In Praise of the ‘H8er’ and a Case for Ethical Hating

In “It’s Not OK To Be Shitty: Guy Fieri, BuzzFeed, And The Tyranny Of Stupid Popular Things” on Deadspin this week, Will Leitch has written essay he might otherwise have titled “Why Everything Is Bad Now.” Winding his way through the Guy Fieri v. New York Times fiasco of last month, on toward the tyranny of lowered expectations across the cultural board, and the dashing of thousands of once pure writerly souls on the shores of pageview-chasing Buzzfeed-style stunt posts, he comes to a point that stuck out for me coming, as it did, just as I was posting what must’ve been somewhere around my second dozenth reactionary Buzzfeed hate-blog.

This inclination of mine to rail, (in futility, I’m well aware), against the oppressive blandness of the internet behemoth (just kidding if you’re hiring) places me firmly in a category which you might call a “hater,” or “h8er” if you’re short on characters and/or a teenager and/or a rapper and/or a teenage rapper short on characters. So be it. It’s time more of us speak up in defense of the hater, or at least differentiate ourselves by a small, but significant matter of degree.

It’s probably not a coincidence that in the age of the “like” and the “favorite” and the “<3″ that we’ve assembled an oppositional army pushing back in the other direction, but it’s one that’s easily neutered. The brilliance of the hater rebuttal in diminishing criticism of any sort is that, like its cousins “U MAD?” and “U JELLY?”, which Mobute See Seko deftly delineated here, it reduces the slight to one based in an irrational, emotional reaction.

‘Wreck-It Ralph’ Smashes Record for Laziest Headline Writing in History

There are a lot of unwritten rules in the world of media and journalism, but the most important one is that readers are fucking stupid. I didn’t make it up, I don’t believe it (necessarily), I’m just explaining to you how things work. That means that in order to get these rubes to choke down their news medicine like a haggard dog with tapeworm, you’ve got to wrap it in bacon or peanut butter and trick them into swallowing, even when it’s about something they’re interested in for some amazing reason, like who won the weekend’s box office receipts. The quickest and most effective way to do this is with an eye-catching headline. Headlines are like the face of the news story’s body, which, like most of the stupid faces you see floating around out there in the world, means you often want to smash them into a pulp. Maybe that’s just me?

Since headlines, by their very nature, are supposed to be short and punchy, somewhere along the way we decided that puns, and rhymes, and alliteration are the surest way to grab eyeballs. Why? Laziness, primarily. A deep-rooted hatred for the subject matter you’re covering, for another. Also most headline writers tend to be the least talented member on staff (at least traditionally at news dailies) and their name doesn’t go on the piece, so they don’t give a shit if they trot out one cliched pun after another. As someone who writes a lot about cocktails and bars, I can’t tell you how many dozens of times someone has destroyed my hard work on a story in one fell swoop by plopping a giant steaming turd like “So and So Raises the Bar” at the top. Because it’s a bar, you see?

Speaking of laziness, I wrote about this concept a while ago on my blog, but the lessons contained therein still apply. This type of thing is most common at tabloids, like the New York Post, one of the worst practitioners of reader condescension in the game. Here’s one classic trifecta of headline horror among many thousands they’ve sleuced out down the inky poop chute of obfuscation over the years. As I wrote then, here we have illogical, truncated alliteration: ‘Jets plan Plax play’; pointless rhyming that adds nothing to our understanding of the story: ‘Yanks weep as Sox sweep’, (the Yanks did not weep, we all know this); and the kicker, a serious story reduced to a goofy but recognizable cliche that adds nothing but the repetition of a common cliche that we’ve all heard of.

The most Boston thing ever

The most Boston thing ever | PTSOTL fine art appreciation

I made this with my lung-hands

I like to think of my conceptualized installations as approximate inventories of fragmentary consciousness (via meaninglessness), ie, found objects, photographs other people took, paintings I don’t understand, photographs I would have taken if I was there at the time, and consumerist refuse. They are improvisational in as much as the constructed vis a vis the deconstructed, the ready-made and the never-should-have-been-made align, come together, regress, push and pull, in and out, just like that, not so hard though, sorry I’m just kind of tired I guess, can we try again later. My parameters are schematizations, investing in the viewer a sense of movement through texturized, space, historicizing within that space a disgusting townie who smokes too much on his dirty back porch, for example. Alientation and aesthetics, minimalism and maximalism together at once. It’s a sort of poetry of seduction of the unreal, a commentary on consumerism, but also a pile of shit.

Brunch is for assholes

A friend of mine once said “brunch is like throwing a wedding for your breakfast.” Good point, nameless friend. It takes a hefty sense of self importance and entitlement to go through with either one, neither of them are ever as fun as you expect they’re going to be, and they always end up smelling like egg farts. At least the ones I go to.

