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Nothing is Ever Accomplished by Committee: Casualties of War

April 20, 2010

Henry Fonda and 11 other actors in 12 Angry Men - great movie!

The idea for IFMiB in some ways traces back to the dark ages on Livejournal, where I wrote about pop culture similar to what’s done here; albeit in a less polished way. Even then I realized how important it was to create a community where pop culture enthusiasts who sometimes felt erased by the way in which certain forms of pop culture are privileged over others – with the focus toward what is new, flashy and soon to be irrelevant – could find themselves kindred spirits.

My vision was not only to highlight the quirky, but also to take a slow cooker approach to pop culture analysis. Often times you don’t always realize the larger context of a pop culture event until it’s had a chance to simmer in the crock pot for awhile. Covering trends for trend’s sake is not what we do here. Trends from a FRY Butter perspective are examined with a keen eye on the broader impact. For me there seemed little reason to recapitulate what could be found while folks waited in the express lane at the supermarket. Not merely because the news is often tawdry and has whiff of ethical sulfur, but also because there is really no way to tell what that event is going to mean – if it even turns out to be factual – in a broader context and over time.

For example, John Edwards fathering a lovechild is not the IFMiB angle. John Edwards fathering a lovechild with the woman who was the inspiration for Jay McInerney’s Story of My Life, now that’s a damn butter sizzle in the pan. That has some meat on the bone. That is an angle where folks can examine the event from a less tabloidy place. Here’s how that might look based on the contributors own tastes.

  • Everett might examine the intersection of Politics and Socialites, particularly as it relates to money, politics, sex and power. He might even present a timeline of various politicos and their socialite lovers and let us know where this particular situation fits in the context of a larger power grab.
  • Spoon would look at the music, art and culture of the 80s, what ties it had to the political climate and whether or not the novel’s depiction of the NY club culture in any way approximated its real life counter part.
  • Gudbuytjane might examine the woman herself, asking questions about the framing of the whole event and whether or not the media is pitting Edward’s lover against his wife in another example of the Madonna/Whore false dichotomy.
  • Raymond would tell us a story, which might include a musical journey. It might include the subtle clues from 80s films foreshadowing this event. He might even write an analysis of the book itself, from a craft standpoint. There might be mention of a “Disco Fame Hangover” or not.
  • Tasha would want to examine the class aspects of fashion, money and access, and how those elements created the perfect storm where Edwards found himself slipping a key into the hotel room of history.
  • As for me, well, I’d probably create a fake movie of the week and cast a Brolin and write about it.

What sets IFMiB apart is not what we choose to cover, but how we choose to cover it. This means while we aren’t exactly journalists, we aren’t going to be the gossipy neighbor down at the beauty parlor either. We are artists first and foremost. And as artists, well I’d like to think the thought of someone writing about some tawdry event in our lives might give us pause and inform the way in which we conduct ourselves here.

Look I am snarky as all get out. But I am not snarky for snarky’s sake. I have had subjects of my snarky ACTUALLY read what I have written about them – a DIRECTOR being the most recent.
And in each case the subject was not moved to litigation nor acts of violence. Why? Because each person I discuss is a human being to me FIRST before they are the sum of whatever fatuous decisions, reversals of fortunes or embarrassing gaffes they have made.

Moreover, I seek to frame my analysis of pop culture from spirit of genuine appreciation and not some smug distance from the material. I like Sly Stallone! I have liked him most of my life and twice on Sundays. I bother with the subjects I cover because they matter to me. I don’t trade in firing squad pop cultural analysis. That’s why my snark is funny and engaging. People know I’ve done the legwork and they know when I say James Brolin stunk up Capricorn One it’s because I’m quite familiar with his filmography!

More importantly, they know I’m a HUGE FAN.

I have never taken a hipster “ain’t it ironic that we like _____” approach to pop culture engagement and I have no tolerance for folks who do. It does not lead to nuanced analysis of the material nor does it say anything about the writer except they aren’t particularly thoughtful and lack the writing chops to passionately critique their own pop culture consumption. I strongly believe it is vital to critique that which a person consumes and leave that barrel fishing shooting to those with less skills and less integrity.

IFMiB is not the place for that kind of low level concern trolling.

That’s why our contributor’s page is down one contributor.


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