The dumbnification of Slate: It's amazing to see the things our news orgs are willing do to capture eyeballs and generate clicks in this wild west journalistic environment.
In yesterday's report, we marveled at Slate's devotion to the sheer inanity of New York magazine's embarrassing STRATEGIST site. At the home site, the inanity has reached the point where New York magazine, in conjunction with Brown University, has published this report, which doesn't seem to be a parody:
INSIDER GOODS / SEPT. 6, 2019"Status can be a funny thing," Adelson writes at the start of her piece—and who knows?
What to Buy to Look Like: A Classics Professor
By Johanna Hanink as told to Karen Iorio Adelson
Today, we hear from Johanna Hanink—an associate professor of classics at Brown University and the author of How to Think About War: An Ancient Guide to Foreign Policy—on the sun hats, tote bags, and posters that are popular among classics professors.
It could be that Professor Hanink was misled in some way about the reason for this interview interviewed about sun hats, tote bags and the like. But given the drift of our dumbnified culture, it's entirely possible that the professor thought Adelson's focus made good sound perfect sense.
What followed was an essay so addled that it perfectly captures our current predicament, in which the academy has decamped for a bubble which lies beyond the ivory tower, while journalists bathe us in the fatuous, the infantile and the faux.
For what it's worth, the professor in question is 37; her doctorate comes from Queens College, Cambridge. Adelson graduated from Dartmouth in 2010, and is now a "senior writer" at New York in charge of tote bags and sun hats.
To Slate's apparent credit, it hasn't yet published this particular STRATEGIST feature. That said, the once-bright site seems willing to publish just about everything else. On this very morning, the now-vacuous site has sought clicks publishing this:
PICKSSo far, Slate has skipped the STRATEGIST report about How To Look Like a Classics Professor—but it seems to skip little else. In fairness, we might mention one possible reason for all these reprints. That possible explanation, appended to all these reprints, goes exactly like this:
This Japanese Body-Scrub Towel Makes Showering So Much More Pleasant
The cotton-polyester blend is the perfect fabric for creating a not-too-bubbly lather.
By STRATEGIST EDITORS / SEPT 10, 2019 6:30 AM
SLATE DISCLAIMER: This article is published through a partnership with New York Media’s Strategist. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York Media. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York Media may earn an affiliate commission.In this age of platform proliferation, news orgs may be willing to stoop in such ways in service to their bottom lines.
In the process, the dumbnification of the culture continues. Here's what we'll be suggesting this week:
You can't dumb a culture down in such ways without ending up with Donald J. Trump in the White House.
When did our culture get so dumb that it made this era possible? Was it when Diane Sawyer, an upper-end press corps god, asked Marla Maples if sex with The Donald was the best sex she'd ever had?
Had our culture gotten that dumb by the time, in the late 1990s, when a survey reportedly showed that young people were more likely to believe in UFOs than in the likelihood that Social Security would still exist by the time they stood to collect?
Was our fate already determined? Had the nation's economics professors slumbered and slept for so long at that point that the dumbness insured us a Trump?
We can't answer your questions, though we'll continue to puzzle them out in the next week or three. For today, we'll only note how much Slate is willing to publish to draw our eyeballs to the prize, because the inanity of those STRATEGIST pieces is just one part of the syndrome.
Given our culture's fatuous values, what isn't Slate prepared to publish to draw our eyes to the prize? For today, consider the advice columns which now litter the news org's landscape.
We'll start with Slate's sex advice columns. Those columns let us exercise our critical faculties as we ask the obvious question:
Does anyone believe that the alleged letters which describe alleged problems of alleged Slate readers are meant to be taken as real?
Slate seems willing to do what it takes to draw us lunkheads in. With that in mind, how are we supposed to assess offerings like these from Slate's "How To Do It" sex advice column:
How Do I Talk to My 12-Year-Old About His, Er, Very Specific Fetish?By some sort of cosmic coincidence. Stoya and Juzwiak seem to do their best posting at the early morning hour when Trump does his craziest tweeting.
It started with a Lara Flynn Boyle movie.
By RICH JUZWIAK / SEPT 09, 2019 6:00 AM
My Casual Sex Partner Technically Violated My Consent, but I Loved It
Should I return the favor?
By STOYA / SEPT 10, 2019 5:59 AM
My Girlfriend Tells Me Every Single Detail About Her Past Lovers
While we’re having sex.
By STOYA / AUG 28, 2019 5:55 AM
My Girlfriend Stopped Shaving Her Armpits
Now she’s mad that I’ve … retaliated.
By STOYA and RICH JUZWIAK / AUG 15, 2019 6:30 AM
That said, are Slate readers supposed to believe that somebody's girlfriend stopped shaving her armpits and is now angry about her partner's retaliation? Are we supposed to believe that some 12-year-old's alleged sexual fetish was caused by Lara Flynn Boyle?
Are we supposed to believe that this bullshit's for real? How about these earlier columns, exactly as thumbnailed by Slate:
I Don't Trust Humanity Enough to Have Sex With ItWere Slate readers supposed to believe that those alleged letters were real? Or are we supposed to know that we should take those letters "seriously but not literally," as The Others do with Trump?
My Boyfriend Sounds Like Injured Wildlife During Sex
My Husband Says I'm "Withholding Sex." He Hasn't Bathed in Two Weeks.
Slate's sex advice columns test the credulity—and the inanity—of the site's sought-after readers. That said, the site has also broken new ground through the efforts of Nick Greene's frequently implausible "pet advice" columns.
We'll be honest! Until last weekend, we thought Greene was just a guy who was very unlucky with pets. We'd never clicked forward to one of his posts. For that reason, we didn't know that he was writing a column, "Beast Mode," which is devoted to solving pet problems of others.
Perhaps a bit pitifully, that's what he's actually or allegedly doing. And maybe this is what Slate has to do to get us to chip in with clicks:
How Should I Tell People a Shameful Secret About My Dog?Between all the humping, pooping and self-pleasuring, Greene's life had long struck us as a version of hell on earth. But as it turns out, he's just giving advice! This seems to be what Slate has to do to get us droogs to donate our clicks, thereby letting advertisers know that we're dumb and we're there.
My Hump-Happy Chihuahua Embarrasses Me
How on Earth Can I Potty-Train My Deaf Dog?
My Cat’s Autoeroticism Is Making Me Uncomfortable
Slate started its life as a fully intelligent, conventional news-and-analysis site. Based on appearances, the dumbnification of our culture, and of our tastes, has forced its editors to offer us an endless array of silly, faux and infantile foolishness, designed to meet us where we live.
In our view, the dumbnification of our culture inevitably led us to President Trump—though within our own tribe, we know this is wrong. It was really The Others' racism!
That said, is the culture's spectacular dumbnification really the fault of silly-bill "tramps like us?"
Or could it be that the classics professors, and perhaps the economics professors and the logicians, have, through their refusal to serve, led us to this resting place?
Tomorrow: The New York Times spots a "philosopher!"