Friday, July 11, 2008

Droll Models

True story: I had a job at -- for about 24 hours.

Just a couple of days after my firing from CNN became public knowledge, I was contacted by Noah Robischon, managing editor at Gawker Media and high-level minion to site founder, internet mogul, and notoriously mercurial pain-in-the-ass, Nick Denton. He sent me an e-mail asking whether I thought my foul mouth and Jedi-like mastery of the dark art of the cheap punchline might be well-suited for a home at New York City's premier online destination for astringent snark. Being suddenly out of a regular paycheck and admittedly enticed by the possible opportunity to say a figurative "fuck you" to my former employer by landing a new, high-profile job so soon after being canned, I agreed to meet with his boss and engage in a little mutual rear-sniffing. Denton and I wound up grabbing a quick lunch in SoHo on a Saturday afternoon and by the end of the meal he had offered me a provisional gig writing about television for Gawker, with instructions to report to work the following Monday morning for whatever training and orientation I might need.

Turns out I never got that far.

The next morning I received a short e-mail from Denton saying, in so many words, that after taking a closer look at the kind of material I was putting up on my own site, he'd decided that I wouldn't, in fact, be a good fit with Gawker. I admit that I was caught slightly off-guard by the quick dismissal; it seemed startlingly schizophrenic, even for someone with Denton's reputation. The impression that I got from the e-mail, though -- the rationale I could glean from the words of Gawker's publisher as to why his site and I just wouldn't be right for each other -- was that I was actually a little too caustic and vicious, ungovernably so, when it came to my opinions. For a moment, I couldn't help but think that being told you're too much of a prick to work at Gawker is like being told you're too gay to audition for the lead in Torch Song Trilogy. Almost immediately, however, I realized something: Denton was absolutely right; I'm the furthest thing from Gawker material -- and taking a somewhat righteous stand against the abuses I witnessed at CNN and in the mainstream media, only to then turn around and crank out snotty, Fountainhead-referential one-liners about celebrities, Manhattan socialites and Chuck Klosterman probably wouldn't do much for my credibility, to say nothing of my long-term career.

It's right about now that I should mention that I have nothing against or any of its sister sites. On the contrary, the kind of writing -- the kind of thinking -- popularized by Gawker's rotating cast of quick-witted wonder kids has been eminently entertaining over the years (although a lot of folks will tell you that the one-note joke, coupled with an overabundance of in-house drama, has worn very thin). For a long time, I was an avid reader of several of the titles under Denton's hegemonic banner and, in the interest of full disclosure, his people have linked a few of the pieces I've written for this site, bringing me exposure that I might not otherwise have had. That said, there's been an awful lot of negative press aimed at the House of Gawker over the past year or so, and even the most unctuous of Denton apologists would have to admit that quite a bit of it is well-deserved.

Gawker's biggest problem -- the most looming threat to its own success -- has always been, ironically, its own success. The namesake site and its counterparts, at least the ones based in New York, were founded as a place where elite (and elitist) members of the city's self-described "creative underclass" could come together and do what they did best -- stand at the bar or in a corner at the party making fun of everyone they considered beneath them -- on a grand scale. The trouble, of course, is that those kinds of people are generally callow, insecure, obnoxious, monumentally narcissistic and, whether they'll admit to it or not, want nothing more than to be a part of the very crowd they mock so venomously; give them a taste of the fame they purport to be so openly hostile toward and not only will they become the very thing they supposedly despise, the entire concept of the place they work for will be put at risk. Put simply, Gawker and sites like it, to be effective, need to have some sort of Menudo-like policy when it comes to the notoriety of their writers and editors: Once the kids hit that personal fame ceiling, their time's up and they're out.

But Gawker and its siblings probably wouldn't exist if it weren't for the voices of writers who are, in reality, interested in self-obsession above all else.

Which makes it even more of a shame that, on paper at least, was supposed to be different.

Jezebel's been in the new media press quite a bit lately -- for all the wrong reasons. A couple of weeks ago, Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show and an undeniably whip-smart lady, invited two of Jezebel's most potent and popular contributors to take part in an off-the-cuff talk show called Thinking and Drinking. Moe Tkacik and Tracie Egan -- whose nom de plume is "Slut Machine" -- are fulltime staffers at Jezebel, a site which casts itself as an edgier alternative to the glossy, Oprahfied banality of most media aimed at female audiences these days. As writers, both kids fit the Gawker Media mold almost perfectly: street smart, acid-tongued City Girls with an obligatory air of ironic detachment and, in Egan's case particularly, more than a passing affection for the dramas that make up their personal lives. Winstead claims to have propositioned the Jezebelles because of a respect for their reputation as standard bearers for the new model of female empowerment; what she found out in short order, however -- at least if you believe her story about being unaware of what she was actually getting -- was that Tkacik and Egan come off a hell of a lot smarter in print.

