Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Would you rather...

Would you rather go to a stuffy cocktail party with sophisticated intellectuals and exquisite caviar, or go to Amy's party and let loose, swear, get drunk, maybe even stay the night? I Like You, by Amy Sedaris is a poignant and original exploitation of the social norm of hospitality. Sedaris’ work is brilliant because it has the ability to relate to any person in any type of hospitality situation. Whether you are the drunk host, the awkward family member, the over the top druggie, Sedaris has addressed you.
These social situations, were we follow precise norms and conform to the roles we must play in situations, are dictated to us for as long as we can remember. We learn to shake hands, make eye contact, be polite, listen, speak when it is our turn etc. In light of reading Amy Sedaris' book, I can’t help but being reminded of these situations. Sedaris' book is a completely hilarious satire and mockery of hospitality. She encourages alcohol, discourages boredom, insinuates at sexual innuendos, in the midst of a few little recipes here and there.
Humor can be used to diffuse and or confuse social norms. In the section “Rich Uncle Comes for a Visit” we see her blatantly take advantage of customary social situations in order to get money from her uncle. She uses her appearance to make it not only acceptable but socially imperative that she be given money, left on her bed side table.
Perhaps our idea of normalcy is challenged when taken in humorous context. And then the question comes of what our ideas of particular social situations are, and how we cannot help but find ourselves following them blindly and without question. Sedaris makes me wonder: are we so rigid and comfortable in what is polite, what is right, what is norm that we cannot laugh at jokes anymore? Why are we so serious in these social situations? Sedaris shows us that hospitality is a social norm where there are specific definitions for etiquette, there are ways in which we must act, speak, laugh, that are all simply, bullshit. She uses humor perhaps to show us that we must stop being such a conforming society, such a rigid group of boring souls. She challenges us to explore, and after reading her book, I want to go to the party that she’s throwing! Humor is a way in which we bring light of social conformity and are challenged to completely destroy it. Conformity, for me, is boredom, and I'm sure that Sedaris would agree. I am bored of the social stigmas, the politeness, and the accepted way. Let’s break out our shells a little bit, get out of our comfort zones. Let’s listen to Amy, and let’s throw a real party!

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