Friday, October 29, 2010

Elitist, Moi?

I'm not sure but I think I am expected to come across as "elitist" based on this questionaire. Let's see, shall we?

1. Can you talk about "Mad Men?" Can I ever?! At times I can't talk about anything else.

2. Can you talk about the "The Sopranos?" Sure, mostly.

3. Do you know who replaced Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right?" Hell yes! It was tee-vee's Drew Carey, and he's doing as well as could be expected, or so I assume. I only ever watched that show for the yodeling hiker.

4. Have you watched an Oprah show from beginning to end? Surely. It's a common affliction.

5. Can you hold forth animatedly about yoga? By most people's idea of "animatedly," no.

5. How about pilates? No.

5. How about skiing? Gawd no.

6. Mountain biking? These "animatedly" questions are starting to confuse me. I have had a mountain bike or two, albeit shitty ones. When I was age 11, give or take a few years, they were the center of my life, though they called them "dirt bikes" back then. Since then, not so much, and in any case, I honestly do not recall if my statements about mountain bikes were "animated." Sometimes?

7. Do you know who Jimmie Johnson is? How 'bout them Cowboys!

8. Does the acronym MMA mean nothing to you? It means something other than nothing to me. I recently watched a televised replay of the bout in which the very large champion (Lesnar) came close to losing to a nearly-as-large man with a lot of tattoos (Carwin), but recovered and "choked out" his opponent in the second round. Oh, I meant to say: spoiler alert.

9. Can you talk about books endlessly? "Endlessly"? Eventually I have to pause to pee, sleep, eat, write fascinating blog posts, and so forth.

10. Have you ever read a "Left Behind" novel? No. A thousand times no.

11. How about a Harlequin romance? I did try it once, and made it almost several pages in, but no.

12. Do you take interesting vacations? Interesting compared with what? Yes, I generally find them interesting in comparison with, say, completing this quiz.

13. Do you know a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada? Nope.

14. What about an exquisite B-n-B overlooking Boothbay Harbor? Whuh?

15. Would you be caught dead in an RV? I have been in an RV. I would be caught dead in one quite easily if (a) I were dead and (b) my body were in an RV.

16. Would you be caught dead on a cruise ship? Having done it once, I can say it has its place, but it's not a thing I hope to repeat any time soon.

17. Have you ever heard of of Branson, Mo? Of course. I wish I hadn't, but I have, and not only from Ned Flanders.

18. Have you ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club? No.

19. How about the Rotary Club? Yes. In 8th grade, the local chapter invited me to be one of the featured student speakers. It surely ranks as one of the worst attempts at public speaking ever attempted, executed, or even conceived by the creators of imaginative fiction. I still sometimes awake in cold sweats with the image of my own 14-year-old stammering through insipid patriotic boilerplate.

20. Have you lived for at least a year in a small town?  Hmm. "Small?" I'd say roughly sixteen years living in Ponca City, Oklahoma would count. If not, how about a year in Krebs (albeit schooled in McAlester at the time)? If not that, what about a year and half in Burns Flat?

21. Have you lived for a year in an urban neighborhood in which most of your neighbors did not have college degrees? I lived in the Felony Flats section of Portland for just over five years; I generally avoided contact with the neighbors, but I can say the next-door neighbors did not speak English and made at least part of their living from re-building and selling wooden pallets (the photo shown could almost pass for a snapshot of their back yard at times, though it's not splintery or disorderly enough); the neighbors two doors down were, respectively, a private security guard and an apprentice electrician (though two of the nicest and best people I've ever met); another door beyond that was a man who may or may not have owned more than one pair of pants -- which he didn't much like to wear -- and may or may not have had the power of speech. Another neighbor stands out as memorable for the fact that I learned his name and much more about him when a local TV news reporter showed up on my porch asking me to comment on his arrest for attempted child abduction. So, yea, while I wasn't given to in-depth conversations with the neighbors in those days, these indicators don't point to above-average levels of educational attainment, so I think my answer is yes to this question. And I have not even mentioned the crack house three doors in the opposite direction or the meth lab house that burned to the ground a block away.

22. Have you spent at least a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line? I've spent at least 40 years living in more or less proximity to my own immediate family, including a few lean stretches when I was still under my mom's roof. Considering just my siblings and parents, the ratio of [total person-years lived] to [person-years lived in poverty] must be comparatively low -- more than one, but not far above it.

23. Do you have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian? Dude, have you seen my Facebook friends list? With just a few exceptions, they love the Jesus!

24. Have you ever visited a factory floor? If an oil refinery counts as a "factory floor," then yes. If not, then no. (I have poked around a factory or two -- the Rogue Brewery for one, the Tillamook Cheese plant for another, but I don't think that's the idea here.)

