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Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  72,456 ratings  ·  3,508 reviews
Countless writers and artists have spoken for a generation, but no one has done it quite like Chuck Klosterman. With an exhaustive knowledge of popular culture and an almost effortless ability to spin brilliant prose out of unlikely subject matter, Klosterman attacks the entire spectrum of postmodern America: reality TV, Internet porn, Pamela Anderson, literary Jesus freak ...more
Paperback, 1st Scribner trade paperback edition, 272 pages
Published July 2nd 2004 by Scribner (first published July 20th 2003)
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Shawn The only part I'm sure about, is that Wikipedia attributed the saying "I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" to Charles Manson.
It reminds me, over Thanksgiving …more
The only part I'm sure about, is that Wikipedia attributed the saying "I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" to Charles Manson.
It reminds me, over Thanksgiving my daughter and son-in-law were visiting; we're all music lovers, and he is a professional musician, we got to talking music. The band Aphrodite's Child, album 666 came up, so I played that song, The Four Horsemen, saying, to me, it was Jack Black in School of Rock singing about flaming swords and castles, horseback saving mi' lady rock shit. And my daughter's like, yeah, dad, I remember you played this for me when I was a teen we were talking about music.
But she is a poet, well-published, now in a PhD program in Creative Writing. During the song I saw this look on her face, like, fuck, you never had a chance! Did they play this ON THE RADIO, she asked? Sure, K-SHE 95 St. Louis was my residence during high school. Then finally, she laughed, asking, did she just say, "he's a green"? ("The last one he's a green" is the line :-)
Her born to me, me doing prison time on drug-related offense, along with both her uncles on my side of the family at different times during her life, us being homeless after my dad returned from Vietnam a drug addict with PTSD (which is admittedly not a lot different than when he left), him with a father who was diagnosed "manic depressive disorder" for most of his life.
That's what it sounds like this book is about, Charlie (as Wiki calls him, for some reason; maybe they're familiar to each other) Manson saying, I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
Coming from the distant past, now my daughter is having a baby. Like Dr. Maya Anglelou said, And Still I Rise.
From the ashes of the past, we rise, rise, rise, and continue to rise.
Hail, human beings, do what the fuck you have to do!

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Aug 27, 2008 rated it did not like it
I know I'm supposed to be won over by Chuck Klosterman's supposedly keen and cutting insight into pop culture and therefore the modern human experience, but I really just felt like I was at a really dull party and cornered by some annoyingly pseudo-intellectual guy whose sole enjoyment is to contradict and mock anything anyone says just to hear himself talk. ...more
Jen Padgett Bohle
Sep 26, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommended for: English majors who like to play deconstruction, hipsters who used to make mix tapes,anyone who knows of Lloyd Dobbler, guys who are really into music and didn't get laid until college, the girls who love them

Forgive me for what I'm about to do. I'm really not a complete curmudgeon, and I feel nefarious for the review I'm about to give, mostly because everyone I know likes this book, but I simply can't promote all of these essays as refreshingly creative and brilliantly written
Mar 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
No woman will ever satisfy me. I know that now, and I would never try to deny it. But this is actually okay, because I will never satisfy a woman, either.

Should I be writing such thoughts? Perhaps not. Perhaps it's a bad idea. I can definitely foresee a scenario where that first paragraph could come back to haunt me, especially if I somehow became marginally famous. If I become marginally famous, I will undoubtedly be interviewed by someone in the media, and the interviewer will inevitably ask,
Oct 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I am breaking my personal rule about not rating a book I haven't finished.

This guy, whether he is playing a character or being himself, comes across as a pretentious prick who mistakes intellect for wisdom.

DNF - threw in the towel at 30% - wish I could get my time back, even if it was just to watch paint would have been more productive.

Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: wannabee hipsters, people who liked 'juno.'
this is exactly the kind of book so-called hipsters cling to, namedrop, and reference when they gather together dressed in their bright eyes t-shirts, black-rimmed glasses, jeans, and chuck taylors. you know the type, the 'i'm-cooler-than-you-are-because-my-tastes-are-better-than-yours.' you know who i'm talking about? good. continue.

what initially drove me to read this book was his opening 'essay' in which chuck klosterman refers to coldplay as a facsimile of travis who was a facsimile of early
Jackie "the Librarian"
Dec 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
I found myself arguing with Chuck Klosterman a lot as I read these extremely entertaining essays. He likes to take a premise and run with it, and you find yourself going along for the ride, only to realize at the end that you don't agree with what he just said. Girls love the false romanticism of Coldplay, and that ruins relationships in the real world? Hahahahaha!!! Uh, wait... really?
It was when I got to his essay on journalism that I realized his essays followed the pattern he outlines there
If I met Chuck Klosterman, I would probably end up attempting to pick a fistfight with him. I say "attempting" because I don't know whether he hits girls. And I say "probably" because, for all I know, he may be far less infuriating in person than he is in print.

