Thursday, January 26, 2006

RIP Wonkette

Although this is relatively old news, we were hardly saddened to hear that Ana Marie Cox bowed out as Wonkette a couple of weeks ago in the midst of a publicity tsunami for her self-referential (and very bad) new novel, Dog Days, which we won't link to or publicize. The blog has been taken over by a couple of male bloggers, although its name remains the same.

Wonkette (the blog) actually inspired the blogname of this writer, mainly by Wonkette's insistence on serving as a content-free zone in the blogosphere. Cotton-candy fluffy, self-referential, Blackberry-obsessed, and thirty-something snarky with all surface and no depth, Wonkette initially made a name for herself by interfacing with folks like flash-in-the-pan "Washingtonienne," a onetime low-level staffer for an Ohio Senator. Washingtonienne gained fame by boasting to the world of her skanky, Nighttown prowess as Capitol Hill's most available female rectum. Her breathless blog entries frequently read like The Story of O for the Naughty Aughties, but her misadventures promptly got her fired once her identity was outted. Sadly, it was frequently to this level of discourse that Wonkette herself sank on countless occasions.

Wonk himself has never figured out why her blog gained so much traction, except perhaps amongst shallow young male readers. Frequently sporting bald pates offset by Arafat-like facial hair, such self-parodies possess an inflated sense of their own sophistication even while mouthing vulgar, post-ironic profundities whose sheer lack of perspicacity would stun even Beavis and Butthead into slack-jawed amazement. One must reluctantly draw the conclusion that a certain portion of the American populace, particularly in the scribbling world, remains mired in, addicted to, and obsessed with a sniggering, adolescent response to the act of human reproduction.

Cox' marriage to onetime deputy editor of the Washington Post Book World, Chris Lehmann (now with Congressional Quarterly Weekly, after a surprisingly short stint with New York magazine) probably guaranteed predictably incestuous free coverage from time to time in that paper's debased "Style" section, which has evolved into a free PR insert flakking for whomever publicists and marketing execs have decided is "in," at least this week. In a typical Pravda-type maneuver, these revisionists upgraded Ana Marie's image by Photoshopping away the ugly, three green (or blue?) stars tattooed to her right upper arm. (Although more accurate images have appeared in other, less trendy newspapers, blogs, sites, etc. A lame explanation for the tattooes is provided at the end of this article.)

Look. Cox is attractive, has some talent, and clearly has a gift for the quip. She's also quite good at projecting low-level Gen X gravitas or a reasonable simulation thereof. But as to real intellectual content, there's no there there, as Gertrude Stein once said in another context. This Writer Formerly Known as Wonkette (for a mere two years) is a classic example of a scribbler well back in the pack who caught the right coattails at the right time and rode them to instant fame and probable oblivion.

But don't take it from us. P.J. O'Rourke was even less kind to Cox and her faux roman a clef. In, of all places, the Post's Book World. Which makes it difficult for us to draw a moral conclusion to this mess. O tempora, o mores?

No comments: