Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"F**k the Average Reader"

Hey, you see that title up there, the one with the naughty word in it? Relax, I didn't say it, although it certainly made me feel better about what I'm doing with my life.

Nick Hornby recently interviewed David Simon, creator of the The Wire, and one of Simon's responses validated everything I believe in.

Hornby asked Simon a simple question about writing for the show, and how it must be difficult to accurately capture the slang of inner-city youths.

Simon's response, honestly, left me grinning ear to ear. Actually, I damn near jumped out of my seat...

DS: My standard for verisimilitude is simple and I came to it when I started to write prose narrative: fuck the average reader. I was always told to write for the average reader in my newspaper life. The average reader, as they meant it, was some suburban white subscriber with two-point-whatever kids and three-point-whatever cars and a dog and a cat and lawn furniture. He knows nothing and he needs everything explained to him right away, so that exposition becomes this incredible, story-killing burden. Fuck him. Fuck him to hell.

Listen, Simon's feelings don't completely apply to this website. Don't get me wrong, I try to write intelligently on the topic of sports, but the fact is I'm not a highly skilled writer. I'm okay, I suppose (I've gotten a lot better in 17 months), but I'm not talented enough to be above Joe Lunch Bucket on the Westside (more on that in a minute). Plus, I frequently write about things like my urine smelling like tuna, so I can't really act as if I'm above simple-minded nonsense every now and again. Malcolm Gladwell, I am not.

But back to Simon's "Fuck the average reader" beliefs...

Like I said, they don't necessarily apply to this website. At least not my written words. As for podcasts, that's a whole other story.

As you probably know, my first love is radio. I worked in radio for the better part of eight years, up until August when Clear Channel let me go. I am passionate about few other things than radio. I have a better understanding of radio (at least in terms of sports talk shows and why they do/don't work) than 99 percent of the people on this planet, and the number probably only drops to about 80 percent when compared to people who actually work in the industry.

Me and the industry...we disagree strongly in one area.

I believe the worst kind of talk show is the one that panders to dopes and sucks up to angry callers (to avoid losing a listener). These shows are always hosted by phony ego-maniacs who live in fear of ever being seen in a negative light. The funny thing is that I just described the great majority of current talk shows, sports or otherwise.

And there's a reason that most of these shows are garbage, and it all has to do with Simon's answer and Joe Lunch Bucket. I can't tell you how many times I was personally told by well-known local radio hot-shots (my bosses) that, as a host, my audience was "Joe Lunch Bucket on the Westside," and that I shouldn't ever try to be "cute" with my delivery. I was also regularly told that "nobody knows who the hell I am, so don't piss off anyone." Oh yeah, they wanted to hear call letters a lot.

This always infuriated me. I knew what good radio sounded like, and this wasn't it. I was a diehard Howard Stern fan. Ditto for Tony Kornheiser. I am 100 percent positive Joe Lunch Bucket hated Kornheiser. He probably complained that Mr. Tony didn't talk enough sports. Funny thing is, I bet Kornheiser loved the fact that regular dum-dums hated his show.

I'm guessing the same is true for Wes Anderson, the guy who created two of my favorite movies, Rushmore and The Life Aquatic. These films weren't monsters at the box office--probably because every other scene didn't end with one of the characters being kicked in the nuts.

Okay, I officially have no idea what I'm talking about anymore. I'm just rambling and rambling and missing out on my basic point. I wrote 750 words when all I really needed was a paragraph or two. Actually, all I really needed to write was how David Simon validated my beliefs towards radio.

That's it. That's all I really have to say. Sorry for being long-winded and incoherent.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)