Sunday, January 4, 2009

Snark, for and against

This looks like an interesting book: Snark, by David Denby, the film critic. He warns that cheap sarcasm is becoming the voice of the internet.

Here's an attack on the book.

And here's a defense.

Both sides make interesting arguments, but for now I lean towards Denby. I think there's something about the way writing works on the internet that encourages well-formulated, empty cynicism. It's easy to write, fun to read. And yet .. there's something liberating in that voice. Perhaps, as Adam Sternbergh's says, snark is a way of calling bullshit on the powerful. Not the best way, but a way. Anyway, I'll read the book.

Links via Rock, Paper, Shotgun, the intelligent gaming site.



At 05 January, 2009 20:46 , Anonymous Petter said...

You find some good stuff Bjørn. I’m not going to buy the book but I clicked on the Amazon link and saw that Spy magazine was mentioned as an example of snark. I subscribed to Spy from almost the beginning in 1986 until it stopped arriving in my mail box about two years later (about a year later I got call asking if I wanted to subscribe to it again and told the guy on the phone that I thought I had subscribed to it but that stopped coming, with no warning). The guy on the phone explained that the magazine had had some financial problems, had stopped publishing but was up and running again (or something like that). I turned down the offer to renew and from what I heard; it was never as funny as the original. So –money saved.
Anyhoo, if Spy is an example of snark, then I’m for snark. It was the most stone cold, brilliant, hilarious magazine I’ve ever read. It was incredibly inventive, it skewered the rich and pretentious, each issue had a photo section of the New York elite out partying (ala Nick and Nora) but the photos were absolutely, totally unflattering. Made them look like idiots.

Incidentally, Kurt Anderson, one of the founders, has written a hilarious book called Turn of the Century, which I recommend to anyone looking for a very funny, inside showbiz book.

Another founder of Spy is E.Graydon Carter the current editor of Vanity Fair, which I don’t subscribe to but check out online every once in while (the current online issue has an oral history of the Bush administration that’s really excellent) – I think Vanity Fair is one of the few glossies still making money (just a guess). When I was back in the States I did pick up a copy and it had a photo of your fave and mine Arianna Huffington and her two daughters, all three dressed in white, shot on the terrace by the garden in Arianna’s humble abode in Beverly Hills. Think it was an Annie Liebowitz – really gorgeous photo.

Apropos nothing: Nikki Finke is the best columnist covering Hollywood – writes for the LA Weekly.


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