A lot of space in this book is aimed at mocking the pretensions of people who, I admit, sound an awful lot like me: decently-educated, irony-clad, pop-culture obsessed twentysomethings who deride popular country music and remember Jessie
Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
a nice little collection of essays covering everything from the Sims, why the Lakers / Celtics conflict can apply to everything in life, the Real World, and Saved by the Bell. Chuck has a pretty sharp little wit; i definitely snickered through most of the book (which made for some awkward looks on the metro). i think my only critique would be the novelty of his writing style started to wear off by the end of the book, but overall, a good read.

definitely a fan of the section on why John Cusack's
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have recently had a hunger for the genre of "smart people writing about stupid things," and this book is my new favorite example. While Klosterman may not deserve to be considered a subversive genius, he is a very smart person writing very good analysis of very shallow things, and I love it. This collection of essays includes a comparison of Pamela Anderson and Marilyn Monroe to examine the way our cultural attitudes toward sex have changed (nothing groundbreaking, but the essay is earnest and ...more
Writer's Relief
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
With a disturbingly thorough knowledge of pop culture and an almost effortless ability to spin brilliant prose out of unlikely subject matter, Klosterman attacks every aspect of postmodern America: reality television, the false, unbalanced nature of When Harry Met Sally, and the media, among other seamlessly interwoven topics. He presents his essays as if they were tracks on a CD and elaborates on his experiences, which include everything between interviewing musical icons as well a brief histor ...more
Dan Schwent
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto is a collection of essays by Chuck Klosterman. It's also one of the rare books I'm not really sure how to review or even rate.

Chuck's essays cover such diverse topics as how the movies and TV are giving people unrealistic expectations about life and love, serial killers, the relationship between Reality Bites and The Empire Strikes Back, and that weird half season of Saved by the Bell that had that leather jacket wearing girl instead of Kelly
Apr 06, 2008 rated it did not like it
as i just said in an email to james:

i knocked out sex drugs and cocoa puffs by chuck klosterman in a few hours last night, and i gotta tell you, i fear for the world when i think of how many kids i know list this book or its author as an all-time favorite on facebook. this guy is a turd, and people are clearly confusing his wit with intellect.

so yeah.
frustratingly surface, misogynistic, hipster cynicism b.s. if you ask me.
May 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rob by: Jarrett
If you must, you may call it jealousy, but there is no getting around the fact that if someone had read my essays during college, and then paid me to keep writing those essays, then I could (would) have been Chuck Klosterman. [1] But seriously: I feel like I could have written all of these essays (possibly better) if only someone had come along and said: Hey, you've got the right kind of sarcastic wit and you know how to stitch together a bunch of quasi-esoteric references... can you bang togeth ...more
Jun 30, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

"The middle film in the Star Wars trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back, remains a legitimately great picture . . . it's now completely obvious that [it] was the seminal foundation for what became 'Generation X' . . . [it] was the first movie that people born in the seventies could understand in a way that went outside of its rudimentary plot-line. That's why a movie about the good guys losing - both politically and romantically - is so integral to how people my age look at life." -- from th
So, here’s the deal. I was going to try and write a cogent, well-thought out review of exactly why I disliked this book so much, but it’s not working out that way. The more I sit here trying to think of things to say, the more my blood pressure skyrockets and I get more and more retroactively angry at the book.

At first, I wanted to give this book two stars, because there are a couple of essays in here that felt valid to me, one in particular about how Klosterman thinks we’re all doomed to never
Jan 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
This book was a total waste of time. As a huge fan of philosophy, my breaking point was only by page 20. I thought, this whole book can't be THAT I flipped around and read snippets from later chapters to make sure I wasn't selling it short. But alas, no, this was truly a masterpiece of crap. Its just some hipster-type asshole, who thinks he's got it all figured out, and says things like, "If you define your personality as 'creative,' it only means you understand what is PERCEIVED to be ...more
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008
When I was in college, one of my professors assigned a book that used bridge, a card game he apparently loved, to illustrate the principles of sociology. I found the book, which he had written, to be a waste of time and was annoyed that he made us buy and read it. At the end of the semester, we had to write a paper that applied sociological theories to something in American culture we were interested in. So, in an attempt to mock the professor, I focused my paper on several children's cartoons i ...more
Dec 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
Klosterman was recommended to me by a friend, and while I'll admit he has some funny bits, he really is that guy at the party who is exceedingly nerdy (in a hipster sort of way) and who thinks he's clearly better than everyone else. And no one -- no one -- should devote the amount of time and attention to pop culture that he does. And this is coming from a girl who gets a regular dose of Perez Hilton every week. I'm his target audience, and yet he still turned me off. He critiques pop culture at ...more
Jul 11, 2008 rated it liked it
It's not that I didn't like this book... Okay, that's exactly what it is. But the real issue I had with Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is this: I've either had every conversation in this book (which I enjoyed more than these essay versions of them) or I've walked away from the conversation because it didn't interest me in the slightest. I can name at least ten people I know who could have written this book (give or take an article or two), and probably could have written it better (including the pe ...more
May 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Confession: I have been cheating on Infinite Jest with at least two other books. This was one of them.

