With our profuse apologies, we now present to you, in no particular order, the 50 least important writers of 2012. Enjoy, or not.
A classic wide-eyed bourgeois Brooklynite, Roiphe has managed to spin her own utterly pedestrian thoughts and experiences into a self-mythology in which she is only despised by those who cannot appreciate her bold, daring choices. In fact, she's just rude. But hey, she's living proof that even Ivy league-educated children of famous parents can one day get a good review in the NYT.
Less important than: Single mothers who do not write for Slate.
Living proof that the literary talents that make someone a passable restaurant critic do not, in fact, mean that that person has the depth of thought necessary to be a good opinion columnist. The good news, however, is that Frank Bruni now has a global platform for his musings, whimsy, and what-nots—he thinks Hollywood is fun, the Olympics are dramatic, and politics sure can be dirty. Tell your grandmother.
Less important than: Jackie Harvey
Dr. Keith Ablow
Fox News' resident medical "expert"/alarmist homophobe. Ablow has become famous for using absurd pseudo-science to try and, amongst other things, convince parents they can ruin their sons' gender identity by allowing them to like the color pink.
Less important than: Dr. Phil, who is, it should be said, also a bald quack.
Listen, if you haven't already figured out Aaron Sorkin's stance on everything (People don't have mature conversations anymore, the internet has no dignity, conservatives would be cooler if they were actually liberal, bitches be crazy, etc.), there's no hope for you. He can't lay out any more explicitly than he does in The Newsroom, his ongoing attempt to rewrite history as he wish it would have been handled. If all those expository monologues set to Coldplay haven't clued you into the fact that Sorkin likes pushing his inner thoughts on the world at the expense of coherent plots or distinct characters, then by all means, keep on watching.
Less important than: The comment section at MSNBC. What will those crazy RepubliCAN'Ts do next?!
"[He] has a mop of ironically uncombed, dyed-yellow hair and thick-rimmed glasses that look like they were placed on the ass as a frat prank, like a wig and sunglasses thrown on an old jack-o-lantern. All of which might lend Klosterman some pathos if he didn't brag so much about his heterosexual conquests and quasi-cynical manipulation of scores of alleged girlfriends. More disturbing are his obsessions with teen and pre-teen pop culture, as exemplified
by a creepy essay on Saved by the Bell." - Mark Ames. Klosterman is the embodiment of writer-as-character, and, worse, of the idea that mixing exaggerated intellectualism with shitty pop culture subjects will produce something brilliant. It won't. It will produce a waste of time. And if you don't care about Klosterman's opinions of Saved by the Bell, you sure don't give a fuck what he thinks about ethics.
Less important than: Nickelback.
Lynn Hoppes is ESPN's Wikipedia-lifting flack disguised as a writer who preens for the likes of the Jonas Brothers, and that is not even the most damning thing that can be said about Lynn Hoppes. The most damning thing that can be said about Lynn Hoppes is that he has a self-styled mullet.
Less important than: Your desk bobblehead, which at least has personality.
Mitch Albom is an award-winning fabricator. Please refer to the final paragraph here for the most thorough destruction of Mitch Albom, award-winning fabricator.
Less important than: Mike Lupica, who isn't important at all.
Literally the most important writer ever to exist within space and time (and beyond those things), James Franco has been included on this list in error, due to incompetence on the part of a less-skilled writer. Those wishing to experience orgasm for the first time should check out the free-form journal he maintains for the Huffington Post— a record of one man's genius and the ways in which it enriches the lives of many. (A recent example, in which the Reverend Dr. James Franco speaks supportively of his film students: "I hope they know that what they accomplished is fairly unprecedented and hasn't been done by any group of students at any film school. At least as far as I know, and I teach at a bunch of them.") He recently suffered a crushing blow at the International Awards for Blogst Blogging in Blogs, when he took home second place in the race for "Best Entertainment Blog by an Individual or God," leading many to doubt the validity of the competition.
Less important than: A mature 7th grader's LiveJournal.
Conservative pundit Ben Domenech was a blogger for the Washington Post for three days in 2006 before he was fired for plagiarism. Now he runs a monthly email newsletter called The Transom, for which people who must not know how to use a web browser actually give him money to access idiotic right-wing musings you can find for free in the comments section of a Yahoo! News article. Such as: Mitt Romney won't release his taxes because he overpaid them.
