Friday, February 19, 2010

Pop Culture Roundup

I finished Prozac Nation this week. The last 2-3 chapters really bring out some of Wurtzel's main purposes behind writing this book, I think. She reflects on how people romanticize depression in lieu of how many aritsts and writers suffered from it. She pushes back against the notion that their depression fueled their creativity, saying that it may have provided some influence or inspiration, but these people also spent months or years paralyzed by their illness, during which time they didn't write. And then in the final chapter, she reflects on how our culture has trivialized depression with the onset of medications such as Prozac being marketed so much to the general public, resulting in a rash of people taking it under incredibly flimsy excuses. She calls out the psychiatric profession for using these drugs as quick fixes. She also muses on the possibility that our society actually does feel more angst-ridden as a whole for a variety of reasons that are still with us today. She cites the rise of grunge music (this was written in 1994) as a sign that maybe we are more depressed than we used to be. I don't totally buy that last one, considering that the most popular acts today are techno-dance artists such as the Black-Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga and sugary-sweet country pop like Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus. So is that a sign that we're happier? Or more vapid? Anyway, good book.

And I've already moved on to Nightlight, written by the Harvard Lampoon as a parody of...come on, guess:
He was muscular, like a man who could pin you up against the wall as easily as a poster, yet lean, like a man who would rather cradle you in his arms. He had reddish, blonde-brown hair that was groomed heterosexually. He looked older than the other boys in the room--maybe not as old as God or my father, but certainly a viable replacement. Imagine if you took every woman's idea of a hot guy and averaged it out into one man. This was that man.

"What is that?" I asked, knowing that whatever it was, it wasn't avian.

"That's Edwart Mullen," Lululu said.

Edwart. I had never met a boy named Edwart before. Actually, I had never met anyone named Edwart before. It was a funny sounding name. Much funnier than Edward.
I'm only a chapter in, and have been laughing the entire time.

We finally saw Up in the Air this past week. I think we could only find one theater at which it was playing in the area, so we kind of lucked out. George Clooney plays Ryan, who spends most of his year on the road in airports and hotels, and who absolutely loves it. He mostly stays out of contact with family, he racks up frequent-flier miles, and he loves not being tied down to anything or anyone. Then he meets a fellow traveler and kindred spirit and begins to fall for her, as well as a young efficiency expert who wants to change his business' methodology such that his lifestyle would be threatened. The film is an excellent study of isolationism and what happens when human beings insist that they need no one else to survive. The soundtrack is very good, too.

Here's Jim Carrey playing Conan O'Brien: