Streams

Snarky Types

Monday, February 09, 2009

David Denby, film critic for The New Yorker and author of Snark: It's Mean, It's Personal, and It's Ruining Our Conversation, takes issue with the prevalence of snarkiness in the internet age.

Guests:

David Denby

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Comments [28]

Matt from Brooklyn, NY

Denby's white whale obsession with Wonkette is especially bizarre considering he can't get a single fact correct about the site ever. This is especially ESPECIALLY bizarre when one of the things he constantly rails against is people who don't fact check.

Anyway, I suggested before this show even ran that Brian should have Ken Layne (the man who has owned Wonkette for some time now, is not British, and seems to have little interest in building his own sweatshop blog network) on to defend his publication against Denby, but I guess that won't happen. Hopefully someone somewhere with an audience will allow him or another of Denby's targets to rebut some of his lies.

Also.

Feb. 10 2009 01:12 PM
eva

M,
I don't know about your definition. Who defines what can be said?
What laconic interpreter will determine the norms for THAT?

How about:
Snark? Saying something peripheral because it's easier to be sarcastic than to tackle the issue at hand.

Feb. 09 2009 02:53 PM
M from NYC

Snark? Saying something because it can be said, rather than that it must be said.

Feb. 09 2009 02:46 PM
eva

Seth,
I used to think MoDowd was the queen of Snark, and not in a good way, but I've appreciated her recent columns criticizing Obama. And I say that as an Obama supporter. She's really pulled it together to offer useful criticism. Of course, she could always retreat back into snarkiness.

I think she became worse as the Bush admin dragged on - face it, so did the entire country. But she would have been a better columnist with less sarcasm and more justified questioning of what was going on. At a certain point, I think she just threw up her hands and decided to regurg. on the keyboards before every deadline. She was demoralized. Like the rest of us. Now she seems to have found her groove again.

Feb. 09 2009 01:04 PM
seth from Long Island

Maureen Dowd is the Queen of Snarkiness.

Feb. 09 2009 12:52 PM
B. from NYC

I was going to comment on how so many people who aren't from NYC come here and basically replicate the behaviours that they would have attributed to NYers before they moved here. They're usually the ones who dramatically act more hurried, obnoxious, and vulgar than we ever did... And then I read "-- The ulitimate Snark -- talking about what an "amazing campaign" Barry aka Barack ran without mentioning that he broke trust with the American people and spent $800,000,000.00 much from suspect sources to McCain's $84 mil from public funds."

Yeah, what is really unbearable for this one is that somehow this act of supposedly broken trust resulted in winning. Yeah, the noble failures of past campaigns will now be held against the victor this time around. As opposed to all of those uncounted votes in Florida in 2000.

Never mind the broken trust of the TARP handouts, or the broken trust of the outing of a CIA operative, or the NSAs invasions of privacy on a wholesale level. Yeah, we won't talk about that.

Feb. 09 2009 12:48 PM
Amy from Manhattan

To Celia Pett [20]: I heard it differently, almost the other way around. First Churchill said, "You're ugly"; Braddock responded disgustedly, "You're drunk!" *Then* Churchill came back w/"Yes, but in the morning, I shall be sober."

Feb. 09 2009 11:37 AM
KC from Brooklyn

Yeah, I used to read Slate a lot, but lately I can't get through an article there; as often as not, they favor the cheap joke over substance. Too bad. And too easy.

Feb. 09 2009 11:07 AM
Celia Pett from Manhattan

Don't know where the Winston Churchill story about Bessie Braddock came from. As far as I know, the story went as follows on the floor of the Houses of Parliament

Bessie Braddock to Winston: 'You, sir, are drunk'

Winston to Bessie: 'You,madam, are ugly. In the morning, I will be sober.'

Check it out.

Feb. 09 2009 11:04 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I wouldn't call the remark by Sarah Palin that you led off with "snark." It wasn't entertaining enough. Maybe we need a term for snark that falls short. I propose "boojum." (And the cry of the Boojum is "Nyaaahh!")

When I heard Palin's speech at the convention, my reaction was that she had a great future in insult comedy. That falls short of snark too.

Feb. 09 2009 11:03 AM
NC from NYC

I find Maureen Dowd to be very snarky. And Slate - especially the podcasts. It can seem nasty sometimes and turns me off.

Feb. 09 2009 11:01 AM
Barbara

too bad Denby used his interview with Brian to bash Wonkette - it sounded so personal, like he had a grudge, rather than having a substantive argument.

Feb. 09 2009 11:00 AM
Steve (the other one) from Manhattan

"He loves nature, in spite of what it did to him."

Forrest Tucker

Best. Snark. Ever.

