In a brief, easy to swallow piece of writing, I have to be either really funny or really perceptive, and I have to keep things interesting enough and short enough to hold the attention of the shallow, vacuous reader, who is probably only reading the column because he doesn’t have the patience to sit through an entire article. Thus, I (the artist, persecuted for the sins of others) have the handicap of people’s preconceived notions to hinder my work. That having been said, I will climb down off of my cross and begin this column. Still here?
There are a few sure-fire ways to make a column “good” or at least palatable:
Begin by saying, “I was sitting here trying to write this column, and I started thinking about…” To me this sounds like the guy giving the speech at high school graduation who says, “I was sitting up last night trying to write this speech, and I started thinking about all that high school has meant to me.” Yeah, sure you were. You obviously forfeited any hope of a social life in your quest to become valedictorian, so you’ve probably been writing this speech since birth. Dork.
- End it by making reference to something you’ve said earlier on, thus giving the column a sense of closure and coherence. For example, twice so far I have advanced the notion of myself as a Christ figure. If I repeat something, then all of the sudden it becomes a “theme” and my work takes on “significance”, hopefully masking the fact that the previous 500 or so words have been “bullshit”.
Use the last resort: pointless pop culture references. For example: “I was sitting up last night watching the Superfriends while eating Spam sandwiches out of my Happy Days lunchbox, and I started thinking about that episode of Three’s Company when there was that big misunderstanding.” Bullseye. Mission accomplished. People who want to read that crap are the same people who are in the audiences of those brutal standup comedy shows on cable. Apparently there is no bigger thrill than finding out that someone else has had experiences similar to yours. “Superfriends!?! I used to watch that! And that comedian was right! Men and women are different!”
Ultimately, the columnist is someone who is too lazy to write a real article, because that would involve research and “legwork”(?). If I were a political columnist, I could say whatever I wanted and I wouldn’t have to back it up because there wouldn’t be room to. So, for those of you still with me, I guess the conclusion is that columns are written by lazy cynics to be read by fickled dolts. Like I said, columns are stupid.