Snark Attack

The New Yorker's David Denby campaigns against "low, teasing, snide, condescending" criticism

Snark: It’s Mean, It’s Personal, and It’s Ruining Our Conversation, by David Denby, New York: Simon and Shuster, 144 pages, $15.95

Not long ago, New Yorker film critic David Denby had an epiphany: American culture was being debased by “snark,” that “low, teasing, snide, condescending, knowing” style of criticism, a “bad kind of invective” that’s “spreading like pinkeye through the national conversation” and proliferating on the Internet. Denby received this revelation while enjoying a “pan-Pacific dinner” with the political journalist Michael Kinsley. “Somewhere between the Singing Fish Satay and the Pow Wok Lamb,” he writes, “Mike and I...said more or less the same thing—that snark was becoming the characteristic discourse of our time.”

The byproduct of this conversation is a pungent and angry little book called Snark: It’s Mean, It’s Personal, and It’s Ruining Our Conversation. In just over 100 pages, alongside the first-name references to his famous friends and descriptions of his high-class meals, Denby attacks the online boobeoise who, he argues, have altered the tone of debate by supplanting thoughtful conversation with snide and indiscriminant denunciations of the “douchebags” with whom they disagree. “In a media society,” he writes, “snark is an easy way of seeming smart.” If the bloggers at Gawker and Wonkette, two websites dedicated to all things snarky, delight in puncturing the pretentions of the old-guard bourgeois intelligentsia, Denby has provided them a slow-moving target.

In a condensed history of snark, Denby relies on odd examples from the distant past—a pointless diversion, for instance, into Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem “The Hunting of the Snark,” which has nothing to do with snark in its current meaning—and a fevered denunciation of various celebrity gossip websites and presidential campaign ads. While he rightfully credits the British satire magazine Private Eye and its American progeny Spy as snark trailblazers, he omits mention of Grand Royale, Suck, and Vice, all far more influential in establishing the tone of modern Internet snark.

It’s likely that those publications are unfamiliar to Denby, and his brief backgrounder on snark’s roots seems perfunctory—little more than a way to pad an essay into a small book that meanders towards the targets that really outrage him. For an idea of just what motivated Denby to attack an ephemeral style like snark, search for his name at Gawker, a media gossip site. Read the stories there about Denby’s “pornography addiction,” which he chronicled in his book Suckered, and the declaration that “we [have] come to hate David Denby.” For a great majority of Denby’s years as a professional writer, he was effectively firewalled from his critics. In the Age of the Internet, hipster bloggers are baying for the fusty critic’s blood.

Denby wants things as they once were, when American culture was effectively a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie; when the Ivy League guardians of “our conversation” ruthlessly protected it from contamination by the jealous and uncouth. “Whatever its miseries, the country in the thirties and forties was at peace with itself spiritually: We were all in the same boat,” he argues. Today we have “income inequalities and Rovian tactics that exacerbate ethnic and class differences”; then we merely had Nazism and the Depression.

It seems unnecessary to observe that in the 1930s, when unemployment was in double digits and Father Coughlin commanded a rather large radio audience, both poverty and dirty politics were not entirely uncommon. And long before the Internet existed, such lurid and sleazy magazines as Police Gazette, Confidential, and Broadway Brevities sold millions of copies a week.

It’s just that the readers couldn’t get at you.

There is nothing new in the use of brutal sarcasm and ad hominems to attack your enemies. What Denby laments is the way technology has empowered the snarky critic to take shots at the powerful and influential, allowing the democratization of published cruelty. As Denby writes, snark is “the weapon of outsiders who want to displace the insiders.” True enough, but the reader can only wonder why a film critic at The New Yorker is troubled by nugatory attempts of “snarky pipsqueaks,” as he calls them, to challenge the professional critics.

