Sunday, January 17, 2010
Read It and Weep
You know, I was completely prepared to back off Heather Havrilesky for a little while because, I gotta admit, her piece in Salon yesterday on the whole Conan O'Brien thing was pretty good. In it, she praised Conan for standing his ground and not taking the sage advice of that comedic genius, Dick Ebersol, who basically told him that he should dumb down his act on The Tonight Show, one would assume to be more like the pied piper of the lowest-common-denominator, Jay Leno. (This from a guy whose dumbing-down of Saturday Night Live almost killed it in the early 80s; interestingly, he wasn't immediately judged an "astounding failure" by some arrogant asshole near the top of the NBC food chain and was given the freedom to make mistakes.)
Here's the quote that I honestly thought might be a come-to-Jesus moment as far as my opinion of Heather is concerned:
"And now, a word to the budding (and established) comedians, writers, editors, publishers, entertainers, actors, musicians, poets, dancers, teachers, professors, philosophers, ministers, scientists, mathematicians, businesspeople of this country who struggle every day to nurture their own odd ways of doing things, their own unconventional or unusual designs or artistic notions, their own original, risky approaches, to those who look at what America currently believes, enjoys, expects, embraces, and say, 'I have a different idea of what this could look like'? Keep sticking to your guns. The day you listen to the know-it-all in the gray suit is the day your soul dies. The most brilliant and original novels and works of art and theorems and discoveries of recent history were all greeted as idealistic, impractical, bizarre, delusional or utterly wrong at one point or another. This is how good things come into being: Someone listens politely to the opinionated blowhard, shakes his hand, and forgets all of that priceless advice within seconds."
Hell yeah, Heather. Way to go.
But then this morning, fully prepared to nurture this budding seed of respect that my nemesis had planted in my mind not a full day earlier, I read the first paragraph or so of her review of the new season of 24. And, to paraphrase Radiohead, everything was once again in its right place.
As you read this, note two things: 1) She goes through the entire column never actually telling you what the hell she thinks of the show, then suddenly at the very end realizes how confused you must be by all the dizzying, Havrileskyan digressive gymnastics and says, "Oh yeah, and about whether that new season of 24 is any good..." and, 2) thanks to Heather, at least Jack Bauer has a new way he can torture people who won't tell him what he wants to know.
Salon: "Jack Bauer Goes Soft" by Heather Havrilesky/1.16.10