Monday, March 15, 2010

Pop-Culture Guru Chuck Klosterman Speaks Mar. 18 at MTSU; Also, He's Not an Arrogant Prick

Posted By on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 12:30 PM

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Question: Who is America's most beloved pop-culture-obsessed, bespectacled ginger? Why, Chuck Klosterman, of course. In fact, according to this MTSU news source, he's the nation's "premier pop-culture journalist." And in this, the very week of South by Southwest*, Klosterman has decided to spend four days on MTSU's campus speaking with students and popping into classes. His visit will culminate on Thursday, Mar. 18, when he will give a lecture in Room 221 of MTSU's McWherter Learning Resources Center. The lecture is at 1 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

So what's the deal with Klosterman?

Well, as Steve pointed out a couple weeks ago, Klosterman wrote this very good profile on Stephen Malkmus for GQ, though he said something about The Joggers that one guy didn't like. His most recent book, Eating the Dinosaur, is an intermittently fascinating read that somehow ties together the failed attempts of Garth Brooks to prove his endless stores of cultural capital via Chris Gaines with stuff like cinematic depictions of time travel. Also, when someone wants to accuse you of being a hipster know-it-all, Klosterman is the name they throw out. See? Thing is, Klosterman's a well-read audiophile (and a sports nut, to boot) with a knack for drawing big-picture conclusions about the human experience by way of small-picture events and obsessions and habits. Yeah, he's long-winded and snarky at times, but he's also fully self-aware.

And why is Klosterman the hipster guru? Why might fans of things like indie rock and Flight of the Conchords be accused of obsessing over him? Probably because he has glasses and a beard and sweaters, and he loves Pavement but hates Coldplay. In other words, because he has good taste. Anyone who builds a career out of voraciously consuming and analyzing art and new media is, at some point, going to be called a "snob" or "elitist" or something to that effect. "Hipster" is just a modern catch-all (typically intended to be derogatory) through which the accuser is saying to the accusee, "You're interested in a very specific combination of 'cool' and 'knowledgeable' that skews more toward appearances than actual knowledge." The correct term for that sort of person, I'd say, is "shallow, arrogant prick." And Klosterman is neither shallow nor arrogant. He's just a typically astute, typically funny and always nerdy analyzer of most-things-modern.

So what was my point? Oh, right. If you're not going to SXSW, drive down to see Klosterman speak for free on Thursday. It's totally worth the cost of gas money.

* If you composed a Venn Diagram of Chuck Klosterman readers and SXSW attendees, I'm fairly certain there would be a sizable overlap. Then again, maybe that has something to do with why Klosterman opted to skip Austin for a week in Murfreesboro.

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