During the course of their conversation, which can be viewed in its entirety on Winstead's website, the ladies of Jezebel managed to embarrass themselves and their employer in ways so pronounced that you were kind of left feeling sorry for them rather than pissed-off that anyone had ever made the mistake of holding them up as models of savvy womanhood. Tkacik and Egan each seemed to punctuate every sentence with "like" -- as in, "I guess I, like, regret being date raped," and "I think (not being date raped) has to do with the fact that I am, like, smart," respectively; Egan -- remember, "Slut Machine" -- was a trucker's mouth full of requisite in-your-face navel-gazing, defiantly offering up that she "once paid someone to rape me once." Both women were drunk. Neither one gave a shit about how the two of them looked to anyone sitting in the studio audience or watching at home, nor how swiftly and entirely their dumb-ass, giggling party girl act may have been undoing the very mission statement of

Insulted by the Jezebelles' behavior and offended at their glib treatment of the very serious subject of rape, Winstead wrote a scathing column in the Huffington Post late last week, basically taking Tkacik and Egan to task by publicly taking them apart. In response to the piece, which brought the entire miasma front and center for both fans and critics of and its Gawker Media mothership, Sarah Hepola fired off a column of her own in, lambasting the girls for their lack of maturity and rightly recognizing that, as with far too many of the Gawker kids lately, neither thinks beyond her own self-mythology and potential stardom. This led's managing editor, Anna Holmes, to post an apology on the site in which she called the whole thing "a fucking shame" for everyone involved -- including Winstead, whom she accuses of having "unrealistic expectations" -- and explicitly stated that the actions of Tkacik and Egan are not representative of Jezebel.

Except, of course, that they are.

To react with shock that a writer who calls herself "Slut Machine" and blogs ad nauseam about -- and stop me if you've heard this one before -- all the partying and hot, indiscriminate fucking she does in New York City might be apt to embarrass the hell out of a site that aims to be taken seriously on the subject of women's issues seems comically disingenuous. Likewise, to allow two girls to speak for you in an official capacity who as recently as late last year were gleefully engaging in their best Courtney Lovecraft for a drugged-up-chic promotional photo shoot smacks of trying to have it both ways. I can't imagine that Anna Holmes is a stupid woman, which means she's either really good at self-deception or really bad at deceiving everyone else. She had to know what would happen when Tracie Egan and Moe Tkacik took the stage at an event that actually had the word "drinking" right in its name (although to be fair, if she did any research at all, Lizz Winstead should have known as well); being surprised that these two made drunken asses out of themselves is like being shocked your house in bone dry, brush-laden Big Sur is burning down.

I've never met Anna Holmes personally, but interestingly, I have met Moe Tkacik -- specifically because I didn't meet Anna Holmes when I was supposed to.

Let me explain: Holmes was scheduled to take part in Gelf Magazine's "Non-Motivational Speaker Series" on New York's Lower East Side last month, an event I'd also been booked for. At the last minute she canceled, telling organizers that she'd just come home from her honeymoon to discover bedbugs in her apartment and simply couldn't make it. (If this strikes you as the kind of hilariously horseshit excuse that only a borderline sociopath would expect anybody to actually buy, you once again don't understand the earth-shattering importance of each of the millions of mini-dramas that make up the daily life of the average New Yorker.) In her place Holmes dispatched Tkacik, who was introduced to the small crowd only as "Moe." Although it's unfair to be too harsh on someone who was forced into a tough spot at the last second -- improvisationally tap-dancing on behalf of her boss -- the issues I had with Tkacik at the time had less to do with her obvious level of discomfort at having been put in such a difficult position than it did with her way of thinking in general. To be blunt, she was just so damn Gawker. She made cracks about needing Adderall -- the official drug of children and 20-somethings who have the maturity level of children. As with Winstead, she carpet-bombed every sentence with enough "like"s to make a college English professor give up and go sell Amway. She struck an almost admirable pose of aloof non-chalance, seeming at every turn to be playing the part of the cool kid who just doesn't give a shit but whose insecurities can practically be seen swimming around just beneath her thin skin. I had no doubt at the time that Moe was a nice enough girl -- just young and completely wrapped up in her own self-perpetuating bullshit. She was, quite frankly, the one thing I doubt she ever wanted to be (though if you asked her, she'd probably pretend to insouciantly embrace the label in the same way that a hipster might wear a t-shirt emblazoned with the Ghostbusters logo as a badge of ironic honor): She was a cliché. I found myself wanting to give her a fucking hug or something and tell her it's not her fault.

