Schadenfreude, Part II

February 11, 2007 | By | 1 Reply More

Heather Havrilesky of Salon is a gifted writer, indeed.  She opens a recent article by discussing the delighted innocence of her baby girl, “my own happy tadpole, who just arrived on this overheated blue sphere four months ago, gazes at the branches of trees and feels the cold noses of dogs and pronounces them exciting and delightful.” But then the discussion moves on to what dawns on us adults when we realize what we once were: 

This is why so many parents of young kids look simultaneously giddy and heartbroken: They share in the raw happiness of little people (an intoxicating experience that’s not foreshadowed at all by spending time with other people’s messy little monsters) but they’re also forced to recognize what blind, embittered, joyless shells they themselves have become over the years, by comparison. When my little sponge stares, rapt, at blades of grass, it makes me wish that I could scrub off 36 years of neurotic tics and self-defeating habits, that I could forget about the burgeoning population of pedophiles uncovered by Dateline’s queasy “To Catch a Predator” series, that I could just appreciate the greenness of grass, not to mention the million or so other things that healthy, dry, well-fed middle-class people like myself have to feel thankful for …

For the schadenfreude, read the rest of her provocative article, “The dreams of aspiring Broadway stars and white rappers are crushed while a nation looks on, delighted!”   Havrilesky has put her finger on something that I never quite articulated so well.  Her focus is NBC’s Grease: You’re the One That I Want,” a show that “taps into a scary subculture of wannabe Sandys and Dannys out there, an odd assortment of humans with big saucer eyes and disturbingly earnest looks pasted on their faces.”

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Category: Entertainment, Psychology Cognition, Writing

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    I wasted half an hour reading all that clever, pointed prose about how insipid television taps into the darker side of the audience. But I guess it's better than having watched the hundreds of hours of said TV that she reviewed.

    I could have been re-re-…re-reading my old Bloom County collection.

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