“Stand against snark, and you are standing with everything decent. And who doesn’t want to be decent? The snarkers don’t, it seems. Or at least they (let’s be honest: we) don’t want to be decent on those terms.
What is this defining feature of our times? What is snark reacting to?
It is reacting to smarm.”—
This Gawker essay “On Smarm" (c/o)… I want to quote, like, everything. This bit: “Smarm offers a quick schema of superiority. The authority that smarm invokes is an ersatz one, but the appearance of authority is usually enough to get by with. Without that protection, to hold an opinion is to feel bare and alone, one voice among a cacophony of millions.” Or this bit— “Sympathy begets sympathy, to the benefit of things that don’t deserve to be sympathized with”-!!! ”Snark may speak in cynical terms about a cynical world, but it is not cynicism itself. It is a theory of cynicism. The practice of cynicism is smarm.”
It’s got a nice long side-swipe of that Dave Eggers “Be nice to me because I’m faymouuuuus" quote too (which if you like when you’re in your 30’s and should be starting to know anything about the world… well, god help your little, little mind).
So yeah, I quite, quite enjoyed this one. It even attacks someone with Down Syndrome’s political beliefs! Hell yeah, let’s do that more! Let’s just burn this whole thing down, Pookie! Fired up! Quick— get thee to a Youtube comment section!
The comments section is, predictably, a profound disappointment manifested as an twitchy mass of gormless defenders of smarm, so skip those and instead read, as an adjunct to the above article, the opening to Gore Vidal’s 1974 essay on the state of American criticism, Real Class …
Last month, Isaac Fitzgerald, the newly hired editor of BuzzFeed’s newly created books section, made a remarkable but not entirely surprising announcement: He was not interested in publishing negative book reviews. In place of “the scathing takedown rip,” Fitzgerald said, he desired to promote a positive community experience.
Super hard to pick a key quote from this piece, but
Snark is often conflated with cynicism, which is a troublesome misreading. Snark may speak in cynical terms about a cynical world, but it is not cynicism itself. It is a theory of cynicism.
The practice of cynicism is smarm.
I’ve said it before of the culture of relentless positivity; if you describe every weed you see as an orchid, how can you be trusted to tend a garden?