Quote of the Day: I Just… I Can’t Even… That’s It, I’m Out… F*ck You, Salon

FILED TO: Media and Entertainment


“Honestly, it has to be the dumbest fucking thing I’ve seen ever. Literally ever.”

— Banter founder Ben Cohen in an e-mail he sent me just a few minutes ago

I know it seems like I’m going for the low-hanging fruit here by quoting my boss, but really there’s nothing I’ve read today that better sums up and puts a fine point on a subject. That subject, as it turns out, isn’t simply the latest entry in our ongoing “What Stupid Fucking Thing Did Salon Say Now?” series, it is, quite frankly, the dumbest thing the site has ever printed. In fact, it could very well be, as Ben alluded to, the dumbest fucking thing that’s ever been printed by anyone — period.

It’s the kind of thing that makes you not only want to burn Salon’s offices to the ground in the name of salvaging whatever’s left of the overall IQ of the United States but pull the plug on the entire internet, or maybe go back in time and smash the original Gutenberg printing press with a sledge hammer. I want to kill God for creating the species that created something like this.

The piece is called — I can’t believe I’m even typing this — “The Dangerous Transphobia of Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’.”

And no, I will not link to it.

I will, however, quote part of it:

(There is) darkness at the heart of Roald Dahl’s seemingly light-hearted children’s tale. With a spoonful of sugar comes a transphobic message about the dangers of straying from traditional gender roles, a conservative parable about the “right” and the “wrong” kinds of women…

“Matilda” is… a fable about the hubris of being transgender. Women should know their limitations and never imitate a man’s authority or physical prowess, lest he intervene to remind them who’s boss.

Many may have missed these politics, seeing little more than a playful, imaginative, and entertaining story about a smart girl who gets even. This subtlety is Dahl’s genius. By pulling at the strings of our unconscious prejudices, Dahl conjures in the reader a hatred for the enemy that is greater than the sum of her misdeeds.

One group of people will not miss Dahl’s underlying message, however. Little girls who love sports and not dresses, who are tall or muscular, who are boyish or even perhaps identify as boys, who long someday to possess authority. All of these children will see themselves in the Trunchbull, and they will watch closely as these aspects with which they identify are shamed.

This is not the message we want to send our children.

Now, I realize that it’s only been about three weeks since I last called a column at Salon the dumbest thing the site’s ever published — but that should really tell you something about the rapid decline of the once-laudable online magazine. At this point it’s simply impossible to draw any conclusion other than that the whole place was secretly bought by The Onion a year or so ago and everything we’ve seen since then has been an attempt to continually up the ante when it comes to satirizing impotent liberal outrage.

That has to be it. There’s no other rational explanation for this ridiculous column and all the others that have built up to it (as well as the ones which will undoubtedly go on to try to top it).

You know, actually, maybe this response to the piece, from its comment section, is the Quote of the Day:

Oh my god. Shut up. Seriously. Shut the fuck up. I’m a big supporter of equality and rights for all people, no matter how you identify. But shut the fucking fuck up. Point your finger at real causes. Stop getting falsely indignant at a beloved children’s story. You give the LGBTQ movement a terrible name, and you’re the kind of person that opponents can point to and say, “it doesn’t matter what we do, they’ll always find something to criticize, so how can we really take them seriously?”


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  • kfreed

    Fantasy poutrage: foaming at the mouth over imagined oppression when real oppression will no longer suffice.

  • Lex

    good old fashioned linkbait

  • beulahmo

    Hee! I’m enjoying this. Salon’s self-oblivious, absurd sanctimony produces a sublime form of comedy that just can’t be copied. The fact that it’s unintentional somehow makes it more exquisite. Sigh. It’s a thing of beauty, really.

  • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

    It’s not like there aren’t a bazillion other more important stories of REAL LGBTQ discrimination and mistreatment….Jeebus

  • Nefercat

    “One group of people will not miss Dahl’s underlying message, however. Little girls who love sports and not dresses, who are tall or muscular, who are boyish or even perhaps identify as boys, who long someday to possess authority. All of these children will see themselves in the Trunchbull, and they will watch closely as these aspects with which they identify are shamed.”

    No. No, no, no. Why would girls who love sports, who are tall or muscular, who are boyish or identify as boys, and who look forward to someday being in a strong or commanding position, necessarily identify with someone who, more than anything else, is an abusive, angry, rage-filled bully?

    Someone with the characteristics described above could just as easily also be outgoing, exuberant, lively, gregarious, and a wonderful leader, and more likely to identify with good-hearted, determined, intelligent Matilda than with nasty Miss Trunchbull

    • Christopher Foxx

      But that wouldn’t fit the author’s foregone conclusion.

    • Katy Harlow

      Exactly! Miss Trunchbull is simply every child’s worse nightmare – the head bully of the school – the meanest teacher or principal (headmistress). Honestly! Matilda is about a child getting her power back!

  • Nefercat

    ” In fact, it could very well be, as Ben alluded to, the dumbest fucking thing that’s ever been printed by anyone — period.”

