This time of year, most of us are full of shiny new resolutions. The fridge has been cleaned out—the leftover Christmas candy purged, the gym bag has been excavated from the back of the closet. Promises to keep, and all that.
But in the interest of keeping up my iconoclast rep, I choose this first week of the year to extol instead the virtues of the completely non-nutritional. I could write an ode to French fries or cupcakes (and I have). But I’m actually thinking more about cheese of the intellectual variety right now.
There are some tomes that one can make one’s ponderous way through, and at the end, wow does one feel smarter. One might even begin to refer to oneself as oneself. James Joyce’s Ulysses comes to mind. I fully intend to read that freaking book someday. But I can darn well promise that when I do I’ll be retired from at least two of my jobs. My senior thesis advisor said that Joyce has to be read with a map of Dublin, a bible, and a comprehensive reference book on classical myth all at the ready. That’s not reading: that’s a full-time job. I’m not putting anything that difficult on my TBR list this year. Besides, I have to re-read Paradise Lost for AP Lit this term, so that’ll cover my intellectual enrichment for awhile.
I suppose there are also shows and movies that one can feel sort of proud of having watched. Anything on the BBC is bound to inspire a smug feeling of viewing superiority. I think it’s those damned accents. I’ve had a few Brit students over the years, and even when they gave the wrong answers in class, they sounded damned cool saying them. I watched the first season and part of the second of the BBC’s Sherlock over the break. I enjoyed the show very much, but I don't feel smug about it: I can’t shake the feeling that it’s really just a fancified version of CSI. I also got Downton Abby season 1 as a gift, so I plan to watch it at some point. Just as soon as I finish catching up on The Big Bang Theory. What can I say, I am American.
Movies are much the same case. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve added a highbrow Oscar winner to the Netflix queue. These films arrive (some examples from the past year: The Artist, Coriolanus, The Tempest) and then they decorate the table in the hall for a couple of weeks until they get sent back. In contrast, the turnaround time on Real Steel was a couple of days. I mean, fighting robots. Also, Hugh Jackman. But, really: fighting robots.
Am I just a lowbrow culture consumer? I can rationalize that at the end of a long day trying to explain grammar or, God forbid, the dreaded concept of theme, to teenagers who only read Tumblr or the game instructions on Call of Duty, the last thing I usually want to do is wade through something complicated. Sometimes, though, I really believe, Art with a capital A is complicated, dark, or gritty just for the sake of being complicated, dark, and gritty. One of my favorite movies of the past year was Pitch Perfect. And those people solved their problems by having some sort of sing-fight.
That’s the world I want to live in: one in which problems can be solved with singing. So in 2013, I plan to unapologetically enjoy as much lowbrow cheesy goodness as possible. If you need me, I’ll be watching ABC Family in a non-ironic way. And possibly eating a cupcake.