Undergraduates have limited interaction with graduate students. My sole exposure to them, until recently, has been limited to TAs and occasional glimpses during meals in HGS. But since I got back from break, I have spent a lot of time at Yale’s art school — in the sculpture building, at events and even at the galleries. Maybe it was the sudden and overwhelming presence of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” in my life that made me seek out some semblance of artistic integrity. I don’t really know why, but recently I’ve been overhearing many of the art students’ conversations and have picked up some gems that really made me think: do they go out of their way to be the most stereotypical art kids I’ve ever met/seen?
Girl: “OMG, HAIRCUT!”
Boy: “I was going for a postmodern, almost meta feel, to reflect my feelings about the semester.”
He can’t be serious. Either he was really committed to the sarcasm bit, or he has no idea what “meta” means. How can a haircut be meta? Personally, I’ve never seen a haircut that can be self-referential. And how can a semester be meta? Does it reflect your life, and if so, does that mean your haircut is representative of your life? Does the transitive property really extend that far? How postmodern of him. The next exchange was even more dynamic:
Boy: “Is that leopard?”
Girl: “Yeah, it’s so soft.”
Boy: “I’m glad you’re taking a stand and wearing real fur.”
First off, is wearing leopard fur even legal? And if so, would it really be soft? Because I feel like it would be coarse. Finally, and most importantly, the boy is glad that she is taking a stand against taking a stand against wearing fur. Now that’s meta! This is the kind of thing that gives “hipsters” a bad name. Finally, here’s a powerful observation I overheard:
Boy: “Toad’s is one of those tragic places I paint and feel about; it’s an indie film waiting to happen.”
Now that’s pretty far from “partying, partying (yeah!).” I really don’t know where to begin. To place the quote in context: a group of holier-than-thou grad students were discussing undergrads and our social proclivities. As a Toad’s fan, I first took offense at his words. How dare he question the fun times and responsibility-free atmosphere of Toad’s? True, the lurkers outside are shady characters, and Saturday night is a goat-rodeo of barely-there skirts and giant chain necklaces — but that hardly qualifies as “tragic.” I then began to see the true glory of the art-schooler’s statement. He “feels” about Toads. Feels … He must have a deeper connection to the club than all of us.
Ultimately, these people are the antithesis of Ms. Black. But their comments are no better than her single’s unadorned lyricism. While “Friday” is, as one news organization called it “global, public humiliation,” it has garnered over 44 million views on YouTube and over two million downloads on iTunes. Furthermore, in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, she said she was donating 100 percent of the proceeds to her school and Japan relief funds. She might not be a lyrical genius, but I’ll take her genuine, albeit naïve, excitement for the weekend over a self-aware attempt at frigid apathy any day. I wonder how many of the art school students actually donated any money to Japan relief (although I would expect the fur-wearing girl to take a stand and donate to, say, Gaddafi relief).
Honestly, I don’t feel that these faux-philosophers are wholly representative of the students at the art school — or at least I hope not. But, people who really say things like this — please continue. I always enjoy a good laugh.
Carolyn Lipka is a freshman in Jonathan Edwards College.