Monday, November 10, 2014

What is the most villainous move on the market?

I keep checking my drafts folder thinking "Maybe I was smart and started a post about this book around the time I finished it, so I have something to work off of now." And every time I check I am disappointed that there's nothing there. I also continue to NOT start a post about whatever book I just recently read, thus continuing the cycle. Hooray, responsibility.

At some point I was wandering around my local bookstore thinking about how I would change the layout and looking for something new to read when I stumbled on Chuck Klosterman's book I Wear The Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) and I thought "Why not".

I read his Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs a while ago (pre-blog) and I think I read Fargo Rock City around that time as well, but I can't really remember which doesn't say much for that book. It does, however, serve as a good reason for me to keep this blog up so I can, you know, remember what I read. Anyway, I haven't read any books from Klosterman in awhile BUT I do read the guy regularly cos at some point he took over writing the NYTimes Magazine column "The Ethicist" and while I read embarrassingly little of the newspaper (despite the fact that it's delivered every weekend AND comes with an online subscription so I could read it ALL THE TIME) I always read his column. So I figured this would be an entertaining option.

Klosterman talks about the concept of villains in pop culture and what that says about us. How villains may be evil, but they're also the character people seem to like the best. He talks about the thin line between vigilantes and criminals a la Death Wish and the guy, Bernhard Goetz, who did his own version of Death Wish. He talks about 80s hair bands and 90s gangsta rap, how terrible we collectively were to Monica Lewinsky and not Bill Clinton, and what a successful dick Perez Hilton is.

Here's what Klosterman says the book is. Or rather, what it isn't:
And most notably, [this book] will not be a repetitive argument that insists every bad person is not-so-bad and every good person is not-so-good.  Rational people already understand that this is how the world is. But if you are not-so-rational - if there are certain characters you simply refuse to think about in a manner that isn't 100 percent negative or 100 percent positive - parts of this book will (midly) offend you. It will make you angry, and you will find yourself trying to intellectually discount arguments that you might naturally make about other people. This is what happen whenever the things we feel and the things we know refuse to align in the way we're conditioned to pretend.
Here's the thing. Much like his other two books, I honestly can't remember much about this one. I know I'm behind on my reviewing but it hasn't been that long, yet I can't remember any details of this book.  And I read Bad Feminist longer ago, and yet I remembered enough of that one. I do remember vague feelings while reading it: entertaining but kinda pretentious. Even looking at the titles of the essays isn't bringing back any memories, although skimming through random pages is helping. And It's making me think "Hey, this sounds good! I bet I'd like this" before I remember that "yes, I've read this. Supposedly."

I guess if you see this sitting around, give it a try. If you're a fan of Klosterman, you'll probably like it. If you're not, it's not bad, just not really memorable. I may read it again at some point and at that time I'll update this if I come up with any new thoughts.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 9

Klosterman, Chuck. I Wear The Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined). Scribner, 2013.