult male insurance executives in the 50s, what a bunch of juveniles. Listening to jazz, drinking cocktails with orange juice in them instead of going to barn dances and drinking straight whiskey like their grandfathers.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:17 AM
horizontal rule
65

Catching up on the thread: My father has called me to tell me about bowling games (and specifically the scores).

I wonder if caring about bowling scores is class-implicated. My father and his father are/were avid bowlers, and my dad is still in a league, but I'm pretty sure everyone in the league except him is in (roughly) the same SES as his dad - that is to say, working class. And while my dad was always a professional, my folks had very little money when they started, and so were bowling with peers who didn't have any money either.

I have no idea, really, I'm just throwing this out there.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:23 AM
horizontal rule
66

62: That's right, except then people would ask about all these other bands that I'd either not heard of at all or else knew the name, but had no idea about the music. I would try to pretend to have an about all of them - but I don't think I was entirely convincing.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:24 AM
horizontal rule
67

I wonder if caring about bowling scores is class-implicated. My father and his father are/were avid bowlers, and my dad is still in a league, but I'm pretty sure everyone in the league except him is in (roughly) the same SES as his dad - that is to say, working class. And while my dad was always a professional, my folks had very little money when they started, and so were bowling with peers who didn't have any money either.

I don't see why it would be class implicated, except in one way. I don't think there's much difference between caring about your bowling score and caring about your golf handicap. Except obviously that bowling is a lot more economically accessible.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:27 AM
horizontal rule
68

62, 66: My people. I never really learned to fake it even that well, but man did I feel the pressure.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
69

66: I left out "opinion" in the last sentence.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:30 AM
horizontal rule
70

Foucault (quoted by K)

Neuroses of regression do not reveal the neurotic character of childhood, but they denounce the archaizing character of the institutions concerned with childhood. What serves as a background to those pathological forms is the conflict, within a society,between the forms of education of the child, in which the society hides its dreams, and the conditions it creates for adults, in which its real present, with all its miseries, can be read.
....
Karatani

The division between play and labor bears a profound relationship to the division between child and adult. Although in contemporary thought much has been made of the concept of homo ludens developed by Huizinga, we are able to represent play only as already divided from labor-just as we can only think of children as "children." The "discovery of the child," then, is a matter that cannot be considered in isolation but must be placed in the context of the capitalistic reorganization of contemporary society. I do not, however, wish to refer to capitalism deterministically, for the discovery of the child is a matter that must be analyzed in its own specificity.

Foucault's observation that neurosis is the product of an isolated and protected "childhood" and is only generated in such a culture is significant. For it suggests that in a society where adolescence does not "divide" children and adults, this illness does not exist as "illness."

To use a similar rhetoric, we might say that it is not child psychology and children's literature that reveal "the true child" to us, but rather the separating off of "the child" that holds the key to them.

Thus the problematic of "maturation" holds us in thrall. It is a problem that we cannot confront directly, however. For our problem is not that the isolation of childhood makes it impossible for us to mature-it is that our desire to mature makes us immature.

Nevertheless, when Freud's theories are converted into theories of education and child development, as they have been in American psychoanalysis, they lead to intensified efforts to remove conflict and contradiction from childhood, in order to protect children. As a result, the possibility of neurosis is increased. In this case it is indeed psychoanalysis which has produced illness, something Freud would never have dreamed of. In America, in particular, where the disappearance of traditional norms coexists with the pervasive norm of "being mature," psychoanalysis itself may be seen as generating illness on a broad scale.

From this viewpoint, it becomes dear that the grouping of children by age in the compulsory education system of modern Japan signified the uprooting of children, as abstract and homogeneous entities, from the productive relations, social classes, and communities that had previously been their concrete contexts.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
71

I guess it's the same as now with my stepdaughter who always is asking my opinions of cartoons or videogames I know nothing about -- except that I don't care about trying to impress her.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
72

the time I didn't realize Jim Morrison and Morrisey were different people.

Jim Morrison...he's the one who did "Brown Eyed Girl", right?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:34 AM
horizontal rule
73

When my friend and I were jerks during undergrad, we would sit near this table of hipster kids and talk loudly about bands we had just made up. So, like, "Oh, did you hear that Wolf Socket has a new EP coming out?"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:34 AM
horizontal rule
74

I think Margaritaville was totally aimed at people in their late 20s/early 30s. Pirate Looks at 40 makes it more or less explicit, but Come Monday isn't a teen thing, and neither in Nautical Wheelers.

But then I'm old enough to remember when Hip to Be Square was the kind of music that Those Damn Kids liked.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:35 AM
horizontal rule
75

71: Idea for a plot: a parent who is desperately trying to relate to their stepdaughter appeals to an eclectic web magazine for help in faking currentness. A touching family comedy.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:35 AM
horizontal rule
76

72: I didn't even figure out about that guy until the last time I mentioned by Morr* confusion here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:35 AM
horizontal rule
77

I had the Morrisey/Van Morrison confusion. I never got why people thought Brown Eyed Girl was so sad.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:37 AM
horizontal rule
78

I confused Linda Ronstadt and Pat Benatar for quite a while. They kind of had the same hairdo, but otherwise... not sure how that happened.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:38 AM
horizontal rule
79

Pat Benatar was married to the governor of California.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:39 AM
horizontal rule
80

Well, what U2 is doing now isn't targeted towards the nostalgia of their fans either.

A few things (and, again, the Sinatra thing wasn't my own idea, just something I remember hearing; I doubt it holds up, but maybe):

- I was going to say in my original comment that I think the musical landscape has changed since I first read that claim. Bands like the Decembrists are (I think) targeted more or less explicitly to adults - young adults, in their 20s, but adults - which I think is different, having a bunch of new bands that, from day one, are playing for people already out of college*. So that claim may have been valid in 1999, but not 2014.

- After the backlash against the free album thing, I don't know what to make of U2 in the world right now. Is it any different from McCartney in the late '80s, wanting to be relevant, and still a big deal because of past accomplishments, but fundamentally irrelevant? Or is it, in fact, more like Sinatra, extending his legacy with genuinely significant pieces decades after his initial success? I should probably link to that "another big hit 20 years later" thread

- I can't tell to what extent the original claim is just essentialism - any music pre-rock is adult, any rock-derived music is for the kids. I don't think that's quite true, but it may be most of what makes the claim seem true-ish.

*I was going to qualify to include people not going to college, but surely those bands are mostly listened to by college types, right?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:40 AM
horizontal rule
81

I think Margaritaville was totally aimed at people in their late 20s/early 30s.

Ha. I wasn't sure whether the comment was implying "Of course it's aimed at teens" or "Of course it's aimed at 40 year olds". The idea of anything Jimmy Buffett does being aimed at kids is pretty hilarious to me.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:42 AM
horizontal rule
82

Josh Groban -- isn't he primarily marketed to middle-aged and older women?

Celine Dion?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:43 AM
horizontal rule
83

- After the backlash against the free album thing, I don't know what to make of U2 in the world right now. Is it any different from McCartney in the late '80s, wanting to be relevant, and still a big deal because of past accomplishments, but fundamentally irrelevant? Or is it, in fact, more like Sinatra, extending his legacy with genuinely significant pieces decades after his initial success? I should probably link to that "another big hit 20 years later" thread

Totally the first one. Young people couldn't give two shits about U2 and they haven't released an especially musically interesting or influential song since at least 1993. They exist entirely to make money off extremely expensive concert tickets sold to middle aged people.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:45 AM
horizontal rule
84

I've heard it suggested that Michael Bolton was grown in a lab for the sole purpose of appealing to middle aged women, but I'm not sure how widely accepted that theory is.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:46 AM
horizontal rule
85

I'm wondering whether I should go see Old Crow Medicine Show tomorrow night.

