Know Your Audience

One problem with writing, as opposed to speech, is that one can’t use voice inflections. This creates a particular issue for those who are frequent users of irony, satire, sarcasm, etc.

Well not a problem for those who use it, but perhaps those who “don’t get it,” and thus misconstrue generally smart or witty remarks.

Case in point:

Last week I blogged about the problems being raised by
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
‘ release on Shabbat in Israel. As did Gawker, a Manhattan blog devoted to media news and gossip:

Some stores are planning to open anyway—these are Jews, let’s remember, and a buck’s a buck—which has resulted in predictable outrage from the more Adonai-adoring elements of Israeli society. (MORE)

Before you too become outraged at the anti-Antisemitism of this, you should first note some of their other recent postings:

  • A video of the entire population of a Philippine prison doing the dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. (If you ask me, it looks too well choreographed to be true but is still rather amusing.)

Now don’t get me wrong. Gawker also covers serious topics, such alleged racial slurs uttered at the New York Times, the oversaturation of coverage devoted to Lindsey Lohan at other news outlets, and Apple’s iPhone woes.

But Gawker’s tone is irreverent, sardonic, and sometimes rude. Every single post. It’s what they do. Journalists might called it their niche.

But someone had to go take their mocking post a little too literally.

Mark Caro of the Chicago Tribune wrote on his blog subsequently:

They’re being postmodern and ironic. They’re playing to a crowd that appreciates such wink-wink references (the comments include several inside jokes about Jewish law and nary a complaint). There’s already a popular Jewish magazine called Heeb, so why not embrace all slurs and stereotypes? Don’t take offense; it’s all in quotation marks. (MORE)

Posted on July 26, 2007

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