“Dying is easy. Comedy’s hard.” So goes the quote from some old actor you’ve never heard of. As if to prove the point, he actually didn’t even say it that pithily, and it’s been polished through time since the guy died. But anyway, PostScript brings this up because today’s most-read piece on the Opinions page is an Outlook essay by Mr. Gene Weingarten on when it is okay to tell stories that make fun of the recently dead.
In this case, Mr. Weingarten has a story that makes Roger Ebert — beloved titan of movie criticism whose moving battle with cancer in his last years showed him to be a fearless, dignified and decent man — look like a fat-headed baby. Except, as we learn only at the end, Mr. Weingarten’s memory happens to have been wrong, and it was in fact Gene Siskel who did the jerky thing. So Mr. Weingarten, like he does, made it into a whole thing bigger than itself, and about the odd protocols involved in mourning celebrities.
In the spirit of full disclosure, PostScript needs to say that Mr. Weingarten has been a profound influence on her life both as writer and mentor, and without him she would have died in a gutter long ago, her tubercular body eaten by the less-discriminating pigeons.
So, with perfect objectivity, here she goes into the comments.
I couldn’t decide – is this article about Ebert, or is it about how “cool” the writer used to be.
JUST THIS VERY MORNING Mr. Weingarten was followed on Twitter by ROB DELANEY. PostScript is just saying. With capital letters.
This is SO Washington Post … snarky nasty writers. Nothing is decent, nor is anything good except anything Israel does … this does probably answer, however whether Ebert was Jewish. Apparently not. Or he’d be a hero, whatever.
If you read to the end, as PostScript managed to do, you will note that Ebert does come out looking good, and Mr. Weingarten does not. PostScript is unable to find out if Mr. Weingarten is Jewish, though.
There is something called “journalistic standards.” Too bad many at the WaPo haven’t discovered them. In short, does the public’s need to know outweigh the damage that disclosure would cause?
Everything in this anecdote except the part that makes Mr. Weingarten look a fool was already in print. Although, speaking of:
You know, ten or even five years ago you might have gotten away without linking to the original Tropic article. But today? Where it would be so easy to scan and post that article you supposedly re-read many years later? Inexcusable.
Link to the original article or it didn’t happen.
PostScript looked for the article online, and found it on Nexis — you all have accounts, right? — but we don’t have the rights to it and can’t share it here…
The guy is just dancing on Ebert’s grave to try and milk the lie he has told about him for the past 25 years, just one last time. He is as funny as a tu*rd in a punch bowl.
A tu*rd in a punch bowl would be pretty funny, indeed!
I am amused, in a horrified sort of way, at the number of comments being made by people who, obviously, didn’t actually read the article. Maybe we need a new comments section just for misleading titles.
That response to a pompous Ebert letter was beautiful. And I’d bet he’d laugh at it today, as well. All good published writers are insecure and overly defensive. From Twain to Capote to Siskel to Weingarten. That’s why they write so well. Doubt, frustration, even depression coupled with huge self importance makes for a creative mind.
On the subject of huge self-importance, PostScript, immensely well-connected and a personal confidante of Mr. Weingarten himself, was able to get him to weigh in on this very blog post you are currently reading! PostScript recorded his comments, with exclamation marks!
“I love your work!” said Mr. Weingarten, to PostScript. “Especially all the drawings in MS Paint!”
“That’s Alexandra Petri.”
“Oh! I love whatever you do, too!”
PostScript is saving this record for when Mr. Weingarten dies. Probably by saving puppies from burning buildings.