Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Crafty Beavers Club: Members Only

In the second half of Amy Sedaris’ I Like You, she has a short section on clubs, which she proclaims to be an avid fan of. As the president of her many clubs, Amy describes her power in selecting members, who must apply in a process akin to that of a private country club. In her sarcastic and exaggerated voice, Sedaris explains that her clubs are restricted, implying that only those who are special or worthy for whatever reason are admitted. In this way she is performing what she is critiquing, an effective method of dramatizing social flaws and the contemporary desire to be accepted or fit in.

This section reminded me of our discussion on the use of stereotypes, or socially recognizable types, that were employed in the first half of the book. We concluded that Sedaris wasn’t doing this to separate herself or the reader from the group discussed, but merely to determine a reference point that makes her writing and advice so universal. I found these concepts to relate to this section on the exclusivity of clubs as well. Sedaris is not trying to exclude people, or endorse exclusion, but to shed light on the sometimes unfortunate realities of society, while discreetly mocking these norms and advising her readers to accept this reality without fighting it. “If you fail to get into one of my clubs, don’t try to force your way in, start your own club,” she says, encouraging her readers to not play by the rules (173). Her absurd list of regulations required for admittance to her club more overtly reveals Sedaris’ sarcasm and criticism of the stupid standards of clubs or groups that may discriminate against people for trivial and unimportant reasons.

Humor itself has qualities of inclusion and exclusion, as we previously discussed the idea of being “let in” on a joke like being welcomed into a group. However Sedaris employs humor in a way that makes everyone feel like they’re in on the joke and the meaning behind it, even if they don’t have the "bookshelf-building ability" to be part of the closed membership of the Crafty Beavers.

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