Sep 19, 2009

it's called "projection."

Daniel Mallory in high dudgeon, takes on the Onion's AV Club:
Nominally non-satirical, the section aims to commune with Onion readers, who in turn could easily mistake its crueler-than-thou hipster solipsism for parody. A few pop-culture artifacts (the Magnetic Fields, "Arrested Development," those fauxteurs Terry Gilliam and Wes Anderson) send the A.V. writers cartwheeling, but for the most part they traffic in snark -- which, as David Denby observes in his book "Snark," "has zero interest in anything except the power to ridicule." Consider the diverse bureaus of the A.V. Club: the Hater blog, devoted to further exposing celebrities it decries as overexposed; I Watched This on Purpose, a masochistic catalogue of crimes against film; the Tolerability Index, which gauges "what we're barely putting up with this week" (exempting, of course, its own tone of entitled contempt). Acrid stuff.
As AV Club writer (and link source) Scott Tobias notes, this is cherry-picking of the worst order. AV Club writers are snarky at times, to be sure--their parent site is a satirical newspaper, fergoodnesssake--but if they are harsh toward pop culture's trash, it is because they so love pop culture's treasures.

Consider just two of the site's features Mallory ignores: Primer and Gateways to Geekery, whose very purpose is to open up new alleys for pop culture neophytes to explore. The site is often brutally honest about its own failings, a trait uncommon to critics. And no one gets a free pass; in its (loving) TIFF wrapup, supposed "fauxteur" Gilliam earns a D+.

I won't comment on the rest of Mallory's piece, which concerns a memoir I haven't read, except to say that for someone who deplores acridity, his criticism sure packs a sting.

And I'm not sure what stage of life involves defending a pop culture website. But it seems like a good stage.


Donna B. said...

Thank you, Jim.

Claire said...

I second Donna. It's just bizarre to me that this guy has such an axe to grind with the AVC/Onion. I can see not finding it funny but to be so hateful to it is weird. I feel that people who take "snark" to task so much must have some sort of insecurity about not being up to speed on the tilt of humor/pop culture.

Jim Anderson said...

Claire, and if anything, the AVClub is to be commended for trying to wrangle all of pop culture criticism into one place. It's beyond herding cats--it's like herding tigers, skunks, crocodiles, gnats, dinosaurs, unicorns, and flying squirrels at the same time.