    I assume this automatically includes an exception for whatever falls out of Palin’s piehole?

  • raistuumum

    As a tomboyish trans female who loved Matilda as a kid, I have to concur with that comment.

  • Lady Willpower

    “The House at Pooh Corner: A Thinly-Veiled Endorsement of British Colonialism”

    • dbtheonly

      One wonders what they’d do with Dahl’s ‘Willie Wonka”

      • Treading_Water

        I’m pretty sure the Ooompah Loompahs didn’t have adequate union representation or the right to collectively bargain. Multicolored candies are no substitute for health care.

      • Benthedailybanter

        Thanks for giving me the title to my latest piece!!

      • Christopher Foxx

        Or James and the Giant Peach.

    • Christopher Foxx

      Another, which I actually saw somewhere once (but have thankfully blocked most of the memory from my mind), “The Cat in the Hat as Pedophile”

      • beulahmo

        No! Any chance it was in Salon??

        • Christopher Foxx

          I don’t think so. But, regrettably, honestly can’t say. Hence having to fall back on the admittedly vague and weak “something I saw someplace sometime.”

          Sad part is, while my reaction was to reject the notion out of hand, the next time I happened to read thru the book I couldn’t help but notice the passages cited in the article. It didn’t make me consider if the article was actually on to something (rejected out of hand), but it did kinda spoil some of the enjoyment of reading the book because the book now inevitably reminds me of the damned article.

  • http://ramonasvoices.blogspot.com/ Ramona

    Well, you got me to go over there and read it. You bastard! It’s so dreadful it’s hilarious. I remember when Salon was, if not great, at least good. When Joan Walsh left was it because she wanted to spend more time with her family (or whatever) or was it because she just couldn’t stand that place another minute? If it was the latter, I know how she feels.

    That was awful. Stunningly awful. Do they pay their writers? If they do, don’t tell me. I’ll just slit my wrists if I find out they paid money for that, and you’ll be responsible. (Which is more than I can say for the person who approved that gawdawful exercise in hoity toity hot stuff writing.)

  • Razib_Taif1

    There’s actually a city in the US where 50% of the population could have
    wrote this article as their PhD thesis. Its called Corvalis, Oregon and its great fun to visit and demand your barista with a doctorate in transgender folklore mythology redo your double foam- smidge of whip -low fat latte.

  • Benthedailybanter

    I actually had to read the piece twice and google the dude who wrote it to make sure it was legit and not a prank. There’s some good writers at Salon, but this piece was too much. It can no longer be taken seriously by anyone, and I say that with a heavy heart as I did have a lot of respect for the site.

  • missliberties

    So very very true and maddening beyond belief. You get what you want and then you complain endlessly.

    I have noticed librul advocacy of ‘the groups’, of the transgender humans they seem to be eternally and vehemently unpleasable.

  • nerdnam

    Well the Onion didn’t buy it. I think you seriously have to look at the millionaire ‘angels’ who I understand actually keep Salon afloat now.

    From Wikipedia:

    Salon has been unprofitable through its entire history. Since 2007, the company has been dependent on ongoing cash injections from board Chairman John Warnock and William Hambrecht, father of former Salon CEO Elizabeth Hambrecht. During the nine months ended December 31, 2012, these cash contributions amounted to $3.4 million, compared to revenue in the same period of $2.7 million.[19]

    I remember how great Salon was about 1998, when I first got online. It was like the ONLY media outlet to be sane about the so called Clinton scandals. They had Gene Lyons and Joe Conason and so many good articles and cartoons. But at some point they changed and effectively turned against the Democratic party. They hired Greenwald, fired their cartoonists, and started dogging Hillary Clinton (although Walsh supported her, weakly.) Salon changed, and somewhere there’s a reason for that.

    • missliberties

      Shock value gets clicks? Don’t forget they still have the horrid David Sirota.

    • Kagemusha

      I think it was a business model, unfortunately following the clicks wherever they went. Letting Camille Paglia spout nonsense and bring in Drudge drive-bys, who often stayed as trolls, and then allowing the 20-ton gorilla Greenwald to have his minions swarm the site, like a zombie version of the French Revolution.

      The no-troll-is-a-bad-troll policy was a big mistake. Signing up members then forgetting them was a little crazy, and ignoring tech problems as well. There were so many great writers, even up until early 2008 when Tim Grieve left. There are still a few good ones, and Joan Walsh is a good balance to the left-behind-Greenwalders, although she’s not around much.

      But between the acne-libertarians and the outrage-mania it does feel like a clown car sometimes. With David Sirota the flattest clown of all.

    • kfreed

      The only reason I ever seriously engaged with Salon.com to begin with was Joe Conason. He’s also the only reason I once maintained a subscription to the New York Observer when it arrived in the mail, only to realize I hadn’t subscribed to the New York Times:) <<< There are serious consequenses for attempting to read a subscription list upside down without glasses (long story).


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