The Closet Moderate: Klosterman Revisited

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Klosterman Revisited

A long time ago, I wrote something critical about Chuck Klosterman. You can't slag on soccer like this without agitating the blogosphere:
To say you love soccer is to say you believe in enforced equality more than you believe in the value of competition and the capacity of the human spirit. I would sooner have my kid deal crystal meth than play soccer.
Today, while I remain sentimentally attached to the term "Klosterfuck," I'm man enough to admit that I didn't have all the information. I recently finished reading Fargo Rock City, Klosterman's ode to the metal bands of the 1980s.


Fargo Rock City has two things going for it. First, it's sincere. CK is responding to the retrospective condemnation heaped on his childhood heroes by a critical establishment that neither appreciates nor understands the joys of brainless rock and roll. Occasionally that defensive posture leads him into dangerous waters, as it does when he clumsily tries to argue that 80s metal wasn't sexist. The strongest part of the book is the epilogue, where he grapples with the subjectivity of music criticism and the way that same tendency skews his own work.*

That's the second thing that makes the book great. Chuck's voice is so strong that you're always aware that these are his thoughts. To his credit (and in marked contrast to the soccer quote above) he never dresses them up with sham objectivity. In other words, there's room for disagreement without having to defend your position on "enforced equality" or other bullshit terms. It's a fairly simple premise: Chuck Klosterman loves 80s metal and he's going to explain why. What you do with that is up to you.

*He also memorably trashes the idea that your revealed preferences as a 17 year old are indicative of some deeper truth of your being. When you were 17, you were a pain in the ass and that's about it.

[x-posted to FTB]

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