Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Some jackass wrote a puff piece about Simmons for Rolling Stone, and it's horrible (part 2)

I hope everyone did their homework since Sunday night, and read all of Simmons's greatest columns as linked by Rolling Stone in the first part of this article.  Like I said, I didn't even bother looking at what they listed, but I'm sure his column about his dog dying is at or near the top.  That's always where people who like Bill go when I tell them I think he's a shitty writer.  "But did you read the one about The Dooze?"  I sure did.  And I'm not going to make fun of him for it, but I'll tell you this much: that piece helps my case more than it hurts it.  Anyways, back to Mr. Music Critic Man and his in-depth analysis of America's least important pop culture critic.

Simmons has 2.6 million followers on Twitter. Many can't wait to tell him what an idiot he is. (The Simmons brand has a strong ripple effect: Even his wife, known as the Sports Gal, has 25,000 followers, despite not having tweeted in almost a year.) Sports Twitter is a mire of stupidity, homophobia, and violent threats.

That's an odd way to describe all the scorching hot taeks out there IMO

It's probably the most inane culture on Twitter; at least on Politics Twitter, you occasionally come across a fact.

If you're getting anything other than breaking news and jokes from Sports Twitter or Political Twitter, you're a certified dumbass with a tiny attention span.

Simmons uses Twitter almost exclusively to promote and link to Grantland material. 

No.  That is flagrantly untrue.  Simmons uses Twitter to opine (moronically) on basketball, football, and gambling, to pretend to be a baseball fan if it's September/October and the Red Sox are good, to complain about allegedly bad refereeing that goes against Boston teams, and about a dozen other things just as often or more often than he uses it to promote Grantland stuff.

He doesn't reply to people who think he's a douche, or want to punch his face. 

Well, there are only 24 hours in the day.  Come on. 

He also writes fewer sports columns than he used to, partly because TV and movies occupy more of his time. 

That's the weakest attempt I've seen anyone make to justify the fact that Simmons doesn't write, and knows nothing regarding the subjects he does find the time to write about.  TV and movies occupy "more" of his time?  More than when?  Back in the 90s, when he obviously also watched a shitload of movies?  It's not like he became a big time consumer of visual media in the last five years.  (Hey, I can relate!  But I don't get paid for this.) The guy is just out of ideas, and likes recording podcasts because that's way easier than writing.  I don't blame him for any of that, but--oh wait yes I do, fuck him and fuck his podcasts and TV appearances.

The Internet 

This isn't 1994.  I don't think we need to capitalize it.

gave him a career, an audience, wealth, 

True, true and sadly, true.


Over what/who?  America's least informed and most obnoxious sports fans who aren't actually sports fans?

and fourth-row seats for the Clippers. 

As long as the Clippers continue to make the playoffs.

But lately, Bill Simmons is kind of over the Internet.


Bill Simmons' Top 10 Go-To Writing Moves

Another mid-article link.  Still not going to click on it, but I have no idea how they found ten items for that list.  Maybe they separated out "References to mediocre movies" into six or seven separate items, going movie by movie.

On a Friday in January, Simmons and his Grantland staff scheduled a celebration: drinks at a glamorous hotel, 

Maybe there will be some famous celebs there so Bill can rub elbows with other Hollywood elite!  Hey Jack Nicholson, is it alright if Bill calls you "Jackie Baby?"  He's got some ideas to share about how you could have been better in The Departed.

after work, to celebrate the site's redesign. He and I talked for three hours in his undecorated office 

NO FENWAY PARK POSTER ON THE WALL FOR THIS GUY.  HE'S A MAN OF THE PEOPLE.  Either that, or he's just too fucking simple minded and boring to do anything interesting with his office.  My office, on the other hand, contains a day-by-day The Onion calendar, a coffee mug featuring my hockey team's logo, and a printout of my baseball team's 2014 schedule taped to the wall.  Please, pretend not to be impressed.  

/Larry B continues to be lonely for good reason

at ESPN's downtown L.A. complex, and a few times, he described his ambivalence about the effects of online culture.

"I totally don't let anything affect me," he didn't say, since it's well documented that he's hilariously thin-skinned.

Before the site launched, he decided Grantland wouldn't run slideshows, which draw big traffic but are dumb, 

A fair perspective on listicles.

or print reader comments, which breed idiocy. 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA that is a lie.  A big, dirty, ugly lie.  Yes, comments do breed idiocy (just look at the comments on this blog!), but they also make a site significantly more fun and worth re-visiting.  The reason Grantland doesn't print comments is the same reason so many other popular online forums don't: it thinks it's intellectually superior to its readership.  How sad.

