Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

May I hate the Internet for a minute? Also, RIP Lou Reed

This day is one of those times I feel Twitter's immediacy and power: lots of us over there are remembering Lou Reed, who we just learned has died at age 71. Lots of stories and tears, and sometimes even well-meaning jokes. (My online friend Terry Chapman said "Great, now we'll never know whether Metal Machine Music was serious or not." I laughed out loud.)

Then came the dick move. Of course someone posted a "Lou Reed's death is a hoax" article. The problem: that someone's on a satire site. Or a wannabe satire site, which states "The website [REDACTED, 'cause I don't want to link to them] is the medium of our satire to expose with humour, exaggeration and ridicule the contemporary mass production and mass consumption that we observe." Which makes me want to quote Annette Funicello when she said "And your point is?"

Satire (and bad satire, at that) within minutes of people mourning. Sometimes I hate the Internet. (Apparently the same site pulled a similar stunt when James Gandolfini, someone else truly well-liked, died.) Also reminds me of how brilliant The Onion frequently is, where it finds the way to do satire that makes a genuine serious point while still making us laugh. Remember, The Onion's first post-9/11 issue had a story with photos of Brittany Spears and the sharks that had attacked a lot of people that summer with the headline "A Shattered Nation Yearns to Care About Stupid Bullshit Again." That still makes me laugh. Staves off the weeping when I remember that plenty of people think Onion articles are real.

I've long admired the ability to be funny and make a serious, maybe even tragic point at the same time. Daniel Handler's novels, both under his real name and as Lemony Snicket with A Series of Unfortunate Events, find the humor in darkness and sadness while well-acknowledging that darkness and sadness. (His adult novels have included murder, incest, and the leveling of modern-day San Francisco, all things we hope and wish don't or didn't happen.) It's also very easy to do that half-assed and, instead of make people laugh, confuse them or piss them off. What the (still-unlinked) website did was half-assed and, I think, pointless. The Daily Currant (which focuses on politics) and ChristWire (a fake "we condem Godless current pop culture!" site), which I've run into online on occasion, also are generally half-assed. They miss something. It doesn't work. Maybe it's written too short-story-like, which I know as a former journalist you generally don't do; "inverted pyramid" is an incredibly needed and useful news-writing rule. Maybe details don't ring true. Maybe it's just not funny...and anyone who complains then gets labeled the humorless one. Bullshit. Just because I almost fell out of my chair laughing at Raising Arizona while the late Roger Ebert was all "Why do people think this film is funny?," someone's going to think that Roger Ebert had less of a sense of humor than me?

And with that I've vented. So someone's humor failed. Someone was wrong on the Internet. It happens. Meanwhile, I can read people's thoughts on why they liked Lou Reed and his work, offer condolences to his family and friends, and listen to the few Lou Reed songs I have immediately available in my apartment. Turned out to be a live performance of "Sweet Jane" on the CD Live on Letterman, and his vocals for the Gorillaz track "Some Kind of Nature." I work with what I have.

Update: The site has since replaced the article with a short, to-the-point, true, and not confusing note that Lou Reed had passed away. No, I didn't complain directly to the site, but I appreciate that the site took down the piece.
Tags: music

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