As a work of pop culture analysis, 'Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs' is excellent. Admittedly some of the 90210 and Real World references were lost on me as I was out most likely trying to engage in "metal dude" stuff during those shows respective heydays. Being out of the loop on these things did not decrease my enjoyment of the material, however.

Why then only three stars?

A question that i'm still
Feb 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
Okay so I get what Klosterman is doing here, and I can see how plenty of people actually like it. But I did.not.dig.

Actually, that is one of my nonsensical pet peeves in my books. Even when I am reading contemporary fiction which one would pretty much assume would have modern references, it just annoys me when author's mention things like Facebook, or IG, or Twitter, or even things like iPods, Jamba Juice, Beyonce, Twilight, etc. I don't exactly know why, but I just think that we can do without
Aug 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book started out great...nice and insightful...As it progressed, however, I've found myself removing stars from the rating.

He tries too hard to tie everything up in a neat little bow...every essay has to end with a witty little wrap-up sentence, dripping with a false poignancy, essentially wrapping it up with his original statement. It started feeling as formulaic as pop music.

It was when I got to Toby vs Moby that I found myself closing the book, and throwing it across the room. He stret
Diana Jou
Oct 10, 2007 rated it did not like it
Anything that calls itself a "low culture manifesto" is really one of two things; 1) an emotional teenager trying to write his/her first novel 2) a middle age man trying to remember the carefree days of his youth.

The chapters are organized like a "cd mix tape" complete with arbitrary lengths of time. They even included a picture of a cd and jewel case to ingrain it in your brain.

I read chapter one, "This is Emo 0:01" and that was too much already.
Nov 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor, essays
Klosterman's essays make funny and relevant points about pop culture and an aging Gen Xer's reflections on how it impacts our lives. The unique thing is that even though he writes about a lot of things that have become cliches to comment on (Star Wars, The Real World, relationships, etc.), he avoids coming across as yet another version of Kevin Smith by noting that they are cliches, and humorously explores why a segment of America became obsessed with them in the first place. ...more
Apr 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
What a hack. Do you really need 243 pages to deconstruct the "Real World" and Pamela Anderson? Klosterman is the pretentious "indie" guy at the party who is so insecure all he can talk about are his Spin articles that he wrote in 1989. If I met him on the street; I would punch him.

Jaclyn Jean
Jun 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
Less a serious deconstruction of pop culture than a melange of disjointed references by a writer who seems to care more about showing off his lame rock-fan credentials than offering thoughtful analysis and cultural critique. Alas, there's no new ground covered, no obscure music discoveries to be made. Why the hell am I reading about Moby? The thing about commercial radio is that it's full of music not worth writing about. I don't want to read about Saved By the Bell either. I watched it every da ...more
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
Any book that begins with an amusing foray into the ways in which Lloyd Dobler has effectively destroyed the author's chance for real love (and perhaps the fake kind too) is a book that I immediately want to like. However, Klosterman essentially reels you in with his lighthearted, self-effacing opener only to assault you with a series of overgeneralized, matter-of-fact (yet largely unsupported) assertions about human behavior in the essays that follow.

While several of his essays offer moments of
Jan 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
There are many, many parts of this collection I loved like they were my own children. There are a few pieces that didn't quite hold up, but hell, even Michael Jordan didn't always score 40 points per game EVERY game. Klosterman is like some alternative universe David Foster Wallace, and perhaps in time I will know the chicken/egg role that DFW played for Klosterman or Klosterman played for DFW. Both seem like guys who have spent far too much of their life reading far too much Wittgenstein while ...more
Nov 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: someone who doesn't take pop culture too seriously
Recommended to d4 by: Kenny, who would argue for a higher rating... without success.
Skimming the reviews, I must say I agree with someone's comment that Klosterman is more of a blogger than a writer (at least if judged by this effort), but for a collection of essays on pop culture, that doesn't seem to be a very crucial distinction. With Internet culture overflowing into the day-to-day life of most Americans, it shouldn't come as a shock to find it reflected in contemporary writing; besides, sometimes a decent blogger is preferable to a boring writer. That isn't to say that I w ...more
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Oh goodness, Mr. Klosterman.

Right. So let's say I read this 5 years ago (this actually isn't a hypothetical, as I had read this book years ago); I really loved it, as I was just beginning to get swept up in the subject matter of the book (pop culture and making fun of how absurd it is, cool indie bands, general cynicism, stuff like that) and felt that by allowing myself to be emerged in the water of the book that I would ultimately absorb every bit of knowledge and (sort of) wit and it would ref
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Charles John "Chuck" Klosterman is an American author and essayist whose work focuses on American popular culture. He has been a columnist for Esquire and and wrote "The Ethicist" column for The New York Times Magazine. ...more

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