David Grisman played here a couple weeks ago -- he wasn't playing for pre-college folks when I first saw him at Zellerbach (it probably has a new name) in 1977.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:47 AM
horizontal rule
86

Bands like the Decembrists are (I think) targeted more or less explicitly to adults - young adults, in their 20s, but adults

We called this "college rock" back in the day. Most "indie" music fits this mold. It's the chart-toppers who have to capture the teen market.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:47 AM
horizontal rule
87

53: "The music of my youth is the Most Important Thing Evah," is a very boomer sentiment. Though, judging from the low-budget documentaries of the past decade, there's a strain of it in Gen X too.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:51 AM
horizontal rule
88

I have a teenage sister. My impression is that the experience in 62 has mostly fallen by the wayside, probably because kids now have access to all music/movies/TV from all eras, and keeping up with what's current is not really a thing anymore. It's weird: she's seen every episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has never watched The Simpsons.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:52 AM
horizontal rule
89

I guess I should clarify that 88.last seems weird to me because my recollection of the early '90s is that The Simpsons, Friends, Seinfeld, etc. were much more widely watched and "cultural." Fresh Prince is like a deep cut. I guess that's the nature of Netflix streaming rights. Soon we will have a bizarre situation in which less commercially successful shows of the '80s and '90s become the beloved classics of today's youth.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:55 AM
horizontal rule
90

89: Did Nick at Nite only get the best of the best?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 8:57 AM
horizontal rule
91

Soon we will have a bizarre situation in which less commercially successful shows of the '80s and '90s become the beloved classics of today's youth.

Isn't that sort of what happened with shows like Gilligan's Island? I don't think it made much of an impression back in mid 60s, but then from the late 70s onward it became a classic for people my age due to its perpetual syndication on afternoon TV.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:00 AM
horizontal rule
92

89: Fresh Prince is pretty high up there in our (I think?) cohort's nostalgia, though. I hear it mentioned not-rarely by similarly aged people. It was always in syndication and it did launch the acting career of one of the biggest names in Hollywood. So I wouldn't consider it a deep cut.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
93

Maybe I have this backwards. I thought shows that were in syndication were typically popular and successful in their initial airing. Is that not the case?


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:02 AM
horizontal rule
94

Plus who among us cannot sing the Fresh Prince theme song?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:03 AM
horizontal rule
95

93: According to wikipedia, it was around #19 in it's first 2 seasons and dropped out of the top 30 in it's 3rd season. I'm not sure where that puts it in the grand scheme of sitcom popularity.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:04 AM
horizontal rule
96

94: "Not I!" said peep.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
97

93 to 91. 92: Higher than The Simpsons? No way.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:07 AM
horizontal rule
98

Better that the youth of today watch The Fresh Prince than that they read Jaden Smith's philosophical ruminations on Twitter.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:08 AM
horizontal rule
99

But "less popular than The Beatles" does not make a band a deep cut. And The Simpsons is special in that after a long and successful run it has had an even longer run as entirely irrelevant. (Well, maybe not. Some nerdy male coworkers, my age, were really excited about the Family Guy/Simpsons crossover, especially about the idea of an extended Peter/Homer chicken-guy-style fight. I don't understand my people.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:09 AM
horizontal rule
100

My point being that there are easy reasons to reach for as to why a teenager might not be into The Simpsons.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:10 AM
horizontal rule
101

Isn't that sort of what happened with shows like Gilligan's Island? I don't think it made much of an impression back in mid 60s, but then from the late 70s onward it became a classic for people my age due to its perpetual syndication on afternoon TV.

Yeah, certainly when I was a kid in the 80s and early 90s the shows I was watching were mainly trashy American sci-fi shows from the 60s 70s like Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants. And in college The Dukes of Hazard was almost as popular as Buffy.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
102

OK, fine, I'm sorry I called Fresh Prince a "deep cut." Really my point is that my sister is not familiar with any show that one might call the Beatles of '90s television. And of course there are reasons why a teenager might not be into The Simpsons, viz., it is not available streaming on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:14 AM
horizontal rule
103

Gilligan's Island is basically a re-telling of The Odyssey, but with Odysseus split into 7 separate characters.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:15 AM
horizontal rule
104

And the sustaining power of the goddess Athena represented by the ever-mutably-useful coconut.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:17 AM
horizontal rule
105

103: Gilligan's Island demands a properly Heideggerian reading.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:18 AM
horizontal rule
106

I watched about 10 minutes of a Gilligan's Island episode a while ago, and I realized it was a retelling of The Caucasian Chalk Circle except that it was less subtle in its Marxism.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:18 AM
horizontal rule
107

102: Sorry, that was dickish of me. I didn't know that The Simpsons wasn't available for streaming (which is oddly Beatleslike)--all my Simpsons-watching in college was done by downloading off of sharing services. Do the kids not do that anymore?

