So, I was looking for something write about today – since today was the big announcement regarding Curiosity’s first complete soil analysis on Mars – when this article popped up on my Twitter feed…
The article quotes me – so I figured I would be well within my rights to write some kind of rebuttal… especially since I was feeling a little punchy anyhow.
You are, as ever, welcome to read more:
I am clearly a terrible human being who is desperate and sad.
That is self-evident to Katie Heaney up there (the “author” of the BuzzFeed piece) because I made a vaguely humorous post about the royal pregnancy announcement falling on the same day as a NASA briefing about Curiosity.
On her own Titter account, @KTHeaney, she was a bit clearer when she wrote:
Now, I’m sure she’s not overstating it just to get people to read her well thought-out copy and paste job of other people’s Tweets – because that would be an example of her pandering to get hits, but whatevs.
What I do want to discuss, and just so I’m clear – while I do think the BuzzFeed post was kind of mean and ridiculous… in that it’s the internet and if you’re going to post on the internet about how someone is desperate for attention on the internet then you are so far beyond self-deluded irony that there’s no help – but just to be clear, I don’t want to attack the “author”* of the piece. I just want to use my tiny platform to defend what I think I’m doing here.
(*Author is in quotation marks because just copying other people’s posts and then putting them on your own website, essentially profiting from someone else’s creativity, is hackery, not authorship)
Four moths ago, I took my enthusiasm for comedy, sarcasm, and the Mars rover – and I made this stupid parody account to tell jokes. People liked it and now I have a rather large audience of a little over 100,000 people who have stuck with me. These people include NASA JPL staff and reporters and actors and scientists and pundits and weirdos and musicians and all manner of clever and wonderful nerds, geeks, and my best friends.
I am very lucky.
What I am not, is desperate for attention and fame. I know I’m not because I haven’t gotten either of those, and I’m still doing it.
What this is, is a performance. It is me putting on a costume and doing a bit. And for someone to come along and say that just merely by performing – just by doing exactly what the entire point of the thing is – that I’m in some way sad and pathetic… is missing the point by miles.
Twitter parody is, I think, the modern equivalent of comedians having a character. Now, when Mike Myers as “Wayne Campbell” on SNL would talk about the events of the day – that wasn’t shameless and desperate pandering – that was him using his parody of a suburban Canadian slacker to highlight an issue. It was him doing exactly what he was supposed to, exactly what all reflective comedy is designed for.
Basically: How do certain events look when seen through someone else’s eyes?
In my case, it’s the eyes of a snarky robot on Mars, someone else might be a bobble-head or a baby or an angry Hulk… it doesn’t matter. Parody is about imagining how others might view the world and in so doing we get a funny take or perspective that we might not have had.
What we shouldn’t get are mean people saying that we’re pathetic for just putting on the show.
Now, of course I’m incredibly thin-skinned and whiny for even bringing this up. I’M A PARODY! I should just take it and get over it. But, no, I don’t have to – I get to defend myself against what I feel is a false characterization, and I get to do it with my big-boy words, so tough shit.
If it’s desperate for a parody account to comment on events of the day, then it is equally desperate for a comedian to be topical – or for a writer to use allegory to comment on the politics of his time – or for a website to trade on 80’s nostalgia to get hipsters to read about “Reading Rainbow”. And beyond that, it is some kind of Jedi-voodoo-insanity-sauce for a person to write about how desperate another person is for mentioning a thing, just so they can prove how desperate they are to not mention the thing they’re so obviously desperate to be seen not mentioning.
We get it, BuzzFeed “author” – you’re very cool and above all this. Duly noted.
All I’m trying to say, is that we are all just looking for people to listen to us – and once they are listening, we try to say things they either want to hear, or need to hear. That’s what writers do and singers do and actors do and even website blog-post writers do. Performers play to an audience. And every time some smarmy, self-satisfied, irony-cop comes along and says, “BY TRYING TO PUT ON YOUR SHOW, YOU ARE SHOWING JUST HOW SAD AND PATHETIC YOU ARE TO HAVE A SHOW.” Well… fuck. How can anyone stand against that?
Why does anyone even bother to take a stab at doing something fun or funny or frivolous if we’re just going to have our balloons popped by a sneer and an unkind word.
And yes, I am over-reacting and reading far too much into this. I’m taking it all too seriously, and really shouldn’t care. I should just let people write what they want and not get all opinionated and snarky over it. Because, after all, it’s just the internet.
But then, that’s kind of the point. So keep your whining negativity to yourself, or if you must spread that shit – don’t quote me while you do it.