The Misadventures of Post-Recession Rory Part 2: Rory Gets Rejected

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While mopping the floors at Luke’s diner night after night, Rory has a lot of time to think about the next phase of her life. She considers asking Logan’s dad for a job, but can’t ignore the fact that his newspapers are closing one by one. Lorelei perkily suggests a master’s in journalism, and Rory pooh-poohs it; would it really put her any further ahead of the now fierce competition? The epic return-to-grad-school/flee real life/panic applications of 2008/2009 has made her ask herself some serious questions about her chosen field of journalism. Maybe Logan’s slimy dad is right. (I’ve personally always thought he nailed it when he assessed Rory). Rory isn’t a shark. Rory doesn’t really like to compete.

Here’s where Rory and I are once again alike. She’s high-achieving, yes, but not Paris. I’ve always had a (slightly less insane) Paris in my life, a best friend who was the top of the class, and needed to be so. The Parises of the world will always be fine, career-wise, but the Rorys? (And maybe the Alixes?) Not so sure. She and I tire of competition quickly and spend time asking, constantly obsessing, what is it all for? Why can’t we just sit in a corner, puff on a cigar and read books all day and occasionally be brilliant and collect a paycheck? Like old, male, college professors of the 1950s?

Rory dreamily mops while reading some Joan Didion, and it occurs to her: she should get an MFA in creative nonfiction instead. Rory is used to pie-in-the-sky schemes and dreams, being the daughter of a woman whose antics fueled seven seasons of an adorable show.

Cue the darling indie song that plays while Rory sits at the counter of the diner late into the night working on a manuscript to send to the most prestigious of writing schools: The Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Rory, being a Gilmore, frets constantly, after slipping her huge envelope into the mailbox, and yet also sort of, kind of, just a little bit, expects to get an acceptance letter. This is the girl who got into both Yale and Harvard. Whose grandparents blow smoke up her ass on a weekly basis, grandparents whose wealth has opened countless doors for her. Why wouldn’t she get in?

Over the next few months, during the picturesque winter in Stars Hollow, Rory serves burgers and banters with Lorelei with gusto, confident that her future (at least for the next few years) has been decided. While Lorelei stands outside on a chilly February morning in an absolutely darling slippers and robe combo, dreamily monologuing about the loveliness of snow, Rory paces the halls in the house, waiting for the mail. It arrives, and the girls pile on the couch with steaming mugs of coffee to open it. Rory’s face falls when she reads:

“We regret to inform you that we will not be admitting you into the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. We received over 900,000 applicants for 25 spots, including some from Nelson Mandela, Jesus, and Condoleezza Rice, and admission was highly competitive.”

And so of course, Rory goes into a funk – Rory was always in adorable funks on the show, with that big porcelain brow of hers all furrowed. Lorelei, that unrelenting optimist, tells her to try again next year. Richard and Emily are disgusted that their child of privilege was not admitted, even after they tried to schmooze the board of the university. Emily goes on a drunken tirade about low-class state schools, and who needs them anyway, and why would anyone want to live in Iowa, that dreadful place, while Richard smiles tightly over his glasses, looking at bills that they cannot pay due to losing at least two thirds of their money in the stock market. He still hasn’t told Emily.

Meanwhile Rory calls Lane to complain about the unfairness of it all, and Lane is simultaneously being puked on by two toddlers with the flu.

The problems with thinking it’s a “post-racial” America…

I’ve been pretty shocked about the racist comments on Twitter about the re-election of Obama, not because I don’t think racism exists, but because of the age of the people doing it. Jezebel looked into it and many of these idiots are high school students or young college students. I think back to my time in high school, and mind you, I’m from Canada, but the n-word was extremely taboo. People heard it in rap songs, maybe occasionally mumbled it along with the lyrics, but it really wasn’t used. Not to say there wasn’t racism (I grew up in a very white province), but it wasn’t encountered widely. At that point (or at any point) in my life, if someone I knew at school put the n-word on the internet, they would be hearing from me. Loudly, and in their face.

