How to Write a Hatchet Job
PRELUDE TO EXAMINING SLATE’S JUNOT DIAZ ARTICLE
THE TRUTH is that a character assassination can be written on anyone– especially when you delve into the person’s long history of writings and cherry pick from them to bolster your argument.
Did Slate‘s Lili Loofbourow do this in her examination of the Junot Diaz sexual harassment controversy now dividing the literary world?
THE TRICK is that the same treatment could be performed on Ms. Loofbourow. For instance, two minutes of google searching found this article:
“In Praise of Fleabag and the Unapologetically Flawed Female Antihero.”
The television show Loofbourow acclaims is, in her own words, “–a tremendous, oddly nourishing show about a liar and thief.” “It’s the story . . . of a woman who reads people too well and takes advantage of them,” “somehow desperate,” “a lean, amoral Matilda with no impulse control.”
(Anyone we know. . . ?)
Reading the article, one would think Lili Loofbourow doesn’t care, really, about apologies– nor about ethical behavior and truth. One could readily believe that Lili Loofbourow is simply a media gun-for-hire, fixing her opinions to fit the needs of her editors– or those of the greater conglomerate media herd.
That would be unfair.
THE SLATE article is interesting to me, because it reminds me of a long essay that was written fifteen years ago for a major literary publication, about an activist writers group. A writers group coincidentally devoted to exposing blatant corruption in the established literary world. That long-ago essay was a well-written hatchet job, filled with half-truths, distortions, and omissions. It defined us, creating a narrative which became “the truth” about us in everyone’s heads, so much so that any journalist afterward covering the organization read that essay as part of their research on it, viewing it through the same prism of misconceptions.
I’m not complaining. I’m stating how the game is played. Those who rise to a position where they crank out articles for a variety of publications play the game very, very well.
The solution? To create an alternative literary world, and alternative lit-media, not based in the shark tank of New York– one devoted to facts, talent, and truth.
COMING SOON: A more direct look at the Slate article.
-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit News.