Thursday, March 8, 2018

now trending: rapscallions' sad fantasies

Here's a thing I truly believe: it's not cool to make fun of other people's sex stuff. Like... of all the losers on the internet, is there any sadder demographic than would-be Chapo middle school alphas whose bon mots are always about how Arthur Chu isn't doing it correctly, or enough? This type of teasing is transparently insecure and deeply unattractive. We're all just out here trying to live.

That being said, Tim Kreider writing a New York Times column on roleplaying after being in a romantic relationship for three weeks has got to be the saddest shit I've ever seen:

My, how quickly things can change. For example, in the space of just two paragraphs, I found that nigh on a decade's worth of creepy stranger crushing on Tim Kreider had transformed into a sort of uncomfortable pity. (He's devastated, I'm sure.) Immediately, it got worse:  

Oh no. Somehow Tim Kreider's role-playing scenario involving Nabokov is more horrifying than every sad horny detail that preceded it. But, hey, I don't want to leave you hanging. I know what you're wondering. Did Kreider fuck?

Sigh. Do you know how hard it is to find a male writer even marginally attractive in your imagination these days? This piece came out almost simultaneously with Kreider's new book, which I pre-ordered, but now I'm holding onto it till I'm in a better frame of mind. Anyway I was reminded of all this upon seeing this headline at Slate, which suggests to me a trend:

Nothing against Ted Scheinman, I guess, but his new book (of which this is an excerpt) is so clearly "Urban Outfitters novelty book about Jane Austen, about a decade too late, and by a man" that it sort of grates in the first place. And in the second place, there's how the piece begins:

You see, this intrepid reporter has discovered that people at cosplay conventions have sex with each other. But also they read? Worlds colliding!! Old people have sex! Wow. adorable.

Ugh, this piece has so many levels of condescension I can't even keep track. I guess to me the joke of it isn't old people's sex lives, but the writer's attitude towards the subject as though it's even remotely interesting or scandalous. Humorists often take the central question of essay writing to be Am I punching up or down? when sometimes the question is more Why am I sitting here, punching myself in the face? You know, what do you think is funny, who do you imagine to be the object of your joke, and is that the same as the actual joke to your readers? I found myself thinking about this as I encountered a weird degree of antipathy towards that post I wrote on promotional headshots - like, lots of people who felt compelled to say, out loud, some version of "oh, you think this is a good use of your time?" (as though that even ranks among all the many ways in which I waste time, haha, please), plus a number of comments about "bullying," including someone who berated me for not being as good of a person as Simon Hanselmann? Sometimes comics really makes u think. Like, what if it's time to recalibrate my moral compass and STOP bullying Jeffrey Dahmer and that warlock from Game of Thrones and START finding a way to commodify trickle-down gossip and/or using all my sacred comics hobby time to write plot summaries of new episodes of Jessica Jones? Mmm, I'll pray on it.

Two pieces of writing advice. Try to be kind - but when you're not, try to mean it. Also your writing is always going to be bad when you're trying to be cool, and that's especially true if your jokey piece about sex has any whiff of a boast. Take it to the bank. 


  1. FWIW -- and I can't imagine this has been keeping you up at night -- my comment on that post was 100% kidding. I thought the post was funny...

    1. Aw thanks. I didn’t think anything of it until I kept hearing it.

    2. If the standard for online activity ever becomes "couldn't you be doing something better with your time?", we're all preeetty much fucked. We could *all* be looking for a cure for cancer instead, or whatever the equivalent is for humanities graduates