Thursday, January 8, 2009

With Friends Like These, Ben Lyons Needs More Friends

Originally posted at New York Magazines Vulture blog. I hope to have my response to Cenk Uygur up tomorrow.

When we wrote about the brewing Category 4 Ben Lyons Hate Storm last week, Vulture took a mildly ambivalent stance on the self-proclaimed "movie dude." While a nation of highbrow critics are calling for his head on a platter (their bloodlust is so strong that they're not even demanding said platter be cast from silver), we kind of took the stance that Lyons isn't worth demonizing because he's pretty genial and, ultimately, not that influential. However, we just stumbled across a shoddily composed essay over at the Huffington Post titled "In Defense of Ben Lyons" that has us reconsidering our stance. Penned by a blogger named Cenk Uygur, the piece's crucial thesis statement reads as follows:

Here is my simple message to all the haters — get off Ben Lyons' ass.

And it gets worse from there.

Though we don't know what kind of relationship Uygur has with Lyons (if any at all), we were kinda hoping that someone more well spoken would've rushed to defend the younger of the Two Bens. Uygar's piece is chock-full of tired clichés (at one point, he writes the groan-worthy line "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn that he doesn't have Roger Ebert's encyclopedic knowledge of film history") and weirdly cyclical arguments. His major point seems to be that he doesn't watch At the Movies to find out about "cinematography and shadowy lighting"; rather, he just wants to know if he should take his old lady to go see Benjamin Button or not. After all, as he argues, "How this movie compares with Frank Capra's body of work is a lot less relevant to me than whether my wife is going to be able to sit through it." Good point, we suppose, but we're kind of hoping we never have to meet his wife.

He goes on to rail against the Cahiers du Cinéma crowd by stating that he's "got two Ivy League degrees and I still loved Old School," before launching into his closing arguments with an impassioned chant of "Look, let's keep it real." At that point, his argument really falls apart when he refers back to the "haters" we mentioned from his thesis statement:

Are some of these other critics jealous of Ben Lyons because he has landed such a prestigious and well paying job (and one that makes you famous) whereas they are still working in print? Absolutely.

Way to kick the film critics of America when they're down, Cenk. As the cliché that we're fairly certain he's familiar with goes, there's just no accounting for taste.


Anonymous said...

You're the guy with a blog devoted to stopping Ben Lyons and you aren't out for his with a vengence?Yes, you are. Admit it- I do.

I love this sh!tstorm brewing over him. If anything, it should have happened sooner. Roger Ebert is right, you gotta be really something for the LATimes to write an article like that.

Anonymous said...

PS- This isn't "kicking Ben while he's down", either.

If anything, he's gotten too much of a free pass since he took over At the Movies so many months ago.

Scott said...

As far as kicking while down, I think the author is referring to Cenk Uygur kicking the film critic community (because they are so "jealous" that Ben Lyons is so cool) while they are in such bad shape (getting downsized from all the print publications).

As for the earlier comment--Ben Lyons only has himself to blame for the current shitstorm.

Anonymous said...

Oh, sorry Scott! I thought that was your piece! Didn't realize you weren't the author- my bad.

Anonymous said...

Someone should really let that dude know that ATM is neither prestigious nor well-paying.