Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Things That Have Cheered Me Up: An Interblog Mixtape, Because I Love You

People! It is February! Do you know what that means? Well, I will tell you what it means around Ye Olde Tyger Beatdowne: it means I am going to be incredibly bummed out for the next twenty-eight days.

Seriously, February: what gives? You are cold, and you are dark, and you have none of the holiday festivities that November or December offer in order to alleviate these conditions. Oh, sure, you have Valentine's Day, but that's not a holiday, just a cruel mockery intended to make people wail and rend their flesh if they don't have dates and if their dates are not the BEST MOST ROMANTICAL THINGS EVER OMG, and if there is one thing you can do to ensure that even existing dates are not romantical, it is to put that kind of pressure on them, so: Valentine's Day, yeah, sure. Fuck you, Febs. Even January has that shower-fresh Beginning of a New Year feeling - maybe we can start all over, maybe this year will be different - but February, you don't give us that. You don't give us anything except the feeling that the year has barely started and it already sucks. People are going crazy in you, February - in my own small social circle alone, I count broken hearts, roommate fights, crumbling friendships, divorces, and one completely baffling overnight engagement to a more or less total stranger - and you know what? These are not crazy people. These are just people who are sick of dealing with you. February. God.

Seriously, I don't like this month. It bums me out on a very total and all-encompassing level. What does this have to do with anything? Good question! It has to do with Things That Have Cheered Me Up, which I hope to pass on to you, the reader.

#1. I Like Fucking

I finished The Human Stain, by the way. Its reflections on the Lewinsky scandal are quite charming: lots of stuff about the puritans who object to good healthy fucks, which objection is due to their wretched sanctimonious puritan "morality" (it is a testament to Philip Roth that the scare quotes don't actually need to be on the page, you can just feel them as you read) concluding with a lovely Socratic dialogue in which it is said that Bill Clinton should have anally raped Monica Lewinsky and threatened her family in order to maintain proper "dominance" and keep her from ever telling on him, that dumb bitch. This is the kind of thing that makes it hard for me to be a sex-positive feminist, you guys: yeah, sex is great, don't fear the sexing, and all that, but when dudes conflate sex with hatred, degradation, and rape? Well, it makes me want to enter a convent. How do you love, how do you ever feel sure that you are loved or can ever be loved, in a world where this kind of thinking is taken seriously, is a more-or-less routine and unquestioned part of the culture, where (as Andrea Dworkin, who was not always wrong, once pointed out) the act of sex is not about sex any more, but "the sexualization of insult?" Oh, but: do you believe there's anything beyond troll-guy reality? I do, I do, I do.

#2. Win or Die

I like Les Liaisons Dangereuses, on the other hand. It is definitely about using sex as a weapon (which, according to Pat Benatar and/or feminism, we should all stop doing) but it is actually fun, because the women and the men are more or less on equal ground. It's not about boys fucking over girls, it's about the Marquise de Merteuil and the Comte de Valmont fucking over everyone, like the fabulous 18th-century French Chuck Basses that they are. Even the book's few half-assed concessions to conventional morality (Valmont reforms and/or dies, the Marquise gets some hideous disease that makes her face melt off) can't diminish their sheer levels of awesome. This clip, from the movie, offers the disquieting prospect of Glenn Close and John Malkovich making out with each other while wearing silly wigs, but it also contains a masterful little monologue that begins with "I had no choice" and lands... well, you can probably tell where it lands, for me, but note how it is punctuated with the daintiest, most bad-ass little sips from a teacup that you will ever see:

(Note: "If he wants to tell, he finds that he can't," does not, in this context, refer to anal rape! It's about having something on the dude, which, in this ridiculously over-the-top Gossip-Girlian context, I find totally acceptable for any number of reasons.)


Confession: I got ridiculously sentimental while watching Bruce at half-time. Yeah, I know! I saw the crotch shot too! The crotch shot and the creepy soul patch and the weird vaudeville "delay of game" thing, I saw it all. Yet: sentiment is what Bruce is all about. Sentiment and bombast and whether or not the almost-exclusively-white Working Man can get a break (spoiler: he cannot) and also, on my favorite albums, the terror and freedom of driving at night through a town that more or less closes down at ten p.m., nothing to do and not much to expect and no-one else on the road and the creeping feeling that you are going to die there, in that crappy, crappy town, but at least right now the car is moving and the radio is on real loud and you've known this song forever and it all feels kind of OK. Bruce didn't "misjudge" the mood of depressed America. Bruce is the mood of depressed America. People don't need Nebraska in the middle of a crisis, they need Born to Fucking Run. Or "Badlands." Lights out tonight, trouble in the heartland, got a head-on collision smashing in my guts, man... oh, dudes, this is such a good song. I believe in the love! That you gave me! I believe in the faith! That can save me! I believe! And I hope! And I pray! That someday it! Will! Raise! Me! BRUUUUUUUUUUUCE.

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