Highbrow Books in a Lowbrow World

This blog was written by my internet friend Emily Heist Moss, and published on her blog: Rosie Says (http://rosiesays.com/) Shee calls her blog Rosie says because of a longstanding admiration for that icon of American womanhood, Rosie the Riveter. She’s a New Englander by birth, a totally committed Chicagoan by choice.

She’s interested (and writes about) almost anything that relates to a person’s place in the world: gender, sex, politics, media, Hollywood, pornography, prostitution, books, television, celebrity, body image, beauty, feminism, food… it’s a long list. She’s also a weekly contributor at The Good Men Project,(http://goodmenproject.com/author/emilymoss/) although I have no idea how she finds the time, since she has a day job too. Here’s her take on the importance (or not) of reading “proper” books.

My first response to this picture from the Random House Facebook account was a giggle.

It’s kind of fun to personify books and imagine what they would think of the neglect and ridicule they often suffer at our hands. Remember that date of mine who thought I was joking when I told him that I’d be the girl at the bar with a beer and book? For people who don’t read, reading is a punchline. Books take all that abuse, and they just sit there contentedly on the shelf being awesome, waiting for us to get around to cracking them open. For people who do read, Jersey Shore is a punchline.

On second thought, what I don’t like about this ad (is it even an ad?), is the insinuation that being a reader and being a consumer of lowbrow pop culture are mutually exclusive.

I’m not a Jersey Shore fan; I watched one episose, wide-eyed, mouth agape in horror, unable to get past the violence, pettiness, and steroid-fueled entitlement complexes. I couldn’t enjoy it. That being said, we all have our trashy loves, be they romance novels, celebrity magazines, America’s Next Top Model, Real Housewives, WWE wrestling, or college football mania. These are all things that don’t matter. They are not raising our collective intellect or opening our eyes to the world in meaningful ways, but we still do them, and enjoy them, and use them later as cultural touchpoints to bond with strangers.

We can like the garbage and still read Virginia Woolf, as that seems to be the leader of the suicide brigade. We can read Perez Hilton and also The New Yorker, watch The Wire and also Project Runway. At least, I know I do.

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