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September 04, 2003

Postrel on Buffy

Before anybody gets steamed that I am linking to Reason, I should say I am not a libertarian. But some of them, I like. Virginia Postrel is one. She wrote a great book a few years back called The Future and its Enemies, which posited that the old Liberal/Conservative dichotomy didn't make sense any more; she agrued that the new division was between "Dynamists" who embrace the chaos and messiness of change in a free market and "Stasists" who fear change and promote inertia and seek to enforce a highly selective nostalgia to combat it. Being a dynamist doesn't mean that the government should never make a rule, just that maybe it could let the market try to figure things out first. She uses this basic argument to defend gay marriage. If it is a healthy, viable model for life, it will thrive; if it's not, the market will decide and it will die out. She also uses some great examples about donut shops and West African hair braiders in LA.

Anyway, she has a great piece in Reason this month about "why Buffy kicked ass." It's one of the best pieces of pop-culture critique I've read in a while. Sample:

Buffy assumes and enacts the consensus moral understanding of contemporary American culture, the moral understanding that the wise men ignored or forgot. This understanding depends on no particular religious tradition. Itís informed not by revelation but by experience. It is inclusive and humane, without denying distinctions or the tough facts of life. There are lots of jokes in Buffy -- humor itself is a moral imperative -- but no psychobabble and no excuses.

Postrel's new book just came out, and I can't wait to read it. It's called "The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness" so you pretty much know it's right down my alley.

Posted by jay at September 4, 2003 05:56 PM | TrackBack
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That's an interesting article. Postrel seems to start with an agenda--to convince that the wise men were wrong in stating that American culture had devolved into a cushy and self-indulgent society. I want to believe her. But oddly, she doesn't take it anywhere. Who are these wise men? When and how did they say this?

I've never bowled alone.

Postrel hits the mark in describing the greatness of Buffy, but she she doesn't draw any real-world parallels. I need some convincing that people beleive the same precepts that framed the Buffyverse. People haven't lived up to that in my 'verse. Give me some signs.


Posted by: on September 6, 2003 06:49 PM

Gay marriage. You people. If you want some real world fuckin parallels to the greatness of Buffy, you need to start looking at biological warfare (PDF). Rock your 'verse, cradle and all.

Posted by: Kevin Slavin on September 8, 2003 11:29 AM
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