I’ve just spent the last couple of hours or so reading about Max Gogarty’s brief stint over at Comment Is Free, the Guardian’s attempt to gather readers and cachet from blogging and bloggers. It’s a life-affirming read on the whole. Not Comment Is Free, but the Max Gogarty drama.
Here’s the first post.
Here’s the official response.
In both cases, it’s the responses of the people – the comments, which of course are free - that really lift the soul. And it’s not about spite and meanness, and it’s certainly not about ‘threat and reputation savaging’ as the apologist, travel editor Andy Pietrasik suggests. Rather, it’s about people standing up and shaking their fists at such obvious mediocrity and such bald-faced nepotism. It all really pongs.
Here it is in a minuscule shell of some description: hack’s kid lands fairly plum role at the Guardian online; writes first instalment in such a way - i.e. very, very badly - as to immediately rub his readers up entirely the wrong way; readers annihilate him in their hundreds; editor and father turn up in sequel, only to make matters much worse.
According to his father (or at least someone having a damned splendid stab at pretending to be his father, which is certainly good enough for me), Max’s Guardian debut will have no offspring of its own. No tiny descendants for whom it will have to warm lavatory seats and scratch old school backs. And that, in my opinion, is a damn shame, because this has been fun. It really brought me out of my post-Valentine malaise.
I think they should at least let him have one final opportunity to show them what he’s made of. On second thoughts, I'll do it for him. I’ve got nothing else on... no exotic destinations to rush off to, no dusky dysentery or runny maidens to keep me busy. So what the hell. I’ll give it a shot. I imagine stirring music, as Max, in a moment’s respite in some Thai hostelry or other, scribbles frantically on a scrap of parchment he brought with him from Rymans…
This is my dad, Peter Gogarty, a self-made media mogul. He's quite a guy. This is Mr Pietrasik. He's gorgeous. He's one Guardian editor who knows how to take care of my dad. By the way, my name is Max. I take advantage of both of them, which ain't easy, ‘cause when they met, it was murder. Or attempted murder at least. My poor career. But I’ll be alright, I’m sure. I’m well in. A couple of months here in Thailand, couple more in India, I’ll get back in the summer, brown as a berry and ripped to the ribs, my synapses still throbbing from cheap and powerful hashish – and WHAM! I’ll spring back like a springbok, unharmed and horny for media, right into the lap of success. Lap my shitting arse! I’ll get right in the gusset of success, nestling in the very clitoral hood of public adoration, exactly where I belong. I’ve already got my novel deal in place. Simon Trewin is a tennis buddy of father’s. They love tennis, but they like to keep it real.
Shame Daddy had to be such a bleating pussy really. If only he’d butched out the storm and persuaded Uncle Andy to keep me on, kept me writing every week, me telling my edgy tales of teen excess, being all bawdy and lusty, burning the candelabra at both ends, just like in Skins! Guardian readership would have shot up. Like a bloody rocket. But I think that’s what they were afraid of. I attract success. Me in my skinny jeans with that awful supercilious tone - like a freshly oiled and fluffed Bruiser de Cadenet - which is how I imagine people rightly imagine I speak when they read my delicious words… words like ‘kinda’, ‘partying’, ‘bullshit’ and 'shitting'. Plebs love that shit and Rusbridger knows I’d have his job by August. He’s such an arse-diver. At least that’s what Daddy says, but I’m probably not supposed to say that either.
If only that bastard Alex Garland hadn’t written The Beach already. I could’ve written that. If I had any talent. Actually, he was somebody’s son too, wasn’t he? Pffft. A mere cartoonist. Makes sense actually. Like father, like son. But I bet Nicholas Garland doesn’t have his own a PR company. I bet he isn’t uniquely positioned to deliver maximum exposure. Like my dad. I bet he doesn’t know that knowing the right people is key. Like my dad. But by the looks of him, neither is he a brash, self-centred, jumped-up little money freak. Like my dad was saying just the other day: ‘I’m uniquely positioned for maximum exposure. Just write any old shit. As long as it’s got an exotic location, I can get some shit-hot young director to spunk a promising career on it. No worries. Lovely jubbly.’
This is why I rather enjoy the free comments I get over here. Because I’m so strong that I actually learn from them. I grow more powerful with every fresh barrage of your abuse. And I thank you for it. I feel good. Actually, I feel wonderful. My pummelling at your hands has rejuvenated me. I don’t know what it is about Thailand. Always manages to pummel me into a state of bliss. That or the opium’s kicking in…
I’d better stop there actually. I leave my critics with the single, really quite profound thought that while tales of Thai sticks and stoners may break your cohones, your words can never hurt me. You know why? Cause I got loadsaPR. Loads of it.
Of course the egg will be on all of our cynical chops when it turns out that we’re being played for prime chumps, but not quite in the way we think we are. That’s right, Max Gogarty is actually a brilliant writer, a nouveau nepotistic techno-Dickens and delicious little weaver of games. It’s all a scam, a writing showcase, all of it: from his seemingly gauche, foot-chompingly awful prose, to every single last comment – all written by him, crafted and honed to satirical perfection. The boy is a genius.
But probably not. More likely the big nobs at the Guardian haven’t got a clue what they’re doing.
Can't wait for his play.