Less important than: Jonah Lehrer
Canadian selfist Sheila Heti's most recent novel, How Should a Person Be?, was rejected by no less than six American publishers before Henry Holt picked it up in June. There is a very good reason for this. A person should be interested in things outside of themselves.
Less important than: Lena Dunham circa 2010.
In a year where his journalism-as-TED-talk-pitch imitator Jonah Lehrer got all the headlines, and where his internet friendship with doofy 90210 recapper Bill Simmons meant he was more widely-read than ever, New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell sealed his irrelevance by becoming that least important of all things: a Deadspin commenter.
Less important than: An actual, literal, blink of your eyes.
Perpetually aggreived Esquire writer Chris Jones' semen tastes like battery acid to his wife and he has only won two lousy National Magazine awards and he took his blog off the internet in a huff after a Deadspin intern made fun of him on Tumblr.
Less important than: Every magazine writer who did not throw a tantrum about the outcome of the National Magazine Awards.
One trick pony! Does anyone care about what Robert Caro has to say about whether women are funnier than men, or why it feels like there's a mass shooting every Wednesday, or the inexorable fracturing of what we used to know as "the culture" into a million digital tranches, or What's Wrong With Brooklyn, or how to properly dress a Thanksgiving turkey? No. One dead president does not an important writer make. Diversify, Robert.
Less important than: Two-trick ponies.
The Staff of Mediaite
When Dan Abrams' Mediaititititie.com launched, there were high hopes for it to become a "good old days of Gawker" type of media-focused insider news site. Instead, it has developed into a site mostly filled with extremely literal recaps of cable news segments, mixed with weirdly right-wing political media screeds. A dark set of choices for any young writer trying to make a name for themselves: keep knocking out Sean Hannity recaps, or make a lateral move in the company to... GossipCop.com.
Less important than: Poynter.org without Romenesko.
Verlyn is awarded a plum weekend space on the editorial pages of the New York Times, a newspaper representing a metropolis of millions. Instead of writing about poverty, or politics, or any other issue affecting any human reader of the newspaper, he writes about his lawn, or mud, or hay, or some other benign aspect of life on his farm that does not do a god damn thing for anyone except Verlyn Klinkenborg. Will Verlyn Klinkenborg expand his repertoire in 2013, to grass, and sticks, and manure? The chances seem good.
Less important than: A strand of fresh-cut hay, sweet to the horse's lips, its breath clouding the crisp winter air, blah blah blah.
Georgina, the adult daughter of billionaire NYC mayor Mike "Power Personified" Bloomberg, is considered the wild one in the family for attending NYU rather than an Ivy League school. She's written two novels, both about rich daughters of billionaires who enjoy horse-jumping, exactly like herself. Were she to never write anything again, think of how many trees could be saved. Several, at least.
Less important than: Any other novelist in the five boroughs.
Have you ever said to yourself, "The Onion's whole fake-news bit is funny, but I'm looking for something a lot less dark and a lot more obvious. Ideally, I'd like something that would flatter my MOR-liberal political persuasion, and also comes in a daily email for maximum forward-to-all-your-nieces-and-nephews possibilities"? Congratulations, you probably work for The New Yorker, which hired Borowitz in July in order to alienate the last of the Shouts & Murmurs apologists.
Less important than: Whoever is writing Shouts & Murmurs on any given week.
One would think it'd be impossible, as a journalist, to move from the Daily Caller to a position of less importance. But Matthew Boyle, the conservative journalist, showed up all the doubters this year by moving from the Daily Caller to "enlist in Andrew Breitbart's war" as a writer for Breitbart.com. Godspeed, Matthew. Never stop tweeting.
Less important than: Matthew Boyle, when he was a Daily Caller journalist
BuzzFeed senior editor Matt Stopera has developed a keen sense for the internet's lowest common denominator as the site's star list-maker. His lists, like "60 Moments that Gave Me Chills During Seattle's First Day of Marriage Equality, and "13 Simple Steps To Get You Through a Rough Day" chop up reality into an inoffensive meme slop that your relatives can smear all over your Facebook wall. When all human knowledge exists in list form in ten years, blame Stopera.
Less important than: A three-day-old Tumblr meme.
In 2012, many unimportant writers fretted about social media in unimportant essays, but novelist Stephen Marche's Atlantic essay, "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" was the least important of all. His essay is a parade of trite observations on social media ("a connection is not the same thing as a bond;" "the more connected we become, the lonelier we are") padded out up with meandering explorations of inconclusive studies. Marche's essay ultimately sheds light only on how dumb his question is.
Less important than: A "like" on The Official Fig Newtons Facebook page.
Former Poet Laureate Louise Gluck is one of America's most important living poets, which makes her one of America's least important writers. Seriously, who reads poetry?
Less important than: An obscure experimental fiction writer.
This guy somehow parlayed a stint editing Entertainment Weekly into a reputation as a futuristic media thinker. How? No one really remembers. But while he's never been a great role model for getting things right, he has been a great role model for "How to convince clueless corporate media types to pay you money to give them advice worse than the advice that they could get for free by reading blogs." We salute you, Jeff Jarvis, you hustler.
Less important than: Fake Jeff Jarvis.
Once considered to be a wild and edgy proto-hipster in the early days of VICE, McInnes' slow and sad descent into adulthood saw him doing anything he imagined would grab attention, including lots of ironic-not-ironic racism and getting himself beat up. This year, he published a book with the subtitle, "From Teenage Rebellion to the Hangover of Adulthood." Aw.
Less important than: The good that died young.
What do you call someone who brazenly lies to the press in order to get attention? A lying dick, right? Not according to former American Apparel PR guy Ryan Holiday, who in 2012 repackaged years of being a lying dick into a book in which he reveals the secret to becoming what he calls a "media manipulator." And the secret is: Be a lying dick.
Less important than: All the PR people who do not lie and then write self-glorifying books about it.
The persistently inoffensive Washington Post wunderkind mainstream liberals won't shut up about. Klein should write about financial policy and only financial policy, because when he veers out of that he often whiffs it. Remember when he made an "It Gets Better" video about being a dork and not, you know, being a gay person institutionally excluded from society? Woof.
Less important than: He thinks.
National Review hack and "world's laziest thinker" who bragged about his completely meaningless "Pulitzer nominations" (no actual Pulitzers yet, though). Noted chicken hawk. Big baby.
Less important than: William F. Buckley's left nut.
You may know this decrepit black conservative from his latest in a long line of columns hinting at the fact that he's completely given up even trying, including "Buy People Conservative Books for Christmas" and "Hotels Suck."
Less important than: A very angry child with opinions about what to eat for dinner.
Dean Chambers of Unskewed Polls
In an election year when obsession with statistics and daily tracking polls reached record heights, it too a special kind of unimportance — a rare brand of irrelevancy — to set up a polling shop whose method involves taking someone else's numbers, and then just moving them around until they feel right. Dean Chambers — so uninmportant that he got famous when Rick Perry tweeted about him.
Less important than: math skills.
Matthew Inman, author of webcomic The Oatmeal
Inman, a former internet marketer, uses his skill at pinpointing the lower common denominator to write unreadable Seinfeldian "observational humor" and stomach-turning Hallmark-esque treacle, and then throw tantrums when anyone has the temerity to point out that he clears a million dollars a year writing shitty webcomics. If you're looking for something to hang on your wall that tells your visitors "I Have Never Had an Original or Interesting Thought in My Life," you should check out his posters.
Less important than: the filling and nutritious hot breakfast oatmeal.
The Journalists on the Rihanna Plane
In November, several dozen journalists and "journalists" accompanied popstar Rihanna on a seven-day, seven-country, seven-concert tour around the world. While initially happy and doing a lot of good journalism about how Rihanna gave them diamonds and champagne, by the latter half of the trip, everyone on board the plane was mad that the excursion was not as cool as they thought it was going to be. (A chief complaint was that they were not getting any stories to turn into their editors. Unclear what huge stories they were expecting to break on the plane in the first place. SPOTTED: RIHANNA STILL ON PLANE.) Through cryptic tweets and anonymous blog posts, the journalists portrayed themselves as the modern day versions of workers at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Following the trip's conclusion, everyone took a stand for integrity by returning the diamonds Rihanna had given them — just kidding!
Less important than: The brave men and women who lost their lives aboard the SS #Breezy.
A columnist, yes, an American columnist, a good American, and a columnist, in the newspaper, Peggy Noonan, a writer. Who has no earthly idea what she is talking about any more.
Less important than: Ronald Reagan's corpse.
Sickeningly mawkish New York Times sentimentalist Barry travels this great land of ours filling column after column with the most trite, weepy retellings of misty Americana known to mankind. He is the Thomas Kinkade of newspaper essayists. As dependable as that old Chevy your dad would drive down to his job at the mill, every day, back when times were different than they are now—different, and better.
