me on Grantland and the anxious state of the culture industry

I’m in The Observer, looking back at Grantland with both admiration and frustration. It’s another in my long series of trying to work out a basic question: why are our conversations on art and culture sites of such profound anxiety? Check it out.


  1. Is the line ‘The dominant genre within today’s cultural commentary is analysis of pop culture undertaken with the scholasticism and obsessive focus one reserved for “the canon.”’ supposed to read ‘once reserved’ instead of ‘one reserved’? Maybe the Observer should poach some of that editing talent departing Grantland…

  2. This is a tremendous article. I’ve been reading your stuff for the better part of a year now, and am reminded of how I feel when reading Glenn Greenwald–as if a burden of writing about these things has been lifted from me because I found someone who is already doing it better than I could anyway. Makes me yearn for some longer treatise on how popular intellectual culture has become this way. But I don’t see how one could sensibly disagree with the view that the culture is roughly as you describe it.

  3. I posted this sentiment on one of your much older articles, but I think it’s worth reposting here

    Basically, you say that the reason behind all of this is ‘underdog-ization’. Now, what I’m about to say is my personal experience, and I’m not so much like other people, but I think it’s coming from a far different reason.

    See, I think people have this idea of what they are ‘supposed’ to like, what an adult is ‘supposed’ to be like / enjoy, that are based on old norms (your parents, for example). Even when those norms shift, or have long since shifted, you still feel as though the things you like are wrong – even though no one is saying that anymore, and it’s an objectively silly thing to feel, it doesn’t stop you from feeling it.

    A great example is me; I played competitive Pokemon for a while. Competitive Pokemon is an incredibly complex game, requiring an enormous amount of knowledge, both lists of moves and stats and metagame knowledge (what are people using right now), requires great team-building, strategising, turn-to-turn tactics and even getting in your opponent’s head to try and predict individual moves. Comparing it to the cartridge game for kids is like comparing chess to checkers. But, I feel ashamed to admit it. Even though when I do admit it to people my age, they don’t shame me for it, I still ashamed. Now, by doing it many times I could disabuse myself of this shame, but most people don’t want to put themselves out there like that. (instead, they tell people they like X show, but in sort of a self-belittling way or like ‘guilty pleasure’ or something else that says ‘i know it’s bad for me to like it’. It’s surprisingly hard to break away from what society has told you should be shameful, even long after they are done saying it.

    Maybe this is entirely me? But really, who tries to manuever themselves into being an underdog?

    Barnwell and other sports writers (I did read a lot of Barnwell, as well as Grantland in general), are just not up with the times yet – these attitudes have disappeared so suddenly, and it’s very difficult to really track, especially local stations and such, which I would estimate have more influence than you believed. Also, many people may have these opinions and just not broadcast them, even at ESPN, and color commentators and stuff like that.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *