books and reading · pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Week

These are the things that got me reading and thinking this week.  Without further ado:

Punch-Drunk Jonathan Chait (Gawker)

If you’re on the internet and run in academic circles, you’ve probably read or at least seen mention of oppressed white dude Jonathan Chait’s piece about the problem of political correctness and policing language.  Chait’s piece is super long and blows a lot of hot air, but my biggest problem with it is that his one good point gets lost in all his concern trolling.  I’m not linking to his piece because why bother, but I did really appreciate Alex Pareene’s response over at Gawker:

But the destruction of the magazine industry and the growth of the open-forum internet have amplified formerly marginal voices. Now, in other words, writers of color can be just as condescending and dismissive of Chait as he always was toward the left. And he hates it.

And this:

Excessive speech-policing by overzealous campus activists certainly happens. But Chait is wildly exaggerating the threat it poses—calling it a “philosophical threat” to liberalism, instead of a minor annoyance people like Chait have to deal with in the brief period just before they officially assume their positions in America’s power elite.

Chait is so very sad.  Someone get the man the tiniest violin they can find.

Angela’s Ashes (The Hairpin)

Mostly about shows like My So-Called Life that were cut down before their time, this is an excellent piece about television, nostalgia, and more.

Over the next 18 episodes, we lived My So-Called Life by proxy, parsing every lingering exchange, every painfully awkward faux-pas, every elbow-bruising, shearling-swaddled boiler-room makeout session between Angela and Jordan Catalano (to this day, the single greatest contribution Jared Leto has made to humankind—pace 30 Seconds to Mars fans), with manic zeal. Today, I can still recite from memory lines like: “People are always saying you should be yourself, like ‘yourself’ is this definite thing, like a toaster.”

But the piece is also about the fever with which a show’s fans will fight for it:

This is the reasoning, I reckon, that fuels the feverish, breathless crusades that spring up, season after season, to preserve programs on the verge of cancellation. These days, there’s nothing a TV fan fights harder for than to keep his show alive.

At any rate, it examines some of my favorite shows (and some shows I never grew to love), and it’s worth a read for anyone who has lost a show too soon.

Entitlement is Infecting Us with the Measels (Dame Magazine)

I’m at the point where the mere mention of an anti-vaccination LUNATIC throws me into an apoplectic rage.  I’m working on it.  In the meantime, the anti-vaxxers continue to be the most dangerous, entitled pieces of shit out there.  This article focuses on the recent outbreak in California, and it is worth reading:

This is what I find the most troubling: the notion that a small but very vocal minority of anti-vaccine activists have managed to sow so much confusion that kids are being put at risk. With its appeals to natural health and individual autonomy, vaccine wariness is as trendy as anything else you’ll find in the Whole Foods aisle (gluten bad! chia good!), but its impact is so much greater.

But also, this:

And then there’s the deeper question—beyond the pseudo-science, the mistrust of authority, the faddishness—of just what we feel we owe one another in the society. The thing I’ve found most disturbing about the hard-core anti-vaccine arguments is the way they center on the rights of the individual parent to make choices for his or her child, ignoring (most immediately) the rights of that child as well as the collective rights and health of the community.

This is as privileged and short-sighted as it gets, and it makes my physically angry.

What got you reading and thinking this week?



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