Less important than:
Remarkably, Friedman has managed to become America's most influential columnist even though he just rewrites one single column over and over again: "As I traveled from the airport in some war-torn country to meet a highly unrepresentative rich and influential man there, my taxi driver mumbled some platitude which I will now expand on to the tune of 800 words. Ipads, hyperconnected cloud computing, and other buzzwords." Who is dumber: Friedman himself, or the many powerful and influential businesspersons who hang on his every vacuous proclamation? It's a tie.
Less important than: Anyone who's ever been quoted in a Thomas Friedman column, particularly the taxi drivers.
The sad trend of aging male sportswriters is best defined by recurring dad joke Rick Reilly: he put in his time (23 years) as a wonderful reporter for Sports Illustrated, and then jumped for the money ESPN dangled over his balding head in 2008. He now earns something like $3 million a year by regularly embarrassing himself in print and on camera and desperately lunging for Twitter scoops that he doesn't deserve.
Less important than: Your dad.
The bad New Yorker movie critic. (Not to be confused with Anthony Lane, the good New Yorker movie critic.) Hates humor and good movies. Sourpuss, spoilsport, reliable indicator of the opposite of correct judgment. Notable embodiment of the fact that the writing profession, like life, is not fair.
Less important than:The TV Guide channel.
Freddie de Boer
Freddie de Boer, a graduate student in rhetoric and composition at Purdue University, writes for the New Inquiry and operates a blog named after a Camus story. He is lefter than you, and he doesn't hang out with other bloggers like you do, so he hasn't been corrupted like you. He is honored to be on this list, and his inclusion here likely proves some point of his.
Less important than: Keith Gessen.
This creepy silver-eyed ghoul dined out for years on the fact that he ran a failed start-up. He closed that chapter of his career, and now he's dining out on the fact that he wrote a biography of Rupert Murdoch two years ago. Michael Wolff would like to be Rupert Murdoch's Robert Caro, but he blew his wad in one book, and now the only time people pay attention to him is when there's a Rupert Murdoch story and he writes some arch observation based on his two-year-old reporting.
Less important than: Tina Brown's personal assistant.
New York's most sex-obsessed tabloid xenophobe, Peyser is said to be a reasonably intelligent journalist who's smart enough to be in on her own joke, pumping out lowest-common-denominator hatred several times a week to rile up the Post's least astute readers. If true, that just makes her worse. Taking Peyser at face value, we can dismiss her as a run of the mill bigot; if she's smart enough to know better, she's actually morally reprehensible. (We take her much too seriously.)
Less important than: Hot lesbian teachers.
Here is the condensed story of the last three years of Jay Mariotti's sad career:
- 1. August 2010: Jay Mariotti assaults his girlfriend in public. In September, he pleads no contest to a single count of misdemeanor domestic violence; six other charges are dropped.
- 2. May 2011: Jay Mariotti, jackass, is charged with felony stalking and assaulting the same woman.
- 3. September 2011: Jay Mariotti pleads no contest again and promptly writes and promotes an e-book to tell "his side" of the story. (Jay Mariotti is, at this point, unemployed.) In the book, Jay Mariotti suggests that he was the victim in his abusive relationship.
For a better understanding of Jay Mariotti's sad career, please visit A.J. Daulerio's opus on the matter.
Less important than: A.J. Daulerio.
At some point the Gawker editor's whole "reckless drug-fueled wild-eyed self-immolation" bit has to actually go somewhere, or boredom sets in. We keep waiting for Hunter S. Amblerman's grand finale—the trip to Egypt seemed like an opportune moment for a blaze of glory—but he just keeps writing about whom he finds in his bed.
Less important than: Tommy Craggs.
Gawker "managing editor" (fake job title), Juggalo, and noted stock photo model Emma Carmichael's days consist of her writing lengthy "think pieces" on momentarily hot rappers, and then telling everyone else what to do. Why does Emma think she's so special? Probably because she is from Vermont—just like staff writer Adrian Chen, who receives all sorts of special treatment. "The Vermont Club," as the well-known hometown bias is called in the rest of the media. Point is, how the hell does someone from Vermont know about good hip-hop? They can't, which is why Emma loves shitty rappers.
Less important than: Iggy Azalea, who is already in her 14th minute.