But point taken--when you have access to a large library of past material, what you get from that is probably more going to be a function of chance and peer-network effects than what was considered most relevant at the time.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
108

Really my point is that my sister is not familiar with any show that one might call the Beatles of '90s television. And of course there are reasons why a teenager might not be into The Simpsons, viz., it is not available streaming on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

How about Buffy? Maybe not Beatles-esque in terms of numbers, but certainly in terms of cultural influence. And it's on plenty of streaming services (at least in the UK).


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:24 AM
horizontal rule
109

I thought shows that were in syndication were typically popular and successful in their initial airing.

I thought that was one criterion but there were others - for example, didn't shows often try to sustain longer runs because that gave them an advantage in going out for syndication?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:29 AM
horizontal rule
110

Ah, the 100-episode threshold.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:32 AM
horizontal rule
111

I guess I'm one of the people who stopped watching Gilligan's Island and watched the Monkees instead. It was silly, but our silly. Wiki says GI was cancelled to make room for Gunsmoke, a different generational marker altogether.

What's strange to me, after all these years, is the decontextualization of all this stuff. One of my son's friends has that line from Wish You Were Here as her FB status this morning.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:36 AM
horizontal rule
112

oddly Beatleslike

Well, part of my point is that I don't think this is odd at all; I think owners of very popular media are less likely to make that media available for streaming. If that's true, since my sister only has access to older shows that are available for streaming, then she will naturally be watching shows that were less popular during their original run. That's what I was trying to get at in 89.

As Yawnoc points out in 90, a lot of the '90s shows that I think of as being much more popular than Fresh Prince are actually in syndication on Nick at Nite. (This makes me feel a million years old. I remember watching Dragnet and I Love Lucy on Nick at Nite when I was a kid.) So teenagers today do have access to those shows, I guess, provided they have cable (my family doesn't). I still think teens would be more likely to watch old shows they can stream, though.

Of course this is all predicated on my understanding of how streaming and syndication rights work, i.e. nothing at all. So...Halford?


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 9:43 AM
horizontal rule
113

But the no-streaming thing only applies to the absolute most profitable, the ones that (older) people would still be willing to shill out good money for. And that's generally a temporary condition: Netflix is negotiating for Seinfeld, but Friends is still pay-per-episode on Amazon Prime. In terms of dinosaur music, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin (I think a recent change?), and Pink Floyd are all on Spotify. So while your sister might miss out on the classics of 20 years ago, they'll probably end up on free no-marginal-cost-of-streaming services once they past peak nostalgia and will be available to the next generation of teenagers.

I've found it really interesting watching the economics of nostalgia waves; this might be the recency illusion but they seem to be compressed compared to earlier generations. I follow some people who are into video game collection and they've talked about how price curves change as the generation that played on a given system when they were 8-13 becomes adults with disposable income. We're probably past peak NES and are well into SNES nostalgia, with N64/PSX prices rising.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
114

And I've long said that no one writes books or movies about people with small children because it would be too fucking boring to depict it realistically - but that's hardly the only way to portray adulthood.

Wait, does the article conflate being an adult with having children? Because [endlessly predictable reaction.]

Now I read thread.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:07 AM
horizontal rule
115

And I guess it's distaff-against-distaff, given the mostly female audience for "adult" (mostly genre) fiction as well.

Yeah, it's true everyone I've ever heard spouting SF or comics triumphalism online has been female, especially of the "all of Proust was basically dispatched in these five panels of The Invisibles" variety. Guys don't have time for that shit because they read literally nothing except Grantland. Or is that women too? Wait: do... men... read... anything? It's a damn shame that I won't be able to use "no response to this comment" as any kind of proof.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:08 AM
horizontal rule
116

115: I think the implication is that scifi and other genres that appeal mainly to men aren't "adult". There is a certain juvenileness to spaceships and laser blasters.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:14 AM
horizontal rule
117

I shouldn't have included the "mostly genre" there. But most "adult fiction" is read by women, and most of it is... genres, right? Romances, Lisa Scottoline, mysteries, Sookie Stackhouse, and for the men, James Patterson. And the point is that YA is no less adult and probably more serious.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:16 AM
horizontal rule
118

for the men, James Patterson. And the point is that YA is no less adult

Speaking of, was anyone else nonplussed by the huge advert for this in the New Yorker recently?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:19 AM
horizontal rule
119

116: this is because the last time most people were forced to think seriously about the kind of huge-scale issues that decent SF poses (what does it mean to be human, what is the point of consciousness, could we build or encounter intelligent non-human entities, what sort of things could a civilisation much more advanced than our own build or do, what is the fate of the universe) was when they still had to do compulsory science classes at school, or, at the latest, at university, and weren't very good at it. Since then they have been quite comfortable in their small padded boxes, and resent the intrusion of people who actually enjoyed and understood huge-scale issues - people they haven't actually had to encounter face to face since school, when they hated and resented them.
For the same reason, a lot of people think playing team sports is juvenile, because they themselves haven't done so since school - or, if they have, it's been with their own kids.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:20 AM
horizontal rule
120

It wasn't hard, except for the time I didn't realize Jim Morrison and Morrisey were different people.

Just last night I was saying that I confuse Van Morrison and the guy who was married to Carly Simon whose name I always forget, but I think it isn't Van Morrison.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:27 AM
horizontal rule
121

Oh, but I thought Flippanter's point (at least, the thing that occurred to me and which I therefore read into his remark) was that stuff like this -- Even a relatively light-on-ideas speculative novel for young people (Divergent, say) is about a thousand miles ahead of half the "adult" stuff on the bestseller lists . . . in terms of providing useful, interesting moral and philosophical questions for the reader to think about, and test against his own ideas -- is a pretty standard defense of SF/comics (by men) over elitist praise of literary fiction (by men and women). E.g. "far more interesting and sophisticated questions are raised, with more efficiency and realism, in The Book of the New Sun than in Middlemarch" or Thomas Mann or whatever. I've never seen that particular argument made for romance novels.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:27 AM
horizontal rule
122

I should add that it did not actually occur to me to put a gendered spin on this observation, since I can't swear up and down that the gender participation breaks down in any particular way... except that I'm pretty certain that it isn't all women.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:30 AM
horizontal rule
123

Mention of Simpsons reminded me that when the talk was of Salinger and such and who was the voice of our generation, it later occurred to me that Matt Groening was not a bad answer.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:31 AM
horizontal rule
124

I confuse Van Morrison and the guy who was married to Carly Simon

Damn you for inaugurating an earworm mashup of "You're So Vain" and "Brown-Eyed Girl".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
125

Whoops, 118 was me. Seriously, though, check out this copy:


I'm Cuckoo Clarke.
This story mostly takes place in a small town outside Portland called North Plains. There's a gun shop outside town that has an annual Back-to-School Sale. (I'm anti-gun.) Every August, our town hosts the World's Largest Elephant Garlic Festival. (I'm pro-garlic.) Most people around here wear Nikes, Portland's proudest. (I prefer Uggs, but I wouldn't say I'm definitely pro- or anti-footwear.)
And now, welcome to the main setting of this show: North Plains High School!
It looks the way you're probably picturing it. The hallways are full of the Usual Suspects: Jocks, Nerds, Twinkies, Otaku, Barbies, Goths, Eurotrash, Jailbait, Stoners, Joiners, Glommers, Delusionals, Haters, Wankstas, Thespians, Teachers, Terror Teachers, Zomboids, Robots, Gleeks, United Colors of Benettoners, Libertarians, Activists, Juvies, Baristas, Blahs, and--my best friends--the Freakshow. That's right. We call ourselves the Freakshow. My best friend, Brainzilla (Katie), had this idea that we should give our little group a nickname that's far worse than anything any of the diseased minds in our school could dream up...

What the hell, James Patterson? My first thought was that he had a teen daughter he was trying to relate to, but no. Seriously what the fuck??


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:38 AM
horizontal rule
126

I am starting to like that U2 song they play in the commercials that constantly run during NFL games. #marketingstrategysuccessstories


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:41 AM
horizontal rule
127

Hasn't he turned into more of a publishing house than a writer? He sketches out a book and the second author writes it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:41 AM
horizontal rule
128

that no one writes books or movies about people with small children

it's like heebie has never seen Full House


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:42 AM
horizontal rule
129

125: You know he's responsible (in that 'doesn't do his own writing sense) for a series of children's/teen novels about genetically engineered teenagers with wings?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:42 AM
horizontal rule
130

108 How about Buffy? Maybe not Beatles-esque in terms of numbers, but certainly in terms of cultural influence.

Maybe in your specific subcultural milieu, but I think comparing Buffy to the Beatles in terms of cultural impact is off by a few orders of magnitudes.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:43 AM
horizontal rule
131

116 There is a certain juvenileness to spaceships and laser blasters.

But not, of course, to evil robots, which as we all know are the most pressing cultural, political, and scientific problem of our time.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
132

130: Do you remember how much trouble Sarah Michelle Gellar got into when she said, "We're bigger than the Beatles,"?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
133

131: Can't tell if you're being haha-only-serious about drones or just trying to justify your slacking on making an evil robot army for Halford.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:50 AM
horizontal rule
134

|| Speaking of the 90's "greatest" hits, Vox linked to this today and it is amazing. God save the 90's internet. |>


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 10:55 AM
horizontal rule
135

133: I think he's talking about the AI/Singularity stuff that seems to be an inordinate focus of people in his professional circles.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 11:00 AM
horizontal rule
136

129, no, I didn't know that. I've only read one of his books; it was a mystery/thriller and I guess I assumed they all were.

I think a big part of what bothers me about the book blurbed in 125 is that it seems very girly. Hot pink cover, drawing of protagonist in miniskirt, etc. My reactions are (1) what unique perspective does he really think he's bringing to this genre? ffs leave this kind of thing to women writers (2) suspicion that he is Tom Wolfeing out, spending lots of time around teen girls in the name of "research", ew.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 11:01 AM
horizontal rule
137

I'm pretty sure that it's pure commodity. Teen novels sell, he can get preferential bookstore placement, thinking about anything James Patterson is associated with as having anything to do with a creative thought process is probably a mistake.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 11:04 AM
horizontal rule
138

ffs leave this kind of thing to women writers

That's what I said, and you all made fun of me. It's not fair!


Posted by: Opinionated Jonathan Franzen | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
139

Before even looking at the URL in 134 I was 95% sure what it was.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
140

L.'s comments on her sister are interesting. One thing about The Simpsons, of course, is that it's still on the air, unlike other 90s shows that are generational touchstones for our generation.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
141

It seems likely that 138 is just a joke but I feel compelled to defend myself anyway. I think it is likely that women writers would do a better job writing about the types of issues that are likely to come up in a novel about a normal young woman in high school and marketed toward young women, like unplanned pregnancy, pressure to have sex, or rape. I do not care if James Patterson or any other man writes from the perspective of a female protagonist in murder mysteries, legal procedurals, books about genetically engineered birdpeople, etc.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 11:22 AM
horizontal rule
142

Oh, I dunno, the kids are all knee-deep in John Green lately, and he's supposed to be reasonably sensitive and meaningful about that kind of thing. Not to endorse Green unreservedly, he gets eyerolls from Sally (they both love the educational Youtube videos, but the sensitive teen novels less so), but I think he's fairly respectable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
143

I'm sure it's possible for a man to write well about that sort of thing, just less likely. Anyway Green's novels don't seem to be aimed so specifically at girls, and he mostly uses male narrators.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 11:41 AM
horizontal rule
144

I was kind of amazed that the New Yorker profile of John Green just took for granted the spread into a genre for young people (spreading out from their mothers' favorite weeping novels, movies and very special episodes where the actress' contract wasn't renewed) of the device of cancer as dark-and-merciless-god-to-be-propitiated-no-totally-not-like-consumption-in-the-19th-century-this-is-entirely-different.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 12:12 PM
horizontal rule
145

You mean they didn't just throw in an obligatory summary from "Illness as Metaphor"?


