Macaulay Culkin has a band called Pizza Underground that covers Velvet Underground songs but makes them about pizza. “I’m Waiting For A Delivery Man,” “Cheese Days,” you get the idea. It’s not my favorite joke in the world, but it’s harmless, and a lot of people really like it.
Anyway. I stumbled on a failed interview this morning between Boston Magazine and Culkin / Pizza Underground. The piece is such a bizarre example of the perils of a certain kind of internet writing.
Here’s the (short) backstory - the writer submitted an interview request for Culkin. The publicist responded by saying that the interview could only be conducted over email, and that it might be with anyone in the band, not necessarily the one who used to be a famous child actor. So the writer, in a weirdly bilious move, submitted a series of schoolyard bully-style questions and then published them in lieu of an interview. Here’s three of them:
If you were a very large (but, admittedly, very dried-out) piece of sausage on top of a mediocre pizza surrounded by much smaller pieces of sausage hoping to receive some of your reflected glory, would you do interviews or make journalists email the pizza as a collective?
If you had a choice between staying relevant forever and never eating a slice of pizza again or being a has-been and eating all the pizza you want, which would you choose?
If you wanted to have some little boys over for a slumber party at the Neverland Ranch, would you order pizza?
The premises of these jokes, as far as I can tell, are
1. Macaulay Culkin is less famous than he was, and therefore he is bad. Ha!
2. Macaulay Culkin was once a popular child actor, but now he makes novelty music, and therefore his status has descended. Ha!
3. Macaulay Culkin, as a child, was friends with someone that many people think molested children. Ha!
The internet is a great place to be mean to people. There are people who deserve it, and writers who deploy meanness beautifully. One of the reasons I really like reading Gawker is that I think they mostly choose fair targets, and when they’re snarky, there’s almost always a discernible ethical argument behind the snark. This is not that.
This is an author tying together some of the worst traits of internet snarkiness - being indiscriminate with the target (sure, Culkin seems to be her primary target, but the rest of the band is collateral damage), taking a gentle rebuff from a silly band much more seriously than the situation warrants, and then lobbing a grenade back at the band when a tennis ball would have been fine.
Heck, it could have been a funny article.