Thursday, February 25, 2016

Katy Waldman in Slate: Those olds sure are stupid. Also ridiculous. Also old.

This is going to be short, and it ought to be tagged "I skim read it so you don't have to"or maybe "Tempest in a Teacup Thursday."

Anyway, apparently David Denby at the New Yorker, channeling Sven Birkerts, wrote a lament for the decline of reading, roughly as follows: "Kids these days! They don't read, amirite?"

Laments for the decline of reading are as old as literacy.

Laments about kids these days are as old as human beings.

Katy Waldman at Slate calls this "the get off my lawn" genre of writing, and she has a point, and a metaphor, and a cliche, all in one.

I'm not saying she's wrong--she isn't--and after the obligatory snarky Twitter screenshots, she actually links to some statistics.

And she's totally right about the laments being about the decline of (old, white, male) classics rather than (living women, people of color) contemporary novels or YA fiction.

But she beats this "old people--stupid, clueless, and too bad they're not dead" cliche to death. "Geriatric Cassandra." Isn't Denby wrong enough without age entering into it?

I get that this is Slate (I actually mistyped it Snake at first), the command central of snark.

But can't she dismantle one stereotype without encouraging another?  It's kind of like listening to 7-year-olds hit each other in the head and say, "I know you are, but what am I?"


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Geriatric Cassandra!! LOL. Oh god, yes. This falls under my new year's resolution not to read complaining, whiny, liberals-hating-liberals writing. The Slate stuff, I mean. Not your eye roll at it! :)

undine said...

Funny but mean, Fie; in other words, Slate-worthy. I was mad at myself for reading it but then figured I'd put my hate-reading to good use.