Pop Culture: Chuck Klosterman’s Wit and Insight
Chuck Klosterman watches a seemingly inordinate amount of television. He also rocks out to Black Sabbath, Radiohead and Fleetwood Mac. He devours all that pop culture indiscriminately puts on his dryly sarcastic, insightful and post-modern intellectual plate.
The senior Spin magazine writer has gained popularity outside of the well-known publication in his lengthy cultural commentary, “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto.”
Klosterman’s self-proclaimed manifesto can be scathingly funny, occasionally so hysterical readers are prone to lose any audio while laughing (see “Track 7: George Will versus Nick Hornby”), and it will dramatically change the way many view MTV’s “The Real World,” “Saved By the Bell” and the uncool genius of Billy Joel’s music.
Klosterman’s work is not solely a basic satirical summation of why people passionately cared (or for some, still care) about the shallow love triangle between “Saved by the Bell” characters Zack, Kelly and Slater, or a general acknowledgement of the annoyance soccer moms consistently bring to American suburbia. Using post-modernism as his theoretical backdrop, the writer dives into the representations of reality often misinterpreted as insignificant actions and images.
The comedic breadth of this North Dakota native is expansive, and his analysis extends well beyond the superfluous, rudimentary and saccharine spectrum of teen-oriented television or the arguments over the coolness of certain musicians and the reverberations of rock music today.
Klosterman also occasionally writes for ESPN.
His mastery of sports knowledge and its inclusion in the social and cultural paradigm is evident through his writing. He can construct certain cultural tastes based on whether or not a person rooted for the traditional Boston Celtics or the entertaining Los Angeles Lakers during the 1980s. For example, in terms of rap music, if one is a Lakers’ fan he or she is likely to support Ice Cube and NWA, but the Celtics enthusiasts are likely bob their heads to Eminem, “the only white guy who can keep up.”
Klosterman divides “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs” creatively and fittingly into a form resembling a CD. Each chapter represents a track with brief interludes of sporadic and philosophical wonderments. In one of the funniest interludes, Klosterman gives his readers 23 questions whose answers determine whether or not they can love another person. To begin, he narrates a certain dilemma, and while it is atypical, one gets the idea Klosterman has done some serious thinking and moral consideration with these topics. One of these moral, pop culture dilemmas include whether or not a person would allow a gorilla to suit up for the Oakland Raiders if they were the general manager. Absurd? Of course. Intelligent and humorous? Absolutely.
Besides this acclaimed manifesto and contributing to the likes of Spin, The New York Times Magazine and G.Q., Klosterman also has written two other books, “Fargo Rock City” and “Killing Yourself to Live.” While these two works may not be as exclusively aimed to dissect the paradigm of popular culture, they match the same off-tangent humor, insightful wit and naturally inquisitive base “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs” is so strongly founded upon. Chuck Klosterman rarely seems to become full of the buffet of representations pop culture incessantly offers.