feb 4


Not that I like to admit it, but I was kinda sorta maybe rooting for Denby in some vaguely subconscious way. As with Gessen, there is a subtle point to be made here, but perhaps it's too nuanced to ever really find its voice. Or at least this clearly seems the case from his blundering appearance on Charlie Rose last night. He sounded so completely out of touch that I somehow ended up sympathizing with Maureen Dowd by the end of it.


You were rooting for Denby for the same reason you liked this quote from Nick Sylvester's piece:

"Just like Gawker, HRO won't stop until we're all too afraid to do anything, to step on the rug and take a fucking chance, to give a shit. Until we're all crippled by self-consciousness, and the worry of making a mistake."

At its worst, snark is sneering at everything you care about because you're small and silly enough to care about it, or be anything other than ironically above it all. Denby and the snark-haters are reacting against the meanness, and also the gratuitousness of the meanness. But the best of snark - the clever eviscerating takedowns of people who "deserve it" - people who are puffed up with their own importance or nasty to their underlings or intellectually dishonest or whatnot - that also comes from a place of caring, of sussing out inauthenticity and calling people out for not being real. That's what he's getting at about John Stewart and Stephen Colbert - they're great because they are fighting the good fight by pulling back the curtain on greed and buffoonery, and if doing that makes them bullies well then they're RIGHTEOUS bullies. But Dowd (and presumably Gawker et al) he just thinks are bullies. The upshot is that Denby wants people to care, too, and to feel like the world is safe to care and say what you mean and be authentic. So does Nick Sylvester. So do you, I guess, and so do I, because that's how I can bring all of this back to Billy Joel.

posted by Rachel Sklar at 6:50 PM on February 4, 2009

Yeah, the two are tied a little....

But unlike Sylvester, it's not "Gawker" that I'd call-out (I'm going to "Square Quote" everything now); rather, it's a sentiment that has become pervasive in bloggy/commenter culture: that there are people who deserve it.

Now, there are two ways to look at this: 1) the old-school journalistic way that says if you haven't pissed off someone in power today, then you haven't done your job (this is actually quite similar to the "Gawker" ethos), or 2) the belief that this is the knee-jerk, simplistic, over-used, and ultimately conservative way of dealing with society.

I think one's stance on "snark" is really which side of that divide you fall on.

posted by Rex at 7:06 PM on February 4, 2009

p.s. What's Maura talking about here?

posted by Rex at 7:07 PM on February 4, 2009

I said it before:
Denby is an asshole.
Again, this is the kid who beats up everyone around him, then goes and tells the teacher how another kid is doing it and is considered a hero.

posted by Ironic at 9:28 PM on February 4, 2009

My stance, I think, is just to be fair.

(And of course the notion of "deserving it" was put in square quotes for a reason. Defining that - and how discriminating you are about it - is the rub.)

posted by Rachel Sklar at 1:31 AM on February 5, 2009

It's taking every iota of restraint I have not to register squarequotes.com.


Okay actually I just looked. It's taken.

But squarequot.es...!

posted by Robin at 2:31 AM on February 5, 2009

It's taking every iota of restraint I have not to register squarequotes.com.


Okay actually I just looked. It's taken.

But squarequot.es...!
┬╗Posted by Robin at 2:31 AM on February 5, 2009

I was thinking about that too.

posted by Chris Jones at 4:43 AM on February 5, 2009

Gawker Will Eat Itself (and its Young, I'm guessing) [Seriously, how many Gawkerites are closet addicts? I am and I find Gawker blogs mildly horrifying.]

posted by hipster at 9:11 AM on February 5, 2009

I fisked the portions of that Charlie Rose interview that related to Maureen Dowd here. Charlie really made him look like a fool because Denby really has no reason for trashing Dowd other than he disagrees with her. It's mean and petty on his part. Exactly what he is pretending to be against.

posted by Mo MoDo at 2:13 PM on February 5, 2009

Have you heard about Denby's next book? It hasn't been released yet, but you can look at the cover here.

This topic is less nuanced, so perhaps he'll have better luck with it.

posted by MisterHippity at 1:38 PM on February 6, 2009

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