Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You're an intellectual giant, an authority

Guardian journalist Zoe Williams, hauled up before the readers' editor to defend her below-the-belt article about Boris Johnson, responds thus:

"I'm not a reporter... I write comment. I tell people what to do all the time. I don't expect them to take me seriously."

Which is fair enough I suppose, and I've always been fond of Ms Williams' pungent drollery. But that's certainly one to store up for the next time somebody like Andrew Keen disparages amateur, dilettante bloggers by comparing them to 'proper', 'serious' journalists.

PS: Just heard John Mortimer on the Today prog, being very snotty with the poor guy who's written the new Brideshead Revisited adaptation. (Younger readers may not be aware that Sir John penned the 1981 telly version that got us all wearing our jumpers over our shoulders.) One line from the irrepressible old curmudgeon stood out: Brideshead is "...entirely a book about God and homosexuality."

PPS: More on the vacuum where the commentariat's vital organs should be, from the mighty Bête.

14 comments:

kate s-b said...

I heard that Today interview too - Mortimer was SO rude and hypocritical!

That is all.

patroclus said...

I was quite taken aback at the relentlessness of that Zoe Williams article. I like it when a paper puts itself behind a political candidate and explains why it's doing so: it smacks of 'actually having principles'. But the article should really have been pro-Ken rather than anti-Boris.

Tim Footman said...

Kate: Rude, yes. Excellently so. But hypocritical? Is he not allowed to change his mind in 27 years? In 1981, Tony Blair was a Socialist, and I quite liked Ultravox.

Patroclus: I agree. It was entertainingly abusive (like the Mortimer interview) but possibly inappropriate. Still, maybe an unserious article by an unserious journalist is the best way to tackle an unserious politician.

patroclus said...

Actually I meant to say well done for pointing out La Williams's gaffe there. That will indeed come back to bite her.

And you're right - there's scarcely any difference these days between a competently written blog post and a newspaper opinion article, whatever Andrew Keen might think.

(Although frankly who cares what he thinks, he's just a big troll).

Miss Schlegel said...

Really? I thought it was entirely a book about the Catholic church. (And therefore not much to do with god at all.) Homosexuality I'll buy though — when Lawrence Oliver's elegant Italian wife says to Charles that Sebastian drinks too much and Charles says we probably both drink too much and the elegant wife says Sebastian "drinks too much in a different way" (or something like that) she may as well also say that he "has sex with men in a different way" — both of these habits youthful enthusiasms dragged inappropriately into adulthood, to the dismay/disinterest of the Catholic church, as embodied in the pompous Brideshead.

As you can see it has been some decades since I both read and watched it and I may have a slightly schoolgirl interpretation.

Miss Schlegel said...

Also I still think Vienna is a great song.

chatterbox said...

I heard the John Mortimer interview - brilliantly rude I thought... Being curmudeonly and rude whilst everyone around you continues to be respectful and polite must be one of the few real benefits of old age and I hope they don't abolish it before I get there.

Tim Footman said...

Patroclus: Consider her added to the Caroline Phillips Hall of Shame.

Miss S: I think the other chap was hinting more at the Catholic thing, talking about Ryder as being an outsider, desperate to join this glorious club. I always thought Jeremy Irons was too proper posh to play Ryder - he was a self-portrait of Waugh, upper bourgeois. But the series has become the definitive version, and the film will be seen in relation to that, rather than to the book. I wonder if anyone's tempted to do I, CLAVDIVS... And Vienna is great, but only the Vic Reeves version.

Why wait till you're older, Chatterbox? I didn't.

Spinsterella said...

I liked that ZW Boris-attack. I think I'm bright and meeja-savvy enough to differentiate between an amusing (as in distracting rather than l.o.l.-funny) rant and a piece of serious political commentary.

I was actually pleased that the Grauniad ran a feature brimming with such genuine conviction.

Anyhow, I came here to say CAROLINE PHILLIPS; inevitably I wasn't the first...

treespotter said...

darn... and i only read the Guardian... didn't realise we're not supposed to take it seriously.

Marsha said...

Private Eye (which seems to be all I read at the moment) has an article about the anti-Boris stuff in the Guardian, reminding us that when it comes to trying to sway an electorate in a particular direction, the Guardian has form

http://www.slate.com/id/2109217/

Honestly, some people just won't be helped!

Tim Footman said...

I liked ZW's invective as well, Spin: reminded me of Burchill at her most obnoxious. If it had been a standalone piece it would have been magnificent, but the sustained assault pulled the Guardian down to the level of the Evening Standard. And the fact that the moderators are pulling out the uncomplimentary comments from SB's piece suggests that they feel Ms Williams can dish but not take (which I'm sure isn't the case).

No, Tree, it's the Mail you don't take seriously. Because if you do, you get very depressed.

God, Marsha... Clark County. A project that was born to be the subject of How Not To... case studies.

Annie said...

Ooh, so many things in your post I want to respond too, but it is too early and I'm still half asleep. I'll come back later. Who is this Andrew Keen? He writes a book called 'The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy' and advertises it on his, er, blog?

patroclus said...

Annie: Andrew Keen makes it his business to be obnoxious about bloggers in order to get publicity. The fact that he does it via his blog (actually last time I looked, three blogs) gets bloggers even more riled up, resulting in more publicity for him and his stupid book, which might as well be subtitled Why Unimportant People Shouldn't Have Blogs.