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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Friday, August 19, 2016


It's been almost a month since THE BEAT announced that Noah Berlatsky's HOODED UTILITARIAN would go on hiatus. 

I debated whether or not I had anything much to say about the matter. It's clear from NB's post on the matter that he's closed the blog simply to pursue other avenues, not because he's seen the error of his ultraliberal oversimplications. Nor is it likely that his future endeavors will change his tendency to rant and rave without consideration of even basic facts, a quality on which Heidi McDonald remarks, while giving him more intellectual credit than I ever would. 

What was Heidi's reward for this relative even-handedness, on the thread NB devoted to the hiatus? Why, NB himself referred to Heidi's write-up as a "last dig," while one of his commenters talked about Heidi "dancing on HU's grave" or words to that effect. 

In a way this is a better summation than anything I could come up with. While NB could assume the pose of the distanced intellectual up to a point, he did not take criticism well, and tended to act as if people who disagreed with him were attempting to persecute him. 

During the period when I used to argue with Charles Reece on a now-defunct messboard, I never read Berlatsky's blog, though other posters mentioned him as Someone to Watch. My first encounter with him was when he posted this HU essay in response to my intellectual disagreement with Dirk Deppey. Deppey, to the best of my knowledge, never sought to tilt with me in public, or to defend any of the points I attacked in my 2009 posts on the subject of "superhero decadence."  The fact that NB did not comprehend my critique was proven by his ad hominem attack:

Dirk Deppey insulted my friends by calling them little whining babymen. But everybody is a babyman, so it doesn’t matter. Our society and all its entertainment are great, so comics must be great too! And I can’t be a stupid snuffler of nostalgic babycrap, because…I use big words! And I don’t like elitists anyway, so there!

On top of that, while I've talked about the academic discipline of "cultural studies" here and there, there's nothing about in the AA essay to which NB linked. It showed me that NB had no scruples about responding to the actual words written by someone he perceived as a enemy, even when we had not (to the best of my recollection) crossed swords. It amused me at the time, that NB was so desperate to put a label on me, given that he would rage in a most incontinent fashion against other people using labels that he considered politically retrograde.

NB didn't respond to very many of my posts here, but I continued to post on HU, if only to see how far he and his colleagues would go in their campaign of willful distortion-- and it was pretty damn far. My refutations changed nothing, of course, but it did give me some lively moments.

I won't mourn for HU, of course, for I think that its "hooded" adjective, some sort of satire of superheroes perhaps, was revealing. From my POV, NB devoted his blog to pulling a hood of ideological darkness over the eyes of his readers. I'm sure he'll continue to do so in whatever forums will deign to print his work, and there's really nothing I can do about that.

ADDENDUM: I think it beyond question that NB will continue distorting texts for the foreseeable future, given that one of his more recent links pointed to an essay regarding how the movie SUICIDE SQUAD tells its audience that prisoners should "love their wardens."  Here's a movie that can be fairly critiqued from a dozen different angles, but NB pounces on it for some ridiculous quasi-Foucault-like offense. For the record, the movie is intellectually vapid, but to say that it wants prisoners to love their wardens, even in some metaphorical fashion, is sheer looney-tunes. 

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