When cultural gatekeepers turn on one another, things can get ugly… or kind of interesting, as in this piece from n+1 on the history of Pitchfork. (Is elitism additive, or multiplicative?) I freely admit that my interest in the essay is motivated largely by selfishness, as I have tried for over a year to learn to like Grizzly Bear, and still find them mind-numbingly boring – not bad, just boring – so an arch takedown of the major apparatus of their ascent? Sure, I can get on board with that! (Kind of. n+1 is still really pretentious. Maybe like Grizzly Bear?)
This article, about the interconnections between urban design/planning and public health, was more uncomplicatedly enjoyable (sure, advocacy can be its own brand of privilege, and we could have a whole conversation around that topic vis-a-vis Occupy Oakland’s ill-fated attempt at overtaking a few public buildings this past weekend – but that is long discussion, and it doesn’t have to be that way, and I have to go home and look up weird Wikipedia facts about Michele Bachmann for the next issue of Hobo Pancakes anyway).
I’d also like to take this opportunity – after criticizing both n+1 and Pitchfork for their own critical tendencies, when I have more than evinced my own in this space – to defend my analyses of things like “Buffy”, “Glee”, “Ghostbusters” and more: unraveling these narratives isn’t just an aesthetic exercise, but a dissection to improve my own technique. Comedy is pop art, but that’s not an excuse to avoid intellectual rigor; we learn to tell stories and impart meaning from the stories and meaning around us, and whatever shit I might heap upon various writers or producers or members of Grizzly Bear, I nonetheless maintain a profound respect for the basic act of creation. The issue is almost never, to my mind, whether or not something should have bothered to get made; it’s how it might be made better.