The rest of the week was devoted to a roundtable on Charles Hatfield’s Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature. Contributors include me, Caroline Small, Ng Suat Tong, HU columnists Matthias Wivel and Derik Badman and guest poster Robert Stanley Martin. Lots of discussion in comments too.

And we’re not done yet! We’re going to focus on other things for a couple of day while Charles Hatfield gathers his thoughts, and then at the end of the week he’s going to do two or three posts in response. So stay tuned, as they say….

Utilitarians Everywhere

At Splice Today I look at fetishizing the teacher in pop music, from Van Halen to Ke$ha to Ina unt Ina.

The truth is that the video isn’t really about lusting after the teacher at all. Instead, it’s about lusting after a childhood in which you lusted after the teacher. The short film is focused on adults imagining how cool they could have been in high school if they had known then what they know now—and, simultaneously, on kids imagining themselves as being adults. The Van Halen band members are portrayed both by the real Van Halen and by a group of kids dressed like the adults. The video unabashedly blends both identities, with the adults sitting right beside their younger selves in class and the kids lip-syncing the lines in the voices of their grown-up doppelgangers. The hot teacher is just an accessory; a convenient stand-in for the real passions, which are between male adults and their younger iterations. The adults want the rebelliousness and goofy energy of youth; the kids want the sexual opportunities and confidence of grown-ups. And both achieve their dream not by sleeping with the teacher, but by rocking out.

Also at Splice Today, I review the first chapter of John Grisham’s new novel.

You can probably see where this is going. No doubt you’ve already intuited not only the existence but also the main character traits of Keith the pastor, who “spent much of his time listening to the delicate problems of others, and offering advice to others” and had therefore “become a wise and astute observer.” Probably you’ve also guessed that Boyette is a bad, bad person (did you figure out he was a sex offender from the fact that he looks at the pastor’s wife’s chest? You did? Bonus points!) If you’re especially perspicacious you may even be able to reconstruct from TV movies past the hollow schlop-schlop of pop theology and pop psychology flopping about like two half-dead fish in a bucket. “It’s human nature. When faced with our own mortality, we think about the afterlife. What about you, Travis? Do you believe in God?”

I have a short review in the Chicago Reader of an enjoyable art show at Columbia College called Post Human/Future Tense.

Another short review of a quite bad book called Cute Eats Cute.

And an essay at Madeloud about musical guest stars on Sesame Street.

Other Links

Bert Stabler has a lovely essay up about The Monstrosity of Christ, by John Milbank and Slavoj Zizek.

Poking around the internet looking for discussions of comics and the gaze, this is what I came up with.

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