Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today we have an advice column from Beach House singer Victoria Legrand, a look at the British bake off phenomenon, the inherent class divide in hookup culture, and a startling look at the way today’s reality TV stars resemble Jane Austen characters.
As Sophie Gilbert points out in the beginning of her piece at The Atlantic, it seems absurd to suggest that the real people who appear on Keeping Up with the Kardashians have anything in common with the characters of Jane Austen’s work. That reaction — to think it absurd — probably has more to do with our own bias than the facts, though, as Gilbert points out the clear parallels between several characters. We’re excerpting a brief bit of general background, but it gets much more serious.
It’s possible to imagine Austen, reincarnated with her bonnet and penchant for millinery, being moderately overwhelmed by the various cuts and colors of synthetic fabric worn by the contestants on The Bachelor. But the show’s premise would strike her as utterly familiar. Caroline Bingley, one of the least self-aware and most pathetically predatory characters in literature, would adapt in a matter of minutes to being cast in any one of the Real Housewives franchises. When Curtis Sittenfeld sought to write a modern version of Pride and Prejudice, it was almost inevitable that her novel, Eligible, would feature a reality show. Perhaps what’s even weirder is that recent adaptations of Austen’s work—Whit Stillman’s charming new movie Love and Friendship among them—don’t really feel like period pieces at all. Almost two and a quarter centuries later, a flourishing television genre peddling “reality,” and fantasy, promotes a vision of women if anything more retrograde than Austen’s, without any of her irony.
At Fusion, a look at the way college hookup culture is inherently classist, or, readily available to only those who don’t have to devote a big portion of their time to worrying about money. For students who don’t have to work jobs to pay their way through college, not only does it seem like classes are little more than (free) nuisances, but it also seems perfectly OK to spend four days a week hooking up rather than working or studying. This discrepancy creates a divide between college students, sure, but it also creates an unfair image of students as a whole.
“If you’re a working-class student that’s pulled into the party scene, your grades suffer, which wouldn’t matter if your mom is going to make sure you get a good job afterwards,” Wade says. “You kind of have to be squeaky clean to get through college if you’re coming out of an adverse circumstance.” The stakes are simply far higher if, like Jessica, you’re a first-generation college student and that degree may be the only way you’ll improve your lot in life. Working-class, risk-averse students—Armstrong and Hamilton call them the “strivers”—are a lot less likely to throw it all away for a series of one-night Tinder flings.
The Great British Bake Off is an odd thing: imported from Britain, it does nothing to water down its very British-ness. On The Awl, here’s a look at just why that works to the show’s advantage, and why, when the show tried to accommodate an American audience, it just didn’t work.
But “Bake Off”’s success has less to do with national identity than with national psyche. The show is a reminder that awfully boring-sounding amateur leisure activities — like knitting or building model trains — can be valuable for a well-balanced spirit. BBC Two is in fact doubling down on “Keep Calm and Carry On” television with somehow even more British-sounding programming like “Great British Garden Revival” and “Great Pottery Throw Down.” But in America, where we talk about lengths in football fields and television ratings in fractions of Super Bowls, our entertainment is oriented more toward competition and celebrity rather than deep pleasure in craft.
Lastly, Beach House singer Victoria Legrand participates in Rookie magazine’s “Just Wondering” feature, which finds famous adults answering questions from everyday teenagers. Legrand’s musical output betrays her especially insightful nature, so to read her thoughts on less complicated matters than the existential is truly a treat.
Your awareness of yourself at this time will need extra perspective and intuition. And not just the acute awareness of how you appear—but that of your spirit, your vibes, the energy you create and what you put out into the world. The energy you give to people in daily interactions, big and small. This, my dear 17-year-old blossom, is a lifelong work in progress. We are never done becoming aware. You may not realize bad habits or “annoying” traits. Equally, you may not yet realize your talents, or gifts. Either way, you will learn about yourself AS you live your life, not before you live it. You’ll never be perfect—no one is. You will drive someone crazy and be driven crazy as well. You will lose people, and they will lose you. Just know that loving is also letting go, so if your friend needs a break, let him go. He may come back. Just know you did the right thing. BE brave and take a risk. BE free.