How has your holiday season been, dear readers? I had a wonderful Christmas with my family in Missouri, and after returning home have dipped right into the New Years resolutions by attending a hot pilates class. What did you get for Christmas or Hanukkah? Perhaps you celebrate Kwanzaa or the Winter Solstice? Tell me about your holiday traditions!
I have no clever segue into the following post. It’s one I’ve been thinking on for a while, and I felt that the odd interstitial between Christmas and New Years was as good a time as any to share it.
There was a period of my life in which I attempted to title each of my essays with pop culture references. Examples include “No One Woman Should Have All That Power” (about whether Lysistrata was a proto-feminist text), “We Will Never Be Royals: Nobility and the Self in Hamlet and Richard II,” and “Set Fire To The Rain” (on Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Dante’s Inferno). This was partially because I consumed so much media and partially a quiet pushback against the stifling homogeneity of intellectualism. As much as I live for long-form journalism, good research, and hearty discussion, I am also fed up by how darn serious academia is.
The heady snobbery of academia contains something more insidious than brooding nerds in dark libraries. In higher students and professors alike dismiss lot of media for being “fluffy,” “gauche,” “unpolished,” “biased,” or other coded adjectives — oftentimes these materials are for, by, or about disenfranchised and underserved populations. Take the obsession with tearing down young women for, among other things, the way we speak. Betcha didn’t know young women are linguistic trailblazers, old guy at the New York Times!
Indulge me in a little mental experiment:
Your Intro to Thoughts of Dead White Guys seminar is lead by a fifth year PhD student completing her dissertation on the writings of Immanuel Kant. During her office hours, you mention offhandedly an anecdote from the latest episode of Scandal. She sniffs, smug, taking a sip of her organic free-trade turmeric tea, “I don’t really pay attention to that kind of thing.” You want to overturn the table, screaming, “Can I live, you self-important curmudgeon?!” Instead, you offer a half smile and the shadow of a laugh, “Yeah it’s a little silly.” You can practically see Fitz frowning at you, that one curl on his forward wilting a little.
Never my precious calla lilies, will I be responsible for the imagined sadness of a fictional character. I will have Faustus without decrying Fetty Wap, because life is too short. In our quest to fight back against the Man, here are a few links that pair my (and hopefully your) love of high and low art:
- This excellent article on how well Fear the Walking Dead dealt with parallels to real-world violence — never mind how boring FTWD turned out to be
- This tumblr that earnestly and thoroughly dissects pop-culture icons: Your Fave Is Problematic
- And this INCREDIBLE satirical tumblr meme on Spongebob Discourse. It doesn’t get much more millennial than that. Peruse the magnificent tag here.
- A beautiful defense of “Trap Queen,” the song which lent this post its title. This one’s pretty deep. Really.
- (not quite on topic, but relevant: Fetty Wap now has his own line of emoji).
- And for all you language geeks out there, emoji are becoming a bonifide linguistic feature!
All of this to say, go forth and be yourself, however vapid or deeply intellectual that self may be. Do you, boo boo.
Love and theatre (and pop culture think pieces)