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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto    by Chuck Klosterman order for
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs
by Chuck Klosterman
Order:  USA  Can
Scribner, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Aside from entertainment, one thing that I especially appreciate from books is that they occasionally give me a new perspective, a new tilt on my worldview. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs did this repeatedly. In it, Klosterman gives us funny, acerbic, opinionated essays on popular culture, with topics ranging from television and movies to music, sports, video games, and the Internet.

I particularly enjoyed his early discussions of how the media leak into our realities, for example via fictionalized portrayals of romance. He gives a long exposition on The Sims, including a perspective that it is 'a glorification of consumerism that ultimately suggests happiness is available at the mall.' He tells us that The Real World show resulted in people 'becoming personality templates, devoid of complication and obsessed with melodrama.'

The fact that I stopped watching tv years ago (I simply lost interest) limited my understanding of some of the author's points on tv shows, and I had a similar problem with his discussions of rock music, but I still chuckled over the essay on the 'tribute band phenomenon' and one practitioner's point of view that 'being a mock star is awesome.' A discussion of 'significant female figures', with comparisons between Marilyn Monroe, Pamela Anderson and Madonna, was also entertaining.

Klosterman's take on pornography and its impact on the Internet's speed of adoption has its insightful moments. He quotes statistics on the number of sites featuring 'naked housewives' and tells us that psychologically speaking 'the Internet is very Marxist'. On breakfast cereals, he gives us the viewpoint that cereal commercials were the first steps in indoctrination of the desire to be cool. And I heartily agree with the Star Wars comment that Luke Skywalker 'was the original Gen Xer ... he was incessantly whiny.'

Interspersed amongst the essays are one page asides. One gives us the key to 'incisive, witty repertoire', but I related most to another on disappearing socks, and would just like to confirm that I also live with a feline sock thief. Though its messages are all over the map, I enjoyed Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs for its fascination with people in all their permutations and 'low culture'.

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