The plutocrats are hurt that anyone should resent the power of wealth. That gesture can almost serve as a source of comfort. Yet David Denby is against it, or mostly against it.
Why are those tools so familiar? Rather than attacking the police, the rioters attack a symbolic target, and that part of the movie is hard to justify He is explicitly performing, for an audience of his inferiors. It is scolding, couched as an appeal to goodness, in the name of an absent authority.
To oppose his agenda, then, is to reveal oneself as impractical and harmful. If snark is a reaction to this sheer and insulting level of hyperbole, fine.
The politicians who make speeches, the reporters and commentators who write the articles expressing the current state of political affairs, the pollsters and poll respondents who ask and answer questions about politics—in short, the great mass of people who do anything that could conceivably generate something that could be called a "tone" of politics—all were dissatisfied with the tone.
Writers criticizing snark and negativity tend to bring up Gawker as a deplorable case in point. Debate begins where the important parts of the debate have ended.
Niall Ferguson, the prizewinning Harvard historian now practicing the craft of a tendentious magazine hack, came unhinged on his blog after people pointed out his magazine work had been done sloppily and dishonestly: Snark is often conflated with cynicism, which is a troublesome misreading.
His deputies and staffers twinkle with the pleasure of participating in his general beneficence, as well they should.
The Times Magazine described it: If you would know smarm, look to Joe Lieberman. Smarm is a kind of performance—an assumption of the forms of seriousness, of virtue, of constructiveness, without the substance.
The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides Some snark is harmful and rotten and stupid. Yet to what is it responding? Romney was responding to the response to the disclosure of his private fundraising remarks dismissing 47 percent of the electorate as unreachable parasites.
Smarm should be understood as a type of bullshit, then—it expresses one agenda, while actually pursuing a different one. Here are some more examples of unacceptable political discourse, under our current rules: There is more at work here than mere good feelings. Smarm offers a quick schema of superiority.
We have a whole word here at Gawker, "writering," to describe the tribe of writers whose principal writerly concern is being writerly, and who spend all their time congratulating one another on their writing and promulgating correct rules for writing.
Nothing is stopping anyone—any nobody—from going on a blog or on Twitter and expressing their opinion of you, no matter who you think you are. But Jedediah, or the version of Jedediah in the pages of the Times Magazine, worked in broad themes.
And yet sometimes people in the city he has done so much for still get mad at Bloomberg and criticize him. Fleischer had no interest in engaging with the content of those claims. Everyone agreed then that our politics needed a change of tone. Its genuine purposes lie beneath the greased-over surface.
Did it turn out to be a happy time for America? Yet the advocates for the homeless keep harping on the fact there there are more homeless people in the city than ever before. In the moment of crisis, Denby chose to deliver his verdict not on the film as a film, but on whether it represented responsible and appropriate social behavior—and whether black audiences could be trusted with it.
Perhaps irony was bad. Snark is the expression of the alienated, of the ambitious, of the dispossessed. It is no accident that he is addressing undergraduates here; he tells the Advocate that before he sent back his reply to its questions, he had already delivered a version of the text as a speech at Yale.
If you listen to the crusaders against negativity—in literature, in journalism, in politics, in commerce—you begin to hear a recurring set of themes and attitudes, amounting to an omnipresent, unnamed cultural force. The ascendent forms of cultural power depend on the esteem of others, on the traffic driven by Facebook, on the nihilistic embrace of being liked and shared.
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