December 21, 2006

Will They Ever Really Get It?

Okay, I'll be among the first to admit Time Magazine's pronouncement of EVERYONE as its Person of the Year was pretty much the dumbest thing this side of Britney Spears. But, like most extraordinarily dumb things, it should have simply been acknowledged with a slight nod and then stepped around, like dog poop on a sidewalk.

But, then there are people who just INSIST on stepping in it. And then dancing around in it. And then smearing it on their cheeks and forehead and doing a blackface routine.

George F. Will : A mirror that reflects poorly on self-obsession
Time's Person of the Year is "you" for largely unserious work on the Web.
By George F. Will, Washington Post

Here we go again. ANOTHER jab at bloggers and ThunderJournalists by an overly self-important media "professional," bemoaning the lack of seriousness on the Web. Ugh, I suppose I should get started with the fisking. *snaps on rubber gloves*

WASHINGTON - Time magazine asked a large number of people to name the Person of the Year. They were in a populist mood and named the largest possible number of Persons of the Year: Everybody.

As I said, it was a dumb choice. But, please, let's move on. Avoid the dog poop.

The most capacious modern entitlement is not to Social Security but to self-esteem. So Time's cover features a mirror-like panel. The reader -- but why bother to read the magazine when merely gazing at its cover gives intense gratification? -- can gaze at the reflection of his or her favorite person. Narcissism is news? Evidently.


Dear George Will: the day I flip through a newspaper, or surf the Web, or watch network/cable news and I DON'T see something about Britney Spears, or Lindsay Lohan's pussy flash, or a microscopic image of one of Paris Hilton's crabs, or how colon-obsessed Katie Couric is the anchor for CBS news, then and ONLY THEN can you whine and complain about narcissism being news.

To the person looking at his reflection, Time's cover announces, congratulations: "You control the Information Age." By "control" Time means only that everyone is created equal -- equally entitled to create content for the World Wide Web, which is controlled by neither law nor taste.

Wait. Wait. Soooooo, is George Will actually saying the Internet should be governed by law and taste? Because, if he is, George Will can get down and suck my cock. What? Was that in bad taste? Well, I don't care. I've been ThunderJournaling now for almost five years, and I'm not about to start doing so in good taste. It's called free speech/press freedom, and it's rather odd how so many in the media profession seem to forget that (or at least seem to want to suppress it when it's not just extended to themselves).

Richard Stengel, Time's managing editor, says, "Thomas Paine was in effect the first blogger" and "Ben Franklin was essentially loading his persona into the MySpace of the 18th century, 'Poor Richard's Almanack.' " Not exactly.

Franklin's extraordinary persona informed what he wrote but was not the subject of what he wrote. Paine was perhaps history's most consequential pamphleteer. There are expected to be 100 million bloggers worldwide by the middle of 2007, which is why none will be like Franklin or Paine. Both were geniuses; genius is scarce. Both had a revolutionary civic purpose, which they accomplished by amazing exertions. Most bloggers have the private purpose of expressing themselves, for their own satisfaction. There is nothing wrong with that, but nothing demanding or especially admirable, either.

Maybe not as a whole. There are plenty of bloggers and MySpacers who just plain suck and have an over-inflated opinion of their own self-importance/appearance/sexiness/intelligence/everything. But, so what? Those people are usually largely ignored anyway. But, there are plenty of Web slingers out there who DO have something interesting to say, and there are some who DO perform demanding tasks, often at great personal risk, probably moreso than George Will has ever in his entire life experienced. So, George? Go eat a cock.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 76 percent of bloggers say one reason they blog is to document personal experiences and share them with others. And 37 percent -- soon, 37 million -- say the primary topic of their blog is "my life and experiences." George III would have preferred dealing with 100 million bloggers rather than one Paine.

Oh, SNAP! What is the deal with people who hate on Web journals? Maybe George Will reads "The Diary of Anne Frank," and thinks "This is nothing but adolescent, mastabatory twaddle." I mean, where are all the chastising editorials of the past and present railing against people keeping diaries and journals under their mattresses? There's something about people actually having their thoughts and musing out there for public consumption that seems to rub "professionals" the wrong way. And I can't for the life of me figure out what the hell their problem is.

Stengel says that bloggers and people who upload videos onto YouTube (65,000 new videos a day; 100 million watched each day) are bringing "events" to us in ways that are often more "authentic" than the services of traditional media. But authenticity is of no inherent value if it is simply and necessarily the attribute of any bit of reality ("event") captured on video.

