Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rushdie's Soft Spot for Pop Culture

Since I’ve written about The Courter quite a bit now for my presentation, I have decided to spin this reading analysis in a bit of a different direction.  One of the subthemes of this story is the prominence of pop culture, contemporary cultural figures, and music and how those factors often amount to the definition of a particular homeland.  Although Rushdie excels throughout East, West in making well-thought out popular culture references, The Courter seems to rely on this technique more than any other story as a means of placing the reader in a given place and time.  Interestingly enough, he chooses to do this with the story that is arguably the most autobiographical in the book, perhaps connoting the how incredibly influential the definitive pop culture was for a young man who found it necessary to steep himself in contemporary British culture as a means of assimilation.
The most prominent example for me were Rushdie’s copious Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons references.  By referencing the same band over and over, he makes the Four Seasons and their music into a totem or representation of home.  He even goes so far as to bring their music into his own reality.  He reflects on his inability to seduce Chandni, “She-E-rry, won’t you come out tonight?  Yodeled the Four Seasons.  I knew exactly how they felt.  Come, come out toni-yi-yight.  And while you’re at it, love me do” (188).  He also comes back to the music of the Four Seasons as he sits before Mixed-Up, post chess defeat.  He expresses, “I sat broken in my chair at the end, close to tears.  Big girls don’t cry, I reminded myself, but the song went on playing in my head: That’s just an alibi. 
Not only do these pop culture ad musical allusions help to place the reader in a physical time and place, but they help to describe the narrator’s state of being at home with himself and his relationships.

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