Extreme Trigger Warning: 21st Century American Pop Culture

It’s easy to take for granted that we of the blogosphere choose to live in an entirely different mental and cultural world than 90% of our peers. But it’s important to poke our heads out into prime time TV, Top 40 music, and the New York Times Opinion page every now and again, just to keep tabs on the how things are going in the rest of the world. But please, clear your house of razor blades and rat poison before doing so.

Last week, my workout in a Limoges gym was serenaded by a TV blaring the Trace Urban top ten countdown. Here are some lessons learned:

1) Who Runs The World? Girls!

Beyonce strikes a bold and courageous blow against patriarchy and male privilege. How this slipped past the official Evil Patriarchy censors, I have no idea.


2) Chicks Dig Jerks

One of the most common mistakes guys make with women is over-smiling. Look at the expression on Chris Brown’s face throughout this video.


He looks like he’s brimming over with anger, one the verge of snapping and going all Rihanna on the viewer.

Smiling, like any other submissive behaviour, can deceptively get you immediate positive feedback in an interaction. Other people reward you, subconsciously of course, for deferring to them. But in the long term (i.e. longer than at that exact moment) submission makes others respect you less. If you think you’re an over-smiler (record a vlog of yourself talking to check for this and any other maladaptive mannerisms), take a step in the right direction by shooting for the Chris Brown look, aka The Angry Stoic.

3) America Is Dead

Are there any contemporary mainstream rap that isn’t about some combination of turning the music up, getting on the dance floor, and putting your hands up in the air? This monstrosity manages to nail all three, in a song allegedly about going to the beach.


When it came on, I could only stand in front of the TV like an idiot, gaping in awe at the horror of it all. With all the willpower I could muster, I resisted the urge to order a Very Berry Whey Smoothie at the juice bar and drown myself in it.

Seriously though, I felt an intense and penetrating sense of despair while watching this video. Sometimes I truly believe that the internet-enabled free flow of information will change the world, my generation will overthrow and destroy the order built and maintained by the baby boomers, and the decline and decay of civilization will be arrested. Other times, I just lose hope. Watching this video, and reflecting on its status as the default cultural diet of the majority of young American and European girls, was one of those times.

But you know what? Oh well. The world should hold together long enough for me to enjoy the next sixty years or so, happily ensconced in a bubble of leftover wisdom and beauty, and a tiny contemporary counterculture of others who recognize it as well.