Feb. 09 2009 10:59 AM
b

Snark is simple: it is a type of ironic statement that says one thing while primarily expressing disgust or ridicule.

Feb. 09 2009 10:59 AM
Wonkette Fan

Wonkette is not owned by Gawker Media. FYI

Feb. 09 2009 10:57 AM
KC from Brooklyn

Um...but Rush Limbaugh was caught using pharmaceuticals illegally, with faked prescriptions, wasn't he? True, he's rich enough that he avoided legal punishment, but calling him a drug addict isn't even an exaggeration. It's an unpleasant truth.

It's interesting that a truthful, if meanly-phrased, statement is "snarky" on public radio. Sorta says a lot about the mainstream media...

Feb. 09 2009 10:57 AM
Kate

I find snarkiness funny. If it is honest, and intelligent, what is so bad about it?

Feb. 09 2009 10:56 AM
Phil from Queens

-- The ulitimate Snark -- talking about what an "amazing campaign" Barry aka Barack ran without mentioning that he broke trust with the American people and spent $800,000,000.00 much from suspect sources to McCain's $84 mil from public funds.

-- "Amazing Campaign" means -- we bought the election and beat the Repugs at ANY cost.

The liberal biased reporters -- like you -- are laughing up their sleeves.

Feb. 09 2009 10:56 AM
smidely

New York and Snark -- special relationship?

I notice folks from Ohio, suburban London, etc. move to NYC and try to be snarkiest of all, to whit their websites (gawker etc.)

Feb. 09 2009 10:54 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Isn’t being snarky being sardonic by another name?

Feb. 09 2009 10:53 AM
Eric from B'klyn

I watched Colbert at the Roast of Buch and dispute that he was bombing w the audience, there was a lot of laughing although there were some raised eyebrows and uncomfortable laughter. I recall that Fox News tried to insist that COlbert bombed, not true.

Feb. 09 2009 10:52 AM
Wonkette Fan

Denby's book could use a good fact-checking.

Feb. 09 2009 10:51 AM
jch from NY

When Obama said during the campaign that it was his understanding that during the Clinton administration Hillary was "not Treasury Secretary" was that snark?

Feb. 09 2009 10:51 AM
Kevin from Blue Hill, Maine

I think of snarky as smugness and sarcasm that is very (perhaps overly) clever or witty- usually at someones expense

Feb. 09 2009 10:51 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

If you want to understand "snarky" just listen to pretty much everything people who criticize the Republicans say.

Now, of course, that is a joke, the problem with snarky is that people use it like troll to just mean "anyone who doesn't agree with me."

Just look at the post by Chris from NYC.

Feb. 09 2009 10:35 AM
Chris from NYC

If you want to understand "snarky" just listen to pretty much evertything the Rebulicans say. I don't mind hearing the opposite view, in fact I welcome it. I just like to hear it staight rather than "cute" slanted" and "snarky" What a concept: OH - My - GOD (okay, that last was snarky)

Feb. 09 2009 10:10 AM
roses

Last week I commented here that no one looks like a senior citizen these days, what with botox, hair dye,etc. It might have been a little sarcastic but when Brian read the comment on the air, he introduced it as snarky. I was surprised by that remark...and of course, really surprised to hear my comment on the air. Could be wrong but I thought for something to be snarky it has to be mean-spirited and that was not my intention. Oh great... now this will be considered snarky.

Feb. 09 2009 06:37 AM
eva

Good for Denby. But since he seems to like these Athenian and Hellenic examples, please ask him this: 2300 years after the barrel-dwelling crank Diogenes lived, an amazing number of people can tell you about Dio.'s most memorable snarks - the lamp held up in daylight while "looking for an honest man," or his apocryphal request to Alexander the Great that he "move aside, you're blocking my sun."

So I guess I take issue with people claiming anything that ordinary people do is "ruining our conversation." Where was Mr. Denby to defend us against a media that successfully degraded the conversation by ramming the consumerist "Sex and the City" down our throats for so many years - selling it not only as "entertainment" but as "feminist entertainment"? (If that's entertainment, I'd hate to find out what torture is.)

But is what I just wrote "snark"? Or is it legitimate for ordinary, non-elite media staff to ask questions about the culture? (Even if they have to do it on the internet...)

There's a reason we remember Diogenes (and why we hopefully won't remember the cast of Sex and The City) - he spoke for ordinary people fed up with the hyprocrisy of the people who controlled the culture.

It wasn't on the level of Socrates, but his snark was vital. And Mr. Denby, please, no defense of SATC by bringing up 5th century "lute girls" - there's just no valid comparison.

Feb. 09 2009 04:00 AM

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