Wednesday, July 17, 2013

You've Got Some Nerve

I've written about the prodigious arrogance of internet columnists before, but this was just too good to pass up. Alyssa Rosenberg, some nobody writer for Slate is telling J.K Rowling, one of the most famous and successful writers of all time, to use her real identity when writing a book because...Alyssa wants her to and because it appeals to her own sense of feminism.

It's more than galling, considering that Alyssa is roughly three orders of magnitude less famous and successful of a writer than Joanne Rowling (her actual name). And yet she can't stop from publicly fuming about her lack of relative success (disguised as advice). Her entire reasoning for wanting Rowling to use her real literary identity (J.K Rowling is actually still a pen name, she doesn't actually have a middle name)? Because it'll be easier for other female authors to use their real name and not suffer the indignity of having to use a pseudonym to help their chance at literary success.

Simply put, Joanne Rowling is not your bitch. And that's an important life lesson to learn. Role models, for the most part, do not see themselves as role models. A role model is a result of another person projecting their desires and hopes onto another. Rowling wants to be recognized for the quality of her craft instead of coasting on the huge inertia of her past success. Rosenberg's approval ranks somewhere between knowing the gross state product of Alabama in 1967 and imitating the mating call of the Brazilian tree frog in terms of Rowling's priorities in life.

I get the fact that online magazines like Slate need things to write about. And Rowling was in the news and therefore worth writing about. But I really wish that Slate (among other publications) would stop writing from their usual angle of maddening condescension.

There is one standout article from Slate, that I feel is worth mentioning. Written 10 years ago, the author had a brief piece on Robert Bartley, the guy who turned the Wall Street Journal's editorial page into the most influential organ of public opinion in the US. The last paragraph was especially insightful:
Despite these shortcomings, Bartley still deserves credit for revitalizing the editorial form. "Journalistically, my proudest boast is that I've run the only editorial page in the country that actually sells newspapers," he said in 2002, and he was absolutely right. Wherever editorial pages take a genuine stand on an issue instead of pondering the complexity of the world for 600 words before recommending further study, you have Bartley to thank. Wherever editorial pages report a story or break news, wherever editorials read as if they were written by a human instead of an institutional voice, you probably have Bartley to thank, too. And wherever an editorial page serves red meat instead of tapioca, no matter what the page's politics, its writers should pay royalties to the Bartley estate.
It seems like every publication took Bartley's method to heart. I really started reading the papers in 2007, and I have no idea how things operated before then, but it seems like everybody has an opinion, and they want to write about it in the most arrogant and condescending way possible.

1 comment:

  1. Slate hasn't had a great writer since Christopher Hitchens died.