December 30, 2004

"Ozzy Shouldn't Have Done This"

FANS OF POPULAR CULTURE will recall that some years ago, there was a rather enjoyable cartoon program known as "Beavis and Butthead," in which the two title characters were mocked mercilessly.

For reasons we can't entirely understand, the show generated all sorts of controversy, despite the fact that it implicitly criticized absentee parenting, political correctness, and general stupidity. Had people watched it more closely, they might have realized this. That said, there were things so obvious in this world their inherent wrongness even got through to Beavis and Butthead. One of these was a particularly unfortunate music video from Ozzy Osbourne; and during their viewing of this train wreck, Butthead remarked, "Uh ... Ozzy shouldn't have done this."

No, he ought not have. Nick Coleman, who has skillfully used his membership in The Newspaper Guild to secure his wretched column at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, ought not have done this. Basically, he suffers an apparent nervous breakdown in print, accusing the guys over at PowerLine of ... well, something or other. Like them, we can't really figure out what he's angry about. He does, however, make career-ending references to the PowerLine guys' menhood, as well as several other embarrassing remarks.

You'll have to take our word on this, as Mr Coleman's column cannot be fully accessed unless one provides his or her name, address, e-mail, gender, birthdate, blood type, Social Security or Tax Identification number, car registration, immigration status and various other biometric and public health records to the Strib's Data Guardians. In return for this, you apparently get updates on the Vikings football franchise *snicker* *guffaw*. As we'd rather eat glass than do this, we assume you'll feel the same way.

We would note, though, that Mr Coleman does consider himself a journalist. After all, consider some of the Important Work which Mr Coleman has done over the years. In one of the column excerpts we found on-line, Mr Coleman writes:

In 1990, I reported that this newspaper's endorsement of DFL Gov. Rudy Perpich was decided by then-publisher and Perpich crony Roger Parkinson. He had quashed the decision of the newspaper's editorial board, which had voted in favor of the Republican challenger, Arne Carlson.

The truth got out, the Republican won and the public was served.

Yeah, that's Brave Reporting right there. Why, it may have required -- wait for it -- minutes of griping and moaning with fellow writers to get the scoop! And what an outrage! The paper's publisher ... was, well, doing what he had every right to do as the boss of the outfit. It's the editorial page, after all, right? But Mr Coleman and the editorial board didn't agree with it! Therefore, it's an outrage!

We're sorry, but no. It is outrageous, though, that Mr Coleman has written at least two columns attacking these bloggers for ... blogging. And it's pathetic when, in response, the bloggers kick his butt all the way to Duluth.

Mr Coleman ought to have learned by now that if a journalist is going to slam a blogger, he has to have cause. This cause must necessarily be more than "the blogger doesn't like my column." Furthermore, if a journalist does such a thing, he needs to do such a complete job that the blogger thinks the wrath of Heaven has fallen upon him. There is no place for any emotion, save properly-applied humor, in such work. Just get out the scalpel and chainsaw, and use them accordingly.

Now, we realize readers may wonder why, if Mr Coleman writes such a lousy column, he is permitted to keep his job. Well, as we said, Mr Coleman does work at a Guild shop. So the man's pretty much golden. But we do know this is not the first time Mr Coleman has gone bye-bye in this manner.

Therefore, if the Strib is obligated to pay Mr Coleman his minimum compensation of $65,884 per annum (not including merit pay, differentials, and other pay schemes which may exist at the Strib), why not have him do something that won't regularly embarrass everyone else at the office?

We suggest general assignment. It's fun, and it's something new every day, and it requires one to write clearly. It sounds like Mr Coleman needs to rediscover all three of these things.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at December 30, 2004 09:17 AM | TrackBack

Please don't take Nick Coleman to represent the views of all Minnesota-born professional journalists. There's me, for instance, and Lileks...

have a happy new year

Posted by: Stephen Silver at December 30, 2004 12:04 PM


Thanks, and you too! But don't worry -- I take Mr Coleman for Mr Coleman, alone!

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at December 30, 2004 11:01 PM

Finally! Someone (besides me) who recognizes Beavis & Butt-head for the profound (and very amusing) social commentary it was! Too many conservatives denounce B&B as a symbol of cultural depravity, not realizing that it was a PARODY of our cultural depravity!

Ah, Ben, you are so wise in so many ways, save for your odd taste in professional football teams. So, do you think it will be Pats-Steelers at Teresa Heinz Field for the AFC championship this year? I sure hope so -- we've won more conference championships there lately than the Squeelers have!

Pax vobiscum,

Posted by: Chris Weinkopf at December 31, 2004 02:00 AM


I do think we'll have a Pats-Steelers AFC championship. That said, I'd note the Steelers have more Super Bowl victories than a certain Foxboro-based franchise.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at December 31, 2004 10:28 AM

I absolutely loath B&B, I thought it was complete and utter shite...not the slightest bit funny. Gee portray all metal-heads as morons...thanks so much.

However, the guy who did that show is now doing the rather amusing King of the Hill.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge at January 3, 2005 12:02 PM