The New York Times has always taken to pop-culture reporting like a toddler to swallowing a brussel sprout-it picks at it, cringes, and then dissects it into bits on the plate so it looks like it’s been consumed. A few months back, Lynn Hirshberg infamously “took down” M.I.A. in a profile that immediately blew up on the Internet faster than a Tamil Tiger target, with throes of commenters and bloggers calling the Sri Lankan singer a dumb fraud and a bitch. Why, exactly? In part, because of deliberately constructed, almost laughably indicative sentences like this: “I kind of want to be an outsider,” she said, eating a truffle-flavored French fry.” ( The restaurant, by the way, was Hirschberg’s pick .)
Sure, there are elements of M.I.A.’s politics that are contradictory and hypocritical. But M.I.A. has also uttered a lot of smart, reasonable things in her career, not to mention produced some great music. But the article’s not over until the fat lady singer falls. How else to kick this musician who dares to think she’s smart enough to have a political opinion? How about quoting her ex-boyfriend saying, “She can’t really make music or art that well”? OK, cool, M.I.A. is completely worthless. Job done, I guess! Bring on the next subject. The collective of very highbrow smart people waiting to devour the next dumber-than-thou fame whore are getting hungry.
Enter Snooki . The Jersey Shore star with a penchant for pickles and a skin hue that’s still the butt of jokes on late-night TV. A perfect lamb to sacrifice at the alter of snobbery. In this weekend’s Times , Cathy Horyn approaches Snooki like an anthropologist entering a chimp habitat. You see, Horyn is a human reporter, so it’s very hard for her to relate to a creature like Snookums. She was forced to lower herself down to Snooki’s level. (Snooki is very short like an “Oompa-Loompa,” lest you forget.) Horyn writes: “Trying to hold a conversation with Snooki is a little like getting down on your hands and knees with a child. You have to come down to her level, and sometimes you almost think you need to bribe her with a piece of candy to coax her to be more responsive. She is really only responsive to her own immediate needs and desires.” This could literally be a passage out of Jane Goodall’s diary. It’s pretty insane.
If you still have your hard copy of this weekend’s Times, try squeegee-ing the condescension out of the paper. Maybe we could send the residual snob oils to Snooks. You know how she love greasing up her skin.
Photograph of Snooki by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.