Friday, May 28, 2004

YOU'S A EDUCATED FOOL. Culture scold James Bowman writes yet another long sneer at pop-culture studies, treating dismissively a host of comically-named tomes treating the deeper meanings of The Sopranos, Sex & The City, etc. Though Bowman does express some admiration for one such work that suggests The Simpsons is pro-family, on the rest he employs eye-rolling phrases ("purports to give a philosophical analysis," "unadulterated jargon of real-life scholars," "the more feminist the analysis, the less lighthearted -- and readable") to communicate his customary message: that professors, like artists, are fools to look for deeper meaning in absurdities.

Meanwhile over at NRO, we get not one but two articles about how the Kate Hudson vehicle Raising Hell represents an overdue reinterpretation of eccleasiastics in modern society. They don't use that kind of language, of course (consider their audience) -- theirs goes more like this: "...audiences will fall for Pastor Dan specifically because he is just like a typical pastor -- likeable. Likeable, and strong, and funny, and, yes, sexy."

Pastor Dan is played by the guy who did the radio show on Northern Exposure, and here's Megan Basham, the author quoted above, describing his courtship of the Kate Hudson character:
In one scene, shortly after they meet, Dan asks Helen if she'd like to go out sometime. When she shakes her head no, he starts to leave. But then, realizing how blind she is, he turns back and glowers, "It's because I'm not one of those model, club-hoppin' guys right? So you don't think I'm sexy?" Embarrassed and not knowing how to respond, Helen stands frozen until Dan marches back toward her, leans in, and growls, "Let me tell you something little lady, I am sexy. I'm a sexy man of God, and I know it."
If you think that's sexy, you'll cream your jeans over Tony Perkins in Crimes of Passion.

This sort of thing happens anytime something pops up in a book or movie or trend that could be interpreted, by minds obsessed with such things, as an endorsement of conservative politics or mores. (See Mark Gauvreau Judge on Swing Dancing for a particularly lurid example.) I don't see how this is any sillier than monographs about TV shows. Maybe James Bowman can explain it sometime.

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