Unless, you know, there are people who decide otherwise. I'm sure there are plenty of people who think the Darth Vader YouTube video I posted awhile back isn't funny or of value in the least. But, you know what? I THINK IT'S FUNNY, and I THINK IT HAS VALUE, so I'm damned glad it was created and available for general online consumption. Traditional media can go eat a cock.

Time's Lev Grossman writes that "an explosion of productivity and innovation" is underway as "millions of minds that would otherwise have drowned in obscurity" become participants in "the global intellectual economy." Grossman continues:

"Who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch 'Lost' tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I'm going to mash up 50 Cent's vocals with Queen's instrumentals? I'm going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the union or the steak- frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?

"The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, Time's Person of the Year for 2006 is you."

You gotta love how a "traditional" media representative like George Will can recycle three paragraphs from Time Magazine and get paid for it. It must be a great gig if you can get it. In fact, it's probably something you'd want to protect, through railing editorials like. . . this one. Hmmmm.

I'm sure you've been waiting for the obligatory rant against the lack of Web oversight. You've been wondering "when is George Will going to complain that the online world isn't overseen by 'professional' overseers?" Well. . .

There are, however, essentially no reins on the Web -- few means of control and direction. That is good, but vitiates the idea that the Web's chaos of entertainment, solipsism and occasional intellectual seriousness and civic engagement is anything like a "digital democracy."

In other words: "This is good, BUT IT ISN'T, and now I'm going to use a bunch of big words to say as much in a longer way."

Time's issue includes an unenthralled essay by NBC's Brian Williams, who believes that raptures over the Web's egalitarianism arise from the same impulse that causes today's youth soccer programs to award trophies -- "bedrooms full" -- to any kid who shows up: "The danger just might be that we miss the next great book or the next great idea, or that we will fail to meet the next great challenge ... because we are too busy celebrating ourselves and listening to the same tune we already know by heart."

Yeah, that coming from BRIAN WILLIAMS. His ego is singlehandedly responsible for keeping the moon in orbit. I'm going to edit his quote to show what he REALLY meant: "The danger just might be that we miss the next great book written by me or my next great idea, or that we will fail to meet the next great challenge, like tuning in to NBC news ... because we are too busy celebrating ourselves, rather than me, and listening to the same tune we already know by heart, rather than noticing me"

What's perplexing is, after quoting Brian Williams, George Will basically admits Williams is a dolt, which begs the question: What the hell is George Will's point?

The fact that Stengel included Williams' essay proves that Stengel's Time has what 99.9 percent of the Web's content lacks: seriousness.

There you go, ladies and gentlemen! The Web lacks seriousness! There's a lack of seriousness on the Web! A Dick in a Box isnt' serious enough for George Will! People shouldn't have a Web presence unless they're serious. You know, like George Will, who's very serious.

George F. Will's column is distributed by the Washington Post Writers Group.

George Will can seriously eat a cock. I'm serious.

Posted by Ryan at December 21, 2006 11:59 AM | TrackBack

George Will doesn't think the internet should be used by unserious people to express their amateur opinions about things best left to paid professionals like George Will. What business do these people with day-jobs and teeny-tiny vocabularies have competing with George Will for valuable pundit-space? The internet is a series of tubes, and right now those tubes are clogged with videos of people's kittens being uploaded to YouTube.

George Will thinks the tubes should be kept flowing and free of such cultural detritus. The better to use it for its true purpose: Downloading plumper porn into George Will's vast personal collection.

Posted by: flamingbanjo at December 21, 2006 03:00 PM

You did a far better job boiling his column down than I could, Flaming. Jeez, I'm almost envious.


Posted by: Ryan at December 21, 2006 03:27 PM

As an historically enthusiastic fellatrix, it's disheartening the way guys sling the ultimate smackdown to other guys in the form of my favorite snackfood.

Is there no other way you can figuratively get George Will on his knees than to make it seem all dirty? Honestly, it's enough to turn a madhatter het lesbianarian.

Posted by: kg at December 21, 2006 03:48 PM

i'm surprised you didn't just post an acceptance speech. i'm still working on mine.


Posted by: amy.leblanc at December 21, 2006 03:52 PM

Who reads Time? I don't. Now, if Wired was going to say I was the person of the year, I might give a damn but Time? Nah. And George Will, the guy who looks like he's trying to shit all the time? Is he the new Andy "Grumpy Old Man" Rooney?

How many more open ended questions can I ask?

I bet George leaves apology notes in people's bathrooms when he takes a stinky shit, he's that proper.

Posted by: Erik at December 21, 2006 11:07 PM
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