by Chuck Klosterman
Genres: Adult, Humor, Non-fiction
Publication Date: July 9th 2013 by Scribner
Goodreads Book Depository
Chuck Klosterman has walked into the darkness. As a child, he rooted for conventionally good characters like wide-eyed Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. But as Klosterman aged, his alliances shifted—first to Han Solo and then to Darth Vader. Vader was a hero who consciously embraced evil; Vader wanted to be bad. But what, exactly, was that supposed to mean? When we classify someone as a bad person, what are we really saying (and why are we so obsessed with saying it)? In I Wear the Black Hat, Klosterman questions the very nature of how modern people understand the culture of villainy. What was so Machiavellian about Machiavelli? Why don’t we see Batman the same way we see Bernhard Goetz? Who’s more worthy of our vitriol—Bill Clinton or Don Henley? What was O.J. Simpson’s second-worst decision? And why is Klosterman still obsessed with some kid he knew for one week in 1985?
Masterfully blending cultural analysis with self-interrogation and limitless imagination, I Wear the Black Hat delivers perceptive observations on the complexity of the anti-hero (seemingly the only kind of hero America still creates). I Wear the Black Hat is the rare example of serious criticism that’s instantly accessible and really, really funny. Klosterman is the only writer doing whatever it is he’s doing.
Did you finish reading that summary, stare at it for a second, and think “Whaaaat?”
That is completely the reaction you should have! You should now continue your winning streak by picking up this collection of essays and reading it! (for even more win, go get all of Klosterman’s books – it’s brain food!)
Klosterman is one of the authors on my “Always Buy” list. I don’t always agree with what he is writing, but I always want to know more and I always laugh! His books make me think and, usually, make me feel like a woefully under-informed human!
I Wear the Black Hat is amazing! Without giving too much away about the book as a whole, let me share PART of ONE essay that really stuck with me!
In the essay “Villains Who Are Not Villains,” people who come down on the hero side of public opinion, despite all evidence towards them being villains, is discussed. In this, we read about D. B. Cooper, the cult hero made famous, and beloved, FOR HIJACKING A PLANE! Klosterman discusses the inexplicable switch from villain to hero of drug dealers, gang leaders, murderers, around the year 2000, as seen through the ever villainous hero that is television.
Keith Richards was arrested here, in super polite Canada in 1977. It was Keith’s fourth drug charge in ten years and if he were anyone other than THE Keith Richards, he would have gone to prison for a VERY real, VERY long time – the low life! But no! Keith is seen not as the villain you or I would be seen as! He is seen as a “hero” and his sentence includes ONLY performing for the blind!!! His sentence was to do the very thing he did for a living, and most likely, he did it high! (side note: pick up Keith’s autobiography – it is a fascinating read)
Muhammad Ali – obviously – falls into the “hero” category, right along with Keith Richards! Obviously!
BUT WAIT A MINUTE!
Did we not just discover that good ol’ boy Keith is actually a villain masquerading as a hero because he plays music we like?! That’s right, we did!
“…Ali, an athlete whose active role in the history of American race relations looms larger than Jackie Robinson’s, consciously committed some of the most egregious acts of racial prejudice in modern sports history, over and over and over again, against someone of his own race (and for no defensible reason).” Writes Klosterman on page 50.
And this guy is seen as a hero!!
Are you not, at this minute questioning everything you think and believe?!
I’ve read the book, am writing the review, and I am STILL trying to figure out what this means for everything I ever thought I knew! And if that is not the sign of an amazing book, than I clearly do not know what is and have no right being here writing reviews.
Amanda is also an avid reader, coffee's biggest fan, addicted to book box subscriptions, and studying from home, while she single parent's her son, to become a Nursing Unit Clerk.
Her favorite color is purple, her fandoms are Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Supernatural, Gilmore Girls, all things Holmes, all things Maas, and the 11th Doctor. She has a thing for tattoos, chocolate, and Vanilla Coke, has Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Clinical Depression, Social Anxiety, and an aversion to heat and all things spicy.