I hate to generalize, because I’m nothing if not precise in my assessment of petty social grievances, but if you go out to brunch, ever again, even once, then you are an asshole. Also, you’re probably an alcoholic tricking yourself into thinking it’s ok to drink in the morning. Also you’re fat. I’m not judging though, I’m just reporting, like a reporter.

I asked Patrick Maguire, who runs the entertaining (and informative) blog Server Not Servant whether or not he thought brunch attracts more despicable human beings than dinner time at a restaurant. Then I asked some of my industry friends to tell me why brunch sucks. Get that boy to come over and refill your coffee for the fifth time in ten minutes, then meet me over on the other side of the cut.

“I don’t think brunch attracts any more assholes than any other meal,” Maguire said, ruining the entire premise of my post here. “According to the 200+ current or former customer service industry workers who have completed my questionnaire, 19% of customers are impolite, disrespectful, or downright rude. You get some of the ‘19% factor’ every shift if your job involves interaction with customers anywhere. ‘Entitlemania’ is alive and well.”

What are some of the particular ways he thinks people take out their miserable neuroses on servers at brunch then?

“#1 The people with the double-wide, SUV-like strollers (with shock absorbers), who think that the seas should part for them because they have a stroller and a child. I was at brunch one morning and a customer insisted that she hang her childrens’ coats (instead of the hostess who offered) because the coats “are very expensive and need to be hung a certain way.” The woman also stated that the stroller had to come to the table, despite the manager’s request that the stroller be stored in the foyer. The woman got her way and the restaurant gave up a table to make room for the stroller.

“#2 Large groups of women celebrating bridal showers or birthdays at brunch. It’s as if they’re the only people in the restaurant, screaming, cackling and shrieking. They have no regard for anyone else in the restaurant, and it’s the last thing I want to hear on a weekend morning.”

Good call on the laughing too loud bit. I put that shit on the List a long time ago.

Here’s a few other quotes from restaurant saps who got sucked into working the shittiest shift imaginable:

Working brunch is pretty much the pinnacle of suck when it comes to working in the restaurant industry. People assume that their shitty ass $2.50 tip is going to make or break you, when in reality, every server in the world would rather tip them to stay home and save him/her from having to foam the crema on their latte and refille their decaf coffee every five seconds.
If you work in the restaurant industry, 99% of your shifts are at night, and that’s the way you like it. Who the fuck wants to wake up at 9 am to go to work? If I wanted to do that I’d work in an office and spend my coffee breaks debating whether or not Baby Gap has better deals than Babies R Us. And speaking of coffee breaks…fuck coffee. It’s $2.25 and requires me to carry a saucer, a spoon, a coffee cup full of hot bean juice, a container of milk/cream (sometimes both), and a sugar caddy. The only thing douchier than ordering a coffee is ordering a decaf coffee, any coffee drink that requires foam, or tea. This isn’t england, and Starbucks right around the corner.
It’s hard enough to pretend to care about how someone wants his/her steak cooked or listen to him/her make the same lame joke you’ve heard 1000 times (pointing at empty plate – looks like i didn’t like it!) when the sun is down and the lights are low. Having to wake up early and see daylight only serves to magnify one’s hatred of the everyman.
Just because you’re hungover from going to Tommy Doyles last night doesn’t mean you have to order (either all at once or throughout the meal) a water, an orange juice, a coffee and a bloody mary, and then proceed to leave all of them half drank.
Jazz brunch is just about the worst idea ever. Jazz sucks and I don’t want to hear it while I’m eating a twelve dollar plate of eggs.
Brunch people usually want to pay before their asses hit the seat, have no idea that it’s going to take a minute before you can come around with more coffee, and tend to be habitual about where they want to sit and what they want to order. If their favorite menu item is removed or a particular substitution isn’t available, this can be more than a little disappointing. The worst kind of brunchees aren’t the families or the hens, but rather the single brunchite who comes with his paper and stares at you the whole time because he has no one to talk to. Yes, I can smell you looking at me.
Here’s a good example of how clueless brunch people are. I was setting up for a private party, taking every single booth out of the restaurant through the front. After about two hours, we were almost finished. The six of us were exhausted and drenched in sweat. The restaurant was nearly empty. A middle aged couple came up to me and goes “We’d like a table for two for brunch today.”
This was during a huge rainstorm when the entire block flooded. Out outside patio was still open at this point. A father and son came in for brunch, and asked to sit outside to watch the rain. They refused a table right next to the open window. They then rearranged their table outside so it was horizontal and flush up against the restaurant, so that in order for me to wait on them, I had to stand out in the torrential downpour, which I did while they ate their eggs and stayed dry.