Sunday, April 18, 2010

Those Painful Middle School Years

Middle school is a battleground of insecurities, transitions, and the hope of fitting into the mold. Greg is the quintessential middle school kid who wishes for popularity, is embarrassed by family and friends, and is judgmental to a fault. But his ignorance of the ridiculous concept of middle school social constructs is our bliss, as we laugh not only at his folly but at our own middle school selves that we recognize in him.

We may be laughing at a child who perfectly resembles the Superiority Model in action as he looks down upon nearly everyone he encounters and yet we’ve been there before in our lives. We were at one time that kid who felt like they were above it all, only to later realize just how absurd our perceptions of life truly were as we got older. A quote that exemplifies his superiority complex reads, “I’ll be famous one day, but for now I’m stuck in middle school with a bunch of morons”. It’s an attitude we all had at the time, so we can understand why this superiority model comes from a place of immaturity and insecurity rather than a full-on attack on society.

I remember in middle school that social survival was key as you never wanted to be singled out for being different or for saying the “uncool” thing. This is when I feel terrible for the good-natured and wonderfully oblivious Rowley who simply doesn’t seem to notice nor care about the “code” to which all middle schoolers must follow. The first is the lingo as he mortifies Greg by asking him to “play” after school rather than the much more acceptable term like “hang out”. Another instance is when Rowley gives Greg a Big Wheel rather than a cool video game like “Twisted Wizard” for Christmas. Rowley just wants to be a kid and to spend time with his best friend whereas Greg’s ambitions of better friends and higher recognition leaves him unable to see the vast amount of great qualities in a friend he already has the pleasure of knowing.

I found this work to be realistic, sweet, smart, and enormously funny. I particularly enjoyed the hand-drawn illustrations throughout the work which gives it more of a feeling of authenticity and the story is certainly one that comes off as very authentic.

In my parting words for this blog I must say that the most surprising thing I learned in this class is just how much humor can hold a mirror to the human experience more so than any other genre in literature, film, and in other venues. There is something about humor that captures the heart of our lives from our most embarrassing moments, our most painful moments, moments of high polarization and the moments that bring us all together. Laughter is a human necessity as we need to break the tensions of everyday stress and yet so many varying texts and viewpoints from throughout the semester have all made us laugh out loud, chortle, chuckle, or just put a smile on our face. There is indeed something to be said about the things that make us laugh and why we laugh at them.

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