Thursday, October 06, 2005


Yesterday I expressed some opinions of mine pertaining to the news that Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise are expecting a child. You laughed at my words and nodded your heads in agreement, and then you moved on. Today I will continue, for the second and final day, evaluating and critiquing the world around us. Why do I do this? Because I should, because it is an obligation; to those whom much is given, much is expected. If I did not say these things, who would? Probably some other blogger, and you don't read other blogs, so how would you ever know? See that right there? That's the level of logic and rational thought you've come to expect from me, and I'm happy to provide it.

Today I'm going to talk about blogs, specifically Nick Denton and his shoddy stable of gift horses. No, wait - come back! Just hear me out, briefly. Then I'll leave you be for the day and tomorrow write something more in tune with the indefatigable style of The American Mastodon - slightly personal, slightly odd, slightly humorous, slightly humorless, and more than, if not completely, incorrect.

So, to begin: this morning I perused one of my favorite websites, Metafilter, and came upon a discussion regarding AOL's recent acquistion of Weblogs, Inc. for $25 million. Truth be told, I don't really know what Weblogs, Inc. is, though I believe it's similar to the Denton Gawker Empire, in that it consists of a group of people in New York blogging all day. Income is generated through advertising. The blogs themselves are about, well, I already told you - I don't know what they're about. Probably either a) gossip, b) technology, c) sex, d) sports, e) pop culture or f) politics. Now, it was asked in the Metafilter thread, "I wonder what Nick Denton thinks of all this," the point being: since his Empire got passed over, I wonder if he feels a bit angry or a bit depressed that AOL did not offer him $25 million. Then someone linked to Nick Denton's blog, where he says the following:

Blog acquisitions - The acquisition of WIN by AOL is exhilirating news, in many respects, most of which I shouldn't list here. For what it's worth, Gawker isn't for sale. The whole point about blogs is that they're not part of big media. Consolidation defeats the purpose. It's way too early. Like a decade too early.

Now, I'm all for integrity and the fight against the consolidation of media. I'm glad that blogs offer a variety of viewpoints and that personal expression has become so easy and immediate. But how - and this is a sincere question for which I hope to receive a sincere answer - how can this guy simultaneously talk about the social or journalistic importance of not acquiescing to big media and keep a straight face? In what fucking universe are "big media" and twenty posts a day that end with "and that's when Tara Reid's publicist shit herself" even in the same fucking ballpark? Even worse, he attempts to defend his company from selling out by playing the integrity card. Worse than that is the fact that I'm not sure, precisely, who he's using the integrity card against, since it seems that no one has yet offered him $25 million.

Here's an analogy. You're familiar with the song "Who Let the Dogs Out?" by the Baha Men, correct? Now, do you think that when the Baha Men were writing that song and performing it, they thought to themselves, "You know, it would be great to sell this song and make some money, but right now, we're only about the music. It's important to us to make quality songs and keep our integrity, and to not sell out. We're about the music first, the money second."

Well, of course they didn't think that. They thought, "Holy shit this is a shit song, but who knows? We just may make about thirty yacht-fulls of money with this crap."

In other words, "selling out", as it is used in our vernacular, is not applied to something that has, since its inception, been created for the sole purpose of making money. No one claims that Goodyear "sells out" when they release a newly designed tire - "Dude, the original Aquatreads were way better than the 2006 version - back then, man, those guys were just making tires for the pure love of traction."

So why, Nick Denton, why do you insist on being a douche? If you really believe that "consolodation defeats the purpose," why do you continue to create more blogs? And if Gawker isn't for sale, how precisely do you make your money?

Truth be told, I don't really care about this stuff. Sometimes a co-worker will forward me a Defamer post, which is actually a great site, but other that I don't remember actively going to a Denton Blog site. I certainly don't care as much as, say, this guy does. In fact, I'm sure that Nick Denton is nice, normal guy, doing what we're all doing: looking to make a buck and have fun doing it.

