the circular runner

I’m American: Loving & Hating Downton Abby…

In life, media, politics, Uncategorized on March 2, 2012 at 6:55 am

I’m late to the party, which is not unusual for me. As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, I’m a Libra, which means I have to feel like I have come to my own decisions about popular things.  I’m actually the type of person that will judge a show or book or what have you, by association.  If everyone loves something, I am suspicious.  I’m not a hipster–let’s not go there.  It’s not that I care if something is popular.  It’s that I like to think I’ve come to something through my own tastes and not by popular pressure.  Can you say, dumb?

A couple days ago, I had a day to hang out my wife, which is nice and all too unusual.  We decided to stay in and watch Netflix, and Downton Abbey presented itself as a good choice of something to do.  We ended up watching the first season that day–7 glorious hours of glorious British people–well, not so glorious, actually.  I have a natural aversion to this kind of show.  The show itself, the writing and the acting are great, but watching the class stuff drives me to distraction.  Might the butler be fired for having once been an actor?  Can a lawyer eat and talk to his family member if that family member inherited a huge home?  Should a spoiled daughter let herself love a lawyer who works and actually knows what a weekend is?  These are the questions that must be answered over seven hours of well written TV.

At one level, I want to say, “cool.” I want to think that drama, like most things, is relative to the person who is experiencing it.  So, if the biggest problem one has to face is whether or not to marry for love or for convenience, well I guess that’s drama.  I also guess that for the people who lived in that period, the idea of class movement was as strange as electricity was.  That’s what I find most problematic abut the show.  I don’t subscribe to the conservative position that America is class-less and that everyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  That’s a little naive.  But on the other hand, I grew up poor and went to Harvard on a scholarship.  My wife’s family is certainly more affluent than mine, but they accepted me not because of my family’s pedigree but because of who I am.  Class in society is real, and maybe the idea that all people have a shot to better themselves is a myth.  But to say that is not to dismiss the power of the myth.  Stories matter.  And when I watch Downton Abbey, or hell, if I travel in Europe, which I did last year, I prefer to accept this American myth, and to work to help others put the truth to it.

This leads me to Girl Walk All Day, a multi-part music video with music from Girl Talk, the DJ.  It’s not that this video gets at class, but I think it gets at something that is really American, or at least, really New York.  Watch this thing and you see a few things right off: New Yorkers are not bothered by crazy people dancing around them–just another freak in the City.  ALSO, New Yorkers are just one big hodge podge.  We are not perfect here.  And there is certainly a lot of racism and classicism to be had here, but Girl Walk All Day coud not have happened in any other country.  It’s messy and its huge and it’s US.

Here’s the link


Girl Walk All Day

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