Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chuck Klosterman

Even if you don't know who Chuck Klosterman is, the odds are good that he writes about subjects that interest you. Cheesy classic rock groups, Reality TV, breakfast cereal, movies about time travel, the NFL; if something is within the realm of popular or lowbrow culture, then Klosteman has probably tackled it in one of his essays, and he's almost certainly done it with a sharp sense of humor, a unique point of view and an articulate voice. Eating the Dinosaur, IV, and Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, three of his essay collections, all cover a multitude of guilty pleasures but because of the intelligence that Klosterman writes with - as well as the care that he takes to craft his arguments - you won't feel guilty reading about them.

On the surface, these aren't subjects that should require much thought (or even much of an attention span for that matter.) Few people think twice about a laugh track during a sitcom or how a commercial is trying to sell a product; usually you're sprawled on the couch when these events occur, maybe even half asleep. But by actually paying close attention to these things and trying to piece together how they fit into the cultural zeitgeist, Klosterman often transcends his topics and usually finds that they say a lot more about ourselves than we might care to acknowledge (or admit.)  The fact that he also happens to be hilarious is just an added bonus.

Some may think that it's a bit of a stretch to draw grand, sociological conclusions in essays about "Saved by the Bell" or The Sims as Klosterman attempts to do, but that would be missing the point. In his worldview, indulging in the lowbrow, the mindless and the popular isn't wrong, nor is it something to feel guilty about. The real crime is failing to figure out why we indulge in the first place.
Take some time to read Chuck Klosterman's essays and you just might start to think differently about that sitcom laugh track.

Matt

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