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Columns

Brian Judge ’11: A sense of humor no one likes

By
Opinions Columnist
Monday, October 26, 2009

So in case you pizza-eating, Mac-using, lecture-going bourgeois rabble haven’t heard, there is this really funny blog/book called “Stuff White People Like.” The premise of it is that if some clever guy in horn-rimmed glasses can describe things you like as being cliche, then you aren’t a unique snowflake after all. How many of you like dogs? What about Netflix? Mos Def? Shorts? 

Gotcha, I’m afraid. I just put you in a box. And if there is one thing that white people hate, it’s being put in boxes. But if there is one thing that white people love, it’s self-loathing.
Let’s see how the shoe fits on the other foot. I hereby present for the consumption of all hypocrites, capitalist/chauvinist pigs, etc.: Stuff that Brown students who write “Stuff that Brown Students Like” like: 

1. Being witty: Let’s be honest, who doesn’t like feeling smart? I’m looking at you, Mr. “Leather Attache.” 

2. Dramatic monologue: Let us go then, you and I, Mr. Leather Attache, to our mystical land of gratuitous cliches. We can go to the Modern Culture and Media meadow and visit the brook of Hysterical Realism, or go to the Gender Studies grove and take a bite of the apple of hegemony. 

3. Allusion: Honey, I shrunk the student body’s dignity!

4. Hedy Lamarr: Because who doesn’t think that “(their) mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives?” I know “my mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of intention.”

5. Hating hipsters: The surest symptom of hipsterdom is a hatred for all things hipster. Does being counter-counterculture make you cultured? I didn’t think so either. 
I think you get the idea. Petty and stupid, right? Right. Or maybe left. Like left wing. Like Brown students. Derp.

Can it be cool to be earnest again? Pretty please? Irony and sarcasm as the only authentic way of being spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Ironic, right? See, you would have expected irony to spell I-R-O-N-Y. This is the mess we’re in. So far in this column I have tried to be ironic about being ironic. Unfortunately, being ironic about being ironic is just annoying, and not actually substantive.

So I will try to be substantive. Socrates said, “It would be better for me to have a lyre of a chorus which I was directing be in discord and out of tune, that the mass of mankind should disagree with me and contradict me than that I, being one man, should be out of harmony with myself and contradict myself.” In other words, it’s better to be unpopular than ironic and sarcastic. So in this spirit, I will try to revise the original list of Stuff Brown Students Like.

Macs: Because spending a couple hundred dollars more on a better, more reliable computer that you will use for 90 percent of your school work is a sensible economic decision. 

Oatmeal: Breakfast food in the Ratty is not very good and you can’t screw up oatmeal. 
Saying you’ll go to lectures: Most people are interested in learning, but also have a lot going on. 

Ruth Simmons: It is nicer to think that the president of Brown is competent and trustworthy than thinking the man is out to get you, but saying that outright would be uncool.
Saying you’ll explore Providence: You recognize that Brown is a bubble of privileged kids, but it is easier not to think about that fact all the time. 

Being disappointed with President Obama:  Most Brown students had some kind of investment in getting him elected and are disappointed that more progress toward his campaign promises haven’t been made. 

Celebrity children: It is a weird, slightly reassuring feeling that the most recognizable people on the planet are actually real people with kids and are not just very convincing CGI animations.

Let’s try to speak honestly, simply and sincerely in an effort to prevent ourselves from talking about everything sarcastically and denigrating everything we actually value in the process.

Oh, real clever, guy. It’s oh-so-original to criticize something you think is dumb, offer a plausible alternative and close with something you think is meaningful. You know who else liked dialectics? Hegel and Marx. How passe. Like using French words. We’re living in a Po-Mo world now, broski. All right, I’m done.

 
Brian Judge ’11 hopes he didn’t offend anyone, he was just trying to make a point.   
 

 

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