I Wear the Black Hat

Grappling With Villains (real and Imagined)

Klosterman, Chuck

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
I Wear the Black Hat
Chuck Klosterman has walked into the darkness. As a boy, he related to the cultural figures who represented goodness -- but as an adult, he found himself unconsciously aligning with their enemies. This was not because he necessarily liked what they were doing; it was because they were doing it on purpose (and they were doing it better). They wanted to be evil. And what, exactly, was that supposed to mean? When we classify someone as a bad person, what are we really saying (and why are we so obsessed with saying it)? How does the culture of deliberate malevolence operate? The author questions the modern understanding of villainy. What was so Machiavellian about Machiavelli? Why don't we see Bernhard Goetz the same way we see Batman? Who is more worthy of our vitriol -- Bill Clinton or Don Henley? What was O. J. Simpson's second-worst decision? And why is Klosterman still haunted by some kid he knew for one week in 1985?

Publisher: New York :, Scribner,, 2013.
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
ISBN: 143918450X
Characteristics: 214 pages ;,23 cm


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Oct 17, 2013
  • britprincess1 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Chuck Klosterman's writing style is a pleasure to read. After having read SEX, DRUGS, AND COCOA PUFFS: A POP CULTURAL MANIFESTO, I instantly dubbed him one of my favourite comical nonfiction writers (in that he is writing the truth and it is funny, but he is not exactly being a comedian). Now, he has chosen to write about villains, all kinds, mostly nonfictional but a few fictional ones, too, using the argument that a villain can be boiled down to the person who knows the most and cares the least. You'll read about all kinds of things in this book, starting with Machiavelli and the notions associated with him to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, from the problem with the Eagles (and what that has to do with Taylor Swift) to a compare-and-contrast examination of how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and OJ Simpson are so similar yet so different. Perez Hilton, Kim Dotcom, and Wikileaks founder Assange are all discussed not long after the essay on Sandusky. You read about Nancy Botwin of WEEDS and Walter White of BREAKING BAD and learn why it is that suddenly we like drug dealers, but don't like drug users. What makes one villainous and the other innocent, or at least, neutral? The book starts off with an examination of how devious tying women to the railroad tracks became known as the ultimate evil deed, asking what makes other people evil or not evil, but it ends off on a self-reflective note, a perfect way to end frankly, short and sweet and slightly abrupt, but with the closure and finality that wraps up the details. Quite frankly, at a mere 200 pages, I wish I WEAR THE BLACK HAT was longer. Ultimately, the charisma stems from Klosterman's writing; his wit is most amusing. I discovered this was so as I realized that, had it been anyone else, I wouldn't care about sports commentary or music criticisms, but through his particular lens, I appreciate what I'm learning. For anyone who likes to learn and laugh simultaneously, Klosterman is the writer for you. I would definitely recommend I WEAR THE BLACK HAT.


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