July 10, 2007

The Cult of the Professional

We’ve taken a gander at a couple of reviews of The Cult of the Amateur, a new screed by a fellow called Andrew Keen. According to these assessments, Mr. Keen is scared to death of Al Gore’s Internet—and remains particularly exercised about the power of sundry “webloggers” and YouTube. Such democratizing, he thinks, is ruining everything.

Now we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” certainly understand Mr. Keen’s concerns about the world of “webloggery,” if you will. After all, we well know that many “webloggers” are nothing but partisan hacks, and their writing appears about as trustworthy as a liquored-up Kennedy. (Gee: Did that prove our partisanship?)

Any medium that serves as a launching pad for someone as mind-bogglingly obtuse and offensive as Wonkette deserves its share of scorn.

Still, we find much of this alarmism over the “weblogging” community rather humorous. Lots of it, we think, stems from the fact that traditional journalists don’t like to be criticized, and the “webloggers”—left, right, and center—pour on all sorts of opprobrium on the mainstream media.

To our buddies at, say, The New York Times, the professional journalist’s job is to criticize others—not to be criticized. Hence they routinely lash out at the “pajama brigades.”

But there remain other reasons why alarmism over the Internet seems to us misplaced. Sure, we’ll agree that lots of “weblogging” pundits are unintelligent ideologues. Even some of the very biggest offer little but inept hackery.

And the comments on most “weblogs”? Puh-lease: They seem to us nothing more than the illiterate dribblings of poorly educated buffoons. And that, we think, is being generous.

Before you ridicule the amateur e-pundits, however, just check out the top sellers amongst the “professional” hacks. Ann Coulter; Michael Moore; Michael Savage; Maureen Dowd—the more dimwitted and nakedly partisan the pundit, the more popular he or she is.

In fact, it seems as if our very partisan present chiefly rewards the most extreme and unreflective amongst us. And this has essentially nothing to do with the Internet; people simply hunger for Neanderthal simplicity. It’s sad but it’s true.

Accordingly, folks seldom get into fistfights over the thoughtful work of Michael Walzer or Roger Scruton. Nope: It’s dimwitted shills such as Eric Alterman and Dinesh D’Souza who enrage.

Let’s not blame the “webloggers” for what is chiefly a problem of taste. (Or, to be more specific, a lack of taste.)

Most people like to be fed the news in black and white—there’s no room for shades of gray. When crappy tabloids and celebrity gossip rags routinely outsell serious news sources, you can be pretty sure that the “webloggers” aren’t at fault.

Posted at July 10, 2007 12:01 AM | TrackBack