Even Slate can no longer be sure: To make it in the modern media world, you have to dumb it way down. This very morning, over at Slate, the fun got started like this:
RICH JUZWIAK / JAN. 22, 2020 / 5:55 AMYou know? Basic life issues like those! Two hours later, it was this:
I Live With Six Brothers and Have Sex With Two of Them. What Should I Call This?
JAMILAH LEMIEUX / JAN. 22, 2020 / 6:00 AM
Dear Care and Feeding: How Do We Stop Our Adopted Daughters From Fighting Over a Modeling Internship?
DANNY M. LAVERY / JAN. 22, 2020 / 6:00 AM
Help! Should We Let Our Flower Girl Walk Down the Aisle With Her Dead Sister?
DANNY M. LAVERY / JAN. 22, 2020 / 8:00 AMAre you starting to see what we mean? Once again, basic life problems, not infrequently targeted at folk who were once in a coma.
Help! My Friend Has Been Sharing Photos She Took of Me While I Was in a Coma.
A month or two back, we asked if we were really supposed to believe that these alleged problems were on the level. And hallelujah:
At the start of the month, one alleged problem seemed so absurd that even the journalists at Slate admitted they couldn't feel sure.
The problem had been sent to Stoya and Juzwiak, or so we were led to believe. Their report was headlined like this:
STOYA AND RICH JUZWIAK / JAN. 2, 2020 / 6:30 PMAgain, a typical real-life concern, the kind they handle at Slate.
Is It Unhealthy That I Paid My Best Friend to Have Sex With Me?
Stoya and Juzwiak began by responding, in typical fashion, to the highly believable real-life story they had received in the mail. Eventually, though, even they had to crack! Their analysis continued as shown:
Stoya: I think our writer is fooling himself to a certain degree. “Checking to see if we have compatible kissing styles” feels pretty sexual to me.The ersatz life doctors continued from there, wondering if the letter was real.
Rich: yeah, I mean, that almost reads like a fantasy scenario. “Oh I’m doing this … for science.” “I’m Doctor Love and I’m going to examine your mouth with my tongue.”
Stoya: So I’m not the only one somewhat skeptical of the truthfulness of this letter?
Rich: It definitely seems at least a little strange, especially the chain of events regarding his divorce and settlement. I always feel paranoid that someone will troll us by sending in a synopsis of a movie in the hopes of flying under our radar and us taking it seriously.
Stoya: I wouldn’t mind doing that, though. It could make a fun column. Dating advice for rom-coms.
Rich: That particular flourish—”During the conversation, I got a notification on my banking app that a sizable amount of money from the divorce settlement had been paid to me. It felt like the stars were aligned, so I paid some money to her straight away”—feels very scripted.
Here at The Howler, the analysts lustily cheered. Finally! Finally, Slate's experts had received a letter which seemed so transparently fake that even they had been able to notice!
These columns have crept, then spread at Slate. They reflect a cultural drift which despondent future experts describe as "a vast stable dumbness."
The bosses at Slate have been dumbing it down. The dumbness isn't just found Over There, it's also widespread among Us.