On The Record: The Case Of The Missing Column
Hey, do you remember last week’s edition of Bigger Than The Sound? Well, it’s OK if you don’t, considering that it lived on MTVNews.com for about nine hours before disappearing.
It’s true. I can’t even link to it, as it has apparently vanished from the face of the Internet, leaving only this in its wake. In fact, there’s apparently no record of it appearing anywhere, and aside from a couple of sites that linked to it, it’s almost as if I never wrote it at all.
Which may be a good thing for all parties involved.
See, last week’s BTTS was supposed to be a joke-y take on the idea of “anti-buzz,” which states that it’s not important whether people are saying good or bad things about an upcoming album/film/whatever, just that they’re talking about it in the first place. The content of the talking isn’t as important as the concept of it: Anti-buzz, it would seem, is better than no buzz at all (this could also be known as “The Paris Hilton Corollary”).
It’s an idea that has seemingly already taken hold in our everyday life, and as such, I decided to create some “anti-buzz” of my own by boldly predicting which upcoming albums would be, er, subpar, based entirely on my own opinions and very little — if any — real fact.
At first, everything seemed OK. I got some comments from readers calling the column “the best thing ever on MTV Online” and “the most honest and accurate assessment of the American public” they’ve ever read. (I also got one that suggested I perform a highly unnatural act with a dying whale, but it was from a guy who works at a guitar store in Connecticut, so I shook it off.) But then, at around 5 p.m., things took a turn for the worse when a representative for one of the artists I singled out was unhappy — and made her feelings known to my higher-ups.
You probably know what happened next. The column got taken down. I got a talking-to. Everyone agreed to move forward.
As a news department, we don’t make a practice of kowtowing to the demands of artists’ representatives — but we also don’t make a practice of running borderline-unprofessional “columns,” either. Yet both of those things seemingly happened in this instance.
So who’s to blame? Well, certainly, I am. The biggest problem with the column wasn’t the fact that I was taking potshots at some of our most sacred cows — but that I didn’t do it in a very professional (or, for that matter, very good) manner in the service of proving a strong and worth-making point.
My point — that all this speculation and anti-buzz is so patently ridiculous that it couldn’t help but be parodied — didn’t come through, and as such, I ended up looking just like another one of those negative-minded buzz mavens. It was supposed to be funny, but it came across as mean-spirited. And for that, I apologize.
But perhaps I’m not the only one who could be saying sorry. Without getting into it too much, there are some artists who could develop thicker skin, and some artists’ representatives who could at least read an offending article before carpet-bombing our offices with outraged phone calls.
So, what have we learned from this? Well, basically that I can occasionally be a dumbass, that musicians sometimes can’t take a joke and that publicists can be disingenuous. In other words: not much new. But moving forward, I’ll try to be more careful with what I write, and perhaps everyone won’t be so precious about the whole thing. Next week, I’m gonna attempt to write a column completely free of both mea culpas and anything that could remotely be considered offensive to anyone, anywhere. So it’ll basically be a blank page … but not like last week’s column.
B-Sides: Other Stories I’m Following This Week
The idea of another ’Spawn’ movie is pretty scary. The photo of Todd McFarlane that accompanies this story is even scarier (see “Todd McFarlane Calls ’Spawn’ Reboot His ’Passion Of The Anti-Christ’ “ ).
Speaking of terrifying/embarassing photos, here’s Lindsay Lohan’s mug shot (see “Lindsay Lohan Arrested Again For DUI; Reportedly Checks Back Into Rehab” ).
I’ve got a “Harry Potter” spoiler for you: If you’re older than 13 and reading these books, everyone thinks you’re a dork (see ” ’Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows': Sad And Satisfying” ).
Questions? Comments? Concerns? E-mail me at BTTS@MTVStaff.com.