Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Twilight In And For The Atlantic Or: Slow Down, Dilettante
["How Twilight Lost Me" by Eleanor Barkhorn]
And so the redesign that started a few years after I graduated and that has recently culminated with the proliferation of Atlantic-branded blogs (and a Tumblr?) was vaguely upsetting to me. The Atlantic I once knew was (sort of) gone, and it was hard not to imagine a future in which a big-titted, air-brushed blonde would replace the typography that replaced the drawings and watercolors I once knew so well. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating. She'll probably be a redhead.
["The Greatest Movie Franchises Of All Time" by Kevin Fallon"]
A few months ago I remarked at how strange it was that The Atlantic was writing about Twilight, and how stranger still (though not necessarily bad) that they were fans of Alice and Jasper. I suppose a part of me wanted The Atlantic to snootily condemn This Thing Of Ours, to confirm for me what was up and what was down, as it were. It ought to be below such a lofty radar. But their writings on the subject--as it turns out there are several articles (presented, often, in irritating slide-show format for your reading inconvenience!)--were not much different than what you'd find on any other pop culture blog.
["The Many Attacks On Twilight" by Eleanor Barkhorn]
People give Chuck Klosterman a lot of shit, (and I've argued that he's now been more or less left behind by Internet culture) but he published Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs with the thesis that low culture pop trivia was as worthy of intellectual dissection as much as, if not more than high-culture art artifacts. That our better angels were nice and all, but that you could learn a lot more about people by talking to the demons on TV. That has since become the unspoken thesis of the Internet, really. I don't think it's a direct cause-and-effect, I think it is just easier to write intelligently and quickly about something dumb than it is to write intelligently about something complex. And the Internet favors being smart quickly more than it does much anything else. Chuck Klosterman figured that out before it became as true as it eventually did.
["A Condemnation Of Sparkly Vampires" by Alyssa Rosenberg]
We're in a kind of fucked-up critical mass phase of Internet Content, huh? I mean, for my part: I have around 40,000 YouTube subscribers, a fraction of which actually turn up to watch a video I make. And the percentage of that fraction varies crazily, depending partly on various SEO variables I am sure but depending mostly on the vicissitudes of the YouTube software, which sometimes "publishes" my work to subscribers and sometimes just doesn't. I'm a YouTube partner, which means I get a little money from advertising on my videos. When they work. And plenty of times, they don't. It has ever been thus in my case, but YouTube's recent redesign has caused similar headaches for many people much more successful at YouTubing than I am (which also means that they depend on the money a lot more than I do).
["Dilettante" by St. Vincent]
The economic incentive both economically and egomaniacally (those videos that don't clear 2,000 views hurt like hell, guys), then, is to throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. Why work hard on a video only to see it randomly aborted by YouTube? Why not just crank out five of them a week? This is kind of what I have been doing, mostly unconsciously, for the last few weeks. Luckily I now have a job, and that will slow me down a little, but I'm only a small part of the problem! Throwing everything against the wall and seeing what works is not an economic model that works anywhere else (which is why most people don't have 20 kids) but it's EVERYWHERE on the Internet.
[Related posts: Popular Magazines pt. 1, Vanity Fair Is Unfair, In Soviet Russia Magazine Covers You]
Everybody is doing everything all the time, and instead of pondering something for a good long while, The Atlantic is writing entry-level posts about Twilight. Across the board, people seem to be spending less time working on their content, including me, and it shows, and makes me sad.