A Most Dangerous Question

Do you watch Empire?

Say no and

come across as snobbish and bourgeois, part of the “culturally elite”, too arrogant to care that for the first time in long time, there is a television show with predominantly black actors, from no less than what has often been considered a bastion of White America, Fox. The Jonathan Franzen book in your bag (thank goodness you decided to catch up on the cartoons on your laptop, instead of placing it on the table and flipping through the hypnotic prose) does not speak against this assumption. And you listen to jazz, of all the pretentious genres of music. Try to convince yourself that, no, you have your finger on the pulse of what is hip, that you are with it (despite your less-than nodding acquaintanceship with television, pop culture and new music in general). At least your cousin and his girlfriend watch TV and you catch snippets of what goes on in your world. Yes, it is your world, however above it all you think you are. But, who needs to be in touch with what’s popular? Your friends aren’t (but this girl is), your workmates… Well, who knows about them (certainly not you, crouched behind your computer, not with Mr Franzen beckoning every waking second to come enjoy his words, not with the way everything nowadays (as if you are that old) “pullulates with mediocrity”. This you learned from him. You can’t wait to drop it in casual conversation.)

Say yes and

run the risk of being drawn into a conversation about your favourite songs, how nani did nini with nani and was doing nini that time, did you see nani in that episode, and wasn’t that season finale just the one! Wueh! (Because that added “e”, call it… ecstasy, makes the exclamation all the more profound, true even, and worthy of your acknowledgement). Not knowing what to say, you grin and finally admit that, no, you don’t watch Empire (Mr Franzen, in spirit, rejoices. David Foster Wallace looks upon you with gentleness). Why? Well, you don’t watch much else, actually you watch nothing compared to most people (beneath this statement is the sentiment that you mean all Empire fans, who have the time to engage in such asininity, being the mindless drones they are.) All the seasons of The Amazing World of Gumball, Regular Show, Rick and Morty and Bojack Horseman count as nothing, a total of a little over, just a little, three-hundred and eighty-four episodes, just a little more than forty-eight hours and thirty-six minutes of watching. Be exposed as the poseur, the hypocrite, that you are. “Who doesn’t watch Empire?! You don’t watch Gotham, you don’t… By the way, I’m just through with you.” And she probably meant it, even as she let that episode continue playing (she was a bit more pre-occupied than usual – in ecstasy – over this one for some reason). Wasn’t it around this time that she started telling you to just fuck her and not bother with kissing her and sucking on her nipples, when she would tell you we need to get up and get going, instead of lying on her bed cuddling for a few minutes in the shared post-coital glow? Yes, that was it, that was why she went kinda cold: you don’t watch Empire. Shit.

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