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I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with…

I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Chuck Klosterman

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4052339,667 (3.5)6
Title:I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)
Authors:Chuck Klosterman
Info:Scribner (2013), Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Your library, Kindle
Tags:nonfiction, essays

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I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) by Chuck Klosterman (2013)



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English (22)  Swedish (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Chuck Klosterman has pretty much only one overarching idea here: the concept of the villain in any situation as the one who "knows the most and cares the least." It's an intriguing thought, but not one that seems definitive to me at all. And, honestly, I'm not sure Klosterman really thinks it is, either. It seems to just be a notion he likes to keep coming back to.

Other than that, this examination of villains and bad guys and who they are and what they mean is very freewheeling. Individual chapters may have a particular focus, but, as a whole, it's not a carefully structured exploration of the idea of villainy that's aimed at coming to any strong conclusions on the subject. It's mostly just Klosterman noodling around with the idea of villains, what they mean to him, what they seem to mean to society at large, and how to wrap his head around it all. He goes a lot of different places with it, thinking about villains in history (including very recent history), in fiction, in sports, in music, and in our culture in general. A lot of it is personal, based in Klosterman's own experiences and attitudes. He spends a good part of one chapter on a list of various bands he used to hate when the was younger, for what now mostly seem like really dumb reasons. He spends another whole chapter comparing Bernard Goetz and Batman. In another, he mostly talks about how hard it is to talk about Hitler. And so on and so forth.

And this loose structure, it turns out, works really well. I found it interesting and surprisingly rewarding to just sort of follow Klosterman's mind wherever it happened to go. He has a lot of thought-provoking things to say, and while I don't necessarily agree with him about everything, I think he actually makes some points that are really insightful and important. He's also just really entertaining to read, with a style that I'm finding it difficult to compare to anybody else's.

This is the first thing of Klosterman's I've read, which seems like something of an oversight. It's definitely not going to be the last, though. I already have his But What If We're Wrong? on the TBR shelves, and I'm now quite looking forward to it. ( )
  bragan | Jun 6, 2017 |
A wonderful collection of essays about 'villains' and 'villainy'. Chuck Kolsterman is a terrific writer at getting down to the reasons and behaviors of people, to the psyche of why we hate some people and not others, mostly along arbitrary lines. His dissections of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, of the OJ Simpson trial, Machiavelli, Paterno/Sandusky, Muhammed Ali, etc. The essays all work terrifically and are all written so well that you get such a greater understanding of 'wearing the black hat' and why we are all our own villains (and want to be as well). Provides a lot better understanding for things like the Man in Black (WestWorld) and other fictional worlds. ( )
  BenKline | Mar 14, 2017 |
Interesting concept. Unfortunately I'm insufficiently familiar with popular culture to understand the MANY sports and pop music examples. If you are more pop culture aware than me (admittedly not a difficult feat) you may get more out of the book. ( )
  zyphax | Dec 27, 2016 |
Not Klosterman's strongest collection as a whole, likely due to being written around a singular theme. A few essays are stellar. Many are just okay. ( )
  KimMeyer | May 17, 2016 |
I have to say I tried to win this book on good reads the subject matter was thoroughly intriguing. I did not win and the book stuck with me I found a copy at my local Indie bookstore and bought the book. The author has done justice to the topic of what makes a villain and the moral ambiguities of the villain. His essay on Batman, Bernhard Goetz and Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson's character in Death Wish movies) at what point does the victim become the vigilante and then the villain? The essay makes a point that the real life Goetz crossed the line of victim and self defense when he seemed to enjoy the killing. Death Wish was a book before it was a movie, and the book argues against the concept of vigilantism and focus on moral confusion; the movie celebrates the vigilante and makes him a hero. The author touches on hip hop, Penn State, Hitler and then himself.

This would make a great non-fiction book club pick many great though provoking subjects for discussion.

I will have to check out Mr Klosterman's other books. ( )
  yvonne.sevignykaiser | Apr 2, 2016 |
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It seems like twenty-five lifetimes ago, but it was only twenty-five years: An older friend game me a cassette he'd duplicated from a different cassette (it was the era of "tape dubbing," which was like file sharing for iguanodons).
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The cultural critic questions how modern people understand the concept of villainy, describing how his youthful idealism gave way to an adult sympathy with notorious cultural figures to offer insight into the appeal of anti-heroes.

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