I also came of age in the 90s, the Clinton era, the era of after school specials, and sitcoms with “messages”. If we didn’t know the n-word was bad (and we did), the point would be reiterated on one of those “heavy” episodes of Fresh Prince.

I also think back to the kids who tormented the bus monitor so horribly. They were so young, and yet so awful. Now, I don’t want to be one of those “back in my day” kind of people, and yet, I have to say it: When I was in school, children abusing an elderly woman would not happen. Other kids, definitely. But not an elderly woman.

So what is happening with these kids? Where is this hate coming from? Why are they such sociopaths?

Pop culture is a part of it. I think about the TV I watched as an 7-14 year old. It was shows like Fresh Prince (about a wealthy black family), Family Matters (about a middle-class black family), Full House (about a white family, but still heavy on the messages of tolerance), etc. I think about TV in its current form. Where are the shows about families and people of colour, other than on BET? There aren’t any. And meanwhile, while there is some diversity on Disney channel shows, and maybe even a message of tolerance too, kids (boys especially) probably age out of those shows young. And what sitcoms or general entertainment is there to fill the gap? MTV? Sixteen and Pregnant? Jersey Shore? The phrase “post-racial America” got thrown around a lot after Obama’s first win. This idea of a post-racial country leads Hollywood to believe that maybe we don’t need shows with a message about race. Throw in a few characters of colour and everything will be fine. Obviously, kids aren’t learning the message enough. I know having racist parents can have a huge effect on this, but pop culture matters.

I can think of two network sitcoms that talk about race in an astute and clever way, Community and 30 Rock. Both of these shows have diverse casts, small audiences and are hilarious. And yet they are too clever for the kind of mass consumption of a show like Fresh Prince.

Race still needs to be talked about, and talked about openly and clearly in entertainment for young people. It isn’t happening. Maybe the racist tweets from high schoolers can be tied to that.

Nuance is crucial…

We have been watching BET’s American Gangster on Netflix lately, a documentary series profiling notorious black gangsters from the 1950s to the present day. Ving Rhames narrates.

I absolutely love this show. It strikes such a great balance, delving into issues of race, poverty, and the war on drugs in nuanced ways. It does not glorify these men, but it doesn’t condemn them either.  It presents a chicken and egg conundrum – did these drug hustlers and criminals devastate their communities by bringing in drugs leading to no economic opportunities, or did few legitimate economic and educational opportunities lead these men to a life of crime? Structural racism and poverty has much to do with these inner city issues, not to mention the government and CIA policies actually funnelling drugs into poor black areas.

This show excellently employs nuance to present these stories. Nuance is so often missing these days, especially in this presidential election season. I figured out why I can’t wrap my head around conservative ideology: because it allows absolutely no room for nuance. Were these guys criminals because they were bad dudes or because of poverty and racism? Mitt Romney would say the former. The real answer has to be both.

Check this out.

Embarking

Sorry for the absence. I recently read all three Judd family memoirs in a weekend. Also, twenty-eight odd books on country music in some form or another. Delving into my independent research project, first draft due July 22nd. Scary stuff. The only thing scarier is having your children write memoirs about what an awful mother you were. Now on to Tammy Wynette.

I’m trying to organize my thoughts; it hasn’t been going well, what with this bright sunshine, lethargy, and six seasons of X-files in three months. Last night, I watched the episode where (spoiler alert) Mulder tells Scully he loves her. I made a weird noise. A weird, giddy sound escaped my lips that I couldn’t control. This keeps happening every time they stand less than two feet apart. Good show. Great chemistry.

I can’t believe I’m so into this family…

I blame Newfoundland.

