Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Maybe I'm just 2 demanding, maybe I'm just like my father 2 bold

Yet again, I feel the obligation to, in the parlance of my times, roast on the lovely and talented Garance Franke-Ruta. I know I criticized her proposal for raising the age of consent to appear in dirty films from 18 to 21 as an unnecessary, prudish paternalistic state intervention that would impeach upon free association and the opportunites of young women and would probably be enforced by conservative prosecutors to go after college students taking erotic pictures and videos of each other.

But my criticism today is of the Go Fug Yourself variety. No, no, I'm not bagging on how Garance looked at the Stanley Hillman Awards. (By the way, she looked fantastic as usual.) The same way the Go Fug Yourself crew mercilessly mocks and belittles the ridiculous clothing of starlets at red carpet events out of sadness because they usually look so good when they don't seemingly make special efforts to look awful, I have to worry about Garance's most recent American Prospect article, entitled "How Hollywood Values Saved America!" is quite simply, trivial tripe.

The thesis of her article is pretty obvious: The Hollywood cycle of saying something offensive and contrary to Hollywood’s liberal values (Gibson and Jews, Richards and blacks, Isiah Washington and gays) and the public and Hollywood types getting outraged, followed by a big public apology and then usually rehab has moved east to DC (Hollywood for ugly people).. Remember, this dolled-up Hollywood gossip is in a magazine co-founded by Robert Reich that purports to offer “Liberal Intelligence.” She then moves on to examine three (ooh symmetry!) Washington offensive speech scandals (Allen and "macaca", Coulter and "faggot" and Imus) and, because no one knew this already, tells us that Coulter Allen and Imus all suffered consequences for being insensitive, bigoted A-holes. And, apparently, all thanks to the mainstreaming of Hollywood values.

I wonder what the editorial meeting was like where they assigned or accepted this piece. Let's just look at what else is in the June issue of the Prospect included, we have a colloquium on the Middle East with articles by
Gershom Gorenberg, Shlomo Ben-Ami and a whole host of esteemed writers.. So, typical wonky stuff so far from the TAP we all know and love. We have four columns, one from Mark Schmitt, Robert Reich, Robert Kuttner respectively (ed- toeing the Bob Kuttner line, are ya!) and Jo-Ann Mort. They're, again, about serious political stuff from conservatives commandeering government for corporate profits to Reich and Kuttner talking about public investment and Mort informing the world that no, not all American Jews are crazy Likudniks, AIPAC style right wing Israeli nationalists. One might say, "but Garance's piece was in the "Culture & Books" sections of the magazine, so it doesn't have to be wonky policy analysis." Well, one could say this, but let's look at the other Culture and Books pieces, we have reviews of scholarly or otherwise serious books. Garance's piece sticks out like a sore thumb of frivolity.

Now, I'm not saying there isn't a place for good cultural analysis, I think that TNR has been able to meld culture and politics pretty well, yes, even with Lee Siegel. But TAP has always struck me as a more serious publication. Monthly magazines can tend to have longer, extensively researched pieces that really go into depth about issues and provide some original ideas or thought provoking analysis. This is why Garance's piece is so odd, it clearly didn't require that much research, the basic facts of the issue were accessible mostly by memory, though surely abetted by a few Lexis searches. And the analysis just seems so obvious, and the subject matter so trivial. Why should liberals really care that when conservatives are assholes, they're getting punished by the public. And more importantly, doesn't the TAP readership already know this, as does much of the public? I understand that need for content and that Garance probably is contracted to write x number of articles per year or something, but she is clearly capable of better, more serious and informative work. Her article on Hilary Clinton, for example, brought a perspective not usually heard in the liberal intelligentsia and presented it intelligently. Also, her articles about George Allen’s entanglement and conflicts of interest with a VA hi-tech company were good journalism as is most of her work. Her recent piece, however, isn’t anything worth writing home about (ed - then why are you going on a near 900 word rant about it!).

Now, surely some critics (ed – you fool, no one reads this, you have no critics, and starting one sided flame wars with respected members of the liberal blogosphere isn’t gonna help!!!) will accuse me of being sexist by using adjectives typically used by men to describe demean women’s writing and contributions to the public sphere (frivolous, unserious etc) Well, I guess I’ll do penance by citing some great wonky stuff written by a women to make up for it. So maybe Garance and I were never meant to be, maybe I’m just to demanding

Full Disclosure: Despite two consecutive posts criticizing Garance, I still have a huge crush on her (ed – you’re like an eight year old who bugs and annoys a girl he likes because that’s the only way he knows how to express his feelings, you’re totally pathetic!)

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