"Everybody was saying, 'Articles have to be short, because people have short attention spans.' And I felt like the opposite was true."

Which opposite?  That articles have to be long, because people have long attention spans?  That articles have to be short, because people have long attention spans?  That articles have to be long, because people have short attention spans?  This man is editor-in-chief of an entity that produces written content.

He built Grantland around long-form articles, the opposite of Twitter's enforced brevity, 

Yeah, that's clearly what Grantland was: a backlash to Twitter.  Where did that come from?  Where are you going with this?  God this article sucks.

and hired writers known for their cleverness and insight, 


particularly with sophisticated sports statistics, rather than their snark: Jonah Keri for baseball, Bill Barnwell for football, Katie Baker for hockey, and for basketball, Zach Lowe, whom Simmons poached from Sports Illustrated by relentlessly pursuing him.

Those are probably the four best writers at Grantland.  I have to give it to the author of this piece for trying to pass them off as representative of the entire Grantland staff.

Unlike almost every other site, Grantland doesn't pick fights. 

What?  What the fuck are you talking about?  Which sites, besides tiny blogs like this that are read by no one, "pick fights?"  Are you talking about Deadspin?  They're a dumb tabloid, but they're not out to start "fights" with other sites.  This is a loaded comment with absolutely no substance.

"There's a mean-spiritedness on the Internet that we've stayed away from," Simmons told me in his office. 

"Mostly because I'm not clever enough to engage in it or understand it."

"It seems to be getting angrier — especially Twitter, which is full of coyotes, waiting to attack the next victim." One false move, he added, and you find yourself in "a 24-hour shitstorm."

Here comes the Dr. V stuff.  Those damn "coyotes," holding Bill and Co. accountable for doing something insanely irresponsible and dumb!  Who do they think they are?

His thoughts about vengefulness took on a different meaning only a few hours later, when the shit-stirrer was now in a shitstorm of his own. Two days earlier, the site had published a story, "Dr. V's Magical Putter," about Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt, a female physicist who had invented a new, possibly superior golf putter. When writer Caleb Hannan investigated her background, he learned Vanderbilt was a transgender woman. Despite having agreed to her demand that he not write about her life, Hannan told Vanderbilt that he'd discovered the secret she clearly wanted to keep private, and he outed her to an investor. In the third-to-last paragraph of the story, Hannan revealed that Vanderbilt had committed suicide. It was a fascinating story, but also cruel and irresponsible.

Just ask a really smart professional journalist guy!

The initial reaction was favorable: other writers called it "a great read," and "mesmerizing," as they shared the link on Twitter. Richard Deitsch, a reporter at Sports Illustrated, said Hannan's article "might be the best I've read this month," an opinion he regretted four days later, after the article had been widely condemned. 

Good to see so many other sports journalists are just as ethically clueless as Simmons and Company.  Although Deitsch is an alright dude.

Unlike the controversy over Joe Johnson, there were genuine stakes in play. 

Well, there WERE genuine stakes in play.  The limited brain cells involved in the creation and editing of the piece kind of kicked into gear a little late to prevent a horrible thing from happening.

A political reporter called the "Dr. V" piece "absolutely, stunningly unforgivable." One Tweeter called Hannan "a fucking shit head and a murderer," and another said to him, "you harassed a trans woman until she killed herself."

First guy: taking it too far.  Second guy: just about correct.

On that Friday night, Simmons dismissed the furor — just more "mean-spiritedness on the Internet." 

HAHAHAHAHAH that's fantastic.  As much of a lamewad puff piece as this is, I love that that's included.  "HATERZ JUST JELLY THAT MY WEBSITE CONTRIBUTED TO A SUICIDE."

Oddly, a master of new media was badly misreading what was happening. 

Let me fix that for you: the fact that Simmons badly misread what was happening is an excellent piece of evidence suggesting that he is not close to being a master of new media.

The next day, he took his daughter to her soccer tournament, and during a break between games, looked online, where the angry reactions had continued. "That's when everything turned," he says, "and I started to think we'd made a serious mistake. It snowballed over the weekend, and I started going into deep self-hatred."

"At first people wanted to hold me accountable and I was like 'Fuck that.'  But then they didn't go away after 24 hours, and I actually had a moment of reflection and self-awareness.  It was strange."

The story's misjudgment was not the result of malice. The Grantland staff is more diverse, in gender and race, than most publications ("God forbid we ever get credit for that," he grumbles), 

What a fucking asshole.  What a raging cunt.

and when I talked to him in the thick of the anti-Grantland tempest, he was clearly morose and regretful. "People hate our site now," he said.

