the air-conditioned rooms at the top of the stairs
I was really disappointed by the story MSNBC tried to tell yesterday. I was hoping we'd discuss the empowering nature of blogs, and how anyone, even celebrities, can use blogging software to communicate with people. I hoped to point out that blogging is very egalitarian, and it doesn't matter how famous a person is offline, if their blog just isn't relevant or interesting, nobody will pay attention once the novelty wears off, and they'll be stuck with little more than a promotional tool that is largely ignored. When we started out, I tried to explain that I was a "blogger with a high-profile job", rather than a "celebrity blogger," but they just weren't interested in hearing that. Instead, they did everything they possibly could to turn the conversation to She Whose Name Will Not Be Spoken, Britney Spears, and other vapid media
whores darlings who would probably vanish in a puff of smoke the instant the media stopped fawning over them.
I thought that MSNBC would really "get" blogs, since several of their on-air hosts have them, including Keith Olbermann, whose bloggermann is absolutely fantastic. Seriously, that guy should be on TV.
I tried my best, and I'm sad that I lost an opportunity to help introduce to a large TV audience a powerful (new-ish) way to communicate. Unfrotunately, I left feeling like it was further evidence of the Mainstream Media's inability (refusal?) to understand what blogs truly are, and why blogs matter.
While I was on the air, I mentioned a few blogs that I think are fantastic, and a few people have asked me to link to them. So here are the ones I can remember:
- Nickerblog is written by my friend Shane Nickerson. Shane and I are part of the "I keep my blog because I want to write the way you do" club. He's an amazing writer.
- + busblog is written by Tony Pierce. Tony just won a bloggy, which he fully deserves. When I won my bloggies, I don't think I had earned them, yet. Tony completely earned his.
- Neil Gaiman's Journal. Neil Gaiman gave the world an incredible gift when he created Sandman. Then, presumably because he likes us all so much, he gave us American Gods. He also gave me the greatest honor in the world when he wrote the foreword to my book Just A Geek. Like most bloggers, he writes about whatever is on his mind, but because he's one of the finest authors in a generation, it's always interesting.
- James Wolcott is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He clearly doesn't need a blog, since he's a contributing editor to a respected magazine, but he does it anyway. More evidence of why blogs matter, if you ask me.
I think I mentioned a few others, but by that point in the interview, I just wanted to get off the air and back home so I could finish my latest Games of our Lives, which is about one of my favorite games of all-time. If someone remembers and wants to link it, put it in the comments or send an e-mail, and I'll update accordingly.
As Balance to the MSNBC piece: Salon's featured story today is called Attack of the Celebrity Blogs. I was hopeful that Salon would get the story right, but when I saw my name in the first paragraph, I cringed and expected the worst.
I have never been so happy to be wrong in all my life.
There are as many different types of celebrity blogs as there are celebrities: We have blogs from celebrities who have fallen out of the spotlight and who want back in, at least in some marginal way (Rosie O'Donnell); blogs from celebrities who are too big to need blogs but who still maintain them, at least in some cursory faction, to maintain the illusion of intimacy with their fans ( Gwen Stefani ); blogs from celebrities who actually seem to enjoy recording their thoughts about mundane day-to-day activities and manage to do it in a conversational, entertaining way ( Moby ); blogs from celebrities who feel strangely compelled to lecture us on the meaning of the universe ( Fred Durst ); blogs from celebrities who feel strongly about politics ( Barbra Streisand ); and, most fascinating -- and most readable -- of all, a blog from an actor whom few of us have thought much about in recent years but who has become a kind of touchstone for many people in the readersphere who are simply attempting to do what they want to do with their lives and finding it more difficult than they ever imagined ( Wil Wheaton, who appeared in "Stand by Me" as a child actor and in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" as a teenager, and then seemingly dropped off the Earth's surface).
The story goes on to make many of the points I had hoped to make on TV yesterday, and ends with some unbelievably kind words about me and WWdN:
The overarching point of that entry [about CSI] may be that celebrities aren't like you and me, except when they are. WIL WHEATON dot NET is appealing because it's written by a regular person with intelligence and a sense of humor. When he's lucky enough to do the work he obviously loves, he also has a pretty interesting job. But while his readers leave lots of comments congratulating him on his "CSI" performance, there are plenty more who are eager to offer advice about the sick cats. In the end, that's what writing -- and reading -- blogs comes down to. The Inner Self isn't the stuff of everyday life: The cats with the kidney problems are.
Wow! How cool is that? Like I said, I have never thought of myself as a celebrity blogger. I've always thought of myself as a blogger who once had a high-profile job. While MSNBC completely missed that point, and chose to focus instead on viewing blogging through the traditional "celebrity" filters, Salon completely grokked it, and I'm really psyched that they chose to use my blog as a favorable example. That's really, really cool.
. . . this has been sitting here since I got up this morning, and I've been reluctant to publish it because it feels like a big old "Yeah! go me! I rule!" pile of shit . . . I want to say how happy and flattered I am that Salon chose *me* as an example of Some Guy with a blog that doesn't suck . . . but I just can't figure out a way to quote it without feeling like I'm jerking off. I hope it doesn't come off that way.