The Best Hate-Reads of 2014

by robinhardwick

Why do I hate read? It’s not just for the purpose of being evil. Reading opinions that oppose mine only make my arguments stronger and give them more depth. As an aspiring writer, it helps to see what not to do. Plus, it’s just darn fun. Here’s are some of the best (worst) pieces that made me rage. Some are because of the writing, some are because of the subject matter. In fact, I highly respect some of these websites/authors.

Thinkpieces have been bountifully published this year in response to outrage and problematic shows, tweets, music, and everything else. I believe pop culture should always be criticized, but writing 6K words on everything can get exhausting. I believe Hipster Runoff says it best here.

In no order, my picks are:

Am I Being Catfished? An author confronts her number one critic

Author tracks down the blogger who gave her bad reviews on Goodreads and goes to her home. We’re supposed to understand why and be on her side, but that is just too far.

Literary Narcissism and the Middling Millenials

More literature scandal! Emily Gould was a controversial editor for Gawker, inciting a lot of gossip and rumors. I don’t agree with all her actions, but she also doesn’t deserve this 10K-word takedown that seems just so personal. After this author was criticized, he threatened suicide on Facebook. He cites many examples and does compose a good argument, but to spend the time writing this is the real mystery.

Why It Is a Bad Thing That Orange Is the New Black Leaves Men Out

Orange is the New Black doesn’t have enough male characters, and therefore does a disservice to the male experience in prison. Yes, really

Seth Rogen Should Stop Hanging Around With James Franco

“But, from the outside, it looks like James only calls his buddy Seth up for the lowbrow and/or goofy stuff while keeping the prestige parts for himself and his actorly friends. Maybe he’s afraid of the competition.” I’m all for criticizing James Franco, but doing it because of his films, not some assumption about friendships. This is just nuts.

It Happened To Me: There Are No Black People In My Yoga Class and I’m Uncomfortable With It

This one is pretty infamous, and marks the peak of xoJane’s downward spiral into clickbait. Excited by all the traffic this brought, they published several other reactions to their own article. The poor author had to go into hiding because of harassment. Sure, it was a tone-deaf, ignorant piece, but I blame the editors for publishing it and throwing her out to the wolves.

Will White Feminists Finally Dump Lena Dunham?

I’m not disagreeing that there are issues of race and privileged to be discussed here, but I am sick of Lena Dunham being the scapegoat for everything. Yes, her character on Girls is pretty terrible. So is Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm, but we welcomed that atrocity for nine seasons. The League is also pretty racist and sexist, and not ironically. This, I believe, is all rooted in a threat of a young woman having a voice.

Lessons from Justine Sacco’s Tweet Heard Round the World

In one of my favorite pieces this year, Sam Biddle revisits starting the twitter backlash against Justine Sacco. Her being burned at the stake for one satirical tweet has started a culture of shaming and outrage, and this condescending victim-blaming piece is infuriating.

I Called My First Northwestern Professor Last Night To Try to Make Sense of James Foley’s Death

It was hard for me to not list more than two xoJane articles, as it is my go-to for schadenfreude, but this article from Mandy Stadtmiller is the gift that keeps on giving. She wrote this as a reaction to the beheading of James Foley; reflecting on how it affected her as a journalist and as a fellow Northwestern journalism program alum (they didn’t know each other). Sure, the timing was probably in poor taste, but in her defense, the way we react to events is through our own experiences.

Rather than leaving it alone, Stadtmiller went on a rampage deleting all negative comments and spending lots of time challenging all the commenters, in some sort of crusade to make everyone understand, eventually spewing out manifestos such as this. The first rule of reacting to internet criticism is to just not react.

Crystal Ball

Shingy, AOL’s spike-haired, neon-sneaker wearing ‘Digitial Prophet’ is my favorite target of criticism and ridicule. The New Yorker profiled a day in his life. They seemed to be in on the joke, but the fact they took up space to talk about him is disappointing.

In a final videotaped message, a sad reflection of the sexist stories we so often see on screen

There was a lot written about the Elliot Rodger shooting in Santa Barbara, and it opened up some great conversation about gender roles, expectations, and sexual entitlement. I actually agree with Ann Hornaday’s thesis, which, in general terms, is that popular culture sets up an expectations for both men and women and expectations for them in society. However, pointing out Judd Apatow’s film as an example was perhaps a bit too pointed, and it made her sound like she was solely blaming them.

Seth Rogen did react strongly, and I don’t think his or Judd’s reaction was great either- it was a defensive, knee-jerk anger that didn’t consider the whole idea. Using the example when talking about a boy shooting others because of expectations is dangerous territory. It made it seem like she was directly connecting the two as cause and effect. Not the best idea.

And, finally, most of the New York Times Style Section profiles.