Friday, March 11, 2005

Chuck Klosterman Sucks

So I was in the doctor's office, and I picked up last December's issue of Esquire to read while I was waiting. In it, there's a short piece by noted hipster Chuck Klosterman about how culture is turning away from fiction, because apparently it has less to tell us than non-fiction/reality-based literature.

Now, Klosterman's a good writer, but boy is he full of shit. For starters, he lumps in all fiction with "escapism," which, like a good hipster, he turns his nose up at. Well, for starters, not all fiction is escapist, which he end-runs around by grouping off a subcategory of fiction that's based on real events into "Reality fiction" (my words not his), which he likens to reality TV: manufactured, but still presenting things pretty much as they are. He apparently doesn't realize that this is bullshit, that all good fiction (and even some bad), regardless of how "grounded" it is, does this. I can learn as much, if not more, about human nature from Isaac Asimov as I can from James Joyce.

And then he goes and refers to everything else as "bullshit." This is the worst kind of hipsterism: marginalizing and ignoring something because you think it makes you look cool. It doesn't, it makes you look like a snob. But Klosterman likes looking like a snob; his book is full of pieces on how he gleefully plays himself as a student of pop culture while simultaneously proclaiming how much it's beneath him. Well, Chuck, if it's so damn beneath you, why do you keep harping on about it? Write about something important, since you seem to value serious literature so much. If you really want to improve the way us poor peons think and read, don't half-ass it.

Klosterman wants it both ways: serious critic and pop critic, elitist and populist, college professor and college student. He's full of shit. The funniest part of it all, though, is that these distinctions are, at root, meaningless; there is no real difference between high and low culture. It's all just culture. Every story has something to say, every piece of art has a meaning, somewhere in there. And that's what pop criticism should aspire to: finding and evaluating those meanings, and celebrating them, instead of declaring they're not there.


Anonymous said...

Buddy, you suck!

If you knew anything about Klosterman at all you would know he is not a hipster, nor does he describe himself as one...


Syn. said...

Hey Anonymous. Suck my balls.

Chuck Klosterman is just a bitch looking out to make a living. No matter what shitty material he prints.

Anonymous said...

I think you have it pretty right on there about Klosterman. I read his book IV and was pretty much shaking my head in disagreement and disgust the whole time. If this is what passes as literature and art these days, then I am not impressed.

Chaz said...

There is something phony about Klosterman, but I'm not sure he's aware of it. If he is, then he's smarter than his critics realize.

He may be mildly aware that he's full of shit, but this might be part of his point. I really just think that he enjoys writing about things that literary types hate. And he has the ability to get people talking about him: people who would otherwise not know who he is.

james said...

I just don't like his writing style or his ideas, to be honest.

Jay said...

Klosterman is a self-indulgent/self-glorifying whore. Killing Yourself to Live is probably the most boring read ever. I find myself wondering through the entire novel, "Who the fuck cares about this guys ex-girlfriends? Why the fuck is he telling me this?" Anytime you read something, put your hand over your wallet and ask yourself, "Why is the author telling me this?"
Then you will realize Klosterman is a waste of time and energy. And he is a total hipster. Spin Magazine sucks, and speaks in hyperbole all the time. Because much like most hipsters, they want there word to be the end all be all. Fuck Klosterman, Fuck the anonymous guy, Fuck Spin magazine.

Michael said...

I am intrigued by your opinons, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Jay said...

Many people's comments here are valid. Klosterman sucks, and he is definitely anti-hipster (his favorite band is KISS, and he ripped on the staff of spin as "all looking like members of Pavement), though he is largely the property of hipsters and heralded as such.

The main problems with Klosterman are

a) his writing style is impersonal, overwrought, and designed to make you think he knows what he is talking about by using "academic" language, even though:

b) He is a student and practitioner of journalism, not criticism (electronic or otherwise). As such, his writings and "essays" are just the MUSINGS of a befuddled journalist. He knows the rules of journalistic writing very well, but he lacks the knowledge base to perform proper criticism (for just a quick example, his favorite band is again KISS).

He's definitely educated and smart, but he perpetually misses the head of the nail, in my opinion, because he doesn't have the background in critical analysis.

I'd be extremely surprised if any electronic media scholars or professionals thought his work was important (beyond maybe one or two pieces from each of his books)

Rita said...

To those of you who claim that Klosterman is not a hipster simply because he, for example, likes KISS: you're missing the point. Liking KISS doesn't prove anything. In fact, this is a common and transparent strategy taken on by many hipsters. You pretend to love something mainstream or "lowbrow" so that either other people think you're a regular dude or to establish yourself as this sub-genre of hipster that your peers will immediately recognize.

J. said...

This is in response to Rita's comment:

If you know Klosterman's background, there is no pretense in his adoration of KISS. He unabashedly and unequivocally loves KISS, and makes no apologies for his allegiance to the band.

While others may adopt a false pretense in their adoration of something "lowbrow" in an attempt to appeal to the hipster population, Klosterman is not that person.