Life and Culture

The Gossip Girl Fantasy

I will admit that I watch Gossip Girl. I watch it mainly for the fashions and will probably not watch if the cast is dressed in ugly or normal outfits. After all, the stories are not the least bit intelligent and are very plot-driven – not really my cup of tea, but the outfits are divine!

But there is something else, more than the fashions.

Recently, while browsing in the sale section of a bookstore while waiting for a friend to arrive, I saw a copy of the first Gossip Girl novel and bought it just to see what it was like and how different it was from the TV series. Not to say that I was shocked at the scenes for I have read (and imagined) worse, I was a bit put off when the author (Cecily von Ziegesar) wrote about how Blair looked at Nate’s erection the first time they were about to have sex and suggested a condom. Nate was unable to have sex with Blair because he was feeling guilty about sleeping with Blair’s former best friend Serena.

Also, the teenage characters smoke, use drugs, have nutritionally bad diets, and so on. Dan was described as someone who liked to live on the edge, and his hands shook because of all the caffeine he consumed.

Now Gossip Girl is supposed to be for teenagers, specifically American teenagers, and my first reaction when I read the book was there must be something wrong here. In the TV series, the characters at least do not smoke and perhaps have better nutritional habits, but they do everything else. Conservative folks have spoken against Gossip Girl being marketed to young people.

But then I realized that young people today, exposed as they are with a smaller world due to TV, the internet and easier means of travel are not that ignorant. They can understand the difference between fantasy and reality and just because they watch or read Gossip Girl doesn’t mean they will live like the characters do.

I think this is similar to the violent and sometimes disturbing cartoons my generation watched during the 90s – Looney Toons, the Simpsons – with their sometimes sarcastic humor. The normal kids get it, and they know it is not real and ought not to be applied in real life.

So that’s the appeal of Gossip Girl to me – it’s a fantasy. It’s the fantasy of living without thinking of the consequences, of running off to Europe to escape your life’s problems here, of dating a powerful and rich man – all while wearing amazing outfits.

It’s sometimes good to imagine a different, more exciting, more dramatic life (if you can call it that), but I don’t live in fantasy land.

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