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Location: Portland, Oregon

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Being Just Plain Unfair

Personally, that thing we were always taught about not 'judging a book by its cover'? Buncha shit, if you ask me. While it is not a good idea to have this as your only measure, I keep noting that the crazy look crazy, the smug look smug, and the ones who wander around looking solemn all the time are bores. Examples? Let's go to the editorial board of The Oregonian.

Just look at Steve Duin. He's moustached, sort of like a loyal, faithful dog in appearance. Furthermore, that moustache is a reminder that once upon a time, there was an entire beard there, and probably long hair to match: I'M ONE OF YOU! I was a freak, then I grew up, had a family, you know...The upshot of this? In the middle of his boy-the-world-sure-is-a-scary-place columns, there will be some Bob Dylan quotes a-comin'.
He looks Serious, though, and that's important. It adds gravitas to his endless columns about high-school girls' basketball.

Anna Griffin looks Serious too, but this is pretty much undone by the fact that she, like a number of adult lesbians I've met in my life, looks like an angry fifteen-year-old boy. It is a fact that -in the privacy of my own home- I read her column aloud in my best Jodie Foster in "Silence of the Lambs" voice: all clipped syllables and empty macha.
With the exception that she would like to be legally married to the woman she lives with and has children with, she's kind of a reactionary, and seems to spend a lot of her time writing in that tone of faux-outrage that characterizes...Assholes in any category, I guess.

Susan Nielsen has that look (practiced by Kathleen Parker, among others) that says, "C'MONNN! You know what I'm sayin' is True! You know in your heart of hearts that I'm Right! C'MONNNNNN!"
It informs her writing style, too. She sort of breezily ridicules things without much in the way of examination. Or she'll throw in evidence that suggests that her viewpoint is crap, then blithely ignore it.
She also occasionally will fall into the awful ontological trap of 'I am a woman, so therefore I believe the following...' which -again- just doesn't help her case at all.

Of course, all of these people are Opinion writers, so they really don't have to adhere to any sort of strictures regarding...Much, really. But there is that duty you have to yourself as an opinion writer: try to make your opinion seem plausible and palatable.

Here's Andy Parker. He's got the 'C'MONNN!' going on too, but more in the Cool Community College Faculty way. The 'Hey, c'mon...', perhaps. He writes in a Steve Duin-esque sort of 'saddened and shocked, shocked, I tell you' way, but is sheltered in a way that makes Mr. Duin seem positively cosmopolitan.
Not a lot else, except that he seems to have taken S. Renee Mitchell's place, and I honestly can't say if that's a step forward or backward.

Dave Lister writes fairly consistent 'guest opinion' pieces. He distinguishes himself by taking the opposite opinion of pretty much anyone in their right mind on pretty much any topic. If I had to read that look on his face, it would be 'Dave Lister: Common Sense Man!'
Common Sense Man thinks that their viewpoint is underrepresented in our culture, which I think is also exactly the opposite of what is actually the case. If anything, we're swimming through an ocean of their horse shit every day. Their favorite phrase is 'If it ain't Broke, don't Fix it', which they think gives them an out as far as actually examining It to see if it is Broke, and in need of Fixin'.
In this way, I suspect that he's another one that starts making jokes about "Global Warming" (and never Catastrophic Global Climate Change) every time it snows. His column about why the minimum wage is unnecessary is a classic. (Turns out that it makes your Big Mac go up a few cents.)

But Elizabeth Hovde is the winner, hands down. She goes beyond the usual right-wing pose of 'c'mon, you know I'm right, and I'm right because this is just the good old horse sense that comes from the Gut, as opposed to corrupt, elitist Brain', and into the 'Yeah, YEAH? SEEEE? RIGHT? RIGHT?' look of pure, terrifying zealotry I often see on the face of militant Vegans.
She's got the one-spooky-eye thing going, and that doesn't help. It is a look I could see occurring on Ann Coulter's face if she ever actually smiled. I'm imagining that in the mind of this particular smiler, she looks enthusiastic and full of fresh ideas. But really, she just looks nuts.

I'm well aware that one can't accurately base an entire analysis of a person on one photograph: that's also not my point. I mean, this occasional guest commenter has two photos, one in which she looks like a fun-lovin' gal, and another where she looks like she has Down's Syndrome. The story is the photo itself, and what it says about you, since you've cleared it to be your representative (or, to use a somewhat-misused term, "avatar") in public.

That said, Chelsea Cain just looks evil.
She doesn't write for The Oregonian anymore, and was not evil, but banal. For all you Hannah Arendt fans out there, it's not The Banality of Evil, but The Evil of Banality. And again, the picture says nothing about the writing, and of course if this same test were applied to me, god knows what other people would come up with, and...
Aaagh! God, I'm sorry.



Blogger rich bachelor said...

Y'know, despite what I said there, I occasionally enjoy Susan Nielsen's column, and agree with what she has to say, and...

Hehhh...I'm goin' t'hell. You can't publish that many pictures of people accompanied by disparaging text without someone somewhere noticing it. I shall be in flames, very soon, I suspect.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Aunty Christ said...

I would say that, in the one, Lily looks less like a gal who likes a good time and more like a gal who has a face like a freshly buttered pancake.

I imagine Chelsea there has two personalities to go along with her two skin tones. Her assistant whispers, "Is it flour-covered doughball Chelsea today? Oh god, it's shiny pink Chelsea? Fuck. Wish me luck..."

Fortunately I'm great looking, so I don't have to fear anyone judging me similarly.

3:15 PM  

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