New Critique of Snark Misses the Point

Denby blames the hecklers, fails to see what they're heckling
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2008 8:03 PM CST
The cover of Denby's book.
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(Newser) – Give David Denby credit for bravery: He's 65 and the movie critic at the New Yorker, so he “could have written the most concise, insightful, and expertly argued book about snark and still come off like an Internet-age Andy Rooney,” writes Adam Sternbergh of New York Magazine. His book, though, is anything but insightful. Snark: It’s Mean, It’s Personal, and It’s Ruining Our Conversation is tone deaf and wrong, finding a symptom and calling it a disease.

Denby identifies snark as the voice of a generation “who know, by the time they are 12, the mechanics of hype, spin and big money.” But instead of denouncing hype, spin, or big money, he laments the whippersnappers snarking those things. “Snark is not the poison; it’s the home-brewed antidote, the angry heckler at the back of the room,” says Sternbergh. “But Denby can only hear the hecklers, not the ridiculous act they’re heckling.” (Read more book reviews stories.)