Friday, May 2, 2008
So for the most part the Buzz Bissinger moment has passed (things move quickly when you are so addicted to "speed"). And like many bloggers I felt very strongly about his comments. Let me rephrase that. As a writer, which I first and foremost consider myself, I felt very strongly about his comments. Because it is important to remember that this is just a medium, and although medium and content clearly are intertwined, one does not dictate the other. I don't want to get too deep into the whole affair because so many people have already commented on the matter, so instead I figured I would do two things. First, collect what I thought were the more substantive responses to Bissinger's remarks (if you can really call this spittle-laced diatribe a "remark"), and to actually give a couple of reactions to those responses. So, these were the responses which I thought were either the most thoughtful, scathing, hilarious, etc...
Dan Shanoff: On Bissinger and the Myths of Blogging
Bethlehem Shoals: The Stake Won't Leave
Will Leitch: Closing Out This Bissinger Business
Joe Posnanski: Prayers Sometimes Get Answered
Big Daddy Drew: Man Oh Man, Do I Love To F--K Horses
(Mom, if you randomly decided to read my blog today you are not allowed to click on the above link)
I am on the hunt to see if anyone outside of the sports journalism world has any thoughts on the matter, as his comments concern all internet journalists and not only those who make sports their chosen topic. As far as my reactions to the reactions are concerned, I have a couple of brief thoughts:
For the most part these have the same trajectory and make similar points (the KSK response takes a slightly different although meritorious approach, which I will get to in a second). That's the thing about a lot of my favorite internet journalists, they have the capacity for rational thought. I do want to commend Will Leitch, who both in his television appearances (both on Costas Now and The Best Damn Sports Show Period) and in his writing on the incident, has been sane (whoever thought sane could be such a valuable characteristic), gentlemanly and thoroughly dedicated to the importance of respectful debate. He is a tremendous advocate for our chosen medium.
Shoals' response is a little self-involved, but he admits as much and in many ways he has all the guts and arrogance I wish I wrote with (I truly believe in order to be a great writer, you must consider yourself a great writer). In a very backwards way I feel he has a similar (although obviously different in very key ways) perspective to Bissinger: As not merely a writer, but a very good one, I will not be disrespected.
But really, this post isn't about Leitch or Shoals, it's really an excuse to talk about Big Daddy Drew and his response at Kissing Suzy Kolber. I imagine for many this is a verification of Bissinger's criticisms. Its crude, its mean-spirited, its all the things Bissinger supposedly hates about blogs. But it is also a brilliant conflation of high and low craft. However crude the topic may be, his descriptions are vivid, his word choice unique, and his syntax well constructed. If anyone doesn't believe a communion between the high-minded and the foul is possible, you have never read the poetry of Catullus or the plays of Alfred Jarry. No, Big Daddy Drew is no Catullus, but he is a good writer, who just happens to capture a very distinct and contemporary voice, and I for one appreciate his writing (I am not even gonna touch on the idea that comedic writing is not a serious craft).
Lastly, I want to address Bob Costas who, in my opinion, should be ashamed of himself. Costas clearly sees himself as a serious journalist, and that does not mean he has to falsely parade himself as an "objective journalist." Objectivity in journalism is in all likelihood an impossibility, at best an extreme rarity. And in sports, which are fundamentally a playful endeavor, it is an unnecessary position to aspire too. So I don't mind if he unashamedly admits to disliking blogs and blogging culture. But he absolutely, as a journalist, has a responsibility to preserve a high-level of debate and defend all the participants in the debate, particularly when the debate is on his show. Allowing Bissinger to spit invective after invective at Leitch was both disrespectful and cowardly. What is truly shameful is that the discussion on the Best Damn Sports Show Period was so much more civil. I have not completely written off Costas as a journalist of merit just yet, but a little bit of penitence on his part could go a long way.