PIVOT TO THE OLD PIVOT

Posted in Rants on September 13th, 2017 by Ed

Something has been bothering me lately.

First, remember when Insane Clown Posse's popularity started to wane – I mean, how many times can you write the same song and put on the same Faygo-soaked show? – and they made the Big Reveal that for their entire decade-plus long career their secret message was actually…Christianity? It was one of the strangest deus ex machina moves in the history of showbusiness. People around the world could honestly say in unison, "I did not see that coming," and anyone who said they did was obviously lying. Nobody saw it coming, especially given that it wasn't true and made no sense and was just a play for attention as the rest of the world was losing interest.

That was amusing.

I can't offer an equally compelling or nonsensical Reveal, but sometimes I wonder if the handful of people who read this or follow Gin and Tacos in other formats get what it is about. I've been doing this for a long, long time now and I find it extremely rewarding and if someone else gets something out of it, that's terrific. Whatever level you might enjoy it on is fine by me. If you don't enjoy it, I don't take it personally. Nothing is going to appeal to everyone, with the possible exception of cheese fries.

Regardless of whether you are new or have been around forever, or read every day or once per year, or hate it but still read it for some reason, lately I have had this nagging feeling that a lot of people (who comment, otherwise I have no clue what you're thinking in response) are missing the point. So, here is the Big Reveal: this isn't and never has been about Politics. It's a blog about bad logic. Bad arguments. Conservatives are not The Enemy. Centrists aren't either. The whole point, and what gives me some small amount of pleasure, is to make fun of bad arguments and the motives of people who make them. Usually the motive is either 1) they are lying to you, and think you're stupid enough not to notice that their argument makes no sense or, 2) they're really bad at logic and don't understand that the argument doesn't make sense (or, more often, is totally inapplicable to the point).

My parents could tell you stories about me at age four throwing tantrums because something didn't make sense, or school detentions piling up because I had the really unfortunate habit of pressing adults with questions about Why when rules were clearly arbitrary or when the motives were misrepresented (I mean, if we're clearly doing something to kill time, let's just admit it, ok?). So I don't know, maybe I'm just difficult. Scratch that. I am a very difficult person. OK. I get it.

Here's the thing, before I digress too far – a lot of people (apparently) read the things I barf into the ethers with the understanding that it's About Politics. And that causes a lot of problems, because the point here isn't to support one political viewpoint or another. It's to make fun of really bad logic that makes no sense. The consequence is that if you're following this as the average Sports-type politics blog (Our team is great! Go team! Boo, other team!) you're probably going to get super cranky when the criticism turns toward Your Team. The 2016 election, for example, was a ludicrous experience (for many reasons, of course). Team Hillary couldn't stop screaming that I'm a Bernie Bro, Team Bernie couldn't believe what a sellout centrist fake-liberal asshole I am.

As a result, over time I've been trying harder and harder to make everyone happy on the politics front. At the same time, as many of you know, I've been trying to break into Professional Writing for Serious Media Outlets, which (as I've rambled about) requires changing one's writing style to appeal more broadly. The combined result is that it has been getting less fun. I don't enjoy it any less, but it's less fun. Does that make sense? I hope it does.

The more you try to massage something to make it appealing to Everyone, the less interesting it's going to be. And lately I feel like everything I say is trying to anticipate and preclude various inevitable criticisms. And not only is it less Fun, and not only does it feel defensive, but it's also pointless. It's pointless because when 10,000 people see something, some of them are going to respond critically without even reading it. Some of them will be critical because they misread it intentionally or otherwise (It's always much easier to respond to what you heard than to what a writer said). Some of them are just assholes.

And there's one other complicating factor that is unpleasant but undeniably a part of this: the world of writing creates strong incentives to Build the Audience. Want to write a book? Better show off how many followers you have on Social Media. Want to write for a big website or magazine? Well how many people follow you on Facebook, sonny? Which, as much as we all hate admitting that the Free Market influences us, is a powerful incentive. Don't piss off the audience that took so very long to build! Keep everyone happy! Offend no one! Apologize readily! The audience's eyeballs and various clicks are a valuable currency, not to mention that it's hard to see something you worked so hard and for so long to build (an audience, because who wants to write stuff nobody will ever read?) recede.

So, there's a lot going on here. And it has made this no less rewarding, no less enjoyable, but a little less Fun. When it's not Fun, the final product isn't nearly as good or nearly as interesting. And after the last highly stressful (politically) two years, I'm tired. I'm exhausted, even. I'm not tired of expressing opinions that you are free to take or leave; I'm tired of trying please everyone. And I'm going to stop doing that, and go back to what I did for a very long time when nobody aside from a handful, maybe a hundred, people read this. Audience Building is tiring.

If you can't handle someone criticizing Your Team, go read Wonkette or Jacobin where you can be guaranteed 100% consistent Go Team coverage. They're both good. I read both regularly. If you can't respond with criticism that actually has something to do with what I said, go ahead and mash that "unfollow" or whatever. If you are an asshole, I'm probably going to be an asshole right back. If you want to yell at someone about what you heard without understanding the possibility that you're hearing what you want to hear based on your own biases, this might not be for you. If the best response you can come up with when someone criticizes a media figure or politician who is female is "omg why do you hate women," go read Jezebel or something. I have no interest in changing your mind, nor in being a target to absorb your late night drunken anger every time you are personally insulted by something that is not about you at all because you're kind of a narcissist. It's fine. We all have narcissistic tendencies. It makes neither of us a bad person. My only point is that nobody is forcing you to read this, the world is literally drowning in content you could be reading, and I have to start making peace with the fact that maybe this just isn't something you like, and that's OK.

This is all self-inflicted. I've been doing this to myself, and for a long time now. I'm not a victim of anything at all other than choices I've made that I want to stop making now because they're making probably my greatest joy in life less Fun. Nothing is going to change except my approach to this mentally. You're OK. I'm OK. We're all OK; we just aren't all going to like the same things. I love you all, but lately I've been caring way too much what you think and how you will respond. So, I'm just going to say what I want to say and you are going to respond how you want to respond. And hopefully everyone will be happier in that scenario. If we continue to share the same space, great. If we end up parting company, no hard feelings.

Thanks.