Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The joke isn't as funny when you explain it

I was reading an interview with Susan Bordo today, and the thing I found really compelling about her attitude was that she made it quite clear that she didn't view being a cultural critic as something undertaken outside of the culture, but from within it. She freely admits to her anxieties about her looks, her weight, etc. in order to demonstrate that one does not have to be a superhuman being in order to be critical indulge the desire to criticize society. I really related to that, because in a lot of ways, the things that bug me the most are naturally the things I find myself becoming weak when faced with.

I was disgusted and really disturbed the other day when I was moved by an ad for diamond rings. The ad was plotted around a man setting up an elaborate stunt to ask his wife to renew their vows, and sucker that I am, I choked up. Such an ad is geared directly at people like me who have chosen love over romance but miss romance just a little bit. Bastards. But the sad thing is that I was angry at myself for being a sucker and then even angrier with myself for being angry with myself. What's so wrong with that, anyway? Why should I abandon my harmless hopes and fantasies because some asshole wants to profit off them? But how can I label them harmless when they have been tainted by materialism? It's time to just let go, and there's a loss I feel there.

Of course, I'm neurotic as hell. Being a feminist, I feel like it's important to abandon my neurotic side and seem even-keeled and whatnot. But that's a line of bullshit. I worry about my looks, for instance. Too fat? Too thin? Do I look good enough? Do I look too good and have to worry about being harassed? Instead of fretting, I try to channel those feelings into a good bout of mockery at the expense of those who most expensively charge us to exaggerate our anxieties. But none of this means I don't fret over stupid shit.

So I related to the comment that she tries to write in a way that exposes that she, too, feels this way. After all, who knows better than the girl who has wasted far too much time wondering if that last bit of cellulite could be gotten rid of to speak of how a culture that emphasizes this is only out to waste our time? Well, probably lots of people. But it made me feel more sure of myself.

84 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the diamond ad too. I usually ignore them, but I'd seen the actress in other stuff which is why I paid attention to this one. I was also initially upset that I liked a diamond but I figured it was okay because I don't like the diamond, I like the romantic gesture. And after seeing the ad, I still felt no desire to get a diamond, but I would like to have my future partner suprise me with a vow renewal. Or maybe I'll surprise them.

There's nothing as annoying as realizing that you've been infected by the same gender roles and stereotypes that you've been fighting to change. For a while, I was conflicted over the my desire to lose weight. Did I want a six pack for me or because I've internalized the idea that I have to be skinny to be attractive? I realized it was both, but it's primarily for me. I think the key thing is to be aware of what you've internalized and to realize that it's some crazy ass shit that was foisted upon you by society and not the Absolute Truth.

12/16/2004

 
Blogger Frank said...

My reaction to such advertising is to, when I feel myself reacting, become angry with the advertiser. There are fairly well-known methods for invoking certain feelings, and advertisers quite often coldly and deliberately seek to use those methods to invoke those feelings, solely to sell their product. Whether that product is an SUV, a diamond ring, or toilet paper.

I feel that it isn't my fault for reacting with emotion, since such emotion is natural and very human. Rather, it is their fault for cynically manipulating those feelings. I'm not angry that I'm manipulable, everyone is, to one degree or another or in one way or another. I'm angry that I've been manipulated. And it probably goes without saying that I will strenuously avoid buying whatever product the manipulator is selling.

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Blogger Hugo said...

That's what I love about Bordo. I've used two of her books in my classes -- her "Male Body" is a superb blend of personal narrative and social history. She is willing to put herself out there; I honor that. Of course, Amanda, I honor that in you as well.

And now, if you'll excuse me, Tom Wolfe has aroused me. ;-)

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