But I also believe that the quote he posted today on his website just goes to show you how deluded anyone will become when they insulate themselves in an environment of sycophants and desperate fameaholics. If Denton had said, "Shit, man, good for Weblogs, Inc. $25 million is a shitload of money, and I wish someone would offer me that," then at least I would have proof that he's not a douche instead of having to suspect it.

To sum:

Dear Nick Denton:

Your blogs will not save the world. They may make celebrities feel bad about themselves for being normal, they may give a small but fleeting feeling of superiority to receptionists, or they may alert us to the newest Japanese schoolgirl porn site, but they're not going to change the way journalists report actual news any more than "Who Let the Dogs Out" is going to change the way Wilco writes their music.

Your goal has been to make money, right? Why attach this self-important moralism to it? Be indie or be rich, holmes. Also, don't front.

Keep the peace,

The American Mastodon

This totally awesome picture of a python that burst after trying to eat an alligator is a valuable metaphor to describe blogs and "big media", though I'm not really sure, exactly, how. But seriously, isn't this a sweet picture?


King Koopa said...

Before you bust out one of your undisputedly great comebacks on me, allow me to first acknowledge that I don't know the first thing about Gawker or anything or anybody that you mentioned in your post. Well, I might've heard someone mention "AOL" on the news once and I might've received 200 AOL CD-Roms in the mail that I've since turned into drink coasters and microwave spark-producers. But, I digress.

Could it be that this guy just wants to be able to do whatever he wants without having to report to anybody else, or boost ratings, or write a post on some star that AOL has a particular interest in? If I made money with my blog, that's what would make me the happiest: Being able to do whatever the hell I want and not have to answer to anybody. Koopa's Hideaway is stridently independent, but it's not exactly making me consider quitting my day-job. If Rolling Stone came in and wanted to pay me to write love-letter posts about Joss Stone and Maroon 5, it would be a lot more like a job all of a sudden. Granted, $25 million would make the poison go down a lot easier...

To sum, to me, "selling-out" means consciously changing your art to dumb it down or make your corporate check-signers feel safer in the commerciality of the product. That might've been your point all along, I got lost in the argument you were making somewhere around the Baha Men reference...

Mathis said...

Koopa: Thanks for writing so much about something you admittedly know nothing about.

King Koopa said...

Damn. You ARE the King of comebacks!

Analogcabin said...

I totally support what you say here, though I think your own "I really don't care, but here's 1000 words on the topic" attitude is approximately as lame the way you fuck. That is to say, really lame.

This whole "caring isn't cool" pose is going to get you a first-class ticket to nowhere, son. You care and you're right. Admit it and be proud.

Mathis said...

Dude, whatever.

cna said...

Baha Men totally paid their dues with albums such as their Junkaoo influenced freshman effort, 1992's "Junkanoo", to their perfecting the fusion of beach traditions with contemporary sentiment in 1998's "Doong Spank". You clearly just don't "get" World music.

T.S. Farmhand said...

If somebody will summarize the last six paragraphs for me, I promise to have an opinion.

Ian said...

I agree with everything you said, except for your last analogy, which would've worked better if you'd substituted a good band for "Wilco."

Mathis said...

See, Ian? That comment you just made?

That's exactly what I'm talking about. That's indie.

And as a matter of fact, there actually was another band I was going to reference other than Wilco, but unfortunately, I can't even write their name - that's how indie this band is, this band that I know about. I wish you knew them, and I wish I could tell you about them, but if I did, then how indie would that be?

Not very, my friend. Not very indie at all.

Stay indie, y'all.

Grace said...

For what it's worth, Gawker isn't for sale. The whole point about blogs is that they're not part of big media. Consolidation defeats the purpose. It's way too early. Like a decade too early.

Well now. So consolidation defeats the purpose, and it's way too early to defeat the purpose. Let's not defeat the purpose for another decade.