Friday fleeting thoughts about news and culture

2 August 2013

I. “Non-consensual sex” at Yale.

Oh, Yale. You can’t even use the word rape in trying to address the “hostile sexual environment” at school? The latest report shows that what Jezebel calls “non-consensual sex-havers” are given written reprimands, and sometimes given probation, and most of the time advised to seek counseling.

Daaaammmnn! Rapists beware!

Before I speak too soon: one rapist was suspended for two whole semesters.


II. Difficult men and women.

The pleasure I’m getting while reading Brett Martin’s Difficult Men– about the sociopathic male characters who have dominated the highbrow cable television drama for the past 15 years (Tony Soprano, Walter White, Don Draper, Al Swearingen, Jimmy McNulty, and on and on) and the sociopathic men who created them and portrayed them onscreen — is matched by the pleasure I got from Emily Nussbaum’s superlative reading and defense of Sex and the City (1998-2004) in last week’s New Yorker. A snippet:

The four friends operated as near-allegorical figures, pegged to contemporary debates about women’s lives, mapped along three overlapping continuums. The first was emotional: Carrie and Charlotte were romantics; Miranda and Samantha were cynics. The second was ideological: Miranda and Carrie were second-wave feminists, who believed in egalitarianism; Charlotte and Samantha were third-wave feminists, focussed on exploiting the power of femininity, from opposing angles. The third concerned sex itself. At first, Miranda and Charlotte were prudes, while Samantha and Carrie were libertines. Unsettlingly, as the show progressed, Carrie began to slide toward caution, away from freedom, out of fear.

See what I mean? It’s excellent.

III. I can’t care about Anthony Weiner. 

I understand fully how sleazy he appears, but I’m having a hard time seeing why people are more exercised about him than the comebacks of Mark Warner and Eliot Spitzer, who committed actual crimes and are also guilty of moral hypocrisy. Lying and being a terrible husband seem endemic these days, but tweeting some crotch shots just seems stupid and mortifying.

anthony_weiner_huma_abedin_a_lAnd honestly, how Huma Abedin deals with this is her own @#$%ing business, not mine.

IV. I’m thinking of seeing some underrated girl comedies.

I hadn’t planned on seeing the big hit The Heat (with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy), but its remarkable staying power in the theaters and a great essay entitled “The Heat: Not Enough Peen for Critics” over at Mighty Damsels have persuaded me to check it out. Also the new film The To-Do List. More soon on that one.



Don’t tell me what happens; still making my way through Season 3 and into Season 4. He might be the best secondary/ tertiary character I’ve ever seen.

VI. Just go read Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Ridiculously enjoyable, cleanly-written, funny summer reading. And I’ve had a pretty good summer of reading, relatively speaking.

9 Responses to “Friday fleeting thoughts about news and culture”

  1. Servetus Says:

    I wondered if you’d seen that piece in the New Yorker about Sex and the City — meant to mention it to you.

    I’m interested in Huma Abedin because she seems to have political views / ambitions. (Mark Warner’s wife doesn’t, does she?). Since it looks like the Dems might run a highly qualified candidate who is also a formerly betrayed wife as their presidential candidate this year, the phenomenon is interesting to me.

  2. So Hamm,Cranston, and Gilligan are all sociopaths for being involved in the creation of or portraying a fictional sociopath?

    And how has Spitzer been a moral hypocrite?I mean i agree the call girl thing was bad, but i haven’t read about him going after johns or running as a holier than tho family man.

    Just so i don’t come totally negative i totally agree with you that the Yale things is creepy. If you are old enough to consent to sex,you should be able to handle the responsibility of not being a rapist.

    • Didion Says:

      My apologies: that sentence about Difficult Men was ham-fisted in its brevity. Vince Gilligan (the creator/ show-runner of Breaking Bad) is a big exception to the sociopathic pattern set by creator-show-runners David Chase, David Simon, and David Milch (The Sopranos, The Wire, and Deadwood, respectively) in the high-end TV show racket. And Hamm and Cranston aren’t discussed the same way poor James Gandolfini is; jeez, poor Gandolfini. But it sounds as if many of the other stars of these shows likewise felt the anguish of living through those characters for so many years. (Stories of the cast of my beloved The Wire, for example.)

      Re: Spitzer, I’ve admired him and his crusade against corruption from days of old. Reading the news about his latest coups made for the most amazing reading in the late 90s & early 2000s. But although he never portrayed himself as a moral family values guy the way members of the GOP always do, he premised part of his career on breaking up prostitution rings, some of which functioned essentially as sexual travel agents. And hey, Spitzer himself said earlier this summer that it’s “fair” to call him a hypocrite for cracking down on the very trade of which he partook.

      • Question. When you say sociopaths, do you mean literally like sociopaths or just sharing certain elements of there creation?Cause i think that maybe is whats throwing me off.

        And i didn’t know about him breaking up prostitution rings. That definitely falls into the hypocrisy realm. Still would take him over Weiner to be honest tho. I seriously think that guy has some major self control issues,and a unwillingness to take responsibility for it.

      • Didion Says:

        I agree on preferring Spitzer; he was the real deal as attorney general in a way that Weiner was never an amazing congressman — AND he’s shooting for a no-glory kind of job now, one that has real potential to make a difference, whereas Weiner’s now shooting for NYC mayor (big on the glory). But I must say that strictly in terms of comparing crimes, Weiner’s offenses just look stupid to me. I’m surprised how many people want to say that Weiner is the one who should be shunned.

        And on sociopaths, the stories about Chase and Milch in particular are jaw-dropping. Sure, they’re not killing people a la Tony Soprano or Al Swearingen. But they sound like utter nightmares to work for — for writers as well as the cast — unpredictable, prone to rages and mass firings, narcissistic, and working out their demons (psychological, addictions, etc.) on everyone around them. Whew.

  3. Becky Says:

    This was an interesting post. I couldn’t care less about Sex and the City. I watched a few episodes and thought it was embarrassingly superficial and stereotypical regarding women. Maybe I should have stuck with it; I may have missed something. I don’t care about Anthony Weiner either, but it is fascinating to me that anyone would support him for any office. His judgment is akin to that of an impulsive junior high schoo student. The way his wife deals with her marriage issues is her business and I am not particularly interested, but she is putting herself out there and allowing him to use her as a tool, which I think most women find repulsive. As for difficult men, what do you think of Ray Donovan? I am really enjoying that show. The acting is superb. Was Giancarlo Esposito on Mad Men? I don’t remember that at all. Are you thinking of Breaking Bad instead?

    • Didion Says:

      Whoops! yes of course Breaking Bad. Yikes, I’ve got to proofread.

      I still haven’t seen Ray Donovan — don’t have Showtime — but then I’m always a late adopter!

  4. Poppa Zao Says:

    I’ve never seen “Breaking Bad” but Giancarlo Esposito has a fine performance in the NBC drama “Revolution” which concerns the aftermath of a permanent, worldwide blackout. After years as an insurance salesman, he’s assumed the role of a paramilitary commander but pre-outage.

    • Didion Says:

      I saw one or two episodes and you’re right — he’s so good at being bad. I think I particularly liked his Breaking Bad role because it’s so mild-mannered; he’s a “careful man.” But he can also be breathtakingly, scarily smart about manipulating people. Fantastic.

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