Criticism Is A Great Thing You Analog Motherfuckers

YouTube screenshot
YouTube screenshot

Out of the hundreds of perplexing and entertaining responses I received when writing about Dave Chappelle on VSB last week and then again at GQ this week — tweets, comments, and emails ranging from "you're a coon" and "y'all must've been bought by NBC or Home Depot or something" to remarkably descriptive suggestions for different ways I can fuck myself — the most telling was one that came in a thread on VSB's Facebook page, where a guy "flipped the script" on me by asking how I'd feel if people offered criticisms of my writing.

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The sentiment behind the question is obvious: I can dish it out but I wouldn't be able to take it.

What this person — along with the tens of thousands of analog internet motherfuckers upset today that anyone would dare say anything remotely not positive about Chappelle or Kendrick Lamar — doesn't realize is that for anyone who takes their creative output seriously, criticism is fucking awesome! Take it from someone (Me!) who takes his creative output seriously. Aside from seafood brunch buffets and Black Cement Jordan 3s, there's nothing better than having someone engage your work, study it, process it, and assess it in an articulate, sober, nuanced, and constructive way. Whether they like it or dislike it or somewhere in between, it shows that they're taking it seriously enough to make that effort, which is all anyone who creates for a living wants. (Well, that and timely paychecks. Timely paychecks are first. And free donuts and frequent orgasms are second and third — the order depending on how your week is going. But sharp, vigorous, and reasoned criticism is definitely fourth.)

And then, if you're a person who offers this type of criticism, people might disagree. Which is also fine! And expected! If you liked something I didn't like (or vice versa), I'd love to hear you state your case. Shit, if its convincing enough, I might reconsider or even change my mind! But these analog internet motherfuckers are mad that the criticism even exists. They apparently just want us to wait for and treat new art like a seal happily flapping around; waiting for the Sea World guy to feed them whatever the fuck seals eat. Which is worse than analog. It's gotdamn…Republican. That's right. By shitting their stupid Muppet pants about criticism just existing, these analog motherfuckers are no different than Trump voters.

Also, do you think someone as thoughtful as Kendrick Lamar seems to be is upset that people care enough about his work to have nuanced discussions and debates about the sexual politics embedded in it? Perhaps he's annoyed a little by it, but ultimately artists want people to engage with their work. And people are engaging the fuck out of it today. Don't you think Dave Chappelle would be weirded the hell out if every single response to his latest work was "OMFG!!! DAVE CHAPPELLE IS KING SHIT OF AWESOME MOUNTAIN!!! THE RULER IS BACK!!!" He'd probably give us the peace sign again and disappear for another decade. Which is both the saddest and the funniest part of this all. These analog motherfuckers are fighting a battle their favs don't even want them to fight.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

DISCUSSION

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Furious Styles

I get why people are bothered by the Kendrick Lamar song. It would be nice to hear a truly great new hip hop song where women aren't reduced to walking vags for men to prove our prowess on. Yet and still, I can't get worked up about it. Not anymore than I got worked up about NWA or Kool G Rap decades ago saying worse sh*t. If you're guessing, I didn't. On my TL, people confounded his "artsy street niqqa" persona with being a "conscious" rapper (something that many of those labeled as such don't seek out themselves) and they feel betrayed.

I abandoned the search for purity in my entertainment years ago. Otherwise I would just watch blank screens and listen to nothing but NPR.