When will it stop seeming funny or stylish to say that a real writer is "slumming it" by discussing pop culture and its influence? Sure, it's a less prevalent cry now upon seeing a New Yorker scribe get into the underlying politics in a reality TV show. But it still happens, and for what reason? Sacha Zimmerman shows us why the practice remains important in her latest "Pulps" column about "Citizen Girl," the new book from the duo behind The Nanny Diaries. Zimmerman writes:
In nonfiction, I learned How to make Love Like a Porn Star thanks to triple-X phenom Jenna Jameson, I read Alexandra Robbins's illuminating expose of the lurid lives of big-college sorority sisters, I was taught The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands under the tutelage of Dr. Laura Schelsinger, and I was urged not to "waste the pretty" in He's Just Not That Into You.
Thank God for Citizen Girl. Girl [the protag] is a self-possessed, moral, intelligent, and open feminist who is not a militant-chic refugee from Lillith Fair or an NPR-tote-bag carrying blue-stater in a hemp dress. She isn't a loveable oaf like Bridget Jones who only obsesses over weight and boys and little else...
I won't spoil the essay's preconcieved-notion-changing conclusion, but I will urge you to read it and reconsider how you feel about the making of "pulp" books and the people who write them. Last month Esquire's Chuck Klosterman reminded us to be true to ourselves and stop calling our pop obsessions "guilty pleasures." This column goes one step further by showing us that we can glean useful knowledge from culture we're embarassed to sop up.