Because sometimes you just need to end the week with a dance party and a dissertation: I found myself kind of unable to stop listening to Avril Lavigne’s new single “What the Hell.” And it got me thinking about how perhaps the two most effective pop song writers of our age, Dr. Luke and Max Martin, think about the ethical function of partying, particularly for women. One thing I hadn’t realized before I looked at their discographies again was how heavily their respective catalogues were weighted towards dudes in the nineties in early oughts. In recent years, though, both men have made hay, and highly danceable music, for women that celebrates the right to go out and have good, clean, irresponsible fun. Unlike Andrew WK, who gets to have a liberation theory of partying without any particular complication, these songs usually do an effective, efficient job of stating the case for why women ought to be able to go out and get stupid, and then making it sound great*. To wit:
1. Partying unites America across race and class lines:
2. Partying is an act of feminist rebellion against the creeps who give you a hard time at bars:
3. After being denied the right to party, partying is a form of reparations:
4. Partying is an assertion of solidarity across lines of gender and sexual orientation:
Now that everyone’s had a week off to finish absorbing Cryptonomicon, it’s time to decide what’s next! I’m opening up a new round of nominations, and I’ll keep the thread open through the end of the day on Monday. Let’s start totally fresh—if you’ve nominated something before, let’s consider it ineligible for this round, though we might go back to the well later. Aaaaand go!
I agree with Ned Resnikoff that the trailer for Cold Weather looks promising:
But I think he is missing something when he criticizes the archness in Brick for being off-putting. The thing is, archness is inseparable from the best noir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt dead-panning to the principal that it’s a good thing that he brought his lunch after being beaten up by a member of a local drug ring is a way of expressing his contempt for justice that’s more effective than making a serious speech about it:
Similarly, Bogey and Bacall essentially prank-calling the cops in the middle of an investigation is a game of chicken, a test to see who is scared enough to acknowledge reality first. Archness is armor for the people who feel the most, who are decent in a world that doesn’t reward decency. That doesn’t mean that there’s no room for serious murder mysteries—Sherlock Holmes is notably un-arch. But then, he operates in a world where he’s likely to come out alright at the end. The characters in The Big Sleep don’t, even when they solve the case, and the characters in Brick don’t, either. And neither, I suspect, will the characters in Cold Weather.