November 17, 2006

This Won't Be Good

So, apparently, ESPN's Page 2 has a new columnist named Jemele Hill, and in her debut column, she interviewed herself. Never mind the fact that she obviously stole the self-interview bit from yours truly. She hasn't written anything of substance yet, and I already dislike her.

Don't worry. sports fans; she's an original, a maverick, independent voice who isn't afraid to speak her mind. I know this because she says so (albeit in different ways) about 10,000 times in the course of this self-interview. Please, spare me the self-congratulation. How is it that, even though every new-school sportswriter claims to be an independent thinker, 90% of them sound more or less the same? Yes, we get it. America is hypocritical in its attitudes about race. Old white men don't like most modern athletes. Throw in a handful of "I-Love-The-'80s"-style pop-culture references, and you've pretty much nailed the new-school-sportswriting algorithm. It's just as hackneyed and formulaic as, say, Skip Bayless.

A couple things from this article that really ticked me off:

Yes, I discuss race openly, honestly and, hopefully, intelligently.

If everyone who claimed to discuss race "openly and honestly" actually did, America's race problem would be confined to a handful of unreconstructed assholes. In practice, though, this "I alone dare to speak the truth" shtick is primarily a stock answer to critics who find you obnoxious, rude, or just plain wrong. "If you disagree with me, that's because you're a hypocrite/ you're racist/ you're out of touch." Try not to dislocate your shoulder from all that patting yourself on the back, okay?

[A]s a columnist, I hope to make you think, piss you off, make you laugh, make you reach for Advil, and make you cry. Mostly, though, I hope to make you read.

Again, stock self-aggrandizing garbage. The last sentence sums up the truth nicely, though.

Well, I need to break the ice. These people are going to be stuck with me for the next couple of years.

The next couple of years? I wouldn't be so sure.

I also would ask: If former Miami Hurricanes announcer Lamar Thomas were white, would he have ever been given a broadcast job in the first place? His criminal sheet is so long he could have been a foot soldier for Tony Soprano.

This is a nonsensical statement. What's the implication here? That white announcers can't have criminal records and be hired? I find that hard to believe. The truth is that broadcast companies couldn't care less about an announcer's past, criminal or otherwise, as long as he or she is a good broadcaster. The only time they care is if said past becomes a public embarrassment for the broadcast company (for example, if a broadcaster who is a thug is caught on air enthusiastically approving on-screen thuggery). Denny McLain got a sports talk show directly out of prison, and he's white. (Since Jemele is from Detroit, I figured she'd have heard of McLain.) No need to overthink this to prove your "open-mindedness" on race, okay?

(spoken by the "interviewer") If this is some sort of preview of what you're going to be like on Page 2, I think half of the people who read this will find you annoying. Maybe more than half.

Ain't that the truth. Jemele responded with a bizarre analogy about how boyfriends and girlfriends want to poison each other from time to time, which made no sense, in keeping with the rest of the column.

This is Ralph Wiley's truest legacy. Wiley was frequently outrageous, often made debatable assertions, and made me want to pull my hair out reading him half the time... but he was a genius, and an enormously gifted writer, so it worked. A lot of the new-school sportwriters grew up reading geniuses like Wiley, and they want to be like him... but 99% of them can't do it. They're not talented enough. And if you try to imitate Wiley without being as smart or as great a writer as Wiley, you're just an smug asshole with a sports column.

Maybe I'm being unfair to Jemele. Maybe the self-interview was just a gimmick that backfired, and she's really a good writer who had a bad debut. She wouldn't be the first. But if not... we'll see if we're really stuck with her for two years.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at November 17, 2006 02:26 PM | TrackBack

If Deadspin is to be believed, she's also making a preposterous 400k for those two years.

Posted by: frinklin at November 17, 2006 11:10 PM

Sweet Jesus. Four. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars.

I certainly hope, for that kind of scratch, that her debut column is in no way indicative of her writing ability.

Posted by: Mediocre Fred at November 20, 2006 02:36 PM

"But the hip-hop question is one that black people always are asked because hip-hop has somehow become the downfall of Black America. I'd rather blame the people who make kids as opposed to the ones who make records."

I actually wasn't offended until I saw that. No wonder there are people out there claiming that legal abortion is a genocidal conspiracy against African Americans. My only hope is that by "make" she meant "raise" and not "birth."

I will agree that Don Cheadle whups Samuel L. Jackson as a serious actor, but I bet Cheadle couldn't deliver Ezekiel 25:17 like Jackson. For one thing, he'd probably insist on the real verse.

Posted by: PG at November 21, 2006 06:51 PM
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