Location: one hour from Suffolk, Rockingham, and Scarborough, United States

I'm one of the co-authors of Point of Hopes, Point of Dreams, and The Armor of Light (which, contrary to some reviews is NOT a Points novel). Proud member of CoastLine SF, Piscataqua Obedience Club, and admin for Horseboard.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Blogging and gossip

I read an interesting article today in the NY Times about blogs and, essentially, the demise of the gossip column. And before you say "good riddance," you might want to read the article, which was largely about Liz Smith, who writes for Newsday (home of my favorite theatre critic, Linda Winer). Smith's kind of gossip doesn't involve looking for smoking guns. She is described as lacking a mean streak -- and, lacking that mean streak, would probably get nowhere if she were starting out today.

A lot of online discourse is unbelievably hostile. The blogs that are replacing the old style gossip columns make hostility and schadenfreude their stock in trade. And that's sad, damn it, sad in that it makes me sad to think of it, and sad as in pathetic. Where has this mania for tearing people down come from? Some people pretend to do it with a tear in their eye, lamenting the loss of old standards and morals (see Major League Baseball and the US Senate). Why can't we look up, instead of down? And don't try to tell me that our "role models" have disappointed us. Find a different damn role model, then.

Sure, it's the facelessness that makes these hostile, dirt-digging blogs possible; I sometimes wonder if, in those dark days before home computers and easy internet access, these would be the same people making prank phone calls? Nah. Too much direct contact.

Oh, god, I'm sounding like Pollyanna again, aren't I? I seem to waver between these two personalities, of believing in the best of all possible worlds (well, Pollyana and Pangloss start with the same letter) and then letting rip at people who don't live up to my own lofty standards. To wit: old fashioned, real-world, bricks-and-mortar cattiness isn't dead yet, either.

(Tangent: what is the difference between cattiness and bitchiness? Level of income? Discuss.)

Tonight I was at the gym (don't laugh), and a bunch of women there were going on and on about how they have NO respect for Camilla Parker-Bowles, and how COULD Charles want to marry her after having been married to Diana? They were laughing themselves silly talking about how unattractive they think Parker-Bowles is and how terrible SHE is. This wasn't precisely schadenfreude, but it was nasty and unpleasant, and I'm afraid I made a few pointed remarks that people wouldn't mind so much if C & C conducted themselves with a certain flair or pizzazz... that the problem wasn't that Charles had A mistress, but that he didn't have several. I'm sure Oscar Wilde could have said it much better.

On a related note, there were a number of links and websites cited in the article on Smith. I checked one out, as it seemed to be of the gentler variety (that is, NOT Defamer). And I found there one of the nicest tributes to Bobby Short that I've read in the past week. A very sweet reminiscence, of a man one could only look up to, for his talent, his determination, his urbanity, his style. I shall always regret never having gotten to see him perform live. Does anyone remember a line -- it might have been in the TV show Benson, where a character is neatly summed up when he says, "Come on, you can help me alphabetize my Bobby Short collection?" I'm sure it was a character played by Rene Auberjonois... Before Star Trek, of course.


Anonymous Danny said...

Fascinating post, Lisa, I haven't thought about this before. I guess I'm living in a sort of bloggers' ghetto because my experience with the blogs I read regularly (including yours) is that they are all written by very likeable people ruminating on their lives and the only people they tend to lay unfair judgments on is themselves. I'm hoping my name-dropping blog doesn't sound mean-spirited with my occasional barbs. My blog-obsessed sister did show me a couple of irrestible sites, one that details bad plastic surgeries of famous people and the other tragic fashion mistakes (with lots of vicious and funny commentary of course). And I do see how bloggers can't resist commenting on topical issues such as the Terri Shiavo case, sometimes with great passion and condemnation of others. Oh, and I do follow the sometimes obnoxious comments about my brother-in-law and my sister on a multitude of sites (our favorite so far is "Jeff's wife is certainly no supermodel"--oy!). But then I find someone like Wil Wheaton who recently discovered Wilco and keeps posting incredibly nice things about him. I guess it's like talk radio. If we were fool enough to do it, we could listen to shows 24 hours a day that would give us a pretty devastating view of the world.

P.S. I also find the Camilla Parker-Bowles comments very uncomfortable and "looksist!" People hate her mostly because she's not as pretty as Diana. And yet it's obvious that she's FAR more suited to Charles than Diana ever was--I say "mazel tov" to the two of them!

7:41 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Huzzah! Danny, I republished the blog and there was your wonderful, insightful-as-usual comment. Thanks!

I think there is a difference between the occasional snide comment, and making it the raison d'etre of a blog. You don't sound mean spirited at all in your name dropping; I have a pretty low tolerance for that kind of thing, and I haven't once wanted to smack you with a rolled-up newspaper! Ok, maybe once. Or twice. But only because you were being so hard on yourself!

5:17 PM  

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