This guy needs PR training in the worst fucking way.  "People hate our site now."  That's your reaction to people being mad at you for using poor judgment and ultimately contributing to a person's death.  Wow.  WHAT ABOUT OUR BRAND?  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

But Simmons also didn't fully understand why people despised the article. "Crazy" and "hysterical" responses on Twitter had made him "embarrassed for mankind," and he didn't agree with me that Grantland never should have mentioned the fact that Vanderbilt was a transgender woman. 

Jesus, I may have to stop calling this a puff piece.  It got dark and confrontational really quickly there.

Like a lot of people, especially people in the sports world, he's amiss in issues of gender and sexuality; a few weeks later, during a podcast in which he discussed Michael Sam, a college football player who came out in February, Simmons used the offensive phrase "sexual preference" – not out of hostility towards Sam, but out of ignorance. 

I'm going to have to bookmark this article, I am getting tired of having to Google for it when I need to link to it every few weeks.

Simmons wrote a lengthy apology for the "Dr. V" story, which Grantland posted the next Monday. 

Which, predictably, he turned into an essay about himself.

The article, he admitted, lacked empathy for Vanderbilt, and should not have outed her posthumously. His apology was thorough and almost self-flagellating, 

Because it was probably insincere, to the extent it wasn't genuine remorse but rather a plea for people to forgive his website.

but was also mitigated by his defensiveness, which ESPN Executive Vice President and Executive Editor John A. Walsh told me he found "unfortunate." In addition, Grantland published a stinging critique by ESPN baseball reporter Christina Kahrl, who is a transgender woman; she denounced the story's ignorance and "casual cruelty." "By any professional or ethical standard," she also wrote, Vanderbilt's past "wasn’t merely irrelevant to the story, it wasn't [Grantland's] information to share."


And ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte, an accomplished 76-year old writer, added his own column, in which he called the article "inexcusable" in its "unawareness and arrogance." He described Simmons as "a talented, overextended 44 year old" with "considerable vision and celebrity." Lipsyte did not intend "celebrity" as a compliment.

And hopefully Jimmy Kimmel's comparable comment was also sarcastic.  You're never going to match up to my future wife Le Anne Schreiber, Robert Lipsyte, but that's a tasty burn.

More soon.


Angelo said...

Jonathan Abrams is the best writer on grantland, and it's not close. Zach Lowe is great too, but Jonah Keri and Bill Barnwell suck. They think because they have some limited grasp of statistics that they are intelligent, but they are as bad as old-school sportswriters in my opinion.

dewey said...

I am not a no one, Lare.

Larry B said...

Gelo--Yeah, I was being generous about Keri. As I blog about him occasionally, he actually kind of sucks, although he's not as bad as most of their writers. Disagree on Barnwell, I think he actually does know his shit. I am not familiar with Abrams so I will check him out. And Baker is awesome. The point is that Grantland mostly sucks.

dewey--I was just fishing for compliments/attention, as usual. Kind of like that person in your Facebook news feed who's like "I GUESS NO ONE CARES THAT I'M HAVING A BAD DAY" and waits for the sympathetic responses to roll in.

SOB in TO said...

Agree that those are the best writers. I don't even bother with grantland unless they've written something (and I find this out by checking ESPN's little grantland box).

Stopped reading Simmons years ago. Guess I just grew up.

Anon said...

His best columns were total crap. If you thought 6-24 was bad, he basically expanded a Deadspin comment into an article when whining about Kobe's 81 point game. "Freezing out your teammates!" is the basketball equivalent of bitching about clogging the base paths. He probably leaves comments on Youtube videos of black guys dunking over 7 foot BYU alums saying "It shouldna counted cuz he took a extra haf step!!!" And that's one of his BEST articles?


Anon said...

He shot 60 percent in that game. He was 53 percent on threes and sank 18 free throws. He wasn't exactly jacking up bricks. "You froze out Smush [FUCKING] Parker!!" has got to be the stupidest-as-fuck criticism of an awesome basketball moment I've ever heard. "HE HAD 2 ASSISTS! COMEDY!!" The rest of the team shot 33 percent. What the fuck was he supposed to do? Freeze himself out so Lamar Odom could go 2-20?

Anon said...

I'm guessing the aforementioned godawful column was not fisked because it predated the blog?


Chris W said...


there are some factors you might not be considering. for instance: the oreilly factor

Anon said...

Horrendous sports journalism trifecta:

1. "LeBronny Football? James has Manziel jersey" Idiotically titled front page link? Check!

2. Ridiculous article about inter-league bro-mance? Check!

3. Includes terrible video featuring the always-atrocious Darren Rovell? Check!

Next up! "Lebron GAY-mes? James Says He'd Totally Ram Sam"