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 12:54 PM
horizontal rule
146

"far more interesting and sophisticated questions are raised, with more efficiency and realism, in The Book of the New Sun than in Middlemarch" or Thomas Mann or whatever. I've never seen that particular argument made for romance novels.

Don't you diss the Mann

Okay, I remember a long chapter somewhere about scything a wheat field, and another about timing a motorcycle, and something about cutting up a whale...etc.

The biggest best most enduring idea for me has something to do with getting the mind and body, feelings and thoughts, heart and actions in synchronization in a given moment. Any moment.

The depth of an emotional exchange, maybe just a word, maybe an reaction, maybe a facial expression seems to me to be pretty damn deep and as difficult as your imagination can grasp. And impossible to get perfect.

Woody is going through the changes at Manhattan's end in part for the benefit of Mariel.

Yeah, romance can be a profound artform. And giant robots too.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:31 PM
horizontal rule
147

146 was me. I hate doing that, here.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:36 PM
horizontal rule
148

147: It was completely unnecessary.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 1:37 PM
horizontal rule
149

Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers:

Bleich (1986), for example, surveys responses by male and female students to canonical literary works, concluding that men tended to read for authorial meaning, perceiving a "strong narrational voice" shaping events, while women "experienced the narrative as a world, without a particularly strong sense that this world was narrated into existence" (239). Female readers entered directly into the fictional world, focusing less on the extratextual process of its writing than on the relationships and events. Male reading acknowledged and respected the author's authority, while women saw themselves as engaged in a "conversation" within which they could participate as active contributors. These differences were particularly apparent when the students were asked to retell a story they had read:

The men retold the story as if the purpose was to deliver a clear simple structure of the chain of information; these are the main characters, this is the main action; this is how it turned out. Details were included by many men, but as contributions towards this primary informational end--the end of getting the 'facts' of the story straight. The women presented the narrative as if it were an atmosphere or an experience. They generally felt freer to reflect on the story material...and they were more ready to draw inferences without strict regard for the literal warrant of the text but with more regard for the affective sense of human relationships in the story. (256)



Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-29-14 2:42 PM
horizontal rule
150

149: was that a blind test?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 1:41 AM
horizontal rule
151

31: I think the "death of adulthood" has to do with the shitty economy and lack of job security. A lot of people my age live with roommates, don't have a car, and/or depend on their parents for some kind of financial support. Even members of my age cohort who are doing relatively well likely don't feel that they have enough financial security to have kids.

We've had this conversation before, right here, and in the same way - responding to someone's Things Are Not As They Were mouthnoises. That time around it was me who jumped in to point out that the wages are too damn low (and the rent too damn high), followed by ttam, and IIRC the rest of ukfogged.

I guess it's progress that the Americans spotted it, but you know what? I am so fucking angry that we're still having these conversations. That was, what, three or four years ago? And 2007 was seven years ago. That's longer than the fucking second world war!

And of course it sucked even before 2007, something hardly anyone is willing to admit, let alone discuss. Surely someone has to eventually grasp that the entire population below the age of 40 between the East China Sea and the Urals has been sitting in a queue for their entire lives.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 5:18 AM
horizontal rule
152

That's longer than the fucking second world war!

That war was only four years long.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 5:42 AM
horizontal rule
153

Oh, now you've really pissed the Brits off.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 5:59 AM
horizontal rule
154

I'm working on being subtle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 6:05 AM
horizontal rule
155

Your ignorance is merely my opportunity to teach:-) Anyway, I'm even more angry with the European institutions, who fucked up as badly, but recovered worse and smug with it.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-30-14 6:09 AM
horizontal rule