It's Emily Gould's.

If you have no idea who Emily Gould is, you A) don't live in New York City, and B) are very, very lucky. The Gould fiasco from a couple of months back was so outrageously stupid that even though it dealt directly with the subject of new media-versus-old, I didn't dare touch it, lest I in some small way perpetuate both the nonsensical "controversy" that so many seemed to be talking about and the career of Gould herself. To recap quickly for the blissfully uninitiated: Emily Gould rose to fame blogging for Gawker and at her own personal site, both of which, to some extent, became a daily treasure trove of Gould's personal exploits (relationship and otherwise), neuroses, dropped names, schoolgirl giddiness and general self-absorption. The wholly unimaginative within the media, clamoring to find a reference point that the unwashed masses would understand, tried to dub her at one point "The Real Carrie Bradshaw." Still, there were plenty of people out there who had no idea who Emily Gould was -- much to her own dismay, I'd imagine. That changed this past May, when The New York Times Magazine published a cover story on Gould that not only featured some of the most hysterically awful writing and unabashed narcissism ever to grace The Times -- and this is a paper that employs Thomas Friedman -- but also a suggestive cover photo of Gould lying on a bed giving the camera her best "morning afterglow" look (in case you needed reinforcement for the idea that Blogging = Inviting You Into the Bedroom). The backlash from Times readers wanting to know why the fuck the paper had stooped to legitimizing someone like Gould in such grand fashion was so furious that editors actually shut down the online comment section to spare their cover girl, and themselves, any more invective.

Emily Gould's neck-breaking, yet strangely dull, confessional introspection -- her lamentation of "I've Never Been to Me" -- seemed to confirm everyone's worst fears about young bloggers: they're shallow; they think the world revolves around them and their problems; they grow addicted to the rush of instant feedback or instant fame; they become nothing more than caricatures of real people after a while. For someone who now writes fulltime, mostly via the internet, I couldn't help but see Emily Gould as a kind of new media literary Stepin Fetchit, setting the whole damn movement back a decade or so by smiling broadly and doing the happy little shuffle that would guarantee her minor fame -- at least that of her idol, media gadfly and real-world nobody Julia Allison, whom Gould name-drops with Tourette's-like consistency -- but would also ensure that any larger responsibility toward women in new media (and women in general for that matter) went unattended. By greedily grabbing the lowest-hanging fruit on the massive tree available to women bloggers -- writing mostly about her love life, which seems to always assure an audience of one kind or another -- Gould helped to lower the bar and set a new standard for the women who would follow in her wake.

Women like Tracie Egan, who's seen her dreams of New York-centric notoriety come true by writing about, what else, how much she loves to fuck and get drunk.

Women like Moe Tkacik, who is, I have no doubt, far too smart to be acting so goddamned dumb.

The point that Lizz Winstead was trying to make by raking these kids over the coals was that, as women with a forum and an audience, they have a responsibility not necessarily to represent or speak for all women, but at the very least to understand that what they say matters -- that people are listening and give a crap. There are often larger consequences to what those with a forum say and do. Winstead believes that acting stupid isn't feminist, or even neo-feminist -- it's just stupid. I on the other hand look at the behavior of Egan and Tkacik from the perspective of a writer and a journalist, but the conclusion is the same: What we say, what we write -- whether in long form pieces or in quick deadline-driven bits on sites like Gawker; whether in print or on the internet -- all of it matters. It's easy as hell to be clever and glib, and God knows I'm guilty of both quite often, but provocative doesn't always equal insightful, and it damn sure doesn't always equal smart. It's an old cliché that sarcasm is lazy humor, but that's only true if there's nothing to back it up -- if there's no substance under all that incisive wit and no real point or passion to bolster all that flowery sound and fury. Detached irony simply for detached irony's sake will only take you so far.