25. Have you worked on one? Same as previous up to the "then no."

I don't much care what these answers suggest since I understand they don't arise from a politically innocent vacuum but rather serve a hackneyed talking point. I strongly suspect that a preponderance of "no" answers is meant to indicate a "cultural elitist," but "cultural elites" are just a cheap right-wing hobby horse directed at obscuring the realities of the authentic elites who wield power in this society -- rich people and large corporations.

4 comments:

Serah B. said...

Ooh, ooh, I wanna find out if I'm a hobby horse elitist too!

1. Can you talk about "Mad Men?" I have no idea what that is.

2. Can you talk about the "The Sopranos?"
I can talk about how I don't watch TV. (Do you get extra elitist points for eschewing television because of the destructive consumerist messages it sends? And then additional points for using words like "eschewing?")

3. Do you know who replaced Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right?" The Price is Right without Bob Barker is inconceivable to me.

4. Have you watched an Oprah show from beginning to end?
I have ovaries, don't I?

5. Can you hold forth animatedly about yoga?
Nope.

5. How about pilates?
I can make fun of people who do pilates.

5. How about skiing?
Nope.

6. Mountain biking?
No.

7. Do you know who Jimmie Johnson is?
Only because I read Dale's answers.

8. Does the acronym MMA mean nothing to you?
Wha..?

9. Can you talk about books endlessly?
Indeed.

10. Have you ever read a "Left Behind" novel?
Absolutely not.

11. How about a Harlequin romance?
I'm a hospice volunteer. My patients like me to read these to them. But I try not to absorb any of the words.

12. Do you take interesting vacations?
I take road-trips with my kids.

13. Do you know a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada?
Nope.

14. What about an exquisite B-n-B overlooking Boothbay Harbor?
??????

15. Would you be caught dead in an RV?
I would prefer not to be dead in the RV, but I would definitely consider being alive in an RV.

16. Would you be caught dead on a cruise ship?
I'm not a fan, but I do appreciate the included childcare. We're thinking about doing a Christmas cruise next year so that we can get vegetarian food without pissing off the inlaws for refusing to eat their dead pigs and birds and things at Christmas Dinner.

17. Have you ever heard of of Branson, Mo?
I have, but I'm not sure what the deal with it is.

18. Have you ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club?
No, but I'll take their money for college.

19. How about the Rotary Club? Nope. But I'd take their money, too.

20. Have you lived for at least a year in a small town?
I live in a small town now.

21. Have you lived for a year in an urban neighborhood in which most of your neighbors did not have college degrees?
I grew up in a suburban trailer park, which isn't urban, but there's just as much crack. I've also lived in urban Baltimore, where we were the only white people for miles. I loved our neighbors; they all watched out for my kids and everyone took care of each other.

22. Have you spent at least a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line?
Again, trailer park.

23. Do you have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian? Several.

24. Have you ever visited a factory floor?
I've seen factory floors on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood...

25. Have you worked on one?
I've worked as a prostitute, which is kind of like working in a factory. O.k., kidding. I've cleaned hotel rooms though, which is much like both factory work and prostitution.

I'll admit it, I read books and eat arugula, but if elitist means out of touch with the little guy, I don't think that's me. I have pretty humble roots and that experience affects the way I think about the world and my responsibility to it.

In any event, I agree that the arugula-eaters aren't the ones you need to worry about; it's the rich people and the corporations (which are also, I guess, legally considered rich people).

Dale said...

Good answers, Serah! I'm afraid you're not much of an "elitist," either an actual one or an ersatz one of the sort right-wingers like to scorn.

I agree Bob Barker is a tough act to follow, but the few times I've watched, Drew Carey is doing a pretty good job.

Sean G said...

I'm not sure what the approach is on some of these questions. Wouldn't "Mad Men" be the sort of show an elitist would watch? Same for Oprah? And skiing, I thought that was an elitist activity. Maybe I'm thinking of wind surfing. I think you'd have to be an elitist to figure out how to score yourself on this quiz, as it appears to use a complicated formula of yeses and nos to calculate your elitist level.

Great point about the ridiculous "elitist" label to distract us from the real elitists, the corporatists running this country into the ground.

Dale said...

Sean G, good point -- I had the same thought about Mad Men, which began the quiz in a way I thought would mean "yes" means "elitist." But then it shifted back and forth.

The shifting actually makes a point about it -- we already know this "elitist" meme well enough to know how we're supposed to answer the questions to signal we're elitists or not elitists. This is a cultural-political game and we all know the rules. We're good, honest folk if we know a lot about Price is Right and Branson but nothing about Mad Men and yoga. Whatever.

It's bullshit.