I’ve been feeling a little up and down lately that doesn’t have anything to do with hormones or stress. The class I’m taking for school has been really intense. It’s labeled as “Genres of American Literature” but that title is purposely vague. Apparently, the tenured professors at my college will rotate through the classes, each one choosing their particular focus for each class. This way they can offer Genres of American Lit every semester but get a variety of subtopics taught (and the professors don’t get bored).
OK, so I went into this class unclear about what would be taught – without even knowing yet about the rotation of subtopic focus thing – but I want to focus on American Lit so I’m game. But I’m thinking, “Hmm, genres… what is that like studying Western novels vs. Gothic or something?”
Do you know what my class focus is? It’s “Literature of Social Change.” I know it sounds really intriguing at first… but I’ve got to tell you, this is the most depressing class I’ve ever been in! So far we’ve read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, The Jungle, The Moon is Down, and Johnny Got His Gun, as well as a variety of political speeches, short stories, and poetry. (Oh, and Herland, the only upbeat story so far… and that had an attempted rape in it. But don’t worry, the chick kicked his ass.) Now I’ve read some depressing books before… but not all in a row! It’s really hard not to read these novels without getting down. Even the teacher has been a little surprised at how depressing the cumulative effect is.
(These studies (and past studies) are also one of the reasons why I haven’t entered into the feminist discussions that have gone around the blog world. Anyone who has studied any of the history of women’s or civil rights movements knows that these were women and men who were fighting for peoples’ lives… slavery, deadly working conditions, exploitation, concerns about safety and quality of life in the fight for equal opportunities… these were serious, life-threatening issues. The “Mommy Wars” discussion, sniping at other women about their parenting choices? Or picking on celebrities’ fashion choices? I’m sorry, those are not real issues. (Though, yes, the celebrities are highly entertaining.))
So anyway, it’s been a little hard… knowing that every time you start a novel someone is going to die in it, or live a horribly tortured life, physically or emotionally. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? There’s only so much of this stuff you can take at a time.
Luckily, whenever I start to get really down providence seems to step in a cheer me up in the form of… teen movies. Sappy, romantic, teen angst movies. I know it sounds ridiculous, but every time I’ve just been at the end of my rope, when I’ll flop into my well-worn butt groove on the couch prepared to numb my brain with some good ol’ TV, I start flipping channels and there has been a teen movie on every time. And they always make me feel better. One time it’s 10 Things I Hate About You. Another time it’s Singles (OK, that’s not really teen but it’s young people). And the best one yet… Better Off Dead. I am telling you, there is nothing like John Cusack in a Camaro to cheer you up from the social ills of the world. I know it sounds petty. I know it sounds trivial. I know it even sounds sickly ironic, but I think Better Off Dead saved me last week.
So now, as we’re continuing forward in our class and I’m starting to prep my final paper (that’s gonna be an emotional drain), I’m on the prowl. I’ll be constantly flipping channels for one of the great John Hughes or Cameron Crowe flicks. I’ll be looking for one or both of the Coreys. Maybe I’ll even catch Angus. I always liked Angus.
What teen flicks cheer you up? – the weirdgirl