"I think it would be valuable if we had... uh... I mean, there's some sense where blogs correct themselves if you read enough of them, but I still I think it would be good if we had some sort of, you know, blogging -- you know -- council, where we could condemn people. Sort of... responsible body. You could still blog if you want. Nobody's going to stop you. But we're going to... everybody's gonna know that you're not to be trusted... unless you can sort of apologize or answer for yourself."Alterman's affect is so flat that you can't detect if perhaps he's joking. In any case, I'm sure he doesn't think it is too likely to happen. But I was put off by the mindset he revealed. He'd like a blacklist.
Anyway, if there were such a list, it wouldn't be the case that "everybody's gonna know" anything. We'd just be forced to blog about the damned council and what's wrong with it. It could never be neutral. Why do I feel so sure I'd be condemned by a council appointed by Alterman?
Also in this Bloggingheads segment, Alterman complains that bloggers mix too much about their personal lives into their political opinions, as if they think the personal information bolsters the argument: "Tom Paine didn't say 'Common Sense' is a good idea because I'm such a hip guy." But of course, Tom Paine would have blogged, and he probably would have come across as a cool guy, and we would perceive that as bolstering his argument.
Eric is especially perturbed by Andrew Sullivan's personal revelations, notably his description of curling up with his boyfriend in bed on Valentine's Day. I can't find that post on Sullivan's blog, and I looked through the archive of that week, which didn't seem too personal at all. In fact, it has an extraordinary variety of posts on many subjects that are not Sullivan's personal life.
In the course of expressing his hostility toward personal blogging, Alterman lets us know that he went to a "dirty movie." Then it turns out it was the surrealist classic "Exterminating Angel," directed by Luis Bunuel and screened at Lincoln Center. This reminds me of the time my friend ridiculed the hell out of me for saying I was just doing some light reading, and then had to confess that the book was "The Clouds" by Aristophanes. [CORRECTION: Joseph Angier points out in the comments that the movie playing at Lincoln Center was "'Exterminating Angels' - which is some kind of new French arthouse quasi-porno film that screened as part of a Film Society of Lincoln Center festival last week." And I do hear Eric say the "s" in the recording. My point still stands though, because we're talking about a very classy, arty film.]
ADDED: A commenter points me to Andrew Sullivan's Valentine's Day column. It reads in full:
We watched "Basic Instinct" last night with a bottle of champagne and freshly-made brownies. I'd never seen it before. It was washed down by a HD Sunrise Earth special on Machu Picchu. Life is good when you're in love and have a widescreen television.Here's what Alterman said:
Too many bloggers feel that their private lives are intrinsically interesting. And maybe they are. But in a very unhealthy way. In a very Us Magazine, not even a People way. In an Us Magazine way. And I think that interferes with the quality of ... the ability of one to make one's argument on the quality of one's argument....I didn't find the post because I used the search terms "bed," "boyfriend," and "curl," none of which appears in the post Alterman referred to. Would Alterman's council condemn me if I wrote that I detect a whiff of homophobia?
And I think too much blogging is taken over with too much cuteness, too much personality, and not enough of the quality of the argument....
Getting off the topic of silliness, like Andy, Andy, curling up... I just noticed this because last week he wrote about Valentine's Day, how happy he was to be curling up in bed with his boyfriend to watch a DVD. I'm like: Why do I have to read this?
IN THE COMMENTS: Snarky, but true, from Undertoad:
[I]t's no surprise that Alterman doesn't like bloggers to show their personality. Because he loses in that category.AND:
Beware bloggers of ill motive and shoddy skill. You are being watched. And for the glory of all the blogosphere and the citizens therein, you shall be brought to the scouring light of truth by this Council.