Gossip Girl (Season 2) – A Commentary

I may be completely missing the boat on the whole Gossip Girl thing. I hear folks describe it as a guilty pleasure, full of wit, and trashy fun. I just don’t see it. Maybe I’m taking Josh Schwarz’s teensploitation soap a little too seriously. It’s Dynasty for today’s teen set, rich people looking good while behaving badly. The kind of night time escapism that will never go out of style. The plotlines are practically beside the point—endless revenge, back-stabbing, and hooking up—with viewers needing a scorecard to keep up with the shenanigans. As I said in my review of season one, “maybe watching lily white, privileged teens cavort and struggle doesn’t do it for me.”

It’s easy to grant that some people are disadvantaged, but more difficult to admit that some people are privileged. Privilege would be the set of advantages that are enjoyed by some people beyond those commonly experienced by other people in the same social, political, and economic class. Something of value possessed by certain members of society, some sort of social, political and cultural advantages accorded. This privilege is “an invisible package of unearned assets” as Peggy McIntosh defined it, denied and protected.

Privilege is the shiny coat on a culture of oppression which had became ingrained in some peoples’ souls, part of the character of who they were. A mentality which insinuated itself as part and parcel of their identity; a part of a systemic evil of financial ascendancy, money, power, and politics. Money can be a means of oppression. At the same time we need reminding that God is for the oppressed, the marginalized, and the forgotten.

The Gospel speaks to the disinherited, the poor, the disenfranchised , the oppression of the weak by the powerful. The Gospel is an offense to the rich and powerful. It’s the death of their ideas of wealth and power, those priorities. Part of the societal pathology that has us sweeping the poor under the rug. If we’re going to be judged, it will be on how we treat, in Jesus’ words, “the least of these”. The poor. The disadvantaged. The non-privileged.

So another season of Gossip Girl is upon us, as if teens couldn’t be portrayed as even more vapid, self-involved and obsessed with surface beauty and trends. With an air of campy ridiculousness with no shortage of teenage and emo nonsense, I’m sure some folks will enjoy.

Gossip Girl – A Review

“A Gossip Girl for a Gossip Boy”

I’ll admit it: I’m a notorious gossip. However, I’m not as into Gossip Girl as thought I might have been. Based on Alloy Entertainment’s book series, Gossip Girl gives us privileged teenagers attending an elite private school in New York City. In other words, it’s Beverly Hills 90210 transported to the East Coast, powered by the producers of The O.C. Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.

The show navigates the waters of the inner social circles of the school, though unlike The O.C., we don’t have an outsider new to the situation or an acerbic-witted loveable sidekick. Instead we have a gossip blog via authorial voice-over (Kristen Bell doing her version of Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City for the teen set). Most of the escapades center around Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), one-time alpha princess, returning to find her empire run by a new crew, led by her former best friend.

“The more you hide yourself away, the more people think you have something to hide.” – Lily van der Woodsen (Kelly Rutherford)
As the tagline of Gossip Girl says, “you’re nobody until you’re talked about,” appealing to our tabloid entertainment instincts. We subordinate our lives to follow the lives of others, inadvertently ending up leading lives not worth talking about (I seriously can’t explain the popularity of Twitter any other way). We live in a world of Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, blogs, and message boards, where information is disseminated faster than it can be thought through.

“This world is crazy.” –Serena

The Internet has brought us many innovative tools and has ushered in a whole new era in how we communicate. Among its mixed blessings is the public journaling called a blog. Whole friend communities can form circles at places such as LiveJournal and Xanga. This presents an interesting modern twist on the dilemma of gossiping.

Look at some of the behavior it produces. Such as the sort of passive-aggressive (non-)confrontation fueled by the shield of seeming anonymity provided by the Internet, leading to a kind of cyber-bullying. And how people forget that just like words said in the heat of the moment can never be unsaid, things sent into the ether called cyberspace float around forever.

The take home lesson for me has been to further drill into my head the need to be careful in what I say. There’s a reason the Bible spends so much time talking about the power (and potential sin) of the tongue more than just about anything else.

“I’m sorry I’m not who you thought I was.” –Serena

Gossip Girl portrays teens as being fairly vacuous, with their lives being little more than a series of hook ups and break ups while playing at being adults. Wait, maybe that was what being a teenager was like. At any rate, I don’t know what I was expecting, perhaps more Gilmore Girls and less The O.C./90210. Maybe watching lily white, privileged teens cavort and struggle doesn’t do it for me. Or maybe I just hate seeing something I’m so often guilty of being playing out in front of me. However, the cast is good and the show moves at a pretty hectic clip. Though it has had a fairly strong start, it still needs more of a sense of humor about itself.

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