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Topics/Questions/Exercises Of The Week—12 March 2010

Quiet Flows The Dumb: Well, that was embarrassing, huh? The Oscars, I mean. And now that that's all done with, what happens to the Oscar bloggers, the pontificators who build up a near-impenetrable head of locomotive breath in the run-up to the awards, only to see it all go away, poof!, in the blink of a Mo'Nique acceptance speech? Where do they go? Where do they go now? Where do they go?

Where do they go? Where do they go now? Where do they go? Aiee aiee aiee aiee aiee aiee aiee aiee where do they

Oh, excuse me. Sorry. Like I was saying. Where do they go? What do they do? And do they feel bad? Post coitum omni animale triste est, so I've heard; it is hardly unreasonable to surmise that many Oscar bloggers have not experienced coitum as such, so is it the whole post-Oscar thing what makes them triste? Hey, I'm just funning with you guys. If I had the scratch, I would totally design an "Oscar Bloggers Make Better Lovers" or "Oscar Bloggers Are Good As Gold" or "Oscar Bloggers: Tall, Stiff and Shiny" t-shirts to flog on Cafe Press, but I don't, so I can't. Anyhow, some dude at The Wall Street Journal thought it would be fun to ask some Oscar bloggers about the post-awards "existential silence," and their answers are here. "You know you’re leading a surreal existence when in the course of a few months you’ve run into George Clooney on three separate occasions," muses Scott Feinberg. Only three, Scott? I don't think you're working hard enough. The ever cogent Jeffrey Wells protested, "I will deny under questioning that I’m an Oscar blogger. I would go nuts..." I stopped reading after the phrase "would go nuts," because the cognitive dissonance was just too much!!! I kid, I kid. And Entertainment Weekly's Dave Karger revealed, "I’m going on vacation to South Africa on Friday." (Hey, that's today!) Did Dave like Invictus that much?

How To Be A Grown-Up: The firing of Todd McCarthy from Variety demonstrated a number of principles at work. David Carr's video analysis of the situation at the Media Decoder blog is astute, but I notice another trend at work here: the increasing disrespect for what I call "the authoritative voice." It's what led to the firings of, say, Robert Christgau and Nat Hentoff from the Village Voice. The money guys and the higher-level editorial execs, long befuddled by new media, look at the internet and see what they consider its a-thousand-flowers-blooming (to put the situation in the nicest light possible) and think that its coeval has to be a rejection of experience, tradition, erudition, and so on. Todd McCarthy's been around forever, hasn't he? This contempt for the authoritative voice, which stems largely from insecurity, fear, and ignorance, is expressed not just in terms of who gets fired, but for who gets hired for the dwindling number of paying print positions out there. Novelty acts, in large part. But I did not mean to write so much about Todd McCarthy's firing as his public reaction to it, which has been minimal: a brief, terse interview with The Wrap in which McCarthy recalls his experiences in a drolly elegiac tone. A reflection of the man's own refinement and lack of vulgarity. An adult response.

Speaking of novelty acts, I imagine you probably know the other place I'm going with this. It's an interesting contrast/object lesson, one worth taking to heart.

To end on a more positive note, as we go to press...oh, wait, as I try to go to bed, we learn that the estimable Mr. McCarthy may well be joining the selection committee of the New York Film Festival. Which would be awesome on a lot of levels.

Finally, a reminder to check out Jean-Luc Godard's remarkable Rohmer tribute here at The Auteurs, now with some translation from the French. I will have further thoughts on this piece next week; as preferable as it would have been to dwell on this than on some of the trivial matters above, the work deserves what the kids today are calling slow criticism, or appreciation...

Glenn Kenny wrote: This contempt for the authoritative voice, which stems largely from insecurity, fear, and ignorance, is expressed not just in terms of who gets fired, but for who gets hired for the dwindling number of paying print positions out there. Personally, I don’t have contempt for authoritative voices. And I’ve been saddened by, say, Andrew Sarris being put out to pasture by both the VOICE and THE NEW YORK OBSERVER. It’s just that mourning Todd McCarthy’s departure from VARIETY (and, yes, I know that VARIETY wants to downsize itself into irrelevance) seems like shedding tears for Bosley Crowther. But, as I’ve said elsewhere recently, film criticism at VARIETY died starting in 1992 with the dropkicking of Joseph McBride from the paper. Terry McCarty
While I understand what you mean, equating McCarthy with Crowther seems a little harsh.
Why is the Carr thing even on video? Nothing against Carr, but it would have been quicker and more enjoyable to read it.
Agreed, Josh. But hey, it’s “new media!” Just what I’m talking about actually….

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