A Brief Defense of Writing ThingsS

The Village Voice's Rosie Gray thinks our recent harping on American Apparel's misdeeds is "getting old." She's not alone! Often we hear complaints that one story or another is just too much. Allow us to explain why we write stuff.

1. The "Everybody Knows" Complaint: Everybody knows American Apparel is sleazy. Everybody knows Dov Charney is a perv. Everybody knows Dick Cheney is evil, and BP is spilling oil, and the economy sucks. Everybody already knows that, so stop writing about it.

First, this complaint is false. Everybody does not know anything. Things that we usually assume are know by "everybody" are mostly, in fact, known only by one subculture or another. For example, in my own little world, everybody knows who Julia Allison is, everybody knows Yuriorkis Gamboa can beat Juan Manuel Lopez, everybody knows Nas was never as good as Illmatic, and everybody knows the G train is a pain in the ass. But does "everybody" know all that? No. Just my own little self-selected group. If you are aiming to write stories for a large audience, therefore, it doesn't pay to assume that "everybody" knows anything.

Second, how does everybody know anything? Because someone took the time to write stories about it. This is actually an argument in favor of writing things.

Third, welcome to the flawed world of humanity. Everybody knows Haiti's in terrible shape. Everybody knows California is overdue for a killer earthquake. Everybody knows drunk driving is dangerous. That's why Haiti has now been fixed up, and everyone's left California for the safety of Kansas, and nobody's driven drunk since 1983. What's that you say? The fact that people know something doesn't necessarily mean they do anything about it? You mean that it's sometimes necessary to HAMMER A POINT REPEATEDLY into our obstinate, all-too-human skulls? Oh.

2. The "Just Ignore It" Complaint: "It's really as simple as this: if their hiring policies offend you, don't apply there. If their dress code offends you, don't work there. And if you don't like their clothes or their advertising, don't shop there."

This is true. You are free to ignore this company in the future, based on your knowledge of their business practices. Knowledge that you gained...because somebody took the time to write something about it. Again: this is actually an argument in favor of writing things.

Oh, but the point has been made already? Everybody knows it, now?

See #1.

[This should not be taken as a direct rebuttal of Rosie Gray. We know all too well that sometimes you just have to pick up a position of the moment and argue against it. Far be it from us to deny someone a chance to fill a gaping news hole. Photo via Shutterstock.com]