Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Listen Up, All You Masqueraders

Stephen Marche:

It's not just you, Sinead. It's all open letter writers. You're writing open letters because it makes you seem like an important person. You're writing open letters because you feel that you are a historical figure whose communication should not be limited to the mundane reality of either personal one-on-one missives or online opinion publication. That's what ordinary people do. They write arguments when they disagree with somebody's opinion, and they write letters when they want to address another person. And that is what you should do, too.

I get it. I really do. Writing an open letter connects you to the world of grand intellectuals. I mean, Emile Zola wrote "J'accuse" as an open letter. A great French novelist calling out his nation on their anti-Semitism. Who wouldn't want to be like Emile Zola? But here's the thing: The more times you use the open letter format, the less open letters in general matter. We have now arrived at the current position where pop singers are using a series of open letters to address soon-to-be-washed-up pop singers about their clothing selections in music videos. What I'm saying is that we've reached the low point. Subjects are not going to get any smaller or more irrelevant to the public interest. They insult the glorious history of the open letter.

Hear him, hear him! The fact that the comments are almost uniformly negative makes me laugh all the more. Mocking people for pretentious, passive-aggressive attention-seeking seems to rustle some jimmies on the social web; imagine that.