Critic: Jon Putnam
Publication: The Line of Best Fit, 2016
Writing Disorders: Infectious Punctuation, Purple Hemorrhage, Jargon Palsy
Jon, this is the laziest review I’ve seen in a while. Yes, you typed sentences, divided them into paragraphs, and mentioned songs. But you gushed so hard over the CONCEPT behind this album of “socially significant gold” that you barely paid any attention to the fact that the concept was set to music:
“If Slugger has any deficits, it’s in the music itself”
I actually laughed out loud when I read that. So the only thing wrong with this album of music is the music itself, writes music writer for music publication. Music is kind of a big component of music, Jon. And it’s not like this album was recorded by a woman best known for thumping a tambourine with her big toe. We’re talking about one of the premier guitarists of our generation. And even if this is an album of “laptop pop,” I imagine Sadie Dupuis might be insulted that a man got so hung up on the flower of her ideas that he felt he could just tune out the music and still give her an 8. To me that’s belittling, but I’m just a guy with ideas, so who the hell knows.
That brings me to my next point. Let’s look at this sentence.
“Case in point, as a mid-30s, cis-gendered white dude whose music exposure was built on skinny, bell-bottomed white boys seeking to satisfy their sexual hungers with charcuterie plates of groupies, I initially found Slugger’s adamant delivery of its themes heavy-handed and pitifully realized that was fully my problem, not Dupuis’s or Slugger’s.”
Jon, I’m going to skip past some of the more obvious questions raised by that sentence such as whether there’s a difference between white boys and white dudes other than the one created by your guilty haste. I want to focus more on the big picture. I don’t know what the hell has gotten into such huge swaths of the writing world lately, but I’m getting weary of this new trend of declaring components of one’s identity in a shame-faced litany like some kulak confessing to a Soviet court.
Look, I get what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to demonstrate empathy with someone else’s perspective, someone who doesn’t share 0.1 percent of your own genetic makeup. There’s nothing wrong with that — the world could use more open minds. But clumsily pointing out your age, race, and gender to atone for liking Led Zeppelin as a boy seems like a dumb way to proclaim that you can see the merit in another musician’s ideas.
And why you chose to tick off those particular boxes doesn’t even make sense to me. Why the “cis-”? If Sadie Dupuis is trans, then I’m a dung beetle. Does being “white” make you any less receptive to a white woman’s ideas than the blackness of a black man would if his music exposure was built on black men’s sex-hungry quests for platters of hoe meat? By listing these characteristics, you’re essentially suggesting that because this album was written by a late-20s, cis-gendered white woman, its perspective on men and relationships and sexuality MUST be right, and not only that, it must be so right that:
“flash-drive copies of Slugger should accompany all high school freshman Health class textbooks”
Jon, this kind of personal “criticism” is nearly as bad as the impersonal third-person stuff that music publications peddle as objective testimony. Simply deferring to a person’s worldview because of how delusional you judge your own *category* of human being is a dangerous, stupid road to stumble down. It’s one thing to reflect on two perspectives, but it’s another to suggest that race or gender are homogeneous indicators of thought and action. I think you would have been better off filling that space with concrete examples of whatever “much of pop” supposedly professes, because it might have given the impression that you’re actually familiar with the musical style this album seeks to challenge.
And by the way, if you’re keen on subjecting ALL high school freshmen to “they still want to lick my asshole” then I’d love to hear your suggestions for the lunch menu.
Frankly none of this would have bothered me as much if you’d just written a convincing, CLEAR review. But I think you were in such a rush to kiss someone’s feet that you forgot you had to kneel on the way down. Here, let’s look at this gem:
“Lead single, “Get A Yes,” is the prime vehicle for Dupuis’s thesis – and, indeed, her and her album’s mission statement where the woman initiates and takes control of a relationship’s sexual progression and, in non-manipulative, non-mysterious or any other non-guy’s-lame-excuse-why-he-can’t-“figure out”-women way clearly and fairly pilots the proceedings based on her consent.”
Speaking of a “lame excuse,” is that supposed to be writing or just words randomly pasted into a text box? I think this reaction says it best:
Jon, forgive me for taking your suspicious Pentecostal awakening with a grain of salt, because the explanation is needlessly hard to read. If you really want to spread the Gospel of Dupuis to other misguided Zeppelin dude-boys, don’t you think it makes sense to use strong arguments expressed in clear, fluid writing? Look at this:
Notice the first two words? “Non-guy.” Now, as someone who reads words with his eyes, when I see “non-guy” I assume you’re talking about someone who is not a guy, therefore not male, therefore confusing as f**k because you’re actually berating men in that phrase. I don’t know if you’re aware that restraint is the distant cousin of consent, but you might have ended up with a readable sentence if you’d exercised some of it. While we’re on the subject of mandating school curricula, why don’t we give those ass-licking freshmen copies of your music review to teach them the dangers of excess? It’s a win-win for young minds, lest they stumble into the wrong sort of “proceedings.”
One more sentence, then we’re done. I promise:
“Dupuis’s ability to express Slugger’s core message of relationship equity (“< 2”, “Devil In U”) and imperative insistence on respecting and listening to (i.e. not simply hearing) women (“Get A Yes”, “Tell U What”) as one that’s so embarrassingly elementary, it quickly becomes clear that rape culture, misogyny, and chauvinism are hardly down to guys being so lunk-headed and basic that they can’t read a woman properly, it’s because these are messages guys have learned not to want to hear.”
Okay, now let me take out all the parentheticals in case you missed something. Go ahead and read:
“Dupuis’s ability to express Slugger’s core message of relationship equity and imperative insistence on respecting and listening to women as one that’s so embarrassingly elementary, it quickly becomes clear that rape culture, misogyny, and chauvinism are hardly down to guys being so lunk-headed and basic that they can’t read a woman properly, it’s because these are messages guys have learned not to want to hear.”
Notice anything? I hope so, because the sentence makes no sense. There’s no verb tied to “ability” in the first clause, so readers will either hit a stumbling block at the word “it” or think you were saying Sadie’s ability was embarrassingly elementary if they replace “as” with “is” to create their own verb. So even if I take out the extraneous parenthetical clutter, “it quickly becomes clear” that it’s still a dumpster fire of a sentence. You might have taken it upon yourself to proofread your work before you labeled others as “lunk-headed,” Jon. That would be the mid-30s thing to do.
Jon, here’s what concerns me. Typos aside, I appreciate that you wrote your review from the perspective of “Your Truly,” but I don’t think lecturing on “destructive views” contributes to further thought and understanding when it’s presented in such a “heavy-handed,” poorly written way. I know a thing or two about being heavy-handed. It’s my shtick. But at least I edit my shtick thoroughly before I post it. Why? Because even if people don’t agree with what I’m writing, they have a fighting chance of understanding it from start to finish. And as a childless cis-gendered white man in his 30s, I think you’d be doing your kid a favor if you set a similar example in your own work. Peace.