Neo-liberal Gender Logics

Well, it can’t be culottes all the time.

During a recent episode of Start Up in which Tim Ferriss (evil author of the 4 hour work week) advertised his podcast, and a tech billionaire deconstructed what makes men like the founder of Uber successful, I felt a strange empathetic despair for young men. I for once did not want to drink their tears for breakfast.

How heavy the burden of EXCELLENCE must be. Not okay, pretty good, but Market-disrupting-Life-hacking-Paradigm-shifting EXCELLENCE. In some ways Casey Neistat embodies the “slacker” version of this ideal.

Which is even worse, because not only is he Ted-talking his way around the world, he’s also totally chill about it.

What is particularly pernicious about this ideal is that modern male excellence is not even a work-hard ethic. It doesn’t have that mid-century inclusive vibe where all the men get to buy a Chevy and thus they all can be successful. No, you have to be a genius. And there can only be so many geniuses or else they wouldn’t be geniuses, duh.

In solidarity,

-D

Culottes

Jumpsuits are great, but culottes are even better!

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From Corporate Catwalk

I want all the culottes!

From Zara

It’s like a skirt, but with with pants!
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In all colors! These amazing navy ones only cost $55 on Asos:
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When will winter end!?

 

-D

Truly Guilty Pleasures

So today I’m going to tell you all about some pleasures I indulge in that are really and truly embarrassing. This isn’t going to be a post about eating chocolate and watching The Bachelor (I’m so BAD you guys!). This is a post about listening to the Dave Ramsey Show and watching Alaska: The Last Frontier. I know. I know.

First up, the lesser of the two evils:

This a show about a clan of homesteaders who live off the land in Homer, Alaska. Most of the Kilchers live in cabins without modern plumbing or electricity. Each episode is basically people saying over and over again how important it is to provide for yourself and [emphasis theirs] your family with, as the opening song says, “blood, sweat and tears.” The evils of meat purchased in plastic packaging (as opposed to meat that you kill yourself) at the grocery store are invoked on a regular basis. This show is basically Little House on the Prairie with good-looking libertarian hippies. Why is it so appealing to me? Because it is basically Little House on the Prairie with good-looking hippies.*

Next up is possibly the most embarrassing culture I consume:

According to his website, Dave Ramsey “lost everything”** and then got out of debt trouble by working hard and living on “beans and rice” for two years. He produces a lot of media, but my poison of choice is his call-in radio show which is Dave telling people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps over and over again. It is really difficult to acknowledge the reasons I like listening to this show regularly. I tell myself that it’s because he uses “butt” and “rip” as expletives in a way that fires up my nostalgia for all of the Baptist men of my youth.

But the real reason I regularly consume both of these shows is awful: I love escaping into the fantasy that individuals (like me!) have complete control over their own lives. It’s comforting to have someone tell me over and over again that all I have to do to become rich is stick to a barebones budget for a couple of years and pay off every cent of my debt. Work hard, these shows tell me, and I’ll be okay in the end. Delay gratification for a few years, and I’ll be set:

These shows are doing a lot of terrible things on a cultural level. The worst, though, is that they obscure the role of wider communities and/or systems in individuals’ lives. The Kilchers are filmed growing their own produce, butchering their own livestock and clearing land for a new cabin. But of course we never see them filling their ATVs’ gas tanks or buying their Carhartt coveralls.*** Dave talks about how he started with “nothing” and became a millionaire by 26 through his own hard work. He of course fails to mention his wealthy parents and supportive wife. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t even occur to him to talk about his built-in race/gender/health privileges. Really, it’s probably too much to expect a conservative like him to publicly acknowledge any of his myriad privileges.**** However, I do think it’s irresponsible and downright cruel to tell literally millions of poor people that the only thing keeping them from being rich is themselves. Okay, I’ve talked myself into un-subscribing again. But I’m keeping my Alaska episodes.

Do y’all have a taste for evil culture?

-C

*It’s worth mentioning that while looking for clips, I was for some time distracted by another, potentially worse guilty pleasure:

**The rich white dude version of losing everything, which is getting into massive amounts of debt in real estate holdings.

***To be fair, though, they often talk about bartering with neighbors and many of the episodes feature the three families helping one another out. Also, they do a lot of Depression-era-style recycling. This makes it okay that I have purchased not one, but two season passes, right?

****He could actually have acknowledged this stuff by talking about his “blessings.” Are “blessings” the conservative’s version of privileges?

Why I feel bad about myself

Also, now I know: this isn’t my blog, it is my “moon log”

-D

Parenthood: a Guide

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It is very likely that you are not and will never be a Parenthood person. First, as I have said before, if you don’t like crying this is probably not your show. But before you write off crying, let me say I think there is an actual scientifically-based need for senseless crying caused by low-stakes situations that have nothing to do with your own life. In this form of not-Freudian approved catharsis, your body releases all the tension and repression of daily life without connecting to any of your actual ur-traumas. In other words, you will gain no advancement as a human from this form of emotional release but you will gain everything in lowered stress levels. Okay, should you watch Parenthood?

1. The very last episode just aired. If this information makes you feel relieved like “well at least I will eventually reach the end” then yes, you should start watching. But you will miss out on Vulture’s amazing cry-caps (I guess you could read their archives).

2. If you are a big fan of Gilmore Girls or Friday Night Lights tread cautiously. This show has neither the comedy of GG nor the teenage humping of FNL. But if you liked both of these shows, then yes, treat yourself to some Lauren Graham and Jason Katim’s style montages to indie music tracks.

3. If you have a vexed relationship with your parents, don’t watch this show. It will only make you feel bad about how much greater your life could have been if Coach was your dad.

4. Do you sort of want to have a baby or have recently had a baby? Watch this show! It will affirm all your life choices. The basic premise is that no matter what other successes you have in life (even a successful marriage), your progeny and your parents are what really matters. This is a bizarre and conservative premise, but damn, I bet it would feel good for parents or prospective parents.

5. Do you sometimes wish that you could just love characters? Are you tired of complicated Breaking Bad and Mad Men folk who repel you even as they gain your respect? Then you deserve some Parenthood. As with Parks and Rec, you don’t have to worry that anyone will be revealed as a monster.

Finally,

6. Does a stay at home dad who is also really good at building things (and could totally go back to work if needed) make your loins quiver? Not sure? Then feast your eyes on this face:

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Joel could be you fake-husband for 100+ episodes! What, is his jaw too square? Are his eyes to emotive? Does his sensitivity offend you??!!

If you are on board with Joel, you are on board with Parenthood.

-D

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