Thursday, August 17, 2006

Kill This Noise

News flash:
Lester Bangs is fucking dead. So is Hunter S. Thompson.

People have to stop asking stupid goddamned questions like, "How come nobody's like Hunter S. Thompson anymore? How come we don't have assholes like Lester Bangs kicking around?"

Those are stupid questions. Ask them if you want, but they're the worst kind of wanking, like asking why there's no Citizen Kane of videogames. Or why there's no Marcel Marceau of competitive hopscotch. Or no truffle of bubble gum.

I will henceforth refer to such a question as "The X of Y Postulate."

I've seen at least two articles about how videogame critics need to take more drugs and insult more devs, but that's more than enough to signal a moratorium. The call and response that results doesn't push anything along.

The thing about "The X of Y Postulate" is that it inevitably gives you a lot of reasons why Y isn't in any way similar to X - but little else.

So we won't ever have a Hunter S. Thompson of videogame criticism because there was only one HST, and we never had an HST of anything - we had a writer who wrote about things in his particular voice, a voice that was compelling and authoritative and thoroughly fucked up. Remember that he wrote sports columns for much of his later life. His last non-sports column, written on September 11th a few months* before he would kill himself, is one of the most chilling and prescient things ever written - ever.

It was a response to an event, though - it wasn't of anything.

This should be the last time I respond to this topic, until six months from now when someone asks the same questions all over again.

Note: This post isn't particularly topical, not in blogpost time - it's at least two or three weeks past freshness, but it was stinking up my Drafts page so I sprinkled some salt on it and served it up hot. The inspiration comes from this article on Pitchfork - there was a similar essay around the same time, but I can't find it at the moment.

*update: pointed out by Patrick Dugan in the comments - this statement is wildly off the mark - he would kill himself in 2005, which, even when broken down into months, would not qualify as only a few. Duly noted. Still, I hated his sports columns. But then, I'm not fond of sports.


Thomas said...

Yes. Thank you.

GregT said...

Can I ask, "Where's our person who does videogame journalism by reference to gaming as part of a cultural gestalt and ongoing societal trend rather than by attention to individual publishers, titles, and events?" Or is that also verboten?

Speaking of which, where IS the Marcel Marceau of competitive hopscotch?

Thomas said...

He got trapped in an invisible box after a jacks tournament in hoboken.

Duncan said...

The truffle of bubble gun is quite obviously Grape Double Bubble.

Patrick Dugan said...

I think videogame critics should take more drugs and insult more devs, I've tried to get that moving on my own, but I'm only one man.

HST died in early 2005, a few months and four years after 9/11/2001.

And the guy who originally asked the Lester Bangs question was Chuck Kloisterman, who is not explicitedly a game critic, but who has commented on games like the Sims in his pop culture commentary.

Johnny Pi said...


You're right about HST. I'll halfheartedly correct the error - thank you for the clarification. I was in the Corps during this time period and so the years 2001-2005 are compressed into a mishmash of random occurrences.

I've read only a little Klosterman. Am quite interested in his books.


Not a bad question. I think there are already people out there doing just what you reference, though.