I read this article on Gawker (one of those blogs that isn't supposed to suck) the other day call Time to Retire, Dave Barry. It was written by Hamilton Nolan, a writer I've never heard of writing about a writer I'd grown up wanting to write like. And the bold statement Nolan makes about Barry is that he is no longer funny.
Okay, normally I would just shrug and say, "Whatever," after reading someone's critique of a relatively famous person. I am sure it isn't the first time Dave Barry has been told he wasn't funny. Humor, after all, is a very subjective thing. We all laugh to the beat of a different drummer.
But there was something about the article that struck a nerve. It is likely because of my age. I'm long past the youthful age of knowing everything. Nothing like middle age to teach you how little you really know and to stop stating what you do know with such conviction. Nothing is absolute.
It was just that Nolan professed to having thought Dave Barry was funny one time in his life. But then he goes on to trash Barry for no longer being funny. It was as if Barry had personally disappointed him for not living up to his 13-year old memories of what was funny about Dave Barry.
What was even more annoying than Nolan's self-indulgent rant about Barry were the comments on the article. It reminded me of the sheep who populate focus groups and start "bah"ing along when some other sheep does. Nolan screams the emperor has no clothes and the commenters started screaming, "Yeah!, Dave Barry isn't funny. I can't believe I thought he was. Thanks for setting us straight."
Nolan also does a Biology 101 dissection of Dave Barry's annual year in review and points out ad nauseum what he believed was hackneyed, trite or cliche. And speaking of cliches, remember that one about opinions being like assholes?
I suppose karma will eventually come into play for Nolan. I won't say that when he hits middle aged some young writer will trash his stuff. More likely than not, none of them will have the slightest clue who he is.
But I'll bet they'll know who Dave Barry is.