Mix of topics: teaching, academic research, travel, politics, TV/movies, married life...
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
How razor-sharp is your wit? Test your skills against the RYS experts
How did I stumble upon "Rate your students?" Well... I've been pummeled and left for dead countless times on RateMyProfessor.com, rejoindered on "Professors Strike Back!" and even debated the two sites with college journalism students at my uni. So it was natural for me to start hanging out round the campus water cooler.
RYS is the site where I finally accepted that "extreme" is the new edgy, something it took me a while to understand.
Offensive, ridiculous, over-the-top, pin-your-ears-back -- its gotta be extreme to capture eyeballs on today's web. I first heard this (but didn't "get" it)' when my blogging mentor emailed me that I should not have been caterwauling over Sarah Faith Alterman's self-confessed "Americaphile asshole" attitude towards my precious China. Just back from my sabbatical in Beijing, I was mortified at her attitude and sent a big F-U to her and the Phoenix, a much-admired weekly here in Boston (my comment is at the end of her article). My mentor emailed me to pipe down, Alterman's sarcasm was pretty typical for today's humorous, edgy journalism.
My second example was hearing (uh... reading) a lit blogger referred to as "James Wood's fluffer" over in the comments section of Contra James Wood. Now, I myself probably barely know what "fluffer" means, but I know it is, like, really, really insulting -- What if the lit blogger read that??? But if extreme is the new edgy, then the lit blogger maybe grinned, what the hell, more eye balls (and search engines) are grazing on my name, thanks CJW.
But how does one learn how to write edgy? I tell my students you learn by doing -- AND getting feedback.
So here's the game (or the training regimen). You regularly read RYS. You imagine how you would respond to the current "Big thirsty." Maybe even write something. Maybe even send it in. It doesn't make it on the site. And then your eyeballs blow out when you read what did get published.
Now, I don't mean to claim that RYS only posts the nasty, Tabasco-on-the-lip screeching screeds (although I will blog about that in my next post). Frequently, it just prints the funniest stuff, with that ring of truth. First it makes you laugh, then it makes you think about the times when that really happened to you.