I can't help but feel, unfortunately, like Gawker has already found this out.

It'd be a shame if Jezebel followed the same path.

(Related: If you haven't already seen it, take a look at Emily Gould's now-legendary appearance on CNN. Jimmy Kimmel absolutely eviscerates her on live television, although I get the feeling that she'd look like just as much of a 12-year-old special needs child had Kimmel not been playing inquisitor. This was my first introduction to Gould, by the way. I remember standing in the middle of the newsroom, watching this interaction unfold live and asking out loud, "Who the hell is this idiot?" You can view the clip here. Photo Courtesy: The New York Times)


Anonymous said...

Great, great post Chez. I have found myself falling into this very ditch once in a while--the easy route to more site hits all lies within the willingness to prostitute yourself. And I halfway agree with the sentiment that bloggers have a responsibility to their audience (the irony being that what drew them to blogging in the first place is probably the distinct lack of responsibility needed to "suceed"). But at the same time, as with most information being flung at us from various media sources, it is the viewer's responsibility to hone their bullshit meter.

I don't know; I'm just so disappointed that these women are held up as 3rd generation feminists. They wouldn't know feminism if it fucked them in their anus. Their insecurities assure that. Feminism is simply another word for Empowerment, and they are certainly not empowered.

Oh, and L. Winstead knew exactly what she was doing. But she was performing the same prostitution from a moral high ground that I don't think she can claim, especially after seeing the entire show. For me, I don't know which is worse; prostituting yourself, or pimping out someone else.

Thanks for this.

Spencer said...

Fantastic post. One of your best.

VOTAR said...

Hmm. It must be just me.

Honestly, aside from some pronouns and a few scattered expletives, I didn't understand one word of this post.

Luke Weiss said...

these are nihilists donny, don't worry, they're cowards.

Jayne said...

Agreed. Absolutely one of your best, Chez. You and I really didn't talk about this much, but I find the fact that these women have a forum and choose to use it in this way completely offensive. These "standard bearers for the new model of female empowerment" certainly do not represent me.

I would love an edgier alternative to the Oprah-type media, but Jezebel certainly isn't it.

Chez said...

You're all the approval I need, honey.

Jayne said...

Votar, it's a "New York thang."

Mack said...

At first I read this post and thought to myself "Wow, I can't believe I read all of that. I don't give two shits about these girls. I don't know who they are, I don't care who they are and they don't speak for me." Then I watched the video clip with Kimmel and couldn't believe how unprofessional that girl acted. She could have stood up and defended herself and the website, but she just acted like a spoiled brat.

I still don't care about this girl and she still doesn't speak for me, but she is an idiot.

maxpurr9 said...

i was waiting for your comment on this... beautifully written... thanks!

i'm a non-tv-watching, non-newspaper-reading, internet-info-only, california girl and came to the jezebel story thru huffpo, and was totally disgusted by those women. now i'm not against drinking or fucking, but to go on a "show" to somehow represent women and your place of employment, fucking juiced out of your brain and talking like incoherent idiots is just fucking pathetic--beginning to end--pathetic!

the last thing i need is someone like that "speaking" for me!

the sieve said...


I'd love to read this piece but I can't, for fear of losing my Gawker commenting privileges. They're getting a little sensitive over there.

/lives in fear of saying the wrong thing on Jezebel

Anonymous said...

I. Could. Not. Follow. That.

Anonymous said...

This might be my favorite post I've read so far. It is times like these that I wish I was a better blogger, if for no other reason than to reassure myself that not all women out there are like THESE. I watched that Kimmel/Gould interview and I was blown away. Why don't I pay more attention to him? He is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Well done Chez, but how do you avoid the draw of instant fame and feedback? It seems like the large majority of comments posted at sites like this are all ego builders.

Chez said...

I get quite a few angry comments and plenty of hate mail. When it comes to the negative stuff, the only comments I reject are 1) people who basically just say, "You're an asshole and you suck" (at the very least try to make an argument), 2) the people who continue to post the same rant over and over, (why are these almost always from "Anonymous?") and 3) anyone who tries to use Jayne or my family against me (and I get more of those than you'd think). Aside from those, I post just about every comment. People agreeing with me doesn't necessarily make me feel like a better person, nor does the hate mail make me feel like a lesser one. I

Jim said...

What is it exactly that people think separates these "Bloggers" from your average everyday LJ cam-whore?

Would it have been so hard for Gould to tell Kimmel that she doesn't care what happens to the stalked celebs or if the stories are wrong. The people that read it know that it's just a huge pile of junk, why couldn't she just say, "Don't take it too seriously, our website is a pile of junk. If you don't like what goes along with being a celebrity these days, then get a job at a gas station."

I put most of these blogger sites on the same shelf with all the old media that don't get what they have on their hands. In some ways they're actually worse. It's as if the first people to use a printing press used it to re-print their diary and then handed them out in the street.

That being said, I've never been to gaulker or jizzerbelle and I don't really give a shit if they all die in a fire.

Well... That's not completely true. That would be kind of an interesting story if they all died.

slouchmonkey said...

Jesus, that was exhausting. I'm tired and have to now WORK the rest of the day in this state.

I think you should forget this "new media journalism" crap and go get a fucking law degree. Your arguments make so much goddamned sense, it's scary.

Please remember that a Jedi's strength flows from the force. But, beware. Anger. Fear. Aggression. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.

I have confidence you will not become a cliche. You're too old.

This is citizen journalism, afterall.

Donal said...

Regarding the clip: After hosting and writing The Man Show, is Jimmy Kimmel the right person to criticize anyone for anything? And I am not very sympathetic to these MSM types that pretend to be real, fact-checking journalists when it suits them, but themselves devote precious broadcast minutes and column inches to drooling over every last celebrity scandal.

Who else taught this girl that celebs were important but the MSM?

Anonymous said...

So, I'm really confused. Is it okay to date rape chicks if they buy all of their booze and make the first, second, third and fourth moves, but not okay if I try and force booze on them?

Clear that one up for me Chez, and use small letters.

Scott said...

That video never gets old...

Crazy Little Thing said...

Great post. Absolutely on the mark.

largo said...

Denton's going to sneak into your home in the middle of the night and steal your new baby.

I hear he can shapeshift.

Anonymous said...

Very good article. Nice to see where modern female driven journalism is going.

Maureen said...

Wow. This is crazy! I never really knew I had any hype to believe in until this post. I think you raise a lot of interesting points, although: I'm not really afraid of cliches, and I'm not insecure, and also those Salon and TNR pieces were abject and intellectually dishonest hackery. But hey, if this is your impression of me, that's fair, and interesting, and noted. I miss reporting. And leaving the house. (Ugh, there I go with the self-absorption!) But, speaking of, I should probably finish posting so as to do that. Have a good weekend.

namron said...

I have no idea who these people are and I have never been to these websites. As midwesterner transplanted to Florida at a tender age, I acquired a somewhat typical southerner's attitude towards New York City: I hope the Air Force uses it for target practice if the US ever resumes atmospheric nuclear weapon testing. However, I found this post fascinating. Chez, if you can make this subject interesting, then--by God--you are truly a writer. I hope you receive shitload of money from plying your craft. Whether you do is immaterial as a measure of your talent. You have entertained the most important reader I know -- me!

Chez said...

@ Maureen --

Hi Moe -- thanks for taking the time to write in. Honestly, it's very much appreciated and very cool of you.

Like I said, you're damn smart and I'd never question that. Have a good weekend yourself. : )

Suzy said...

they're only women biologically/physiologically. the rest of them is a social construct that quite frankly bores me. more thinking and less fucking might help.

foolery said...

I've read Jezebel twice. Fool me once, shame on you, and you know the rest.

Well-written, Chez, but FAR too much of your good, good brain dedicated to three people who were willing to leave the world with the impression that they could lose their homes in a single three-card monte game.

And California girls are portrayed as dumb. Go figure.

Your California reader,


Green Lantern said...

Hiya Chez...long time reader, first time replier, blahdy-blah...

Just wanted to say THANK YOU for a well written article. I always wondered why I never really developed my own, sad little blog but after reading this article I know - somehow I had the maturity to realize noone really gives a shit what an aging fanboy like me thinks. Unless I want to get wrapped up in my own self-wankery, ultimately my posts are only important to myself. Besides, I already KNOW what I think about politics, religion, and the glut of summer movies this year.

Oh and thanks also for that link to Emily Gould's CNN appearance. What a stitch, man!

Cate said...

I moved to NC, the bad part, not the like really cool part, kicking and screaming. But you know, since I have been here, I've had the best sex of my life. I don't know how this fits into your blog, prolly it doesn't, just had to add that. LOL Cate

rich bachelor said...

Thank you. Well done. God-DAMN yes!

Still funny how people think that fame in this medium actually means anything lasting.

Casey said...

I love your site and have followed it consistently for over a year. I also really enjoy Jezebel. The great thing about your blog, Chez, is that you shine such a bright light of scrutiny on such a variety of things, that eventually you're going to piss off every one of your readers because we can't possibly all agree with you on every single topic. I truly love that and feel like less of an unquestioning follower now that I finally disagree with you about something.

That said, of course the recent Jez events were embarrassing and juvenile and sad. But, I enjoy pretty much everything Moe writes and think she's the most nuanced and interesting of the Jezebel bloggers. Tracie is more hit or miss but she can be quite insightful and hilarious. I feel like I can enjoy their posts while not necessarily thinking about (or knowing anything about before this week) their off-line personas. And I can attest to the fact that even intelligent and ethical women can ocassionally lapse into a drunken valley girl caricature- some of us are just lucky to never have these moments caught on tape.

Chez said...

Casey -- great, great observations all the way around. Thanks so much for the comment and for reading.

faux mccoy said...

oh man, this hurts to read....think i'll just go look at the pics on jiz, er uh jez instead.

as yet another californian, i will say that the 'ins and outs' if you will of this are somewhat baffling, but never the less, i understand gawker much better now. thank you.

as a feminist who deplores most media aimed at women, i really want to like the jez, but, unless they are sticking to fluff, they haven't much to offer. no self respecting woman would call herself 'slut machine' and as a reader of many of egan's post, i'd have to label her the weakest link. i tend to like ol' moe though.

i'll try to catch the clips you referenced although that does sound masochistic of me.

party on wayne,

James said...

Very good article. Nice to see where modern female driven journalism is going.

Nah, I can't take that level of sexist crap. The "blasé about rape" girls deserve everything that has already come to them for that drunk discussion, although Tracie also does an entertaining "pot psychology" agony aunt shtick with a pal.

However, that CNN slot looked to me like big media bullying little media. Is it just the shallow Gawker bloggers who exploit celebrities (and vice versa, obviously)? Do the glossy magazines not show celebs' houses identifiably? Does TV not follow Britney's every unshaven tumble?

It's hard when someone else has a boo-panel alongside him to tell you you're going to kill someone (bullshit!), when they get to deliver the final word and cut the mike off, something which Kimmel used as a very blunt instrument.

I thought she came across as young, a little untrained for CNN, enthusiastic about her medium, no problem.

Anonymous said...

As a long time reader, I'm with the few other commenters above who don't really get where you're going with this post. I thought I was reading a large scale critique about Gawker in general and the problems with the blogging medium as the blogger becomes more notorious (problems that, incidentally, I see creeping up here on DEM since the demise of your day job) and I was down with that. But then it turned into a patronizing ad hominem on a Jezebel blogger you met once at an event and decided was a cliche. sigh.

Although I'm also a Jezebel reader, I don't read any other Gawker media and I'm not a commenter on any of the Gawker sites. I'm not a Jezebel apologist. I thought the Winstead appearance was, frankly, a disaster, and an embarrassment to the website. Still, I'm not sure of the point you're trying to make here. Is this a criticism of the Gawker mentality? Or of "women's content" blogs? Or of bloggers in general who are "young and completely wrapped up in [their] own self-perpetuating bullshit"?

maxpurr9 said...

i just reread my comment, and boy that's a lot of "fucking"

so not necessary and i'm not usually that angry a person.

Karina said...

RE: CNN News Clip

While I don't think Emily Gould came of particularly well in that clip above, I don't feel Jimmy Kimmel comes of well either. I definitely wouldn't describe his diatribe against the big, bad internet as an "interview."

How out of touch with current media do you have to be to not "get" why advertisers would post on websites? I think underestimating the part of citizen journalism and the importance of real-time reporting is ignorant. Gawker is for sure a frivolous example of this for sure, but so is Access Hollywood and a myriad of other entertainment magazines and TV programs. While they shoot her down in this interview when she makes this same point, I doubt very much in another situation they would consider tabloid reporters as journalists.

Maybe I would take this interview seriously if it was conducted by the former owner of those suspenders, and not the brain trust who brought us girls in bikini's jumping on trampolines.

stacy said...

Forgive the long comment to follow:

Interesting post Chez. First a stupid little nitpicky thing. You wrote "the only comments I reject are 1) people who basically just say, "You're an asshole and you suck" (at the very least try to make an argument)..." But you allow posts that simply state "Great post. Absolutely on the mark." Where's the argumentation in that? Seems a little ego stroking to me - can take the straight up flattery but not the straight up insults? (Not that I can blame you much; I couldn't stand to have my own blog, much less one as daring as yours can be at times. I can imagine some of the rejected comments are totally pointless and out of line.)

Anyway, living in NYC right now it really is amazing how much attention websites like Gawker receive. I work in a media-related field, and it seems like any time someone has a spare moment at work, you can find them rotating through Gawker, Jez, D Listed (and maybe the NY Times and CNN on a really slow day). I do find myself occasionally getting sucked in. Gawker, Jez, etc. can be good for a laugh but along the lines of what Casey said, I feel that a great deal of the enjoyment comes from not thinking about who these people are "off-line." All the Emily Gould crap and this Jez controversy are almost enough to keep me off of those blogs for good. But then again, there are many times when I don't think CNN's online coverage is all that much better these days...

kayihan said...

Pure awesomeness.


Naomi said...

Chez, great stuff as always. :)
And guess what? I just got me a blog.
Seventeen and female I may be, but there's no way the world revolves around me....and now I know exactly what I'm not going to be doing.

Harris said...

Playing the Devil's Advocate:

I don't read any of these sites and, as a former midwesterner, I don't really understand why New Yorkers are so self-impressed with being in/from New York. BUT, do these women represent themselves as some kind of standard bearers for journalism or feminism? Nobody assumes Chez speaks for all the misanthropic white guys in the world, so why should the women (girls?) from Jezebel get tagged as anything other than giggling narcissists?

Ailsa said...

After hearing about and watching the Moe and Tracie fiasco, I felt slightly betrayed. But then I realized that I had been too blindly loyal to the blog in the first place. The posts of relevance and interest were/are becoming fewer and farther between.

Jezebel represents a kind of "feminism" that I find really misguided and, as you said, glib. Glib about sex, glib about abortion, glib about drugs, glib about rape.

Their seeming lack of awareness that abortion can also effect the man involved, is yet another example of their total self- absorption.

But it was after watching them say, in no uncertain terms, that women are raped because they're "dumb" - that I absolutely denounce (and reject) their moronic and dangerous ignorance, and subsequently their blog.

re: internet celebrity... I can clearly see that these women who use their sex lives to garner attention and readers, and who seem to lead personal lives saturated in booze and semen, are miserable people. And they're no different than the MTV reality girls who Jezebels love to hate. Only, they're ten years older than the MTV crowd, which makes it all the more depressing.

And evidently, these women have substance abuse issues (common among raped women, I might add), which makes their public tell-alls sort of tragic.

I kind of feel like someone should stage an intervention and keep them from totally defaming themselves, and emotionally destroying themselves - rendering them even more unable to behave normally in public.

Thanks for the post. So glad you're not at Gawker.

Ailsa said...

That is to say, *affect* the man involved.

em said...

I'm a bit late to the party, but I loved this post. I am sick of these self-proclaimed "empowered women" acting as if they represent ALL "empowered women". I'm just kinda glad that I didn't know about some of these women until I read this post.

Pants said...

Dear Chez,

so I'm having a slight problem with this. Even though you are an excellent writer and there are many things on which we seem to agree, I have to call bullshit on some of your claims about young female bloggers.

When I was reading this post I couldn't help but mumble 'hypocrite' under my breath a few times. How is their writing about their sexlife and excessive drinking in a humorous self depricating way any different from you writing about your drugproblem? I think you are quite ballsy to call them self absorbed and navel staring because to be honest, that is exactly what my friends tell me your writing has become when I ask them why they stopped reading your blog...

I think you have written some genuinely moving and hilarious stuff, but lately I can't help but feel you're turning into your own worst nightmare. A formally edgy writer who now claims the moral highground for himself alone and who rants endlessly about the failings of the media world and how he was right about everything all along. I told you so is never funny. You even made the Lara Logan thing all about you. Now I understand how hard it is to be a writer and I do have respect for what you have achieved here, but I think you need to trade the high horse for a pony. Please prove my friends wrong and become your old genius self.

