Monday, October 23, 2006

Signs Of The Times, Part The Umpteenth

A blogger uses his Guardian column to explain why newspaper columns* are no longer relevant in the blogging era.

Ahh, we bloggers are like teenagers who think they can live without their parents, but keep running back for food and money and clean clothes.

* Admittedly he's on about leader columns, but it's still nicely ironic.

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter ALBERT, who drew my attention to this piece from Comment is Free last Thursday. It's by Jeremy Langmead, editor of camp interiors mag Wallpaper*. Can anyone square this bit of his tirade:
Neither my ex-wife nor I are the most mature, sane or practical people in the world - we can be juvenile, bad-tempered and stubborn - but we worked hard at keeping everything as pleasant and humane as possible. She helped me hunt for a new apartment, I babysat when she went out on a date, and one evening we sat down with a bottle of wine and worked out a financial settlement, even though neither of us ever came anywhere near to passing a maths exam. Having watched both our parents go through destructive divorces, we knew what the pitfalls were and made sure we avoided them.

Nearly a decade later, we are still the best of friends. We live on the same square in north London and the children happily hop between the two homes depending on which kitchen contains the most chocolate biscuits. My ex-wife lives with her partner and their new baby and we all comfortably socialise and even holiday together.

with this bit:

Some of my younger colleagues at Wallpaper are part of this blog brigade and I have open-mindedly visited their sites to see what all the fuss is about.

I discovered what music they liked, what books they'd read, the names of some of their friends and what a wild time they had at that party last Saturday night - the last accompanied by blurred pictures of drunk people gurning at the camera. Oh, and one of them enjoyed the Hockney exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Proof was in the accompanying picture of him outside the gallery with thumbs in the air.

I came away with the feeling that I'd been watching a particularly dull MTV programme; or delving into the online equivalent of one of those brightly coloured patent diaries that 12-year-old girls covet because they have small gold padlocks with fiddly keys.

Sadly, the minutiae of our everyday lives are rarely riveting. Only a handful of diarists over the centuries have managed to transform humdrum into drama. When future generations read the blogs compiled this week, the most interesting thing will be how uninteresting they are. I've yet to be convinced that blogs are anything more than an outlet for people who didn't make it onto Big Brother 7.

This week Jeremy read Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins by Rupert Everett "I'm not into celebrity outpourings but this was cruel, witty and well-written." Jeremy listened to 5.55 by Charlotte Gainsbourg "A heavenly combination of Air and Jarvis Cocker wrote the songs for this brilliant album ... tracks were used for almost every catwalk show in Milan".

I really, really want to believe that last bit is a hilarious joke, but something tells me it actually isn't...


albert said...

Some twat in the print Guardian on Saturday (Tim Chapman?) was using his column to criticise bloggers for being boring enough to write about the minutiae of their everyday lives. Then he told us about his childcare arrangements and what he'd been watching on TV that week. Arse.

patroclus said...

Heh, thanks for that Albert. Have you got a link to that article, by any chance?

Anonymous said...

I read that column. He said he's read his friends and colleagues blogs and they were all dull. That just proves he has dull friends and colleagues.
Janet Street-Walker had another go at bloggers in her column at the weekend as well. She was refering to the 'Biggest Blog in History' and said she would much rather get her history from clear-minded 'experts' or somesuch nonsense. These people must be reading different blogs to me or else I have no critical faculties whatsoever.

Albert said...,,1925626,00.html

Apologies to the non-existent Tim Chapman. Jeremy Langmead is the real culprit. If that link doesn't work, i'll deliver the print copy later.

james henry said...


Quite a worrying amount of stuff in the Guardian 'lifestyle' world looks as though it ought to be written off as some kind of ironic statement.

See the recent 'I've spent so much time with common people, I've actually started to talk like them' piece in Society.

And Lyne Barber's piece on Extras, which has me rather worried about her.

Spinsterella said...

Ha - that was brilliant.

Isn't it strange that the people who have been criticizing us bloggers in print always seem to get it sooo wrong?

Off to dig out that Lunn Barber piece. I normally love her, but she has her funny moments. She went all gooey last year over some idiotic young toff. I wrote a stern letter of complaint. They didn't publish it.

GreatSheElephant said...

Ah - it is quite clear why Jeremy Langmead's and India Knight's (for it is she) housekeeping arrangements and other daily minutiae are important and interesting and ours aren't.

They are 'slebs.

And we are not.

Kinda obvious really.

james henry said...

Lynn Barber's rather odd piece on Extras

Wyndham said...

To be fair to Mr Langmead, that last bit isn't a hilarious joke - 5:55 by Charlotte Gainsbourg is a brilliant album.

Lyn said...

I realise that blogs are written for a variety of reasons and was irritated immensely reading the criticism. I don't blog but currently am housebound through pain and reading your blog and a variety of others gives me enormous reason to get up in the mornings. My computer has saved my life whenever I am in this situation and finding blogs has enhanced my days. So, thanks all the bloggers ( naturally there are dullish blogs but that is in the eye of the reader ) and all have merit.

patroclus said...

Ahh, thank you Lyn (and welcome!), what a lovely thing to say. Hope the houseboundedness and pain are very temporary things.

rafael said...

That man Jarvis is trying to put me out of a job. He's probably right. But he really ruined my day on Monday. Big meanie. Leader writers have feelings too.

patroclus said...

I wouldn't worry too much Rafael - if he needed to use his Guardian column to make his point, it's kind of a self-defeating one.

As far as I'm concerned there'll always be a need for proper quality journalism and proper, well informed, well written opinion columns, with which we stroppy adolescent bloggers will continue to enjoy a love-hate symbiotic relationship.

I'm not entirely convinced there's a need for vacuous, self-unaware 'what I did this week' columns like Mr Langmead's, but why should he care; he's already got his own magazine.

Anyway, I haven't quite finished with him yet. I'm sure he's quaking in his Prada boots at the dread prospect of the next post I've got planned.