One of my favorite sports blogs is Fire Joe Morgan, because it's less a blog about the game of baseball than a very funny running commentary on the idiotic ways the media often covers the game, and by extension the wider trends of cliche, doublespeak and inane nostalgia that one can see in everything from cultural criticism to political coverage. One of their pseudonymic writers, "Ken Tremendous" (who recently revealed himself to be Office writer/producer Michael Schur) has an interesting piece up today about a TV encounter with Bob Costas and Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger, and he critiques Bissinger's profanity-laced rant about the dangers of the Internets, and those dang old blogs. Here's the money quote:

The argument I had tried to make in the pre-taped segment was: you can't say anything about "blogs," any more than you can say anything about any medium. There are good blogs and bad blogs. There are blogs that cover the personal lives of athletes, ones that cover only the games, ones that offer opinions, and even a few that quixotically and foolishly attempt to metacriticize the media as a whole. What Bissinger did that was so annoying to me was: he lumped all of these into one thing ("Deadspin," essentially), then took one article from one day and read it aloud from a file that looked suspiciously like it'd come from Joe McCarthy's safe, and read one sentence from it aloud. And furthermore, he seemed to conflate the actual blog and the people who write for it with the silly comments people make at the bottom of every article.

It's a big dumb ignorant mistake to do this. It's a big hot wet mushy smelly bonebrained mistake to (a) use one sentence from anything as a representative sample of the thing, much less as a representative sample of all blogs everywhere, and (b) to mix blog comments and blog articles. It's an even bigger mistake, in my opinion, to disparage the level of discourse on the Internet and use blog comments as an example. (And swear a ton while doing it, while saying that the Internet is "profane.") Picking a random blog comment and wielding it as a club to bash "blogs" is like picking a random romance novel off an airport bookstore shelf and saying, "This book sucks. Fuck you, Tolstoy -- your medium is worthless!"

For what I hope is the last time, but is clearly not: the level of discourse on Athletics Nation, and Baseball Prospectus, and SoSH, and Joe Posnanski's blog, is every bit as high (if not higher) than what you can read in the best newspapers in the country. Bissinger's hare-brained attempt to prove Leitch an uneducated oaf by asking whether he had read any W.C. Heinz (which failed miserably when Leitch had, in fact, read some W. C. Heinz) was a perfect example of the old guard's attitude toward the new guard: you little shits don't get it. You don't know how to write. You have no gratitude or appreciation for those who came before you. So: fuck you. (P.S. I have never really read your blog.) (P.P.S. Fuck you, though, anyway.)
(italic emphasis mine).

"What the institution can't bear is for anyone to tamper with language," Jacques Derrida wrote. "It can bear more readily the most apparently revolutionary ideological sorts of 'content,' if only that content does not touch the borders of language and of all the juridico-political contracts that it guarantees." Under all the arguments about 'mavericks' and race and gender and age, as important as they all are, might be the anxiety Derrida notes within the academy, and that Tremendous/Schur writes of in sports blogging: an unwillingness to change the very ground rules of the conversation, an unwillingness that often feels generational as much as anything else. If, as has been noted, Obama and Clinton's policy specifics (their "revolutionary 'content'") often overlap, then does the choice really come down to a rhetorical one, a desire to shift space rather than triangulate and mock it?


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