I think my biggest problem with Gawkerism writ large (as a longtime Deadspin fanboy, frequent commenter, and much less frequent contributor) is that after the dismissiveness and wanking, they and the media ecosystem they created rarely get around to actual substance. OK, you've sufficiently ripped Yglesias and disproven his worldview and philosophy. Now tell me what you believe, and defend it as better than what you've mocked.
If a writer/outlet can't do that - either because they have no real thought or convictions beyond making fun of specific people, or because they're afraid to put their own thoughts up for the kind of public scrutiny they're dishing out - it's not worth any reader's time, money, or energy.
I think that the critique of Gawkerspeak in this article is largely correct, but the essay in question is too mediocre to really serve as an example. Gawkerspeak is often better as prose, and there are plenty of good lefty critiques of Yglesias and what he stands for.
Here the prose is terrible partly because the argument is half-baked: he's not an economist but he's completely sure that there'd be no political problem with minting the platinum coin because money is just made up, or something like that. He makes the rhetorical move of assuming his audience doesn't need to be persuaded of far-left position and that it also agrees that the far-left position is a political winner and that the only thing between us and utopia is spineless corrupt liberals. This is a bad way to talk about gender or policing, but it is especially annoying when applied to a technical economic matter the author doesn't know much about. One reason the article is so bad is that it was clearly written much too quickly - a funny problem in a critique of Matt Yglesias.
I don't write essays. My opinions on what's going on in the world, politically, wouldn't amount to a hill of beans. I'm old school. I'm an old man by todays standards, having just retired. When I saw the heading "Write seriously," it brought to mind the fiction stories I so love: serious writers published in literary journals. It brought to mind the writings of Alice Munro, and Mavis Gallant, and a dozen others out there from the enlightened past, who wrote about their past and brought it all to light. But would those stories written at the turn of the last century be published today? I doubt it. Is fiction writing here on Substack a dying art? Substack is a great platform for any writer trying to make a name for himself, or espousing opinions that he's free to expand upon, but fiction writers seem to fall to the wayside here. My question is why? I tend to write long fiction, stories of 12-17,000 words, where character and atmosphere bring the stories to light. The biggest problem with fiction writing today is that as society changes, writing is expected to change with it. How can you tell a story that takes place in the Deep South during the 1950s, and not use the "N" word? People are offended by the language in print, yet use it in their everyday speech. The world I grew up in, didn't espouse Political Correctness. I have no problems with PC, it's basic, common decency. But am I going to follow it in my stories? You can't look at the past through the lens of today. And that's the problem. Serious fiction--clear, concise, beautiful writing--holds a mirror up to the world and shows it for what it is, or was. At least with Substack, you can write without thinking you're offending today's readers.
Really? This is what you are upset about?
If you stan Elizabeth Hardwick, then don't use "impact" as a verb--or, worse, a gerund.
Incidentally, this is why David Roth is the only one at Defector who can write compellingly about politics. The rest are solid when they are at least sports-adjacent, but good sociopolitical punditry requires a rigor of thought and prose style that most writers—including the ones on newspaper op-ed pages who write in the self-serious idiom that preceded Gawkerspeak—don’t possess.
Ross--my goal this week was to evaluate and cut any newsletters that I want to, but don’t actually read. Yours was on the cut list until today. This edition is exceptional and thank you for it.