I watched four hours of the new season of Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels last night. It’s been a pretty eventful season so far – Shannon, fed up with Gene’s bullshit philandering and groupie-loving rightfully tells him “you’re 61 fucking years old,” and that’s she gonna leave him if he doesn’t change his ways. They eventually patch things up, and take a family trip to Israel where Gene reconnects with a family he doesn’t even know he has. Obviously, Gene and Shannon are finally going to get married at the end of this season.

That’s the thing I love about this show — it’s so obviously staged to a certain point, but then is also so incredibly sincere. This is without a doubt a very loving family — you can tell by the way the kids act around their parents, and by how happy their dogs always are. My mom and I agree that the kids turned out so well because Shannon Tweed is from Newfoundland and hasn’t lost that Atlantic Canadian no-nonsense/common sense parenting style.  I haven’t been keeping up with the show over the last few years, and I was so happy to catch up last night. I hope Gene gets his shit together, because Shannon is amazing and his kids really do adore him. There was a moment in one of the episodes last night where Gene was sitting alone to watch Nick sing and some groupies started sitting on the couch next him — and then Sophie came over and cleared them out with a killer look. Oh, I love Sophie.

I know it’s a reality show, and it’s probably very scripted, but I can’t help but believe what they’re selling me.

Music writing is hard, indeed…

I haven’t seen Treme, and I may in fact like it, but this guy seems to be hitting the nail on the head:

It’s hard to write about music, fictionally or nonfictionally, without slipping into cliché or hyperbole or hipster-Mad Libs abstraction, which is why there are so few great rock ‘n’ roll novels and so many lousy record reviews, and why there hasn’t been a successful TV show about musicians since The Monkees (who didn’t talk about music much because they were too busy singing and/or being chased by spies who’d hidden microfilm in Davy Jones’ maracas.) But Treme‘s tendency to sashay right into these traps is frustrating, because you know Simon and his cohorts are capable of better. The Wire, which put a reporter’s-notebook premium on authentic dialogue, sometimes at the expense of clarity, would never have given lines this trite to its cops or its corner-boys. Music is a huge part of the argument Treme makes about the specialness of New Orleans culture, because you can’t taste food through your TV, so every time somebody makes an incredibly obvious statement about that specialness it undercuts the whole project.

Hockey overload…

I had a very hockey-obsessed day yesterday, while everyone else was winding down from the Stanley Cup final. I wrote about the new hockey writer at Grantland, Katie Baker over at Brutish&Short  (she’s awesome). Then I blog-stalked her, and came across the HBO series from last winter 24/7 NHL Road the Winter Classic, which I had totally forgotten about. I watched all four hours of it yesterday and it was so good! The show gives a behind the scenes look at the Penguins and the Caps during the month of December, and from it I learned the following things:

  1. Sidney Crosby may be even whinier than I initially suspected. He complains at the refs nonstop.
  2. Alexander Ovechkin, surprisingly does not complain at the refs as much as I would think. I suppose this is because he grew up in the Soviet Union and was taught to fear/respect authority maybe? I can imagine the punishment over there as a child for ignoring your coach or the refs would be belt-whipping, or some kind other kind of lashing.
  3. I heart Bruce Boudreau. Big time. He’s a sweetheart with a foul-mouth — I’m pretty sure he swears more than I do. Also, I like his coaching style; when his players were all down about a losing streak he tells them “You could be anywhere. You play fucking hockey for a living. Lighten up. Having some fucking fun here.”
  4. Dan Bylsma is also an awesome coach, although significantly less profane.
  5. The Penguins seem to be a really nice group of guys, with the massive exception of Matt Cooke — now that I’ve had a glimpse behind the scenes it’s even more puzzling why/how Bylsma and Lemieux let him get away with these garbage hits. They seem like classy guys and a classy organization. Get the fuck rid of Cooke.

I really hope HBO does this again – it would be awesome/terrifying to see a Habs Leafs miniseries. Hal Gill, that beauty, would definitely invite the whole TV crew over to his place for a dinner party, and between him and PK Subban, the antics would make for some great television.