Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Joining the Dark Side...

I don't think I've ever told anyone this, but when I was seven, I was a major, major Star Wars geek. Like, crazy bedspread, the t-shirts, the C-3P0 was like George Lucas shotgun vomited a commercial wonderland of fantasy into my bedroom. The dirty secret of this was that I secretly, deep in my seven-year-old soul, wanted to work for Darth Vader.

I knew the rebellion folks were the good guys, and that Luke was the charming hero and Han was the dashing rogue and Leia looked primo in a brass bikini...but I really wanted to be Darth's friend. I imagined myself, strolling the hallways of the Death Star in my stormtrooper gear, being his sort of go-to guy. Looking back, I think I used to fantasize I was a Death Star intern...I'd do what Darth told me to do, and we'd be pals.

And I think seven-year-old me felt some sort of reassurance in this fantasy; I worked for the biggest, baddest corporation around--The Empire, complete with what must have been excellent benefits. Sure, Darth probably would have force-choked me for not putting the right amount of splenda in his Macchiatto, but every job has its pitfalls, right? To this day, I think this deep-seated desire to be Darth Vader's yes-man has scarred me; it's also probably why I have such a soft spot in my heart for Dwight K. Schrute from The Office.

I was a weird child--I loved science fiction, but for reasons that never quite jibed with some of my friends. I may share more awkward stories of this later, including my accidental daliance with blackface when, in fourth grade, I went out for Halloween as Star Trek's Giordi LaForge.

The point here--and there IS one--is that even at that young age, I kind of understood the perks of selling out to the big, bad "Man." A little bird (read: a grad school prof and friend of mine) sent me this excellent review of Daniel Brook's new book The Trap.

This passage made me want to sigh in relief and scream in frustration:
"'The Trap' opens with an anecdote hinting at one possible solution: Sell out. Milling about a wedding party, Brook sheepishly confesses his book's thesis to a young man who works for Goldman Sachs. To Brook's surprise, it turns out the guy's a leftist who went to Wall Street only after years of trying, and failing, to make it as a muckraking journalist. "That's how hegemony works," the reluctant broker tells Brook. "The system can contain all of the dissenters." The other option, to use Brook's terminology, is to be a saint. Let your student loans fall into default, rent a cheap, dingy room, go without healthcare, plan on staying childless; that's the price you pay for following your passion or adhering to your ethics."

I happen to work in an industry--the performing arts--where it's just about impossible to earn a living wage; I'm still trying to figure out if there's a trick to it that I'm missing, or if maybe I'm just unfortunate. I suspect that eventually, I'm going to want kids, and a house, and all the things I was raised to inherently covet. Maybe then I'll become an I-Banker, or a business administrator, or something real and respectable. It's just the way of the world...right?

Somewhere in me, the seven year old kid is laughing, as he gleefully polishes Darth's lightsaber with love.

That sounded so much less naughty inside my head. Anyway, more later.

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