Anyone who has been exposed to the subliterate animosities and grudges of the cruder anonymous commenters or bloggers, or has bristled at the lowered bar of what passes as clever satire on snark-heavy websites, will have some sympathy for Denby's effort to attack against the “everyone-sucks-but-me” culture. But his bizarre choice of targets and imprecise definition of “snarky” derails his argument from the beginning. At its core, Snark is a deeply political book and, therefore, Denby offers special dispensations for a Right On!–variety of ideological snark. “Snark is irresistible,” he writes, when discussing our previous president (and who could disagree with that?), but it apparently becomes gauche when directed at Democrats peddling hope and change. A large chunk of his argument is ceded to score-settling and a post-election outpouring of anger against those who said impolite things about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. (Denby may be the only writer alive who would describe Sarah Palin's description of Barack Obama as “palling around with terrorists” as snarky.)

Denby tags the Fox News screamer Bill O’Reilly as a boorish knuckle-dragger, but his liberal counterpart Keith Olbermann is something else entirely: “One can’t help but noticing...that Olbermann’s tirades are voluminously factual, astoundingly syntactical...and always logically organized.” The leftist writer Gore Vidal is a “master of high snark,” while his conservative counterpart Tom Wolfe is an overrated racist. If you agree with the snark, it probably isn’t snark.

Denby identifies Wolfe’s “Radical Chic” as a progenitor of today’s snarky style, but it fails, he says, because the writer’s teasing of haute-liberal infatuation with the Black Panthers “now seems more fatuous than the assembled partygoers.” How so? Because according to Denby, “In the end, [Wolfe’s trademark] white suit may have been less an ironic joke than the heraldic uniform of a man born in Richmond, Virginia, who entertained fancies of a distinguished Old South in which blacks kept their mouths shut, a conservative who had never accustomed himself to the new money in the Northeast.” While denouncing bloggers for rumor-mongering and for besmirching reputations with nothing but conjecture, Denby nevertheless finds it appropriate to imply that Wolfe’s writing is steeped in white supremacy.

Denby accuses many of his targets of employing racist language in the service of snark, but often draws the wrong conclusions from his provided anecdotes. On the anonymous Internet, socially taboo topics like race become topics of humor, motivated both by racist belief and an attempt at finding the subversive in the forbidden. To the captains of snark, like those who produce Vice and The Onion—whose readers, incidentally, skew heavily into the Obama-voter demographic—racially-tinged jokes concurrently poke fun at the idiocies of the racism and the restrictions of the P.C. culture in which they were raised.

On top of the boorish jokes, Denby argues, it is also problematic that those reckless bloggers and snarky columnists don’t act like real journalists, don’t make phone calls to verify details about those they attack, and “ignore the routine responsibilities of journalism.” (Incidentally, in the paperback edition, Denby might note that Wonkette is not “written by young women” and is not owned by Gawker Media.) To Denby there is no separation between humorous commentary and journalism.

In a short, bitter denunciation of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd—whose politics are generally agreeable to him—Denby bemoans her lack of seriousness. Her articles ripped the Bush administration, but they were too jokey and didn’t “come close to an adequate critique of power.” Her attacks on Hillary Clinton “seemed eager to punish Hillary for her ambitions, as if deep down she were alarmed by the idea of a woman making so great a claim for herself.” At this point, Denby seems priggish and humorless, and the reader comes close to simply telling him to lighten up, rather than explaining that Dowd is a satirist, not a sexist political scientist.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Paul||

    Is that man...wearing an ascot?

  • ||

    Dismissing Tom Wolfe as a "conservative" or a "racist" must be one of the most tiresome traits of American "liberals."

  • ||

    Worse, a scarf as an ascot. Fred from Scooby-Doo called, he wants his fashion sense back.

    The only people who don't like snark are those not witty enough to participate.

  • Paul||

    subliterate animosities and grudges of the cruder anonymous commenters or bloggers



    You know, I resemble that remark, Mr. Moynihan.

  • ||

    Is that man...wearing an ascot?


    Or is it a dickie?

  • LoneWacko\'s LoveChild||

    As usual, this magazine fails to take this man's important ideas seriously because they are a bunch of cosmotarian hacks who shill for pro-mexican immigrant corporate welfare

  • ||

    The only people who don't like snark are those not witty enough to participate.

    I don't get it. Fred totally nailed Daphne, like, for certain. So did Velma.

  • Paul||

    ...the college-educated...have become eager to reject shallow cynicism and to embrace hope in the public sphere-and...to take power and change the tone of public discourse



    Oh, they're going to take power. Of that we can be sure...

  • Jerry||

    Reason's Hit & Run better get a honorable mention in this book.

  • ||

    And let us not forget the glorious snark of Chunklet.

  • ConhugeCo||

    Is David as elusive as Robert Denby?

  • Elemenope||

    What a humorless asshole. He needs to keep his dirty little mitts off my snark.

  • ||

    Really great article.

    Today we have "income inequalities and Rovian tactics that exacerbate ethic and class differences"; then we merely had Nazism and the Depression.

    Hilarious, and:

    To the captains of snark, like those who produce Vice and The Onion-whose readers, incidentally, skew heavily into the Obama-voter demographic-racially-tinged jokes concurrently poke fun at the idiocies of the racism and the restrictions of the P.C. culture in which they were raised.

    Dead on.

    Thanks again for a great article, Moynihan. Just forwarded it along.

  • Hacha Cha||

    you didn't spell booboise right but that doesn't matter I'm just glad you used it.

  • ||

    Or is it a dickie?

    No, dickie is a turtle or mock turtleneck collar attached to enough material (usually a foot square patch on the front and back) to stay in place under a shirt or sweater.

    Randy Quaid's character in Christmas Vacation is wearing one during the latter part of the movie.

    "SQUIRREL!"

  • ||

    I also think snark is ruining our discourse. In contrast to what Sugarfree said, I see snark as something used by people who aren't smart enough to take a real stand. Snark is all too often used by people as a place holder until that person can click over to their favorite online publication (Reason being mine) and see what they are supposed to think.

    I tried Wonkette (when Reason people were guest blogging there), but I got frustrated because there wasn't a single bit of interesting information and the jokes were mean spirited, though occasionally funny.

    Snark: What an asshole does to cover his lack of knowledge.

  • ||

    Lamar,

    Can there not be both varieties of snark?

    Our Mr. Denby, for example, is railing against something so ultimately innocuous, so narrow that mocking him is a valid response. To argue with him seriously is to implicitly endorse that his ideas are worth arguing.

    I think a lot of snark is just black humor, a way of dealing with things too stupid to be dignified with a serious response. And frankly, these days I'll take my laughs were I can get them.

  • ||

    Or is it a dickie?

    I think you missed the point, Sugarfree. To paraphrase:

    Is that dickie wearing an ascot?

    you didn't spell booboise right

    joe'z Law strikes again.

  • ||

    "spreading like pinkeye through the national conversation"

    Get some topical cream, David. You'll be fine.

  • ||

    Snark: What an asshole does to cover his lack of knowledge.

    I don't know. Do you think maybe you're just not very good at being snarky?

    A lot of guys used to go on and on about how awful the athletes were back in high school, and the loudest ones were usually kind of scrawny. Snark is like internet athleticism, in my opinion. You either have it or you don't, and if you don't you're a lot more likely to hate the people who do. Nobody likes feeling left out of the cool kids club.

  • ||

    I also think snark is ruining our discourse.

    Excellent snark, Lamar.

  • ||

    David Denby is so dumb and ugly he looks like a dork, LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!1!

  • ||

    "I don't know. Do you think maybe you're just not very good at being snarky?"

    No, I don't think that's it. But it's great that you see the world in terms of high school cliques.

  • ||

    Our Mr. Denby, for example, is railing against something so ultimately innocuous, so narrow that mocking him is a valid response. To argue with him seriously is to implicitly endorse that his ideas are worth arguing.

    SugarFree, great point. And I think it ties back to the racism/snark bit. The charm of people like Sarah Silverman, for example, is rooted in her ability to kill racism. She makes it ridiculous. She refuses to take it seriously, and, in that way, she subverts both racist ideology and PC culture.

    Refusing to take something seriously is sometimes a very effective way of fighting it. It's also incredibly frustrating for the person getting the snark.

  • Lollapalooza Attender||

    Here comes that anti-snark guy. He's cool.

  • ||

    I think you missed the point, Sugarfree.

    I was just trying to be helpful. :-(

  • ||

    No, I don't think that's it. But it's great that you see the world in terms of high school cliques.

    Yeah, see, your snark is just... lacking.

    Sorry!

  • ||

    In his time, Oscar Wilde would have been the queen of snark.

  • ||

    In his time, Oscar Wilde would have been the queen of snark.

    HA!

  • T||

  • T||

    Nobody likes feeling left out of the cool kids club.

    Really? Shit. I didn't even think there was a cool lids club on the internet. I'm a social outcast again, aren't I? Dammit!

    Also,

    ...the college-educated...have become eager to reject shallow cynicism

    He's just talking about those wankers with undergrad degrees. For a fuller, deeper, more corrosive cynicism, grad school will get you there every time.

  • Fluffy||

    Just a couple of comments on the article:

    It's silly to call snark "anti-bourgeoisie". Who engages in the most snark? White, college-educated Dennis Miller wannabes. Sounds pretty bourgeois to me. You are never whiter than when you engage in snark. And I say this as a snark addict.

    Also, both the book and the review seem to miss the central argument against snark: that in an environment dominated by it, there are thoughts it is impossible to express. The practical limits on what you can say snarkily create a sort of emotional Orwellian "Newspeak of Humor". There is no room for anyone to be earnest, about any subject at any time, when the atmosphere is dominated by snark. There is also a desperate lack of room for anyone to admire anything, when the atmosphere is dominated by snark. There's only room for the eye roll.

    I also think the reviewer misses the point about Maureen Dowd. The complaint is not that she's a satirist instead of an actual political journalist. The complaint is that she is a one-note satirist who due to her prominence takes up space that might otherwise be occupied by an actual political journalist. The fame and adulation heaped on Dowd contributes to a great weakness of our society, namely the fact that everyone thinks they are Oscar Wilde - and Wilde was a giant pinhead.

  • ||

    "Yeah, see, your snark is just... lacking."

    Sorry, maybe I should have been clearer: Your high school jock analogy is asinine. But then again, maybe it isn't: high school jocks revel in denigrating those smarter than them. Isn't that what snark does? OK, you win. People who use snark are like the guy in Midnight Madness who says "FAGABEEFE"

  • Fluffy||

    Wow, it's funny to me that as I was including an allusion to Wilde in my post, two other posts mentioning Wilde were being posted.

  • dhex||

    "And let us not forget the glorious snark of Chunklet."

    i dunno, there's snarky fun and then there's rage masked as snarky fun. for the former, i'd point to vice, and the latter, chunklet.

  • ||

    The practical limits on what you can say snarkily create a sort of emotional Orwellian "Newspeak of Humor".

    (rolls eyes at Fluffy's earnestness)

  • ||

    Of course, H.L. Mencken.....

  • OO===D||

    "Is that man...wearing an ascot?"

    I've spent nearly all of my fifty plus years in David Denby's mouth. That's why he writes.

  • ||

    Moynihan to readers: "Says here this salsa's made in New York City!!!"

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Okay fine, I'll drop the snark. Fuck you David Denby!

  • ||

    Sorry, maybe I should have been clearer: Your high school jock analogy is asinine. But then again, maybe it isn't: high school jocks revel in denigrating those smarter than them. Isn't that what snark does? OK, you win. People who use snark are like the guy in Midnight Madness who says "FAGABEEFE"

    Wait... what?

  • ||

    Actaully, the following is the real danger of snark.

    Take Lamar.

    But then again, maybe it isn't: high school jocks revel in denigrating those smarter than them. Isn't that what snark does?

    Is he engaging in a high level of snark--a meta-snark about snark if you will--or he just being a whiny douchebag trying to say that I somehow think he's smarter than me and I have to tear him down?

    It's a tough call. I mean, he completely has the idea of snark 180 degrees assbackwards. Snark is not a jock on nerd activity, but rather a nerd on jock activity. Snark and its close cousin, sarcasm, are an effort to speak truth to retards in a way they can't understand for ironic effect.

    So, is Lamar too stupid to understand this, or is he baiting us into arguing against something that he knows isn't right?

    Snark makes everything indeterminate. That is the danger of snark. Truth becomes a fish forever wiggling from our grasp.

  • ||

    But if we drop snark, what will happen to Sarah Palin?

  • dhex||

    palin is farce, not snark.

  • Zeb||

    I believe that this is also the date when Oscar Wilde was convicted of sodomy.

  • alan||

    Good snark is never banal, whereas, in the old media era, a mediocre joke who could write something like this: income inequalities and Rovian tactics that exacerbate ethic and class differences could make a living out of it so long as he was on the right side of the fence. No wonder Denby feels threatened by it.

  • ||

    but rather a nerd on jock activity

    Your fantasies are SO OBVIOUS.

  • ||

    As the author Colson Whitehead recently put it, "Something bad happens, like 9/11, it's the death of irony. Something good happens, like Obama's win, it's the death of irony."

    Obama's win is good? Looks like irony is alive and well!

  • ||

    "I mean, he completely has the idea of snark 180 degrees assbackwards. Snark is not a jock on nerd activity, but rather a nerd on jock activity."

    That's the problem with snark. I was being an asshole, cutting him down for reliving his wonder years, wishing he were in high school again, a neo-Uncle Rico. That's the sad part of snark. It never actually addresses anything. I was highlighting just how shallow it is.

  • ||

    alan,

    Now that, good sir, is some fine snark. Bravo.

  • Bruser LaRue||

    "Sorry, maybe I should have been clearer: Your high school jock analogy is asinine. But then again, maybe it isn't: high school jocks revel in denigrating those smarter than them"

    I was a high school jock; my GPA was 4.0. I delighted in denigrating dim-witted morons. Dim-witted morons like you.

    I also delighted in your mother.

    And she in I.

  • ||

    It's a tough call. I mean, he completely has the idea of snark 180 degrees assbackwards. Snark is not a jock on nerd activity, but rather a nerd on jock activity.

    YES. Exactly. Thank you. That's what I was trying to get at. I don't think snark comes from a less intelligent place at all; actually, some of the smartest people I know are also the snarkiest --- and in moderation, it's great.

    There's nothing like good snark… well, there are a few things. But it serves a purpose and I like it.

    Snark makes everything indeterminate. That is the danger of snark. Truth becomes a fish forever wiggling from our grasp.

    I guess you're right here, too, but we don't communicate strictly through snark. It isn't a new language. It's only a part of our language.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Now you've just jumped the snark.

  • Fluffy||

    Snark and its close cousin, sarcasm, are an effort to speak truth to retards in a way they can't understand for ironic effect.

    I would definitely not say that snark and sarcasm are designed to not be understood by their targets. Far from it.

    To me, snark is a mode of attack that is designed to say not only "That thing you like sucks" or "That idea you adhere to is stupid" but ALSO to communicate "Because you're the sort of person who likes things, you aren't cool" and "Anyone who is silly enough to adhere to an idea is lame and kind of gay".

    Written between the lines of every Wonkette post about every subject is the statement "We are clever because we don't take anything seriously; you are a virginal nerd and a clown because you do take this seriously".

    Snark is definitely NOT the nerds getting back at the jocks. Snark is the cool kids making sure that the uncool kids know that everything they think is important is lame and the butt of jokes by the more sophisticated.

  • ||

    I guess no one remembers the recurring "Is it a dickie or an ascot" bits on the Craig Kilborn show.

  • alan||

    Now that, good sir, is some fine snark. Bravo.

    Thank you, thank you. I need to get that British sci-fi list from you some time soon. Probably write to you Easter weekend. Too lazy to get OutPost up and running on this machine ;)

  • ||

    Lamar, maybe you didn't get Fluffy's memo, but you're not allowed to be serious in a snark environment. Don't make us roll our eyes at you again.

  • ||

    That's the problem with snark. I was being an asshole, cutting him down for reliving his wonder years, wishing he were in high school again, a neo-Uncle Rico. That's the sad part of snark. It never actually addresses anything.

    Him? Do you mean me??? Ha! No, no, no. I was not an athlete. I was a theater geek, and I played Magic the Gathering (unabashedly --- defiantly, even) in the band wing. There were certainly glory days, but they didn't involve a football.

  • ||

    but we don't communicate strictly through snark

    But, Solana, it might be more dangerous on the Internet than is spoken language. This medium has none of the inflections and non/verbal cues to indicate it. I don't think snark itself is bad, but it does problematize on-line language to the point that we constantly have to ask ourselves "Is that guy an idiot, or is he making a joke?"

    For example, from this post, do I think snark is dangerous or I am just trying to be funny saying it is?

  • ||

    You know, SF, I started to respond to that...

  • ||

    Fluffy,

    I accept your definition of snark. I always sort of blend the two in my mind because I say them with the same mental sneer. Sarcasm is ironic, snark is not? Can we say that? Can there by sarcastic snark (snarcasm?) or are they mutually exclusive?

  • ||

    Sarcasm is not ironic.

  • alan||

    I played baseball and rolled polyhedron dice. Some bitches took clique culture seriously, but only guys who were their bitches ever did when I was in high school.

  • ||

    For example, from this post, do I think snark is dangerous or I am just trying to be funny saying it is?

    Since you've failed at being funny, we have to assume the former. Which makes you all super-serial like Lamar, which is funny. So in a way...you succeeded at being funny, yet not in the way you intended. Now that's funny.

  • ||

    At least we know Episiach is serious.

  • ||

    i dunno, there's snarky fun and then there's rage masked as snarky fun. for the former, i'd point to vice, and the latter, chunklet.

    It's the genuine rage and bile that makes Chunklet really enjoyable, especially when they're ripping on something as awful as Of Montreal. It's a bit like Derek and Clive. They can do non rage inspired humour too - their references to Van Halen/Diamond Dave for instance.

  • ||

    Since you've failed at being funny, we have to assume the former. Which makes you all super-serial like Lamar, which is funny. So in a way...you succeeded at being funny, yet not in the way you intended. Now that's funny.

    But it's the jaded funny of the snarky. The dangerous funny.

  • ||

    Solana,

    Sarcasm may not be ironic, but it is irony.

    Irony (from the Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία eironeía, meaning hypocrisy, deception, or feigned ignorance) is a literary or rhetorical device, in which there is an incongruity or discordance between what one says or does and what one means or what is generally understood. Irony is a mode of expression that calls attention to the character's knowledge and that of the audience.

  • ||

    I've done a lot of work to become as serial as I am.

  • ||

    No, I think Sarcasm uses irony, but irony is not necessarily sarcasm. It's a rectangle/square thing. They aren't equals.

  • ||

    alan,

    No problem. I'll get it together. (And it will be easier to do from the house anyway.)

  • ||

    Solana,

    Agreed. But I only said that sarcasm was ironic, not the sum total of irony itself.

    Maybe you should go back to community college!

  • ||

    The problem is, nobody takes me serial.

  • ||

    "No, I think Sarcasm uses irony, but irony is not necessarily sarcasm. It's a rectangle/square thing."

    Yep, you got it. You multiply the square of how gay the other person is by the cosine of your nuts.

  • ||

    *Sigh

    There are a lot of things I should do.

  • ||

    Just kidding... there are very few people I hate enough to make them go to community college.

  • ||

    You multiply the square of how gay the other person is by the cosine of your nuts.

    Sorry to be serial here, but it's actually the integral of the square of how gay the other person is by the cosine of your nuts. Ok, back to the snark.

  • ||

    Community College? Talk about your effete, wine-sniffing sons a bitches.....

  • ||

    Epi: Will you sine my nuts?

  • dhex||

    "It's the genuine rage and bile that makes Chunklet really enjoyable, especially when they're ripping on something as awful as Of Montreal."

    i dunno, i tend to find dork rage, even when i agree with the general thrust, akin to watching people masturbate in public. generally speaking the people you want to watch masturbate in public aren't the ones masturbating in public.

    i think a better measure of properly done snark is the dos and don'ts in vice. both serious and ridiculous, but not unaware of their own inanity. also heavily heterosexually male, like chunklet.

    in the interest of fairness, i tend to think of chunklet as, by and large, having kinda crap taste in music, so it's a bit like watching an anime fan pick on a star trek fan. of montreal is pretty bad, but so is harvey milk. etc.

  • ||

    Why the Of Montreal hate? They're a great band.


    So what if they did an Outback commercial?!

  • ||

    Epi: Will you sine my nuts?

    You had me at "nuts".

  • ||

    "You had me at "nuts"."

    So I'm sitting here with my Texas Instrument in my hand for no reason?

  • ||

    my Texas Instrument in my hand

    Wow, so they were wrong... not everything is bigger in Texas.

  • ||

    This conversation is really taking a tangent.

  • DADIODADDY||

    What about snide?

  • ||

    Why the Of Montreal hate?

    In the words of Chunklet themselves, they are "9th generation Spiders from Mars nonsense."

    http://www.chunklet.com/index.cfm?section=blogs&ID=414&mode=comments#comments

    in the interest of fairness, i tend to think of chunklet as, by and large, having kinda crap taste in music, so it's a bit like watching an anime fan pick on a star trek fan. of montreal is pretty bad, but so is harvey milk. etc.

    Yeah, I have very different tastes in music than the Chunklet guys, but I enjoy their writing and their hating. They have listened to a lot of music though, and have produced good guides to stuff I listen to, like Krautrock. With their snark, sometimes they seem offended that something so lame could be adored, let alone exist, and that really appeals to me. Vice's Do's and Don'ts are certainly amusing, but I don't see that as superior to the humorous and spiteful, bile ridden snark that Chunklet (and similar forums) can produce.

    IIRC, dhex, you were a metal fan, and posted the Sword track links? If so, that was good work.

  • Elemenope||

    Sugarless, you used the word "problematize".

    You fucker.

  • ||

    I figured that if we were going to over-analyze something, I might as well use the language of the over-analyzers.

  • The_Joker||

    JUST BLOW UP THE DAMN SHIP ALREADY!!!

  • ||

    The obvious question that all of you witless fools have yet to raise -

    Who is on the H&R snark all star team?

  • ||

    "Who is on the H&R snark all star team?"

    One cannot admit to being snarky. It's like being a hipster. You can have the skinny jeans, the silly bling, the retro t-shirt and the angular hair. Yet when somebody yells "hey hipster" into a crowd, you're the only one who says, "I'm not a hipster."

  • ||

    J sub D,

    You raise an interesting point.

    My line-up would be:
    Jennifer (center)
    Stevo Darkly (power forward)
    Episiarch (small forward)
    you (point guard)
    Elemenope (shooting guard)

    Of course I'd have front row seats to that game.

  • ||

    *hangs head shuffles feet*

    Awww shucks.

    Gotta agree with Jennifer for the go to gal. When the games on the line and you need snark, toss the victim to Jennifer.

  • Famous Liberal Campaigns Again||

    Liberals finally took action to purge Joe Boyle from their ranks.

  • engineer||

    "Whatever else the rise of Barack Obama means, it certainly suggests that...the college-educated...have become eager to reject shallow cynicism and to embrace hope in the public sphere-and...to take power and change the tone of public discourse."

    I'm going to print this out and carry it with me, in case I accidentally ingest poison and don't have any ipecac handy.

  • dhex||

    "Vice's Do's and Don'ts are certainly amusing, but I don't see that as superior to the humorous and spiteful, bile ridden snark that Chunklet (and similar forums) can produce."

    i'll give you that the guys are balls deep in whatever it is they're into, but they've got that bitter record store clerk thing down to such a degree that i wonder if they cry themselves to sleep.

    for me, the dos and don'ts is a collection of koans about being a dick, with the occasional nugget providing a touching display of humanity.

