Thursday, 31 October 2013

BITCHES, PLEASE: THE 2013 NPI CONFERENCE AND ITS ENEMIES


Journalists employed for the express purpose of writing hit pieces are immediately in an unenviable spot, rhetorically speaking.

The person or group of people they’re assigned to smear, ridicule, and deride is obviously considered loathsome and contemptible by their bosses, which is why the journos in question have been sent to do their hack jobs in the first place.

Yet the hacks must be careful, as they have a tightrope to walk. If they carry on too much about their subject’s inherent terribleness, awfulness, and dangerous hatefulness, they run the risk of coming across as hectoring, hand-wringing scolds, and thus—ironically enough—wind up lending their subject a measure of credibility. Getting so exercised over a certain group with a particular agenda is as good as admitting that said group has power, clout, and intellectual heft.

On the other hand, if they are overly jokey in their treatment of their subjects, implying, “These people are pathetic losers, let us snarkily smirk at them together, superior beings that we are,” then the reader wonders (perhaps in between snarky smirks) why the group was ever covered in the first place. If they are a mere joke, or a sideshow, then who really cares? Why even bother hating and loathing such people, if they’re just a bunch of fools and nobodies, totally negligible characters?

At least two reporters from mainstream news outlets attended the NPI conference in Washington DC last week. One was Lauren M. Fox, a petite, winsomely attractive young woman who smiled readily and asked me questions in a friendly, easygoing, disarmingly non-provocative manner. The other was one C.J. Ciaramella, a singularly douchey-looking bearded hipster in skinny jeans possessed of a singularly aloof and cocky demeanor. Judging from appearance, I didn’t expect much from C.J., and his piece in Vice wound up delivering even less.

Lauren, on the other hand, really let me down, because she seemed like such a nice girl, but her brief dispatch at Salon proved to be as insult-laden as it was substance-free. To quote the kid in Say Anything, whose immortal words were later repeated by the Zombie Guy in Warm Bodies: Bitches, man:

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