April 28, 2008

These Things Matter: And Now, The Big Questions

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I can’t speak for the rest of the class of 2008, but I think I might be somewhat ready to move on from Cornell and enter the mysterious world of “adulthood.” I could probably use a break from non-stop excitement and debauchery to try to be a productive member of society for a while. You know what I’m not ready for, though? I’m not ready to enter a world in which the things that I find most important are no longer considered important — or at least not “grown-up.” So in the spirit of reminiscing, here are some of the questions I will have to answer as I (attempt to) transition from “stupid college kid” to “sophisticated adult.”
1. Can I still like Billy Madison? Billy Madison is one of my favorite movies ever, but I don’t think I’ve ever met an adult who likes this movie. In fact, all of the old people I know have only bad things to say about Adam Sandler, but the movie came out right around the same time that kids my age started to discover stupid comedies. Something about Adam Sandler’s vocabulary of nonsense and funny faces really connected with my generation, while at the same time infuriating all generations that came before mine. Now that I’m an “adult,” do I also have to suddenly be disgusted by Sandler? (Maybe this won’t be so hard, as he did come out with I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.)
2. Do I have to replace my Entertainment Weekly subscription with Fortune? As magazines go, Entertainment Weekly is pretty basic and not too classy, but I can’t wait for the new issue’s arrival every Friday. Despite the fact that all of the content is available free online, there’s just something about the process of leafing through the magazine, filled with articles that take no more than two minutes to read, that you can’t get online. Recently I was sent some sort of special offer to get a year subscription to both Time and Esquire for only $20. Of course I jumped at the chance to receive those magazines, but the first time I received Fortune, I could not bring myself to open it, seeing it as an omen of rapidly approaching adulthood. The three issues I’ve been sent so far are still sitting on my floor, while all of the EWs have already been read and tossed. Fortune makes me think of numbers and figures, while EW makes me think of Harrison Ford and Steve Carell. Which would you choose?
3. Is it no longer OK to talk about O.J. Simpson publicly and openly? No, seriously, is it? Approximately 95 percent of conversations among my roommates and I have concerned the controversial (OK, hateable) O.J., and I can’t imagine a world in which the topic doesn’t come up at least once a day. I grew up in the 1990s, when pretty much nothing happened, at all, except for the “Trial of the Century.” I tell pretty much anyone that listens that the O.J. trial was a defining moment for my generation. But it probably isn’t appropriate workplace banter to harp on how unbelievable it is that O.J. walks the streets a free man and doesn’t sit in jail as a double-murderer.
It’ll be even more difficult for me to avoid this temptation now that he’s in trouble with the law again, with a new trial on the way for burglary. Now that I think about it, maybe I should just put away my copy of If I Did It right now, before any new “adult” friends of mine come over and see it on my bookshelf.
As John Cusack says in High Fidelity, “what really matters is what you like, not what you are like … Books, records, films — these things matter.” I’m pretty proud of the things I like, despite how embarrassed I really should be by them, and all of you should feel the same. In my columns this year, I did my best to discuss these kinds of seemingly stupid things with anyone who felt like thinking in a way that made it seem like these things matter, because they really do. The uncertainty of adulthood really can’t change my love for obsessing over pop culture.
On this note of finality, I want to thank my editors for giving me a chance to write about the kinds of things I wanted to this year. I also must thank all of my most loyal readers (read: my friends), who always gave me support and confidence, but particularly Gideon, who always turned any criticism into hateful rants and irrelevant character attacks. An even bigger thanks to those of you I don’t know who read my columns … I hope I did OK.
Thanks to my roommates, for constantly trying to help me with ideas, and a huge thanks to Pegs for always reading my column one last time to make sure I didn’t sound like a complete moron. Good luck to those who fill this space next year, and be sure to write about Space Jam.