    "IIRC, dhex, you were a metal fan, and posted the Sword track links? If so, that was good work."

    this is the first i've heard of them. the only doom stuff i've really gotten into is burning witch, and that was a re-release last year. "sacred predictions" is flipping awesome.

    completely unrelated, i am really liking this wavves album. it's a one man non-shitty version of animal collective via the jesus and mary chain (and a laptop).

    http://thefader.cachefly.net/wavves-so_bored.mp3

  • ||

    Lamar,

    nobody else did so I will.

    Dude I can't believe you gave a nod to "Napolean Dynamite!!"

    (do you practice the dance in your bedroom?)

  • ||

    The World According to Snark was born out of the limitatiions of the arts elite of the culture who framed the conversation within their Ivy League quads allowing no other. They pretended to be communists when that was fashion, liberals later and then finally they were unmasked as the younger brothers of the bankers and brokers who run the whole show.

  • ||

    So we have established that snark is how the intellectually superior yet socially inferior get themselves heard. Or it is the intellectually inferior's way of silencing the intellectually superior by way of underhanded personal insult. Or it is a loving sarcasm used between friends to avoid directly insulting them. Or it is simply a "SNide remARK". I just don't know....

  • Paul||

    "The only people who don't like snark are those not witty enough to participate."
    Well, that is a snarky comment, isn't it?
    It is entirely possible to "get" snark and still find it reprehensible.
    Denby's approach is unfortunate in that it gives the snarky such a target-rich environment to practice their snideness.
    However, if you are going to criticize something, do it on merits, don't hide behind snark. Snark is the recourse of the ignorant or lazy, who can't or won't devote enough mental effort to make a reasoned argument against the subject of their snark.
    Snark lowers the level of discourse to the rational equivalent of grunts and coarse gestures, and does nothing positive to resolve real problems.

  • ||

    I thought this review was right on even though it gave too much leeway to Dowd who writes crisply, but is superficial, humourless and self satisfied.

    Denby admitted to the world that he was addicted to porn. I know I should disassociate that from whatever he writes. But every time I see his name, I think of his public proclamation of inveterate masturbating.

  • ||

    How is it that James Taranto of the WSJ escaped commentary? I should think he'd be leading the pack.

  • Justen||

    Sounds like the sounds of aging: "damn kids!" "back in my day" "no respect" and other assorted bone creaks and flatulent sputterings. It's okay, by the time we get old enough to remember our childhoods in the 70s, 80s, and 90s as the good old days (apologies to the baby boomers, old bastards) we'll sound exactly the same, and most of us will probably be terrified of any technology or social convention that came about after our hair fell out/turned gray (ouch, mine already is).

  • caroline||

    Unless I missed it, there is no mention of Rush Limbaugh and the Hate-Radio gang. They are so relentless. And in their way, they are developing the neo-con narrative filled with a snarky vocabulary. They have nasty nicknames for every prominent Democrat.

  • Barry||

    I caught the slur against Woofe while skimming this piece of tripe; "white suit! born in the south!!...of COURSe he's a racist!!"
    I hope denby reads this review, but he's probably too busy smelling his own farts.

  • ||

    Too bad Lester Bangs isn't still around to show Denby how it's really done.

  • Billy Beck||

    Snark: over the shark.

    That's what you people have done all by yourselves in this thread.

    Well done, kids.

  • ||

    The republicans realize that the cancer they were diagnosed with in 2006 has now become terminal. They are going through the stages of death. We need to keep unhooking their fingers from the gurney,while blowing them kisses as they gasp and blacken.

  • ||

    Snark is not a bad thing in and of itself. But like any strong spice, if you overuse it, it kills all the other subtle flavors, and the result is one-dimensional and boring.

    Or put another way, in small quantities it's a fine tool in the writer's kit, but there is a tendancy for the lazy and pretentious to use it as a mental crutch.

    Oh, and the Non Sequitur award goes to VanAernem, with special thanks to caroline for the assist. Partisan Warfare is two rooms down, this is Snark.

  • Peter Jensen||

    "Denby wants things as they once were, when American culture was effectively a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie; when the Ivy League guardians of "our conversation" ruthlessly protected it from contamination by the jealous and uncouth"

    Those days never existed and your whole paper exudes jealousy.

    David and you are on a par.

  • battery||

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  • nike shox||

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