Graffiti With Punctuation

Last week while driving home, Sir Monkeypants heard a review of the movie Contagion on CBC Radio. It was by Robert Fontaine, who I have a love-hate relationship with: totally respect his opinion on movies, hate the way his constant mugging for bon mots means we have to listen to terrible pun after terrible pun.

So he’s reviewing Contagion, and in this particular movie, there’s a deadly virus on the loose. The authorities have asked the press to keep a lid on things, to avoid hysteria, but then word leaks to some bloggers (oh no, NOT THE BLOGGERS), and all hell breaks loose. Mad terror, lies and exaggerations thrown about, PANIC.

And Robert quotes the movie (and I’m sure he rubbed his hands with glee at the cleverness of this line), and says:

“A blog isn’t real writing. It’s graffti with punctuation.”

Sir Monkeypants came home and told me what he had heard and wanted to know what I thought about it. And here’s what I think:

That’s not true.

I think non-bloggers often have the perception that bloggers are either a) attention-seeking reporter-wannabes, who often say inflammatory things or even make up rumours about personalities, politicians, or current events, for the purpose of getting themselves talked about; or b) moms in yoga pants who go on and on and on about the unbearable cuteness of their tots.

And it’s true, both of those kind of bloggers exist.

But blog posts in and of themselves are an art form. A well-written blog post, in just a few hundred words, can move me to tears by perfectly capturing the human experience. A powerful blog post can inspire discussion, and I have changed my way of thinking from reading the thoughtful comments of other intelligent, considerate people. A blog post can tell a story just as well as an episode of a TV show; a blog can create characters as powerful as any movie; a blog can unite images with words as well as any art-house film.

I should know. I’ve seen them. I’ve read them. I’ve known them.

Just like there are beach novels and meaty classics, just like there are summer tentpole movies and thoughtful indie films, just like there’s crappy reality TV and powerful, Emmy-winning dramas – there are all kinds of blogs. Some are trashy, some are simple, some are just not your thing.

But the best ones, oh the best ones…they can be so strong. They can bring beauty to our lives. They can bring us together. They can change the world.

It’s more than just graffiti. It’s stories, it’s essays, it’s ideas.

It’s all of us.

12 thoughts on “Graffiti With Punctuation

  1. CapnPlanet

    Agree totally. (Though obviously you’re preaching to the converted by posting this on a, need I point it out? BLOG.)

    Blogs are like everything else on the internet, and just like TV and radio (and, what the hell, the library) before it. Tons of crap, but the good stuff makes wading through the crap (and learning how to effectively sift through it) more than worthwhile.

    Maybe he really meant blog comments? There’s good stuff there too, but I might argue that in the case of blog comments, it’s not worth wading through the crap. “Graffiti with punctuation” is probably too kind for the vast majority of blog comments.

  2. Yes and…you know, even some graffiti is art. To say it isn’t is to close your eyes to the entire world. Because something isn’t hung in a museum and doesn’t sell for thousands or millions doesn’t mean it’s worthless. The same with a blog: just because it’s free, doesn’t mean it’s worthless. Sometimes people connote the two too closely, but there are SO MANY examples where no one would make that comparison, but never hesitate with writing. It’s not just good if you have to pay for it. It’s not bad because it’s on the Internet. Journalists and publishers are learning these lessons very, very slowly, which is too bad for both the underappreciated bloggers, and the world of writing that doesn’t understand blogging and will be left behind. Sorry, end of novel-size comment. Well said.

    1. CapnPlanet

      Amen to this. Beauty is not in the eye of the critic. But more to the point, this is just someone being a shit-disturber. There are plenty of people out there who do recognize the artistic/journalistic value of blogs (and, for that matter, graffiti). There are also lots of dinosaurs slowly dying.

    2. So very well said – I agree completely. I think I am going to have “just because it’s free, doesn’t mean it’s worthless” tattooed on my arm.

      (Although that will just be giving Angelina Jolie ideas. She’s such a copycat.)

  3. nadinethornhill

    attention-seeking…who often say inflammatory things or even make up rumours about personalities, politicians, or current events, for the purpose of getting themselves talked about.

    One could make the same argument about mainstream journalists. 🙂

  4. His ‘constant mugging for bon mots’ – OH MY GOD how can I thank you for summing up what always makes his reviews like fingernails on a blackboard for me. What an incredibly thoughtless, insightless, petty, douchey thing to say. And what a thoughtful, insightful, un-douchey rebuttal on your part. (Rebuttal – snicker).

  5. Did I ever tell you how cute my kids are and how much I love yoga pants? Also, do you want to talk about vaccinations or politics or religion? *blog post idea!*

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