Titled “Eight Pleasantly Plump Female Musicians We’d Like to Get Down With” — a headline which works against its own implied, ostensibly complimentary purpose by assuming “plump” (whatever that means) is problematic enough to warrant a coupling with “pleasant” — the blog wasn’t about “proclaiming exceptions” or “wearing a strong enough pair of beer goggles,” claimed author Ric Delgado.
“This is about loving some BBWs. The women with curves blowing out doors and back fat sloshing over bra straps … It’s about acknowledging that even the big girls need some love.”
Thank you great Fedora’d one for that wholly condescending — what shall we call it? — public service announcement.
Oh wait. You’re not just a terrible writer, you’re a terrible person? You never intended to empower those you refer to as “BBW,” your intention instead was to demean them and the rest of womankind by reducing their worth and accomplishments to their physicality? All for a joke? SO FUNNY.
The blog goes on as follows: It doesn’t matter how big Jessica Simpson gets, “she stays as dumb and sexy as ever.” Sinead O’Connor is aka “pity bang.” Adele sits “comfortably on that ‘just almost not ashamed to be seen out in public with her’ line.” (Just to be clear: “almost not ashamed” means the writer is, in fact, ashamed to be seen out in public with a Grammy winner.) And we mustn’t forget Carnie Wilson’s on-tour sex life! It “revolved around the guys who were rejected by both Chynna Phillips and Wendy Wilson” but “still wanted to get ‘close’ to the band”; keep in mind, you’ll still want to fuck Wilson because she’ll “put in that extra work,” since, you know, she’s fat.
The laughs just won’t quit. In case you needed some racism to spice up the misogynisticomedy routine, that symbol of great pride for the black community, Aretha Frankin, who solidified her status as the Queen of Soul during the civil rights era, she “rolled down the fried-chicken-and-waffles mountain a long time ago.” ROTFLMFAO! OMG!
Finally, there’s nothing like some nasty classism in the middle of a recession to drive a joke home: “Any man would happily give up everything to live with [Jessica] Simpson in a trailer and feed her KFC Blackjack Sandwiches. It’s the next best thing to heaven. Or hell.”
The piece, removed from the site and dismissed as an exercise in “sarcasm” gone awry (eye roll), provoked a flurry of comments, Tweets, and Facebook posts, and inspired the creation of a Tumblr “Oh No They Writtnt” to showcase “all the worst music writing, without the trolls.” Respected music critic Chris Weingarten — who contributes to New Times sister paper the Village Voice, among many, many other publications — called the weekly “BROward New Times” and Tweeted “a piece of music writing so bad, you don’t even have to read more than the URL.” Miami promoter Dominic Sirianni posted “Sexist? Or Most Sexist Ever?” And Canadian metal critic Natalie Zed directed people to the GirlGroup Tumblr, which had a screen shot of the post on its website, to avoid driving up hits for New Times and Delgado.
Now, in the post’s place sits a non-apology apology from Editor Eric Barton:
Sarcasm doesn’t always come across in writing, and it certainly didn’t in this post. I get why commenters below called this “the most insulting thing on the Internet,” and that’s why it has been removed. New Times regrets the offense we’ve caused and hopes you’ll stick with us in our next attempt at sarcasm.
What seems to be missing from this and from Delgado, is any real sense of remorse. Crying sarcasm is a complete cop-out. (Ironically, sarcasm doesn’t make the substance of the article any better. As one commenter pointed out, if the article is intentionally sarcastic, it’s basically saying that identifying “fat chicks as attractive must be AN EXERCISE IN HILARIOUS IRONY.” Or as Weingarten put it: “We were just being SARCASTIC when we said we wanted to fuck your back fat, ladies. In truth, you’re wholly repulsive.”) It is a cop-out because it places/shares blame on/with the reader instead of owning up to the mistake fully. Hiding behind sarcasm tells readers, rather unconvincingly, that offensive material is a matter of taste, and this time, it didn’t match your taste. (But it might next time!) Or, it says, humor goes badly sometimes and the perpetrators are usually good people. Forgive them.
In keeping with that last part, Barton defends Delgado: “Ric is a talented writer who made a mistake … what’s important is that we learn from them and make sure it’s not repeated.” But, in an embarrassing twist, Delgado hasn’t shown any indication that he’s sorry. (Whoops!) Or that he even understands why such language could be construed as hurtful and offensive. In fact, he’s been especially glib and cavalier in the aftermath, Tweeting “After today’s Twitter beatdown, I unwind by listening to a girl blowing smoke rings out of her vagina on the Howard Stern Show.”
Or when asked, on Twitter, if he’s comfortable making a fried-chicken joke about Aretha Franklin, he replies “I’m comfortable with it,” followed by, “if comedians concerned themselves with the people that got offended then there’d be no Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Louie CK, etc.”
That doesn’t sound like someone who knows he’s made a mistake. In fact it’s clearly the opposite. Delgado lacks empathy completely. He’s doubled down on the post and equated himself with comedic royalty. Silly girls (and black people and people who live in trailers), you’re too dumb to get the joke!
But in reality, this incident shouldn’t be completely surprising. New Times and Village Voice Media haven’t been the most receptive to women: see here, here, and here. (That last example elicited substantial praise from Barton, documented in an email obtained by Salty Eggs which told staff members to do themselves “a favor” and read the “treatise on the manly burrito.” “Not everyone will agree with the premise,” he wrote. “But that’s not the point. It’s well written, it’s funny as hell, and it’s simply a novel argument. Let’s do more of it.”) If they were more sensitive to sexism in the workplace, Delgado would be gone, not defended. And an apology would be issued for the deeply offensive use of sarcasm – if that’s the story they’re sticking to.
Instead, it seems they had a great writer, Arielle Castillo, also a Salty Eggs contributor, slap an essay together in a cynical last-minute attempt at damage control. They label it “another view” almost like Fox News’ “we report, you decide.” However, as sincere and right as Castillo is, it’s no substitute for a more complete apology and action from Barton.
UPDATE: Since this article was posted this morning, New Times Editor Eric Barton has sent an email to Salty Eggs contributors who also freelance with New Times, threatening to ban them from contributing if they persist in freelancing for Salty Eggs. In response to this new policy, we sincerely apologize for offending him by pointing out how offensive his paper’s blog post was. (Oops … did that sound sarcastic?)
UPDATE: As of Friday, April 27, Ric Delgado will no longer be writing for New Times Broward-Palm Beach.
UPDATE May 1: Salty Eggs music editor Erica Landau received this email from New Times editor Eric Barton this morning:
It disappointed me to see your article last week. It’s not that I disagree with the general gist. That article we published was sexist and disgusting, and I wish it had never gone up.
But I’m disappointed that you’d quote an email of mine out of context in an effort to portray me as sexist. You’ve known me long enough to know that I believe strongly in equality of the sexes, and this paper has demonstrated that in our hiring and in our past news coverage.
You’re a talented writer and one of the smartest journalists I’ve worked with. I know you’re looking for pageviews, but you did it by burning the bridges behind you.
First he went after Salty Eggs contributors. Now he’s going after the music editor. We didn’t realize we had a Citizen Kane in our midst! Thanks for your note, Eric. No hard feelings. If you should ever need work, we would be happy to consider your application at Salty Eggs.