Saturday, June 28, 2003

A vaguely mocking and snide report on an abstinence convention in (yes) Vegas by the WaPo's Hank Stuever.

I am not gung-ho keen on cutesy methods of promoting abstinence, and any time a movement starts having conventions, you've got a mockumentary waiting to happen, and any gathering that features an "Abstinence Elvis" really, really deserves every rotten tomato it gets thrown at it, and I will hand one off myself in this case, but the tone of this piece was extremely irritating to me, for, like many of you, I did the old "what if this were a story about ___________" mental exercise, and knew that without a doubt a piece on a liberal feminist convention or a gathering of Unitarians or environmentalists or Muslims would not, in any way have played off of reader's negative and stereotyped expectations, and would not have been coyly and cleverly assigned to a writer well known for a...perspective.... diametrically opposed to the perspectives of the group on which he's reporting (Stuever, a good writer whose pieces I've often liked is comfortably and openly gay. Or post-gay. Or whatever.)

It all just wears me out and I am so, so tired of this modern attitude that values...well...attitude above substance and clever, ironic juxtaposition over really trying to understand why other people believe what they do and to try to excavate and appreciate whatever truth it is that is at the heart of what they do. Sometimes the ironic juxtaposition and the eyes of the unsympathetic outsider do much to reveal truth. But when that's all we get, we lose. And these days, it seems that everyone's interested in attitude and hardly anyone's interested in figuring out the truth.

Which leads to nothing, and no point at all, except helping us all feel superior, reader and writer both.