Sunday, June 25, 2006
The Latest Trend
Those who make their living in the liberal arts like to think of themselves as iconoclasts, operating independently and outside the influence of public opinion. Those of us with a background in newspapers are particularly fond of looking at themselves this way. After all, saying that you “chose” such a low-paying profession because you look at life differently than others certainly sounds better than saying that field is the only one that would have you because you have no other useful skills.
Though not currently employed by a newspaper, I had convinced myself that I was still an independent thinker; I mean, I chose to leave my home in Tennessee to spend time living in a far eastern country where people eat three meals cooked to a temperature roughly equal to molten lava, only spicier. I chose to live in a country just south of a nuclear-armed nation whose leader’s idea of a diplomatic statement is “I will turn (insert name of city) into a (insert type of body of water) of fire.”
Surely my individuality was secure, right? Well, since I came home at the start of May, my free-thinking façade has come unraveled on three fronts.
1-The iPod— I told myself that an iPod would be an unnecessary expenditure of several hundred dollars, when my CDs continued to work just fine, thank you. Well, once you’ve gotten onto a cramped airplane seat, had to go digging through a suitcase for your CD, placed it in the portable CD player you’ve had since before the Clinton impeachment, then gone digging for another CD 45 minutes later, all while the Canadian sitting next to you sits, happily thumbing through musical genres on his mp3 player with minimal effort, then you’d do what I’d do: you’d nurse a deep-seated loathing of Canadians*.
You might also decide that $(amount of money certain to provoke despondency if said aloud) isn’t really that high of a price to pay.
2-MySpace.com — Everybody, including some who wouldn’t otherwise be spending an unhealthy amount of time socializing near middle school playgrounds, has started a MySpace account. Honestly, the whole idea reeks of trendiness, until you start to view it as a practical way to reconnect with people you haven’t seen since college, or even high school.
Upon said reconnection, you can have interesting conversations, such as: “Now that I think about it, I do remember you; you were a varsity cheerleader who looked at guys like me as though they were total Morlocks. You don’t know what a Morlock is, do you? Perhaps that’s for the best…So, when did you finish college? Oh, sorry to hear that…”
3-The Da Vinci Code — It pains me to admit this far more than the other two, but yes, I read The Da Vinci Code during my time off. I wanted to see for myself if there was a reason people were buying it, so at the same time I was buying a Father’s Day present I snuck into the book section at Wal-Mart when no one else was there and stole away with a copy.
Well, not actually stole, I did pay for it, I just used a self-checkout lane so no one would see me. Naturally, I had some trouble during the process and one of clerks had to attend to me. “Please don’t tell anyone I’m buying The Da Vinci Code,” I pleaded. “Tell them I’m buying Sudafed and other ingredients for making meth if you have to, anything but the Da Vinci Code.
Many say that The Da Vinci Code has only sold so well because of its sensationalized story that assails the core beliefs of Christianity. Others say it is the book’s gripping plot and complex mystery. Well, in the three hours it took to read the book** I came up with a theory of my own: the back of the book says “More than 40 million copies sold.” That means that, worldwide, there are nearly that many aspiring novelists out there buying this book in order to give themselves inspiration
They figure that if someone can make money writing sentences like “Prominent New York editor Jonas Faukman tugged nervously at his goatee,” then why should they have to have real jobs? This is why, every time we go to a book store now days, we see a new copycat, this one proving that clues hidden in medieval architecture prove that David Stern wanted Miami to win the NBA finals.
People are also curious, because every time they turn around there’s a hack like Pat Buchanan saying that this book and the movie based upon it “can only have the effect of undermining the faith of millions of Christians.” One has to wonder how someone’s faith could be undermined by story of fiction, and not even a particularly good one.
Probably somebody whose faith was a little more than a trend.
*”Ooh, look at us Canucks: we never been in a quagmire! And if our leader had a 30 percent approval rating we could vote him out of office immediately!” Well we’re all really happy for you, eh?!
**Two hours spread out over several days; I can only handle about eight page of wretched, unbelievable dialogue at a time.
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