Monday, September 30, 2013


-The discussions here and elsewhere about Bard's new admissions essays have gotten me thinking about precisely what it is about "holistic" that I find unsettling. (I do see the value in affirmative action, so it's definitely not about that.) And it's the following: I don't like when concern for the academically-mediocre children of wealthy families disguises itself as concern for underprivileged youth. And I find that fairly often - not always! - opposition to standardized tests follows this pattern. It comes across as well-meaning and progressive to oppose these tests, because there's this implicit 'they only show who has rich parents.' When there are in fact plenty of kids who've had all the advantages and still do poorly on these tests. And who should not be demonized (as they sometimes are, as if it's somehow an act of entitlement to have advantages and not parlay them into conventional academic success), but whose cause isn't exactly a social-justice emergency. But the plight of the unconventionally-intelligent, undiscovered-genius rich kid (and we all know the adage about how a rich kid who does badly in school or is disruptive is a secret genius, esp. if male) ends up weirdly conflated with that of the poor kid with low scores but high abilities.

-As irritating trendlets go, top of my pile would be the oh-so-serious exposé of the evils of the modeling industry that are illustrated with a photo of the now-adult model in her modeling prime. Exhibits A and B; I know there are more, but this will do for now. Sometimes, granted, the image won't be a photo of any specific, traumatized model, but just of Some Random Model(s), or maybe an only moderately-traumatized one. But the ones where you're getting a photo of the author or profiled woman, as a young model, are the worst. Why? Because the gimmick is, the far-too-thin, far-too-young girl is the clickbait. That image is still selling something, even if the something it's selling is an earnest story about how terrible it is that models are so vulnerable. And it's kind of the same as the item above - the progressive-concern box gets checked, while the usual remains that which is promoted.

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