Posted by Jason Diamond
I’ve seen a dozen posts on Catcher in the Rye turning sixty, but Ned Vizzini’s discussion of Holden Caulfield’s decline in relevance, and the slow death of the fictional “white outsider,” is maybe one of the only that I’d mark a “must read.”
He is the White Outsider—a Caucasian kid who despite his advantages feels misunderstood—and he has been everywhere from 1951 on, in Rebel Without a Cause, Spider-Man, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Nirvana, and Wes Anderson, to name a few. He is still the fountainhead of young-adult literature. He is still a handle for anyone wishing to comment on white privilege. He still pops up in press on everyone from Woody Allen to Osama bin Laden. Demographically, though, he has become an endangered species.