Friday, May 23, 2008

"A huge waste of space"

There are now a trillion comments, a third of which are unintentionally hilarious ("I must say though 90% of the young people today are a huge waste of space"--uh, thanks?), to Emily Gould's blogger confessions. But what mostly bulks up the comments page are remarks about how the article is a waste of space. But doesn't commenting on the thing, bringing the number of comments into the stratosphere, give the piece legitimacy?

I'm going to go with, no, it does not. It's about context. If the piece were an obscure article or blog entry, that is, the place for writing not claiming to be on the most important subject for the whole country for an entire week, then yes, commenting would mean condoning it. But what people are commenting on here is how out-of-place the article is for the cover of the NYT magazine. If the cover story were ten pages about what breakfast cereal some journalist's child prefers (please, no one get any ideas), or just any random bloggery, you can bet there would be pages of complaints. These in part come from the conviction among readers--correct, after all--that it could have been any of us whose mundane thoughts and standard-issue heterosexual break-ups were deemed cover-story material, assuming we had a sufficient lack of concern for those close to us. But I think this is mostly about readers' genuine desire for escapism, for an end to reality entertainment. Because the Gould piece is reality brought to its frighteningly banal extreme, a person no better or worse looking, no more or less interesting, than the rest of us, just kind of being, albeit in written form, for a captive audience.

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