I’ve read nearly every Bill Simmons column to date, and while I’m not exactly a devoted listener to his podcast, I did make an effort to tune in to his show with Rick Reilly a couple weeks back. Unfortunately, I could only take so much of Reilly’s holier-than-thou attitude and the overly formal mood in general before closing out, and therefore missed what I deem to be the dumbest thing Bill Simmons has ever said. I’ll quote from a blog that did catch the money quote (and seems pretty sure Simmons was not joking):
“Yeah. It’s the way, just the way the Internet is. I mean, my dad is retiring as a superintendent this year — the way the Internet works now, you know, with the cell-phone cameras and text and — you know, it’s a crisis every week, something happens, and it just seems like society’s gotten a little bit meaner. Which I’m surprised by, because — I really thought after 9/11, it was gonna be like some sort of wake-up call for everybody, you know?”
First off: 9/11! No fucking way did he just reference that. Amazing. But even if you disregard that hilariously ludicrous notion (9/11…national tragedy…people shouldn’t critique anything from now on…???), his sentiment still makes absolutely no sense. I’ve got four points of contention regarding this asinine statement, which I’m going to occasionally address to Bill directly and pretend he’ll actually someday see these words:
1. I’m not sure generalizing an entire medium because of a few lame assholes is the ideal behavior of a rational adult. Do I have to write off all television simply because TMZ now has its own show? Should I rip my car radio out of the dash because Rush Limbaugh continues to exist? I mean, go ahead if you feel like it, but don’t expect reasonable folk to respect your message.
2. Here’s one thing to keep in mind: blogging is just a medium, a form of communication. It didn’t create negative people, it just gave the negative people a new outlet. Which is a super elementary point, I understand, but it sometimes seem like you don’t understand that fact, since every one of your rants about people being pessimistic is in direct reference to bloggers.
So if you want to go ahead and whine about people who focus solely on the negative, be sure to direct your scorn to comedians, TV shows, radio personalities, drunk people at bars and every other art form and communication medium known to man, and oh by the way you’ll probably have to kill off every teenager and most senior citizens as well, because you’ll find rampant negativity there too.
Point is: try to understand what you’re even complaining about. Is it mean people, or blogging? Because the arguments aren’t one and the same. That’s ridiculous.
3. The blog post linked above basically made my point for me in responding, “That’s downright wistful for a guy who wrote more than 4,000 words to do little more than gloat over Pete Carroll’s inability to three-peat in the ’06 Rose Bowl, or who once said about NBA ref Violet Palmer, ‘Nobody has ever been worse at their job, in any vocation — not even the people who work at Home Depot selling Christmas trees.'”
I’ll take it one step further to point out Simmons constantly bitches about public figures such as Mike Dunleavy and A-Rod, lobs potshots at the Bruins owner and Gary Bettman among others, teases numerous celebrities for various reasons, rips TV shows and movies to shreds, and once referred to a guest star of The OC as a transsexual.
Now, I have not one shred of a problem with his various negativity and meanness, but it’s a bit disingenuous to rat out others for being cruel when you dish out plenty of it and more on a regular basis. This type of behavior is the very epitome of hypocrisy.
4. Related to #3, another ongoing bitch session subject from Simmons is that bloggers don’t create anything on their own, but instead sit back and poke fun at others. He has specifically mentioned, on a number of occasions, how lame he views the act of critiquing writing. His general sentiment, uttered numerous times in various fashions, is, “instead of ripping apart other peoples’ work, why not create something of your own?” This is a phenomenally sanctimonious question, especially coming from a guy who makes his fucking living by being a critic.
What exactly does Bill Simmons “create”? Is he writing fiction, making movies, actually playing the sports himself? Seems to me he critiques as a full-time job, which usually consists of making observations and jokes about games, ragging on coaching decisions, griping about various teams and players that annoy him, cheerleading the hometown squads, relaying stories from games, and sprinkling in an outdated movie reference or seven in each column. What exactly is he creating in that list? Far as I can tell, it’s all criticism, 100% of it. Which I of course have no problem with, because it happens to be a vital part of our communication as human beings. And out of the two of us, it looks like only one of us actually understands that.
Here is where Simmons and I differ: he thinks critiquing another person’s writing is somehow worse than critiquing sports, or movies or music or what have you. But he’s wrong. It’s the same damn thing. Simmons’ job essentially consists of making observations in an entertaining or educational way, which just so happens to be the exact same thing being done by these so-called immature losers in the blogosphere.
So how in the hell does a sportswriter justify this constant rant against critics, when he is no more than a critic himself? It’s an incredibly self-assured yet ass-backwards way of thinking, one which I never really expected to come from a guy like him.
All of which leads me to the conclusion that Bill Simmons has officially lost his mind.