Friday, February 12, 2010

Pop Culture Roundup

I finished The Leader's Journey this week, which did end up having some good stuff in it. The authors spend a lot of time talking about living systems: how a system resists change, how change produces anxiety and how the system tries to return to status quo, how self-differentiation helps the system to change, and so on. The basic gist is that the pastor must work on changing him or herself in order to help change the system, which includes recognizing our own behaviors that contribute to a church's unhealthy ethos.

I've moved right on to Prozac Nation, which is a memoir about depression. The author, Elizabeth Wurtzel, is pretty blunt about her condition and background. She has a way with words without attempting to inject extra drama or poetry like the author of An Unquiet Mind. Wurtzel portrays her inability to control the sorts of thoughts and urges that her illness causes. She attempts to "put on a happy face," but after a while it only makes things worse. I think that the piece of her story that has caused me the most pause is her account of other people's reactions: how they tense up when she approaches, or how they pat her on the back and encourage her to "just feel better," or how they just look completely helpless or hopeless. In an unintentional way, this is partially a book on pastoral care.

We watched this incredibly stupid movie this week called Disturbing Behavior. It came out in 1999, and was probably one of James Marsden and Katie Holmes' first. The film is basically The Stepford Wives, except about high school students. Stoner/loner/loser kids are taken to the school counselor's "weekend retreat," and come back all preppy and clean-cut. After a while, however, it is revealed that even in their new incarnation, the reprogrammed kids have a violent streak that manifests particularly when one of them is attracted to someone else. But, you know, the counselor who promises better behavior for some reason doesn't consider that a big problem. Throw in a cliche, stigma-reinforcing scene in a mental hospital complete with dilapidated walls and patients who act like flesh-eating zombies, a clever janitor with no backstory, and all the sounds, fashion and haircuts of the late '90s and you've got a cheesy, dimwitted teen horror film. Or at least I think it's supposed to be horror. I really don't care.

Of course, we watched the Super Bowl on Sunday. The game itself was looking iffy in the first half (I was rooting for the Saints), but then got really exciting early in the second. I've already pointed out my favorite commercials. The only thing I'll add here is how disappointing The Who were. The drummer, Zack Starkey, looked like he was afraid to hit his instrument too hard (whereas Moon would've been all over that), and Daltrey and Townshend just looked tired. Pretty listless performance, I thought.

This week I was thinking about that episode of Tiny Toons featuring their characters in music videos set to songs by They Might Be Giants. Here's the one they made for "Istanbul:"