Yesterday I wrote a post that I thought was a pretty clear satire. 1 I guess I’m mostly untroubled by it and the reaction I seem to have received. And since that reaction is part of my whole reason for writing it, I’ll share some of those.
One person said, “This is the best takedown of the show I’ve read.” but that was almost immediately after I posted it, before I made some more changes to the essay because I was worried it would not exactly land how I wanted it to, and maybe before the reader got through all of it or thought about it.
Another person quoted a bit back to me and made an upset comment, and then followed up by saying, “wait you are joking! aren’t you? you are”, which correlates to my thinking that people (myself mostly, but others I’m sure) make Tumblr comments on things (or “like” them) before they’re done reading or thinking about the things.
Another person said, “If HRO had this tone I would read it.” That more or less got to the crux of what I was trying to say.
Another person said, ” i think this is meant somewhat sarcastically? i only think so because i agree too much.” which also got to the crux of what I wanted to say. I’ll return to this comment.
Another person quoted a bit back at me that I said about Jay-Z and told me to “come on”. That was actually really disappointing to me and mostly by itself made me think the post had failed. I actually re-wrote that point quite a bit. I wrote the thing I posted a few days ago, on Monday night after watching the show and having quite an intense conversation about it with my girlfriend. Watching the show confused me because it made me uncomfortable and not like it, but I couldn’t really articulate why except in terms that were clearly ‘not right’, and that made me upset with myself for the most part. So I wanted to write something about it that was able to express my confusion and consternation with myself while also making light fun of people who didn’t ‘get’ the show while also vindicating people who did ‘get’ the show. I don’t have the first draft of the thing I wrote, but I recall that point was originally only about the bathroom scene with Jamina Kirke and Shoshana Mamet, but then I wanted to make a note about the music in the show (Feist, Vampire Weekend, Jay-Z), but I thought taking the piss from Vampire Weekend was both trite and not smart, so I thought it would be funny to take the piss from Jay-Z and pretend to only know him form that song “Ni//as in Paris” because that would be really funny. And I had thought that since I write pretty extensively about hip-hop and even wrote a 6,000 word piece on Watch The Throne and why ostentation and richness is not a good basis for criticism of the album, I thought that joke would at least land. And apparently it did not.
Another person reblogged the post with the title “just your average misogyny in the lena dunham tag”, but that person has since deleted the reblog. That reblog got another reblog, though, with the commentary, “if parts of this post aren’t sarcastic and you aren’t joking: i herby declare any and every female in the world who is willing to sit on your dick would be doing a disservice to their country, their gender, themselves and the world. please, please, please don’t reproduce. or speak”, which seems a little harsh and ill-conceived as a form of rebuke, but it’s also one I don’t necessarily disagree with. [Applies an average critique of young, cis, hetero, white feminism to inaugurate a very involuted and parallel discussion.]
It seems likely that those reblogs spurred another person to create a physical comment (so rare in Tumblr) that said, “#11 negates #9”, which is exactly correct. The whole point of the thing I wrote was that people who make rather thoughtless critiques, or critiques sedimented in what you might call “received wisdom”, they’re often logically incoherent and self-contradictory. This adage runs double-true when it comes to women, who are often held to absurdly contradictory standards and expectations: be fuckable yet chaste, not-dumb but not too smart, don’t obsess about your looks but be very pretty, don’t be self-absorbed but don’t be thoughtless, have your shows and books and cultural detritus but don’t have it actually be about you or things you care about, etc.
Getting back to that one comment I said I wanted to return to: the person who made it is someone I don’t really know but I talk to him on twitter and enjoy talking to him about things like music, and we usually disagree about everything from smartphone cameras to Cam’ron. He’s the sort of person I wrote the piece for. Like, do you think anyone in New York ever reads an Onion article about paying $5,002 for rents in a closet or artisanal kickball-sewing and thinks to himself, “My life has some problems in it. I need to make a change.” I don’t know — probably not? But maybe that happens, and so I wanted to write something that explored my dark feelings for the show and also tried to point out how stupid those feelings are. Because I think there are really very few rhetorical or even practical ways of making a point, and to do it you have to (and I’m really sorry here) deconstruct those problems. That’s really what the word means, don’t you know? You have to inhabit the situation and take it to the nth degree and see where the system cracks, strains, and breaks down. You have to really believe it will get you there, and then when it fails, you have to be honest about why and how it’s failed — what are misogyny’s design flaws? It’s difficult to point them out, I think, with a mere schematic like a fire escape plan. Because misogyny isn’t escaped but rather rushed toward. So it has to be illustrated with an oven that chars you.
I also think it’s pretty rancorous and corrosive for culture warriors and commenters to hold “relatability” as one of the most important criterions for a show’s success in the case of shows about young people or women, but not ever for shows about dragons, incest-rape, meth dealers, Mexican League baseball pitchers, ad executives, zombie apocalypses, high school football coaches, or any police procedural ever.
I don’t know. I’m glad that for the most part “the choir” seemed to get what I was saying, and I’m also sort of glad it upset other people because that’s also the point I suppose. You should be writing nasty emails to me or something, and then we could bon over how terrible I am at writing satire.