Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Some friends and I watched the movie Superbad last night. Their husbands and some other guys had watched it last week, and we decided, despite warnings about its overly sexual language etc, that we wanted to watch it too.

Now, it wasn't the best movie I've ever seen, and it was saturated with all the worst aspects of an adolescent culture formed by pornography and soaked in alcohol. But, somehow in the midst of all that, friendship and love and even innocence shined through.

I found myself thinking of a storyline in one of my favorite movies, Love Actually. Two characters lighting stand-ins on a movie set. All of their early scenes find them naked in some sort of sex pose with one another. It's almost shocking enough to turn off the film. But their conversation begins with very awkward banter about traffic, moves into exchange of small stories and small kindnesses, and then, eventually, finds that strangely awkward moment where, naked in bed with her, he very haltingly stumbles through asking her to go for a drink after work. What is so intriguing about this storyline to me is that it shows pretty clearly how, in today's world, sex and nakedness do not necessarily mean intimacy and vulnerability. But, oddly enough, they don't mean that they can't develop, either.

In Superbad, something similar seems to be going on. It seemed to me that many of the characters were enacting cultural scripts that had to do with highly sexual language and action. That is to say, they were talking about enacting sexual fantasies, about what would happen with that girl when they got her drunk enough etc. But the reality of the thing was so much different. One girl turned out not to drink. Another was drunk, and pretty much up for anything, but when they got in bed a whole lotta workup ended up resulting in nothing much but, well, puke.

And the film pretty much ended with the two major male characters meeting their love interests randomly at the mall. And despite all the drunken bravado and overt, forward, sexual propositioning of the night before, they met up with awkward shyness.

It was a rather painful reminder to me, however, of this crazy world that our young people are growing up in, where sex isn't simply casual anymore, but moreover conversation about sex is so mainstream and so pornographic that they end up learning how to talk about trading sexual favors before they have learned how to ask someone to spend a little time just hanging out together at the mall. And, of course, that is superbad.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Third Degree

Hello, friends.

I know it's been a while. And though I probably could go on for a while on this topic, I'm going to make a brief observation, sigh, and then share a couple of thoughts. Then I'll sigh again and sign off to go raise a glass to my own accomplishment here.

Today is my very last day with any claim to the title of "student." Tomorrow, I graduate and officially earn my third (and hopefully final) degree.


This milestone has past oddly in stages, as I haven't been in residence at the university for two years, as I actually turned in the dissertation a couple of months ago now, and defended it nearly a month ago. Graduation itself, which I am not attending, has seemed a mere formality. But tonight, perhaps in part due to the visit of a dear friend from my soon-to-be alma mater, I am surprisingly nostalgic and emotional. Strange.

(Deeper sigh.)