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What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

It’s time for my weekly link roundup, where I talk about the articles that got me thinking. It varies week to week, but this week definitely had some stuff that got me thinking.

As always, I’d love to hear your opinions on these articles.  Whether or not you agree with me or the article in question, all points of view are welcome.

Two gold rings - reflected candlesAu Contraire, Marriage Is For You (Philly Mag)

If you’re on social media at all, chances are good that you saw that incendiary article by a (Mormon) blogger entitled “Marriage Isn’t For You.”  In it, he makes the claim that marriage isn’t for you because marriage is about your spouse–and making them happy.  It’s received a lot of attention, and, you know, whatever.  He clearly wrote it with the intention of having it go viral.  Whether or not you agree with him isn’t really the point, though I do believe he gets a lot of stuff wrong.

What I’m more interested in is not only the response, like this articulate, brief response at Philadelphia Magazine, but the bizarre, nearly-blind sharing and disseminating of these articles on social media.  So many people shared this and were like, “This is great advice!”  But did they actually read the whole thing?  Because it’s not really that great, advice-wise, and what’s more, the author makes some sort of problematic assertions about what marriage is (i.e. marriage is for procreation, so think of the children!).

So why do we share things like this without really thinking about them?  And when someone challenges us about the content of the article, why do so many of us shut down?  Isn’t the whole point of sharing information on social media to foster discussion, even if some of that discussion makes you uncomfortable?  This is the thing I’ve been thinking about most this week.

How the Write the Worst Article About Millenials (The Atlantic)

This scathing piece from The Atlantic is pretty spot-on when it tackles essentially every “think piece” written about the millennial generation today.  It’s a quick read, so I encourage you to go check it out, but the closing paragraph sums it up pretty well:

In sum, there is only one type of young person, her parents are super-rich, and they reside in a great big house with expensive PJs and an awesome couch to live on forever. There is, it would seem, no American species more tediously homogenous or more consistently inept than the Millennial generation. That is, perhaps, except for the columnists who write about them.

Generalizations about an entire generation lead nowhere good, humans.  Stop doing it.

In Defense of Hate-Reading (It’s a Dog Lick Baby World)hate reading

This is actually a blog post from this past spring, but I just discovered the blog this week, and I thought this post articulates much of what I do when I hate read other blogs (I also hate read people’s Facebook accounts, but that’s different).  I’m a big reader of Get Off My Internets (GOMI), and while I think that sometimes the anonymous gossip and snarkiness goes overboard, I also believe that these are readers who want a space to discuss things, and if they’re over at GOMI, they aren’t able to discuss it where it really matters: on the blog in question.  Bloggers who put their lives out there should also recognize that it comes with a price: people are going to judge the hell out of you, and moderating comments and deleting negativity only fuels the fire more.

At any rate, this blog is frequently hilarious and she seems to be my soul mate when it comes to all things Buffy, so give it a read.

The MPAA’s Backwards Logic: Sex is Bad, Sexism is Fine (Salon)

I mean, this is not really news.  It’s no secret that the MPAA is AWFUL and biased and totally, irredeemably backwards in their thinking about ratings.  If you haven’t seen the documentary This Film is Not Rated, I highly recommend you do so, as it gives you a really clear look at what the MPAA does and how it assigns completely arbitrary ratings to movies.  It’s always been more lenient with movies that are extremely violent than it has with movies that feature sex (especially if that sex involves any sort of female pleasure), and this is the case with the new foreign film Blue is the Warmest Color.

A snippet from the article, which talks about the Parents Television Council clutching their pearls over the decision a New York movi theater made to show the film without its NC-17 rating:

The PTC wants the movie theatre to fulfill its entirely voluntary obligations to adhere to MPAA standards, which are supposed to reflect the opinions of “the majority of American parents.”  That’s a big job.  What if these opinions are discriminatory and perpetuate a sexist, racist, homophobic status quo? The MPAA is regularly ridiculed for the incoherence of their ratings, as well as a bias against independent films.  The documentary “Bully,” for instance, was released with an R rating for profanity. Its core audiences, young teens, could not see the film without an adult.  AMC theaters released the movie with no rating and allowed teens to see it unaccompanied by an adult.  PTC head Tim Winter warned at the time that this incident could set a precedent that would “derail the whole ratings system.”

Anyway, people suck.  Things like the PTC and the MPAA are outdated, irrelevant, and not needed. Fighting words?

Should Literature Be Useful? (The New Yorker)

I’m including this because it articulates many of the problems I had with all the media attention about reading literary fiction lately.  I had more than one person crow on Facebook about how literary fiction makes you a better person, and I felt all squirmy and uncomfortable about it.  This article looks at those studies and asks a few really good questions and makes several great points about quantification of such things.

There is another way to look at the studies’ conclusions, however. Instead of proclaiming the superiority of fiction to the practical skills allegedly conferred by reading non-fiction, the studies implied that practical effects are an indispensable standard by which to judge the virtues of fiction. Reading fiction is good, according to the studies, because it makes you a more effective social agent. Which is pretty much what being able to read a train schedule does for you, too.

Another choice bit:

Fiction’s lack of practical usefulness is what gives it its special freedom. When Auden wrote that “poetry makes nothing happen,” he wasn’t complaining; he was exulting. Fiction might make people more empathetic—though I’m willing to bet that the people who respond most intensely to fiction possess a higher degree of empathy to begin with. But what it does best is to do nothing particular or specialized or easily formulable at all.

This one is just excellent all around.  Well worth your time to parse through it.

What did you read this week that got you thinking?

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