Category Archives: The New York Times

The New York Times Declares That Words Are Dead–Sort Of

Words are dead. Didn’t you get the memo?

This week, The New York Times declares that words are dead–in so many words. Perhaps Malcolm Gladwell awoke from a fever dream and gave the nod that we had finally reached that tipping point. Well, it would have to be a nod, right? You know, since words are dead and all. We will miss words–they were so helpful with so many things. Farhad Manjoo begins this special supplement that ran on 12 February 2018 with this cryptic message (the old fashioned text itself, by the way, begins with a young woman starting back at you from a video loop):

I’ll make this short: The thing you’re doing now, reading prose on a screen, is going out of fashion.

Yikes, such a message is running on borrowed time, is it not? You know, given that words will soon be obsolete! I guess it sort of sounds cool to make such a pronouncement, right? So, Marshall McLuhan or Malcolm Gladwell to declare it. But are words really dead? In a sense, that is what The New York Times is suggesting. Of course, there is more to this thesis. Is it possible to turn over a new leaf like Ebenezer Scrooge and make it right again? Well, no. The argument here is that this is not a matter of right or wrong–it simply is what it is:

THIS MULTIMEDIA INTERNET has been gaining on the text-based internet for years. But last year, the story accelerated sharply, and now audio and video are unstoppable. The most influential communicators online once worked on web pages and blogs. They’re now making podcasts, Netflix shows, propaganda memes, Instagram and YouTube channels, and apps like HQ Trivia.

Will this make you want to abandon your own blog writing? I hope not since I think you can sniff out the hype. Honestly, I think it just makes me want to keep doing what I’m doing all the more since I have specific reasons for working directly with the written word–which have to do with the fact written words are too precious to dismiss. That may sound a bit too erudite but, no, what I’m saying here is all very straightforward. Words, especially written words, are part of our DNA. Until we become something other than human, we will all gain essential mental nourishment from reading prose. If you were a cyborg, you may defer or maybe you would still agree with me.

But are words really dead?

And so The New York Times special media supplement is part hype and part of “all the news that’s fit to print.” We cannot hide under a rock, that’s for sure. I do have my very own YouTube Channel but, compared to my blog, it is not really an issue of one medium being more or less compelling than another. These are simply different formats. It’s totally apples and oranges to me. I enjoy using a variety of media. But I sure as hell am not going to feel less relevant or cool because, at the end of the day, I prefer the written word most of all. I suspect that you do too. And that’s okay.



Filed under Internet, Media, pop culture, Social Media, The New York Times

The New York Times Declares Graphic Novels to be ‘Summer Reveries.’ Huh?

Panel excerpt from Fatale Deluxe Edition: Volume I, one of the titles on Dana Jennings' summer comics reading list.

Panel excerpt from Fatale Deluxe Edition: Volume I, one of the titles on Dana Jennings’ summer comics reading list in The New York Times.

I love to read The New York Times. I like the idea of The New York Times and I actually enjoy reading it. No problem. It can be quite pretentious but I’ve had delightfully pretentious friends over the years. I may still have a few. So, what’s my problem? Okay, here’s the thing, The New York Times offers up the backpage to its Friday arts section (read it here) to the subject of comics and graphic novels. We are told that there’s nothing quite like a graphic novel on a long summer’s day. And then we get a hodgepodge random list of ten books. They’re all labeled as “graphic novels” while three are actually collections of comic strips. Have at it, folks, enjoy your funny books.

This piece was written by Dana Jennings. He is bravely representing the comics geek at the office (at the dentist’s, wherever, you decide) that we’re not supposed to quite understand. And we’re not supposed to understand him (or possibly her but the stereotype would be “he”) because, as The New York Times implies by this ever so brief offering, graphic novels remain something of a curiosity. Sure, The New York Times includes a category for graphic novel bestsellers but that was inevitable.

So, if The New York Times is really serious about graphic novels, and the comics medium in general, then they need to treat the subject with the respect it deserves.

Again, I love The New York Times. I’m sure they have it in them to provide far more accurate and in depth coverage of the leading art form of the day. Seriously, I’d be happy to work with them in this noble endeavor.

Quite seriously, I believe it’s outdated to need to introduce the world of comics as if it’s an oddball relative. Would you relegate the world of contemporary painting to an arts backpage and then highlight ten works from various times and places and offer it up as a quick look at some “summer reveries”? No, you wouldn’t.

It’s not the comics medium that is this curious little creature. It’s articles like this one that are quite curious indeed.


Filed under Art, comic books, Comics, graphic novels, The New York Times

Has Hollywood Soured on Comic-Con?

In a now famous piece in The New York Times last month, the focus has been on the major pull back from Hollywood to this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego. That would seem understandable during the Great Recession. Not at the party in any significant way this year: Warner Brothers, Disney, Dreamworks, The Weinstein Company and Marvel Entertainment. No panels for “Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” or “Hunger Games.”

However, as expressed in a nice piece from CNN, at the end of the day, with 120,000 attendees and all the media coverage, Comic-Con has hardly been abandoned by Hollywood. A draw down by Hollywood is relative. Should any studio spend over $60 million on a movie like, “Scott Pilgrim v. The World,” that common sense would tell you will likely make about $30 million? The thing is, $30 million is a lot of money. Did Universal expect to make $100 million? Come on, it is a quirky offbeat comedy. Maybe Universal should have followed what Sony did with “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” and make a movie for $10 million and earn $30 million. That’s $20 million profit, not bad. Instead, they took a genuine and fun story by cartoonist Bryan Lee O’Malley and turned it into a bloated monster, with a poster that covered the whole side of the Hilton nearby Comic-Con last year, that did not earn but lost money. Is that Comic-Con’s fault somehow? This year, that same Hilton has another poster, this time it’s for “Cowboys and Aliens” and it’s smaller.

Hollywood can, or should, learn how to be more resourceful, just like the cartoonists and various geeks that are at the heart of what Comic-Con is truly about. There is supposed to be some sort of strong presence on the convention floor for “Hunger Games.” And there are viral campaigns for “Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” That sounds resourceful.

Sony rolls out the first footage of “The Amazing Spider-Man” at this year’s Comic-Con. Of course, “Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1” is in Hall H. “Cowboys and Aliens” premieres at Comic-Con. “Captain America,” “Fright Night” and “Attack the Block” all have screenings too.  It is hardly a cold shoulder from Hollywood. It is more of a sensible approach. With any luck, it will save money, maybe enough money to support yet another quirky offbeat comedy based on a genuine and fun comic book.

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Filed under CNN, Comic-Con, Comic-Con International, Comic-Con International: San Diego, The New York Times