book, I Wear the Black Hat; which, unlike the other books we have read this semester, is a book that has one common theme that holds the whole together–that is, villainy. The villain in different parts of culture, pop culture, media, etc. is what you’ll be reading in these essays, so remember that as we make our way to the next writing assignment. All of these essays are absolutely connected, and this is Klosterman’s newest book so it’ll likely be more relevant to some of you than the other books were. So, the essays you need to read:
“Villains Who are Not Villains”
“Easier Than Typing”
As you read, think about about how these essays are connected; and then think about what other areas these essays could apply to–in other words, what else could Klosterman have written about with these themes in mind, the theme of the villain and in how we, as American consumers of interesting art, value the villain in different ways (Batman is the obvious example here, but there are MANY others). Who else is Batman?
Now that you have had a while to read the essays I have your next writing assignment ready to go. As you can see from the essays you read leading up to this, I Wear the Black Hat is a book that is concerned with why we, as consumers, have such a desire to consume characters who are somewhat (sometimes completely) irredeemable–the reasons for this are various and they are wide (and confusing) but it’s a fact that we do have some desire for art to be wicked, for characters in art to be villainous. Just look at Walter White from Breaking Bad (who people ADORE), Tony Soprano from The Sopranos, amongst many, many others. So this assignment will be related to that. There will be two parts to it, and it will come from the idea that I posed in the reading assignment–the idea of Batman.
First, I want you to make a list of characters from various parts of media (film, TV, music, literature, art, etc.) who embody the villainy (and villainy that is often usurped by good, as in Batman or in The Great Gatsby) that Klosterman writes about. Think widely on this–Klosterman lists Taylor Swift as someone who could be on this list, so don’t just think of the obvious ones like Scarface. Think creatively here, and the more people you list who are not obvious examples of this the better your grade would be.
So, the first part will be:
Make a list of 50 people (real or fictional) who could be thought of as different versions of Batman (think of the word antihero here). No less than 50, no more than 50. Think of all the stuff you watch and read and listen to and think about, and come up with the list. These people will be a couple things: they will carry with them obvious evil (obvious to you, that is, not necessarily obvious to everyone) while also using that evil for some kind of justifiable good. For example, in Breaking Bad, Walter White does some very, very obviously evil things, but he does them for the good of his family (or at least he says he does). So as a result, people love him; and people forgive that evil for the benefit of privileging the good. So think about this one a lot–think about it and think about it and think about it–then give me your list. Remember, 50 people. That’s part one.
Part two will be: From your list of 50 people, pick ten. With these ten, you will one paragraph per each one explaining why and how they embody what Klosterman is writing about. You should use Klosterman here to help you along. Quote him some (but not that much), use his explanation of the consumption of this kind of art to move your argument along. So you will have ten paragraphs total for part two .What do the people you have chosen do, what do they represent, what do they stand for, that makes people forget their bad to make room for their good. In other words, justify your choices. Why are they more desirable than they are undesirable, even while their undesirability is pretty obvious? So, choose ten, and write about those ten.
And remember, upload these two different parts as ONE PAPER. You should have your list of 50 first, then your explanation of your ten.
Again, there are TWO PARTS to this essay, to separate (but related) submissions. But again again, uploaded as one paper.
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