This is the reading for August 25.
In last week’s reading, we saw how awkwardness is a fundamentally social phenomenon. Essentially, a situation is awkward when social norms break down in some way, revealing to us that all norms are constructed and changeable. An individual may violate a social norm that is treated as known and knowable by everyone else, as in the case of everyday awkwardness. Or, there may be a situation in which there are no agreed upon norms at all, such as when two cultures meet – this is radical awkwardness. And sometimes, there is a sense that norms exist, but it is not entirely clear how to apply them in a given situation. This is cultural awkwardness.
Judd Apatow’s movies portray male bonding as a way to avoid the cultural awkwardness of adulthood and marriage, though this strategy is ultimately self-undermining. Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm shows a more radical awkwardness, one that may ultimately be emancipatory.