Message from the ombudsman
To this point in my tenure as FreeDarko ombudsman (I prefer "public editor," but as this title was bestowed upon me, I have accepted that some things are beyond my control), I have not found it imperative for either me or my staff to respond so formally to any comments left by our readers. Much of the reader response has been quite positive, and the few negative comments have rarely risen above the level of crude insult, and as such, have been ignored. However, within the past week, there has been a great deal of criticism concerning the purview of this blog and its particular rhetorical style, and since we have but a modicum of interest in the outcome of the second round of the playoffs, we thought we might as well address these points directly.
Perhaps most distressing was a recent comment left by an anonymous reader suggesting that this site was "played" and was merely trying to emulate other more prominent sports and entertainment outposts:
Kobe's the next MJ, Kobe's NOT the next MJ, blah blah blah. The whole subject is worn out, tired, played. Don't care what Skip Bayless thinks about it, don't care what you think about it. The league is great right now for the players and the teams as they are, not for who the can be compared to. Move on, Page Two wannabes.
SilverBird 5000 responds:
Thank you for your succinct and well-reasoned criticisms. I wish I could say you were wrong, and that comparing Kobe and Jordan is in fact a worthwhile enterprise. But to tell you the truth, I don't care about it either. In fact, the only reason I write for FreeDarko (besides the money) is so I can get more traffic to my other blog - and true passion - The English Revolution, by SilverBird5000 .
Actually, your comment about the stupidity of comparing Kobe and Jordan reminded me of a post I once wrote rejecting the comparison of the English Revolution to other historical revolutions (particularly the French Revolution). Much like Kobe-Jordan, it is my belief that such comparisons inevitably marginalize the English Revolution, and detract from its singularly awesome revolutionary power. Besides, how could we possibly improve our understanding of the English Revolution by distracting ourselves with some other country/century's revolution? It makes no sense!
Finally, your suggestion that we are merely "Page Two wannabes", though seemingly odd in the context of a hit-piece on Skip Bayless, betrays a deep and undeniable truth. When you get right down to it, the most fundamental contributions of this blog - from its interest in sports, to the fact that its written in English - are painfully, and indeed embarrassingly, unoriginal.
I have nothing of substance to add to SilverBird's response, other than to recommend that you waste no time in clicking over to The English Revolution blog that he mentions. I find it to be of astonishingly high quality and a welcome addition to what I must unfortunately refer to as "the blogosphere."
To return to matters more germane to FreeDarko, I shall quote from a complaint written by another anonymous reader:
I like you guys so much more when you talk about something concrete instead of waxing lyrical about nothing in particular (debating 'fast', 'quick' and 'explosive' was a lowpoint).
Bethlehem Shoals, being the wax lyricist in question, answers this criticism:
To address this stinging criticism of everything I fancy myself to be, let me recount for you an important scene from my trip to New Orleans. Visiting a friend in that city in this day and age involves hearing a lot of insider speculation on where the place is headed. Usually, this means you find out very quickly that most of what you’ve heard is a lie, or at least a gross over-simplification.
My friend could not give a fuck less about football. But when we drove past the Superdome for the first time, I couldn’t help but ask if she knew anything about the Saints’ coping strategies. Would they lower ticket prices and become the people’s team? Count on Reggie Bush making them a regional attraction? Would the Bush-as-savior angle be an uncouth one for the franchise to publicly push, or was it even something they’d have to make explicit? I took a second to describe Bush’s style and the Times story on his "Basement Tapes," but only to make it clear what folk hero potential dude has.
About half an hour later, it somehow came up that her younger sister (also in town) had some interest in sports. My friend suggested, partly to be polite, that she might be of more help in this conversation, since she could actually make some sense of what happens on a football field.
Sorry to disappoint you all, but my answer was “why would I want to talk about that?”
As an aside, we here at FreeDarko have been alarmed at the number of readers who are commenting anonymously. Is the Blogger interface perhaps too difficult or burdensome to navigate? Readers are encouraged to email with any suggestions for improving the ease of commenting on the site, as we find feedback from our readers to be of great value. SilverBird had a different interpretation and wondered if the prevalence of anonymous commenting might be related to privacy issues:
What's up with all the anonymous commenting? Discussion is so much easier with people who have names. I understand the desire to keep a low profile online, but do you honestly feel like "Megalodon422" isn't deep enough cover? I'm just saying...
Finally, reader David Soll was impelled by a comment made by our Dr. Lawyer IndianChief about "post-colonial literature class" to take a stand for intertextuality:
As a fan of the rhetorical slant usually taken on freedarko, it bothers me to see Dr. Lawyer IndianChief assume a pejorative stance to intertextuality. If the doctor is unwilling to take on fully the Lacanian/post-structural mantle of every statement beginning as a response to the Other, it seems to me that recognition is at least in order for the dialectical approach taken in some of the finer posts on this blog.
There is, I'd like to think, a middle ground between a total "death of the author," Foucauldian paralysis and a more careful, complex approach to the intertextuality of opinion formation. The doctor claims to prefer blogs which can be appreciated in "isolation" - well, to me this sounds like a dismissal of what attracts me to freedarko in the first place. It is claims to isolation, not isolation itself (which I really do think is a fiction), that allows analysis to take over the game and constitute an unfree Darko. If what you're looking for is isolated claims to objective determinacy, nearly every other sports thinker in the country is already doing this, and their perpetual failure seems to (at least in part) have been the impetus for this far more compelling blog.
DLIC responds thusly:
I would like to say that I appreciate your well-thought out and articulated point, I realize that you are by and large complimenting us, but I think you and I simply have different worldviews here. My initial point was to say that: (a) we are not simply a blog of dissing Bill Simmons (i.e. the other guys) and that (b) we can stand on our own two, rather than reprazenting "what the blogs have to say about that" or "counter-culture" or "the iPod generation's take on basketball" or merely a "response" to something presumably larger (mainstream media). While in college, it bothered me to no end that people were only able to discuss (and hence praise) the artwork, literature, music of certain (often marginalized) populations IN TERMS of how such work spoke in reaction to a "dominant culture." That, to me, is how intertextuality allows people to diss great works of art and think that they're lauding them.
Invisible Man is an ill book. Why? Because dude is invisible. And we all know what that feels like. Shit is universal. I don't know if Ellison is speaking to or against James Baldwin, Joseph Stalin, or Uncle Sam, but I know I find it highly enjoyable. Does knowing a decent amount of Af-Am history enhance my liking for the book? Hell yes, but not necessarily. I'd like to imagine a baby born tomorrow in Papua, New Guinea could grow up with no frame of reference for that time period/situation, read the book in 15 years and still find it to be a great book.
And so I'm to the point where I'm getting inevitably hypocritical, because I'm the first in line to discuss/praise/insult Kobe/Lebron/KG for being everything MJ/Magic/Bird are not, but I still appreciate, for example, Kobe in isolation, because he's a smarmy fuck that can only exist in this New NBA, of no Dream Team and of no Laimbeer.
While I understand DLIC's point, it seems to me that he may be understating the importance of context in analyzing and appreciating a work of art, whether it be a novel or Ray Allen's jumpshot. At any rate, I find it unnecessary to quote such blowhards as Lacan or Foucault to make what is, in the end, a very simple point. After all, we're just talking about basketball.