Thursday, May 19, 2005

CLASS: the OC and being a summer associate

tonight's season ending episode of the OC was totally insane. without giving too much away, suffice it to say, that in the real world, for what marissa cooper just did she would likely end up in the California Youth Authority. fortunately for her, she's richer than rich and will surely buy herself out of doing any time. of course she'll be represented by sandy and things will turn out fine. maybe somehow she'll prevail on an unlikely but successful "defense of third persons" theory. other theories, including battering and its effects, seem like longshots and the prosecution could probably rip them to shreds. hopefully, sandy's near certain defense of marissa will bring him back to the public defenders office. then the OC at Boalt's fellowship, "The Sandy," might inspire even more attention and donations.

reflecting on the romances between sandy and kiki, caleb and julie, and ryan and marissa (and marissa and DJ for that matter) brought me to a recent series of articles in the NYT. the series is on class and thus far (i've only skimmed) but i've found it compelling. the suggested readings are also quite good - i highly recommend the biting and humorous Paul Fussell book "Class: A Guide Through American Status Systems."

although the OC does a relatively wretched job problematizing notions of class and especially race (see e.g., the only roles which people of color have played being teenage mother and high school dropout, gardener, highschool principal [as somewhat of an outlier], and as of tonight, drug dealers), it is perhaps quite accurate that such issues are swept under the rug on a routine basis. from the most recent NYT piece on cross-class marriages:

Marriages that cross class boundaries may not present as obvious a set of challenges as those that cross the lines of race or nationality. But in a quiet way, people who marry across class lines are also moving outside their comfort zones, into the uncharted territory of partners with a different level of wealth and education, and often, a different set of assumptions about things like manners, food, child-rearing, gift-giving and how to spend vacations. In cross-class marriages, one partner will usually have more money, more options and, almost inevitably, more power in the relationship.

It is not possible to say how many cross-class marriages there are. But to the extent that education serves as a proxy for class, they seem to be declining. Even as more people marry across racial and religious lines, often to partners who match them closely in other respects, fewer are choosing partners with a different level of education. While most of those marriages used to involve men marrying women with less education, studies have found, lately that pattern has flipped, so that by 2000, the majority involved women, like Ms. Woolner, marrying men with less schooling - the combination most likely to end in divorce.

this is both fascinating and sad. class and caste are so entrenched in american society and with the costs of (even) public education skyrocketing, soon yet more people will be priced out of anything beyond a high school education. i may have found a new crusade? all of this (sorry for being so disjointed) also caused me to think a bit about my summer corporate job. without waxing poetic or saying much more - i am a bit uncomfortable with it all. everything is SO nice. i haven't paid for lunch yet whereas last summer it was treat and big expense to buy myself a $2 sandwich. people i've met recently have criticized the (admittedly dirty and run-down) downtown SF greyhound station, on multiple occassions. i find it hard to join in these conversations since that station is home to at least a few of my former clients.

on a lighter note, some of my summer thus far has still been on par with my budget last year at this time. i've slept in a sleeping bag - or on a bare mattress the past three nights, but only because i'm moving. my fridge is busted. i still take the cheap bus. my summer soundtrack tonight includes my roommate packing and listening to sublime. that band, however, is reminiscent not of last summer but of a relationship in 10th grade.

speaking of relationships, i should have spent the time i spent rambling here catching up on emails that have been waiting for responses for weeks. if you are waiting on an email from me, my apologies. next week - i promise i'll work on that task. for now, if you'd like, respond with your reflections on class, your predictions for sandy's defense of marissa, and/or your favorite music from sophomore year of high school.


Anonymous said...

Do you remember the chapter in "class" that was about sports, and the size of the ball? That was hilarious. Today I read an article about class and evangelicals in Ivy League schools. It was way disturbing. (It's worth a read, it's in the NYTimes, I can't get the link to work.)
I don't (and refuse) to watch the OC. But as for music of 10th grade, I'm going to have to go with Outkast's "Ms.Jackson" and Shaggy's "Your My Angel." Not quite sublime, but I suppose it was a bit of a different era.
your sis

dirteens said...

i do indeed remember that chapter on sports. i'm pretty sure dad used it to try and convince us to golf. [or he would have if he had read the book.] golf and tennis sure are classy in comparison to basketball - at least according to paul fussell. i don't remember if he addressed the classy-factor of sports that don't entail the use of balls. in my opinion, running is quite classy so at least we had that going for us.

i'll look again at the evangelicals/class article in the NYT. we discussed this earlier but i do think that progressive evangelicals run into a real quandary since their politics conflict with the mainstream notion of the theology. as a result, it's hard to get out from under the political straightjacket while still retaining the theological underpinnings. perhaps that clarifies what i was trying to say over the phone.