Rant & Rave (Guest Edition): Rockies Penny-Pinching and The Value of Snark

December 2013

While searching for Rant & Rave ideas this week, I came across two articles about topics dear to my opinionated heart. These two writers did such an excellent job of weighing in, I realized my best move was to present them here and get out of the way. And so:

Rant: The Rockies' Transparent Dexter Fowler Trade

As we know by now, the Rockies don't just pinch pennies; they put them in a vise and crank the handle until the coin is a flat blob of copper. This was no more apparent than when the team unloaded centerfielder Dexter Fowler to Houston for what might charitably be described as table scraps. I was all set to type the latest chapter of my ongoing series about why the Rockies will never win again, but the Denver Post's Mark Kiszla authored this spot-on indictment of virtually everything the Monforts have done recently. Rockies fans, read it and weep.

Rave: Maybe Snark Isn't So Bad After All

Regular readers of this item (Hi Mom!) have seen me repeatedly decry the lack of civility in our political and social discourse. But after reading "On Smarm" by Gawker's Tom Scocca, I'm starting to think that maybe we need more criticism, not less. Scocca's compelling thesis is that the flip side of snark—which has long been Gawker's signature tone—is smarm, and it's far more damaging to our cultural dialogue:

"What is smarm, exactly? Smarm is a kind of performance—an assumption of the forms of seriousness, of virtue, of constructiveness, without the substance. Smarm is concerned with appropriateness and with tone. Smarm disapproves.

Smarm would rather talk about anything other than smarm. Why, smarm asks, can't everyone just be nicer?"

Scocca goes on to argue (at length, and it's worth the read) that criticism of the arts, politics, whatever—pointed, thoughtful, and reasoned criticism—is what's needed to keep these shallow and disingenuous purveyors of smarm at bay. By calling out and rejecting smarm in all its forms, we might be able to move toward something more substantive in all walks of American life. 

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.