Apparently, the Irish Times‘s house seer John Waters believes the Intertube and bloggers are contributing factors in the Decline of West. Perhaps that explains why www.johnwaters.ie (featuring a fetching pic of Mr Waters in full-bearded “Iron John” mode) will forever be “coming soon”.
But pace Waters’s opinion of the emptiness of bloggers’ “discourse,” can I argue that the very “bittiness” of the medium can, sometimes, be its saving grace? For example, if a blogger wishes to tip his hat to some work of art that took his fancy, a simple link to a site or an embedded YouTube vid is sometimes sufficient to spread the word. Extended meditations can be reserved for when the blogger feels something unique (or least unique in her eyes) is bubbling up in the ole brain-pan.
In contrast, “professional” journalists are obliged to produce a simulacrum of engaged criticism even when the subject at hand might not quite reach the lofty benchmarks set by the writer’s inflated prose. Take, for example, the work of Heath Ledger. It’s a sad case: the shockingly young death of a talented person who appeared in one superlative picture. Most bloggers who noted the death offered a YouTube clip or a few words in praise for certain performances. And perhaps that’s all that can really be said at this point. The very fact that the man died so young (28)–and will not now have the chance to build a major body of work–means that lengthy eulogies coming from anyone other than those who knew him well sound as jarring as an Oscar speech at a graveside.
Take, for example, Joe Queenan’s gushing paean that appeared in today’s Guardian. Queenan is usually a reliably entertaining hack, with a finely tuned bullshit detector. But tasked with producing a 1700-word obit piece, Queenan swamps Ledger’s reputation with comments that seem plain wrong at best, and distasteful at worst:
“[M]iddle-aged people do not instinctively resent young actors in the way they resent young musicians or young athletes. It is a natural human instinct to want gifted young people to succeed, because talent should be rewarded. But there is even more of a desire to see the young and the gifted succeed if they are charismatic and fabulous-looking, which movie stars usually are and athletes and musicians often are not.” Er, really?
“When an actor dies young, it is almost as if one’s own child had passed away.” I bloody well think not.
“When an actor dies young, there is more cultural fallout than when a musician checks out early.” Kurt Cobain, anyone?
Referring to not winning an Academy Award for Best Actor: “Ledger will now be remembered as the victim of an epic miscarriage of justice.” Stick that in your pipe, Gitmo detainees!
So would a simple link to a YouTube clip, perhaps posted by a wet-eyed teenager, not have made the same point a bit less embarrassingly?