Misogynist anti-Semite John Cook did everything he could to take down Lena Dunham and the state of Israel in 2012. And yet Dunham sold a book for $3.7 million and Israel signed a ceasefire with Hamas while John Cook blogged about Parenthood on Slate.com.
Less important than: Allison Williams
Written in the style of the internet's most-hated fitness column, I of the Tiger: You know when you're at your laptop in some coffee shop in Brooklyn, and you look over and you see this dude with a buzzcut and some stupid T-shirt with some stupid rappity rap group name on it, and he's sitting there, at his laptop, literally flexing his muscles as he types? That dude is Hamilton Nolan. You know what that dude's good at? Flexing. That's it. Oh no, you say. That dude can write. He can write some words, that dude. Let me tell you something: Hamilton Nolan doesn't know jack about writing words. Hamilton Nolan just sits there popping muscle drugs or whatever it is the kids are calling it these days, and he waits until he gets ‘roid ragey enough about some bullshit Thought Catalog or XO Jane post, and then he just flexes. I'm not kidding, brother. He just sits at his laptop and flexes. And everyone goes to his columns and is like, that Hamilton Nolan, what a great media critic, what a great fitness expert, what a great guy! I'll tell you something about Hamilton Nolan that just might surprise you: Hamilton Nolan is a Thought Catalog writer on muscle milk. Now squat-thrust, bitch.
Less important than: Thomas Friedman's mustache.
A chronicler of social upheavals, Neetzan Zimmerman broke many of the year's most disturbing stories at Gawker, including Dozer the Dog and Love Bug the Kangaroo Engage in Some Seriously Adorable Interspecies Smooching, Relaxed Cat Sitting Like People is Surely a Harbinger of the Catpocalypse, and Bouncy Tiger Cub Lets Tiny Chihuahua Be King of the House - For Now. Early signs indicate that Zimmerman will become a factorial in 2013 meaning that all post titles written by Neetzan! Zimmerman will contain the product of all previous post titles.
Less important than: A metaphor for something.
A writer who washed up here from the crumbling wreck that is the Village Voice, Dodero specializes in naked and drug-addled Juggalos and skeevy "revenge porn" pornographers, making her a perfect fit for her new job at the Gawker cock-shot factory.
Less important than: Hunter Moore
The Gawker staffer who fattens Nick Denton's Cayman Islands accounts by befriending pathetic trolls and malicious hackers in order to ascertain information about and ruin the lives of other pathetic trolls and malicious hackers. Do not trust this man.
Less important than: Julian "Dox the World" Assange
Despite never having had a "real job" in her (short) life, this youthful Gawker staffer feels herself qualified to dole out advice to people with actual problems. (If you do have a real job, watch out—she'll do her best to get you fired.) She treats everything as a big joke, up to and including death. Her bizarre fascination with imagined "haters" is a predictable reaction to the inferiority complex she's developed from an upbringing in one of America's dreariest urban hellholes.
Less important than: The Philadelphia Streets Department's Sanitation division's online "FAQ" section.
Gawker staff writer Max Read writes exclusively about white people being racist. Here are some people he identified as being racist in 2012: Matt Drudge, Girls staff writer Lesley Arfin, George Zimmerman's defenders. Hmmm... why is Max Read so obsessed with white people being racist?
Less important than: The financially, culturally and economically crippled Klu Klux Klan.
Gawker's chief vacation correspondent, Rich Juzwiak's beat consists of planning elaborate vacations for himself and then writing about them on a cocktail napkin as an afterthought. In 2012, Juzwiak published over 950 pages of internal documents shedding light on some of Mitt Romney's tax evading loop-de-loops, I mean went to Fire Island, unmasked ViolentAcrez "the biggest troll on the web," I mean went to Disney World, and curated a series of moving firsthand accounts from real Americans struggling with unemployment, I mean went shopping with Honey Boo Boo.
Less important than: Second runner up, "Outfit of Choice," 10-12 age division, Li'l Mizz Rockstar Child Beauty Pageant.
Gawker's laid-back LA bureau chief likes to write at length with great nuance and thoughtfulness on complicated, contentious issues, which would be great if OH MY GOD IS HE DEFENDING PEDOPHILES HERE? IT SOUNDS LIKE HE'S DEFENDING PEDOPHILES, JUST LOOK AT THE HEADLINE. Can we really trust this guy? Not to mention he's apparently too good for food or t-shirts. Sitting out in California, eating air, shirtless. Is this the man you want around your children?
Less important than: NYC, greatest city in the world.