Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The geography of nasty scummy celebritards

The New York Times excelled itself this morning with a hamfisted attempt to read more into a neat geography project than it should have. This is, in a sense, reassuring, because if there's one cultural touchstone that we'd like to survive the current unpleasantness in New York, it is that the NYT is the house journal of thousand-year-old white Upper West Side-dwellers.

We'll give you the lede in full:

Apologies to residents of the Lower East Side; Williamsburg, Brooklyn; and other hipster-centric neighborhoods. You are not as cool as you think, at least according to a new study that seeks to measure what it calls “the geography of buzz.”

The Times has come to these conclusions based on where in New York people get photographed by Getty Images photographers. Which is rather like measuring the depth of religious feeling in New York by counting the number of people coming in and out of St Patrick's cathedral. The Times says that "It was not a culturally comprehensive data set, the researchers admit, but a wide-ranging one."

No, it's a very wide-ranging data set covering where celebrities are most likely to want to get photographed. Note I didn't even say "appear", since I dare say Getty is not going to pay some poor sap to stand around outside the Bowery Ballroom in the hope that Ric Ocasek from the Cars drops by to catch a show. OK, OK, he's not really a celebrity, and I don't even know if he hangs out at the ballroom any more, but you get my point.

Appearances by celebrities constitute the least useful measurement of a city's cultural health since People Magazine's Club Toilet Coke Price bar chart (I made that up, presumably). This is why orange E News anchors, who don't know better, strive to maintain a kind of equivalence between New York and ghastly places like Las Vegas and Miami.

If there was ever a moment for the Times, in its constipated, pooterish fashion to say "nice charts, but you're talking out of your derriere, lady", then this was it. Instead it got all excited because the study apparently showed that the Lincoln Center was minting cultural currency by the bucketload. Rather than just attracting a lot of socialites.

Further down there's a somewhat impenetrable and needlessly jargon-ridden discussion of the news media as cultural gatekeepers, with a further concession from the organiser of the study that these locations represent "buzz and desirability hubs". Which is kind of a condo-developer's way of describing cultural currency, like those listings you see for Wall Street developments that say "Lindsay Lohan might have been prepared to use the bathroom here."

Now I shouldn't get as excited as this about a piece of rank trollery from a major newspaper adapting rather awkwardly to the internet. But it's been a while since I posted. What can I say?


Post a Comment

<< Home