2.13.2007

Ugh, Part however the hell many times I've used that as a title

The past couple days have been marked by frequent blue screens of death for me. Today they've hit a peak, and I don't know how long this shitbox is going to last this time.

Our resident badass librarian has immortalized the drunken revelation, and come up with a new term. Pretty solid.

I'm inwardly debating whether or not I even want to talk about what's on my mind at the moment, because I'm convinced that the pigfucker involved is feeding off of the attention. Maybe if I put some spin on it.

It's been held that it is never acceptable to joke about rape. This may not be an absolute truth, as Sarah Silverman's example demonstrates, but one thing I was taught as a writer was, "you have to understand the rule to properly break it." Say what you want about her new show. I can't say anything about it as I've yet to see an episode. Silverman knew and understood the rule. She broke it. It was funny. Offensive? Uh, yeah.

I am not one who can castigate someone for offensive material without being a hypocrite of some stripe.

I am, however, in a position to castigate someone for taking a shit all over a page and calling it a great work of satire. Enter John Petroski, who obviously had heard of the rule I mentioned above, but instead of learning and understanding it, he simply said, "Fuck you! I only listen to me!"

Satire is much like a katana, made after the Japanese tradition. Honed in craft over hundreds of years by brilliant and meticulous craftsmen Meditated upon and forged of only the finest tempered steel, over 6 months time, to unforgiving standards. In hands as skilled in its use as those that made it were in craft, it could change history. It did, in the one small corner of the earth where it was once made and used properly.

But in the hands of a novice no good could come of it.

John Petroski is the child holding his father's blade because he thinks it makes him powerful. But in his clumsy hands the weapon is as likely to cut him as anything he intends to swing it at.

Satire: n.
1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly

This is what Petroski claims he was writing. The chief editor of the Recorder (the school newspaper at the Central Connecticut State University) said he was brilliant at it.

The only human folly here is that somehow a talentless hack was given ink, and that he was able to convince his peers (here used as a pejorative) that pushing the edge and wanking off over it are one in the same. He claims that the fact that it's being sensationalized in the media proves the point he was trying to make with the piece, which he said was a stab at sensationalism in modern media, which in the piece he mentions once at the end.

But if there is one bread and butter reason for why rape should not only be accepted, but even endorsed, it is because our news editors are in dire need of interesting stories for our front page. Bookstore stories? Fossils? One dollar coins? Please. Now, some saucy circle-jerk rape action? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Which is clearly not a jab mass media sensationalism. It's ridicule of the idea of covering rape on the front page of a college paper in a country where one in five female college students are the victims of sexual assault during their time at school. Oops, John! You were hoping that you could use that last paragraph to condemn the people who are "misrepresenting" you (ostensibly by quoting his entire article, in full), but you seem to have forgotten that people still know how to read!

If he's right about one thing, it's that this shouldn't be given the level of coverage it has been, especially since he's claiming it as a sort of victory. When we glorify the witless assholes, it only goes downhill from here.

3 comments:

  1. Oooo...this one touches a nerve. Excellent treatment, dude. Couldn't have said it better myself...

    You know, back when I was a student editor, I had this fuckhead of a wannabe sportscaster (one of those preppy former high school football hero types who really thought he had the chops for ESPN because his geled hair moved less than his neck) who suggested during a cocktail-fueled intercampus media meeting that we do a satirical peice on forcing women's sports programs to turn to prostitution as an alternative to Title IX funding, since Cal Poly's female athletes are legendarily hot.

    The dude's initial joke was funny, a great idea for a possible satirical piece, in the right hands. But the guy took it too far. His suggestion that teams should earn GPA points for the number of athletes who'd been date raped, that one particular team should be piss-tested for roofies, etc., went too far.

    He pissed off just about every woman in the group, and most of the guys.

    When he wouldn't let it drop, a certain someone and one of the print beat writers ended up following him to the restroom and having a polite "editorial standards" discussion with him over "audience" and "voice." We thought we were getting through to him until he started letting loose on the "fuck those cunts" comments about our female colleagues and women who might not find his peice amusing.

    I've dealt with wannabe satirists before, like this Conn. student "humorist." The one I had, back in the day, ended with me describing how I'd blackball his ass if he insisted on keeping it up, while another student journalist held a plunger handle to his adam's apple.

    "Satire" is not defined by the would-be satirist. It's defined, in the end, by the satirical consumer. Most human beings can take a good joke, even a sick, demented one. But there's some subconscious trigger, somecommon morality, that keeps us from crossing certain lines. And no amount of hiding behind a "you guys can't take a joke" retraction can change that.

    Whew. Sorry about the long-ass comment and the trip down Amnesia Lane there, homes.

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  2. Jason: Dude, no need to worry about comment length. It's not like my threads tend to be too full of words to manage or anything.

    Seems to be the same basic diagnosis; being that satire and dudebraugh jock humor are for the most part incompatible.

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  3. I saw that a few days ago and I was just so struck by it all I couldn't even say anything without absolutely saying so much it would have taken a year.

    There are just no words.

    Although Jason seems to have found them. lol


    Happy Valentine's Day Wombat.

    I know, I know it's abunch of crap but still. ;)

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