I pick on Salon quite a bit. The reason being that it usually deserves it, given that it’s the internet’s official home for whiny liberal outrage porn. If there were no Salon, I can’t imagine how we’d know what we’re required to be indignant about and should all be “calling out” from day to day. I obviously can’t be trusted to make up my own mind regarding what’s an intolerable cultural infraction that I simply can’t ignore and must immediately join with my fellow internet denizens in demanding satisfaction over, so thank God there’s a convenient clearing house that presents me with a daily roster of them.
That said, if you know anything at all about publishing you probably know that the authors of articles rarely write their own headlines. I think this needs to be kept in mind when having any discussion of Salon, mostly because it goes a long way in making the motives of the site’s editors crystal clear: they’re trolling you, all of us, and they’re doing it hard, because trolling drives traffic.
A perfect example is the top-spot column currently over at Salon. It’s a mild eye-roller that questions why there were so many gay jokes thrown around at the Comedy Central roast of James Franco, which aired last night. That kind of thing is typical fodder for Salon, but to its credit the piece in question, by the site’s TV critic, Neil Drumming, is pretty light on the usual teeth-gnashing, demands for an official apology, and calls for a U.N. Security Council resolution officially condemning the offender. Like I said, it’s still guaranteed to make you heave out a tiny sigh of exasperation and brush the whole thing off as so much wasted copy space, but it won’t make you want to slam your head into your keyboard to get the stupid to go away.
Here’s the thing, though: You’d never know it from the headline, which screams “FRANCO’S HOMOPHOBIC ROAST,” in the style of font and typeset size that would make you think Seth Rogen had dragged the entire cast of Ru Paul’s Drag Race out onto the stage and set it on fire. The inside headline is more of the same, this time taking on the condescending tone of a disappointed authority figure: “The James Franco Roast’s Homophobia Problem.” (A good rule of thumb: Whenever you see the word “problematic” used to describe a situation, event, or behavior in an online polemic, it should peak the meter on your Wholly Unnecessary Outrage Detector.) It’s as if Salon’s editors knew the Drumming piece didn’t have enough real anger flowing through its veins to draw from, so they just said, “Fuck it,” and overcompensated.
Again, it’s trolling and nothing more. And there’s so much of it at Salon these days — it’s practically a business model — that it’s tough to take most of the actual content there seriously.
By the way, yes, I wrote my own headline for this. At least it’s not misleading. This kind of crap really is why Salon now sucks.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.