Friday, 15 February 2008

Max Gogarty :: The Ugly Side of Travelling

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.

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Hendo said...

Seems a big deal of a little thing to me. Let the boy write his blog! That it should have kicked off such a storm among Grauniad readers, who are suppsoed to be interested in AIDS, Sudanese oppression in Darfur, Global Warming etc reveals to me their real prioritu, namely getting one over fellow members of the middle class.

La Bête said...

I really don't agree. For me, it's disgraceful journalism. Why should the boy be left to write his blog when frankly, the boy can't write. For toffee. Even though a lot of the criticism has been levelled at his class, I don't really think that's got anything to do with it - it's just details. I think people got so angry because of the nepotism, the PR and the fact that the Guardian, in giving this bad writer and bad idea such a high profile, was in effect treating its audience like idiots who would sit there and lap up any old rubbish. That's what I think at least. It all got me quite irate. But of course, like many of the people who got so irate, I am just jealous. And rightly so.

Anonymous said...

So in what way was it worse than the rest of The Guardian, which is often full of poor journalism (like most other papers)?

La Bête said...

It was worse in that Max Gogarty has a lot less to say than other Guardian journalists (excepting the ones who write those dreadful columns in the Saturday Magazine), and a much less engaging way about him too (same exceptions as above). Oh, and also, it was worse in that his dad - the famous travel writer and PR king - got him the job. And that's pretty crap.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't bother me in the slightest, but then, I don't want to be a writer and so don't envy him his position.

This last post seems out of keeping with your blog. I hope you get back in the groove soon.

Nepotism is all around you (Hilary, anyone), so why isolate this poor fool.

By the way, have you read Barbara Ellen in the Observer lately? Now there's a regular column worthy of a tirade of objection & abuse.

Bring back the real Stan.

La Bête said...

Yes, it was a bit out of keeping, wasn't it? Sorry about that. It's just that I'd been reading about it for hours and just felt that I should probably write something, otherwise all that time was wasted. Anyhow, I got it out of my system. It probably won't happen again. Although it might if I get round to reading Barbara Ellen.

Anonymous said...

I too was entertained and angry in equal measure at the Max Gogarty drama.I'm so glad you posted on it though, because I wouldn't have found your wonderful blog otherwise.I'm so sad, I Googled his mame to read other websites taking the piss, and came across yours.It's now firmly on my list of favourites.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this post seems out of character.
I found your blog a while ago and you sound nice...except this post. It was mean.
Yeah the lad sounds like a bit of a nob, who isn't at 19?
If anyone is to blame, it's not Max but the idiot Guardian editors who published the piece. They should have known it is not what their readers want.

But not Max. I've seen utterly vitriolic comments on CiF and other sites, claiming his dad paid for the gapyear (not true), and hoping he dies in a back alley.

Nepotism: this example was not a big deal. I'd save the ire for Daddy Hedge Fund Rich Prick getting his dimwitted but entitled son into a good uni, and then a job with a bank, screwing over genuinely bright applicants. When are the class warriors going to complain about THAT, rather than some silly kid off on his gapyear who wrote a tedious, mediocre blog? From the reactions, you'd think he was the antichrist!

La Bête said...

I'm sorry to have disappointed you, anonymous. Really I am. I suppose I can be quite mean at times. I don't think I was here particularly though. Just a bit peeved. Anyhow, I am sorry for the ill feeling. Ill feeling is never good.

Katie said...

Really I think, as an 18 year old at university, screw who's paying for the trip, if my parents could afford to pay for me and offered I'd accept. Don't try and tell me that you wouldn’t have done. The guy clearly has talent he writes for skins – or maybe you’re just too old to be interested in it. So what if his life has been made a little bit easier because his dad worked hard wtf difference does that make to your life. The majority of journalism theses days is crap. Blogs are free, everyone’s entitled to them and no one forced you to read it. Get over yourselves and stop being such sceptics, you know nothing about Max so don’t be so quick to judge.

Larry Teabag said...

Now, Mr de Jour, please get a hold of yourself.

Max Gogarty's blog was staggering bilge, and more than deserving of your mild-mannered teasing here.

It is true that the whole debacle isn't really Max's fault - you can't blame him for having zero talent. And yes any other 19 year old in the same position would have jumped at the opportunity.

But all the same it makes me tingle all over with pleasure to read ordinary people savaging the disastrous editorial decisions of a national paper, as you said "shaking their fists at such obvious mediocrity and such bald-faced nepotism".

Quite right. So my advice is to stand by your guns, and ignore all hypersensitive types here, who are shocked by your "meanness".

Anonymous said...

Max Gogarty. Where is he now? I would so love to know...

gantlord said...

Hmmm... apparently I've already commented on this, but I don't remember doing it. Anyway, you take too much flak in the comments section for this piece. It's pure genius, and you're right to be angry about nepotism.

Mary said...

I completely agree with your post Bête, though I understand that others may not. However, I don't think that you or anyone else who expressed vitriol are in any way out of place.

If young Max wishes to impart his worldly wisdom to us, he must be ready to accept the criticism that comes with (voluntary!) notoriety.

For his sake, I hope his travels teach him some much-needed perspective.

Also Skins is rubbish.