Please Buy David Denby's Book, So He Can Stop TalkingS

David Denby, the New Yorker movie critic (not the good one), continues to bait us in interview after interview so we'll write something about his book Snark, so it will sell. Okay fine, here:

David Denby, can you present a short, clear, and meaningful definition of "snark," that clearly delineates it from every other form of humor or criticism? Let's see:

  • "It’s not hate speech, it’s not trolling, it’s not simple insult. What I’m getting at is contempt, and a signal sent to a member of a club (which can be enormous or tiny) in which a certain kind of reference is understood, and stands in for an attitude that one wants to put down"...
  • “'Snark is like a schoolyard taunt without the schoolyard,' he writes. 'Snark is hazing on the page.'” ...
  • "Denby, in a phone interview, defines snark as 'the knowing nasty tone, the cheap shot.'" ...
  • "Snark is not original. It is essentially parasitic and lazy...Most people who are trying to be true use sarcasm or wit to speak the truth, but not snark"...
  • "It is an adolescent tone. I think a lot of it is powerless...There are some heavy hitters of snark like Maureen Dowd, who I go after at some length, but most of it is sort of a confession of impotence and it does seem adolescent and it does seem like kids in a high school cafeteria or sitting around watching TV a lot of the time. But when older people do it, I think it’s because of the panic that’s setting in that we don’t know where journalism is going and we want to sound hip and we want young demographics and panic is not a good mood in which to write anything. You release that and it’s kind of juvenile sarcasm. It signals to readers that you’re up to date."

No, you cannot. That's because "snark" is not an actual, scientific term; it is a made-up word that means whatever the writer wants it to mean. Therefore your book, while perhaps eloquent (haven't read), is, in the end, just a preposterously meaningless rant. A sort of "snark," if you will.

[And a tip, Denby—stop talking about your own bad reviews and your online defenders. It gives away the obsessive self-Googling.]