A puppy took a dump on a brown carpet and we feel we should rub its nose in the ripe turd. The puppy we’re referring to is Molly Lambert, a Grantland writer who has parlayed her higher education into writing generically descriptive (and presumably deadpan), snark reviews of the latest Billboard’s Regional Mexican musicians. Her reviews read innocuously enough and are even tinged with what feels like socially inept fascination, but these qualities are also the hallmarks of a writer who knows that the joke isn’t in the writing, but in the topic itself.
This style of writing is prevalent in the blogger world. Writers are constantly searching for an angle, controversial topic, or gimmick that will propel their latest piece into the viral strata. From a marketing standpoint, looking for any new angle or topic to write about makes sense. But this is the same reason why her article comes across as so dry and generic. Her jokes could have been about anything and really have no connection to the music she’s “reviewing” except for the fact that she mentions the bands and their songs. Her descriptions are as informative as a child looking into the sky and telling us that clouds are white. Thanks for that pointless tidbit of information, kid. Whatever arbitrary topic Molly writes about next week will undoubtedly be saturated with the same blasé flare.
(via Rob The Doodler)
Latino music is not a gimmick to the people who enjoy it as an expression of their heritage. Just because it is different and strange to you (and even to us, sometimes) doesn’t mean that making fun of it is as justifiable as making fun of, say, “What What (In The Butt)” by Samwell. While critiquing music is a subjective endeavor, Samwell’s “What What” is undeniably socially and artistically bad, as are most things created on the principles of going viral (We say this with an understanding of the difference between viral-rubbernecking and, say, Dadaism).
Her article also raises questions of who the intended audience is exactly. We’re not sure what the demographics are for Grantland, but it seems strange to us that they would ask a young white woman to write about Latino musicians (and we’re not saying this accusingly – we genuinely want to know the motivations). When compared to the depth to which many of the Grantland writers critique pop culture (Klosterman, Simmons, Greenwald, etc…) her reviews become that much more generic and pointless. Comparatively, each paragraph of the article has all the excitement of a line cook making boiled cabbage over and over again.
We’re not accusing Molly Lambert of “traditional” racism by questioning whether she is capable of critiquing Latino music without any sort of insight. We feel that her article falls into the realm of what Racialicious refers to as “Hipster Racism.” It’s not so much that the writer of the piece is a white woman (not to mention it’s racist and sexist for me to imply that a “white woman” shouldn’t be able to write about whatever she wants). What is important is that if she weren’t writing under the hipster umbrella, then writing about Latino culture would be more difficult for her because she would have to take the time to write an article with more nuance and depth.
Fortunately for her, “hipster writing” doesn’t hold her accountable on that level.
Her Grantland article is an example of how the ironic subculture is either culturally bereft or strives to be that way. They trade in any sense of genuine identity for the ability to co-opt and be ironic about everything. And because these hip creatures are expected to be ironic about everything, they are able to get away with more because they aren’t actually saying anything. Instead, hipsters play with the idea that they are actually saying something while daring you to say they aren’t. This tactic is smart from a creative standpoint and it is smart from an accountability standpoint. These types can’t be pinned down to their opinions because they don’t actually believe their opinions. If you dislike their opinions, you probably don’t actually get what they are saying; and if you disapprove, then your disapproval is also a joke. Win win win.
This is why hipsters make great bloggers. The culture of viral ensures that anything can be fodder for their opinions*. Their job is to create content at a frenetic pace that is only matched by their ability to refresh the pages of Reddit, Buzzfeed, Tumblr, 4chan, or any other website we don’t know about. They are pup-locusts devouring the crops of cultural significance and shitting out one-liners, buzz words, memes, and jokes we don’t get.
Our response article might be accused of being macho Latino B.S. or playing the race card, but we feel if anyone deployed that tactic, it would be akin to pettifogging. We’re not making this an issue of gender or ethnic/racial identity. This is an issue of our disappointment in the Culture of Opinion crapping all over actual culture. Anyone should be able to write what they want, but if you can’t back up your argument on an intellectual level beyond some hackneyed post-modern aphorism, then expect more nose rubbings in the future.
* Especially a group of people who might not even read your content because they’re not her demographic. Because, really, the best patsy is one who doesn’t know you’re making fun of them.