24 Frames on 89.1 FM: "I Wear the Black Hat"
Chuck Klosterman, pop culture iconoclast and critic released his new book “I Wear the Black Hat” yesterday. It’s available on Amazon and wherever fine books are sold. The basic concept of the book takes a look at how and why we classify people as “bad” or “evil”. His main thesis is that what society and culture deem evil is based upon the preconception that the person who knows the most, but does the least is evil. For instance regardless of your politics, when looking at the Iraqi war the person saddled with making the bad decisions and doing them on purpose is not laid at the feet of George W. Bush who was our President but rather Vice President Dick Cheney. The notion is that Cheney knew there were no weapons of mass destruction and that the war was a bad idea but propagated it anyways while George W. Bush just went along with the plan. Recent surveys back this showing W’s approval rating now polling above President Obama’s while Cheney still remains, in most people’s minds, a villain. Klosterman runs tons of people through this litmus test from politicians like Newt Gingrich, bands like The Eagles, and even compares Kareem Abdul Jabaar and OJ Simpson in a way that will definitely make you think. If you’re not familiar with Klosterman’s writing style, let me warn you it can be a little jarring. His rapid fire, off the cuff style throws tons of ideas and thoughts at you at once asking you to think about the ways in which your own mind deciphers information, comes up with ideas and ultimately makes decisions about people and their worth and virtue. His idea of understanding how and why our culture makes certain people villains, or bad guys ultimately falls on the narratives we draw in our own lives and how we fit people into those stories. For example, your opinion on the musical worth of the Eagles top 20 hit “Take it Easy” is not necessarily a reflection strictly based on that songs musical merit, but rather a construct of how you relate to the band and the content and situation of that song in your life. Whether The Eagles are actually villains is still not clear. If this example makes you think, or has left you confused I recommend you read “I Wear the Black Hat” by Chuck Klosterman. At the very least it will make you laugh.