Sunday, February 26, 2012

I am a de(genre)ating degenerate.

I'm on an invent-new-words kick. Today's word (inspired by my addiction to ABC's The Bachelor)
is de(genre)ate.  This can be defined by one who's taste in literature and the arts was once based on intellectually challenging genres of high quality but has since degenerated to works of such low caliber you can't help but hang your head in shame. Most de(genre)ates attempt to make themselves feel better by rationalizing this behavior through long drawn-out explanations that fail to mask the fact that he/she is, in fact, whole-heartedly, albeit disconcertingly, participating in said behavior. Example of such an explanation - "Yes, I am reading Twilight - but only because I find the gender dynamics in the novel so fascinating. I mean, it really says a lot about our society's archetypes of masculinity and what the young women of the world today believe a 'real' man to be......... For instance,  I find it quite revealing that I, for one, have recurrent fantasies about Edward protecting me from evil as we fly over the mountains while sparkling in the sunshine."

I was once a woman of great taste and culture. In high school, I frequently visited the city's Shakespearean theater and I think I read The Fountainhead like three times. In college, my Borges reading group appeared in a locally produced documentary in which I played myself -  a.k.a the girl wearing a hat that looked very much like a beret smoking a clove cigarette. In graduate school I read One Hundred Years of Solitude. In Spanish.  For "fun". But now?!? Now, I find myself, every Tuesday morning, unable to resist watching the latest episode of The Bachelor on Hulu - no matter how many other things I should be doing. Its like I lived my life as a Vegan foodie health nut only to end up a fast food junkie.

And you see, The Bachelor, really is like fast food. You know it is bad for you and you should probably not let it into your body. You know you will most likely feel guilty and gross afterward ... but it just tastes so good going down.

And WHY does it taste so good?

Well, in case you are unfamiliar with the show it is a competition in which like 30 women go on dates with the same guy and fight for his hand in marriage. It is totally crazy and awesome. These ladies essentially get to lay around all day (on what look like really comfortable couches) and gossip while drinking wine in their pajamas. This is, of course, unless they are on a date with Ben. Then they get to do things like ski down a fake-snowed-on hilly street in San Fransisco (while wearing a bikini.) Or jump out of a helicopter into a crystal clear pool of water next to a beautiful deserted island (while wearing a bikini). Or swim with sharks, or ride a horse, or dance around with an indigenous tribe in Panama (while wearing a bikini).... all the while getting to learn about how relationships really work by making analogies such as "bunjee jumping with Ben was just like our relationship. I really have to take a leap of faith." Or "I was so scared of those sharks, but Ben really made me feel loved and protected. Just like he does in our relationship." 

Now, as a self-proclaimed de(genre)ate it is my duty to give you all my faltering, behavior-rationalizing explanation for watching this drivel:

I have this whole theory.... The Bachelor is for people who judged their worth by whether or not they were what we call "popular" in high school. Most of these people then go to college and join a sorority/fraternity where they continue to socialize and meet people within a certain structure. I teach at a University where sorority/fraternity culture dominates. I was never a part of this phenomena when I was in college, but now I talk to my students about it all the time. They tell me about their formals and their date nights and their themed parties and their charity auctions. Their entire social lives are arranged for them, as if by a Director or a Producer. They get set up with certain boys for certain dates with certain activities already planned out. So, for those that end up out-of-college and without a man, they go on The Bachelor - where they live in a house full of girls, obsess about their appearance, drink all the time, and fight over some guy. And the guy? He doesn't really matter. This show is all about lady competition and the self-validation felt after being picked as the prom queen, or in this case, as Ben's fiance. I only watch it as part of a sociological study of modern day adult inter-feminine relationships and woman's response to masculine judgment. (I also can't wait to find out who he is going to pick and secretly hope that its me.... but don't tell anybody I said that).

Its time to de(genre)ate. Throw away your Ayn Rand, toss your Shakespeare in the toilet. This is reality TV ya'll - and its powerful stuff. 
Thats the poopy scoop!

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