Word Up: Feel better about ‘Gossip Girl’
Wow, it’s been one hell of a clusterfuck in the world of pop culture lately, hasn’t it? It’s been so interesting, frustrating, vapid and zeitgeisty out there that the season premiere of Gossip Girl slid under the radar. Yeah, Gossip Girl. I know you watch the shit. And if not, maybe you should. It’s all those things I listed above, knows exactly what it is doing and is pretty great at doing it.
Yesterday, young money Dan told vaguely ethnic and working class Vanessa to “give it a rest with ‘the whole rich people suck’ thing.” “Welcome to my world,” she responded at one point to her date’s remark that a polo match was shockingly white. Silly V, that’s not your world at all! You just somehow always find yourself hanging out there every week. Mobility is a theme; the show’s underage, privileged characters do whatever they want and inhabit whichever sphere they wish, only to once in a while crash with the realization of immaturity and class barriers. Scratch that, even the adults are not immune.
All this semi-awareness, plus the fashion, plus Blair and Chuck role-playing their sexual fantasies to keep their monogamy experiment from boring both themselves and the audience — there’s really nothing out there that is so abysmal and so perfect at the same time. But maybe you don’t have that same level of zen when it comes to your guilty pleasures like we at The Ashcan do. (Yes, Simon recently admitted he likes High School Musical.) If not, here’s some things to help you feel not so dumb when watching a show built around fashion runways and drunk texting:
The Wheel of Morality
The bookworm bloggers over at accurately named Overthinkingit take a look at how the sometimes delinquent or downright criminal activities of Gossip Girl‘s upper-eastsiders rub up against the show’s fairly consistent attitude toward punishment (whether through social sniping or through the long arm of the law). Has Serena’s doggedness in the face of her enemies’ guilt always somehow reminded you of the philosophies of Kant and Hegel? No, you’re not crazy! Bad in bed maybe, but definitely not crazy.
The Economy Stoopid
Earlier this year Rolling Stone did a cover story on the Gossip Girl phenomenon, noting it was perhaps the most culturally relevant and talked about show despite its less than impressive ratings. I can’t find a copy of the article online — which means I’ve repressed the no doubt shameful experience of having read this in public at a bookstore — but I remember the writer extrapolating, fitting the show’s setting and set-ups into the new economy-beaten culture model. Gossip Girl as perhaps the perfect art for America in recession? You’ll have to find a copy of the magazine itself; but if you want to see Blair and Serena licking an ice cream cone click here.
The New York Observer introduces us to designer Abigail Lorick in the fantastically titled “Why You All Look Like Blair Waldorf.” Gossip Girl has had an astonishing impact on fashion, like it or not, and it’s done so by enlisting up-and-comer designers like Lorick instead of merely inking product placement deals with established brands, and by outfitting characters in elegant but nonetheless ambitious choices. Man, I don’t even know what the fuck I’m talking about! Haha I just read the article!
The Race Factor
“Is Gossip Girl ‘Too White’?” asks the blog Gossip Girl Report. The issue of race on Gossip Girl can get more complicated than the more reactionary writers are willing to see (though I love Jen, and you should check out her blog). But Gossip Girl Report looks at demographics for the area the show is set in and clarifies that its racial makeup is alarmingly accurate. Which certainly goes back to my belief that Gossip Girl is of course not about race per se but the colour of its characters are definitely an integral part of the picture it is painting. Decide for yourself; the point is that there’s a valid discussion there and you can totally act familiar when people confront you about your new catchphrase, “I’m Chuck Bass.”
The Post- feminism
Gossip Girl is the indisputable heir to Sex and the City, not so much in what it’s about or how it operates (though there are obvious surface similarities), but in how it represents the next generation’s post-feminist: the pop-soaked, internet savant teenage girl. Obviously teenage girls aren’t a monolithic group nor are generations tidy packages sold separately, but Gossip Girl‘s undeniably fresh pairing of a schoolgirl Twitter sensibility with soap operas, new girl friendship fables matched with old school catty revenge narratives, makes it uncannily satisfying to chew on. Yeah, Blair’s a magnificent capital-B obsessed with power and notoriety, but she’s frighteningly focused on her academics and spends a lot of time swapping Anais Nin and Francois Truffaut references with her friends. Er, enemies. No wait, friends.
“Word Up”: the linkdump series that feels like homework.