Respectfully yours,


P.S. All the best for your beautiful family and best of luck with your book. I wish I'd written a book... That shit is hard!

Ally said...

Second one late to the party...

I stopped frequenting Gawker and Jez several years ago. For one, living nowhere near NYC, I couldn't figure out what the hell Gawker was ranting about half of the time (and didn't care), and Jez was like pilfering through someone's stash of porn.

More than that, however, was the mushroom cloud of bloggers you identified in your column, and my need for self-preservation. Like every other entertainment venue, bloggers either contribute something to your whole being, or they take away.

These girls, pretending or otherwise, definitely take away.

Chez said...

Joyce --

Thanks for the honest commentary and the highly constructive criticism.

Sorry I jumped the shark for you.

Pants said...

Right, I just had to google 'jumping the shark'. I'm Dutch and not quite old enough to know all Fonz-related colloquialisms out there. Thanks for responding Chez, I like a man who can take a punch. Now if you'll excuse me. I have to go and delete some snotty stuff from my own blog, since I just called someone I really respect and who is WAY more accomplished than I am a hypocrite...

(I'd invite you to sling some mud back my way but it's in Dutch)

Rice said...

Casey, I was just formulating something along the lines of what you wrote, but you've laid out everything I would have said so well that I'll just add a plus one.

I enjoy Jezebel and I typically enjoy Moe's posts; however, enjoying Moe's posts and approving of her staunchly immature and highly indulgent self-pity/depression wallowing are two different things. Sometimes she makes me angry, sometimes she makes me sad, but her posts just about always make me think long and hard, and I require more than a drunken public appearance to eclipse that. I've also never assumed these women spoke for me, just that spoke to me.

The Domina said...

This sums up basically everything I feel about Gawker media and while I truly wish Jezebel represented any sort of feminism or the anti-Oprah, it really doesn't. Some posts are enjoyable, but some are ridiculously self-serving fluff. I'm also horrified that anyone would go to what is essentially a PR event for their job and get so drunk as to not be able to comport themselves. Great post.

Mr. Controversy said...

"How is their writing about their sexlife and excessive drinking in a humorous self depricating way any different from you writing about your drugproblem?"

Joyce, from what I can see, the talk about Chez's drug problem wasn't to glamorize it, much like the Jez folks do, but to provide a cautionary tale as to what you SHOULDN'T do in your life. It's a lesson, not some exploitive recount of something that's probably much better kept private.

Call me an apologist (or a kiss ass) if you must, but at the very least you can ignore those posts and read another, or if you see fit just stop reading.

Expecting the backlash in 3...2...1...

Mr. Controversy said...

Oh, and good post, Chez. Blogging, to an extent, is an egotistical enterprise, seeing as it basically is one person broadcasting their experiences, opinions, everything they see as important.

While there is no specific "journalistic" standards imposed on blogs, it is a sign of quality if said blogger employs some sort of standard, even if it's a skewed or edited one. (I know the rule about not editorializing goes out the window, because's a blog.)

That said, organized sites like Jezebel or Gawker are held to a different standard because they are indeed organized. They SHOULD impose journalistic guidelines, and watch what they print if they want to be taken seriously as "citizen journalists". Their utterance of such a phrase is nothing more than a lazy excuse to hide behind standards they do not use. Any person can tell you they spotted George Clooney at a nightclub, and unleash a torrent of oversexed women to sniff out his scent, but that's not "citizen journalism", that's "citizen paparazzi".

Keep fighting the good fight,

Mr. C

Mr. Controversy said...

Damn, I am forgetful, Joyce, my criticism of your criticism is not an angry one, merely a counterpoint. I do respect your contrary opinion, and I didn't mean to sound like I was lashing out.

Pants said...

"That bed survived fifteen years, nine moves, four cities, three wives, two dogs, countless ecstasy-induced multiple-partner encounters, and a hell of a lot of otherwise drunk, angry or just plain deviant sexual behavior."

You are right Mr. Controversy, that quote just SCREAMS "Drugs are bad, mmkay"...

Mr. Controversy said...

Well it doesn't say "Snort up, kids!" either. Call me crazy, but I just took it as a fond remembrance of a bed, through good times and bad. Could be me though.

Pants said...

So I decided to put my money where my mouth is and start a blog in English. Feel free to check it out and rip me a new one...