Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
Bossypants by Tina Fey is an interesting, funny and self-deprecating set of essays about Fey’s life from childhood to successful career. I laughed out loud uncontrollably several times in most essays, to the point that I didn’t want to read it on aeroplanes because other passengers may find my laughter alarming.
The writing style is clear and concise, the content is only occasionally dull and the comic timing is great. I didn’t know anything about Tina Fey because I don’t watch television so I read it from an outsider’s perspective. Fey amuses the reader as she deftly steers us towards her goals in each essay. Sometimes her goal is to explain an incident that received bad press (these were all new to me and at times I was a bored by them because a lot of it seemed so trivial that I couldn’t see why she bothered to write about them but that’s the world of show business!). Sometimes her goal was to explain the hard work and effort that went into her work. This was also delivered in a self-deprecating way but she really laboured the point that she works long hours. I do too but at least she’s paid enough to afford a full-time nanny (I’m not) and there’s no point in me telling anyone about how much I work!
Upon reflection, while I was entertained throughout and I agreed with the feminist aspects of the book, ultimately this book sells because the author is a celebrity. In my opinion the entertainment industry exists to keep the proletariat (that’s us) working mindlessly and keeping corporate profits high and economic growth increasing. Whenever the proletariat pauses and unplugs we realize that we are being exploited and we make vague resolutions to change things. Some people like John Wood, founder of my favourite charity Room to Read, actually do bring about change. The rest of us feel vaguely disgruntled and join a gym, plan a trip somewhere exotic or write a blog. The trick is to keep us from having mental space for self reflection and that’s where the entertainment industry steps in to take their part in the great sedation of the masses. I include all forms of mass entertainment that are produced to run at a profit in this category, Hollywood films, tv shows, professional football games, reality tv, popular fiction, popular music, even Olympic games but not art that is created through an irrepressible artistic urge that challenges not just entertains like most theatre and dance, literature etc. When I came to this realisation I unplugged, we got rid of our television, I stopped reading newspapers and magazines, and stopped spending time with people that can’t have a conversation or come up with their own opinion. I haven’t managed to change the world yet…
Ultimately, Bossypants is a form of entertainment. It’s good and I enjoyed it because Fey voiced some of my opinions and prejudices but I wasn’t challenged by it nor enriched.