Reading Diary: Talking to Girls about Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield
It's complicated, the way we use pop-culture artefacts in our day-to-day emotional relationships. The popular stereotype of this is the overbearing boyfriend who tries to get his girlfriend to appreciate free jazz, football, or World War II documentaries--but everyone knows it goes both ways. Consider Pretty Woman, a movie that only exists so that women can force their boyfriends to watch it. Your boyfriend has probably seen it more times than you have, once for every relationship. (Never more than once--unless something was seriously wrong.) And while you may kid yourself he thinks the women are hot, he's really just showing off that he's man enough to take the punishment . . .
But there's nothing at all wrong with an exchange like this. As a boy, experiences like this are part of learning girl languages. What else is pop culture for?
For the record, I have never made a man watch Pretty Woman with me! How can I when I don't like it much myself? =P And yet I know Rob Sheffield writes truth because I have made family and friends alike watch The Terminator with me! So if you have ever decided to watch the latter film because of something that you read on this blog . . . Congratulations! I will love you forever.
There have also been times when I had to learn to speak other people's languages. Most memorable was the summer when I visited some cousins I hadn't seen in about seven years, and I had to learn how to speak Clueless with them. (I wonder what they'd think of my Twelve Things review . . .) But they weren't equally successful in getting me to speak Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins or other American bands with them. Instead, I taught them to speak Oasis. A lot of Oasis.
"Taking to Girls about Oasis" doesn't have the same ring to it, though =P
But I'm not always such a good friend. Ten years ago, I was too prissy about my faith to fulfill a friend's longing to watch the reportedly anti-Catholic Chocolat with her . . . and I've been dragging my feet for at least two years with respect to L.O.S.T. (Are you still speaking to me, Christopher?)
The first time I realised pop culture could be a language was right after Stephenie Meyer's Twilight became a best-seller. A parent mused that he couldn't understand how something could be so phenomenally successful when it was so phenomenally bad (LOL!), and thanks to parallels I had already noticed between modern YA Vampire Romance and early-nineteenth-century Gothic novels, I was able to explain that Twilight had simply given young girls a language for talking about perfectly natural feelings and desires that they had hitherto been able to put into words. "Bella" and "Edward" are codes for the secrets in young female hearts.
Over the last few years, they have also become codes for the secret contempt you probably hadn't guessed the modern world had for young girls.
Last night, I started interviewing family members, asking them what their pop culture artefacts were. "What explains you?" I asked. That is, what explains you better than you can explain yourself, because it explained you to yourself first? My mother had the best answer--and not just because it was right out of the 80s.
"Taking to My Mother about Madonna" will be the title of my memoir,
in which I will explain, among other things, why I owe my life to this song
So cool to see that even posts that weren't written for the May Is for Mothers theme are managing to fit it!
I've decided to put Early Edition on hold while I do a series based on Sheffield's book. Coming up next from the decade that taste forgot but that I never will: The Go-Gos!
Your Turn at the Jukebox: What song (or book, movie, etc.) do you
Image Source: Talking to Girls about Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield