Bashing The Believer’s Bash

In a piece entitled “Entertainment, Weakly: My Evening with the Nice Believer Kids” in the online edition of today’s Observer, Choire Sicha bashes the bash hosted by the staff of The Believer:

If there were gay marriage, the gang that publishes The Believer could pass for the adorable adopted Malaysian children of Kurt Vonnegut and Garrison Keillor. Well, almost. True if Mr. Vonnegut had never seen war; I imagine the only war to penetrate the Believers’ middle-class upbringings was the nightly assault of Three’s Company and Alice and, similarly, a really expensive East Coast education….

Is it a fair criticism that the Believers, despite their fine if flawed principles and good manners, have expressed little sense of a personalized relation to the pain of the world? (No, probably not.) And is it wrong to wish they would reconsider the meaninglessness of the entertainments “we” make? Love your entertainments or reject them, oh no doubt, but get on with the show.

This seems to me to be pretty harsh (if self-admittedly unfair) and unwarranted criticism for a new magazine (which, incidentally, I’ve come to love) whose editorial focus is book reviews, thoughtful interviews, writers’ current projects, and philosophers’ ideas. Perhaps you just had to be there. Or perhaps I’m reading too much into it, and this piece is really just an attack on the magazine’s staff (perhaps I’m just not hip enough yet to hate Eggers and company, as so many people it seems now do, but then, I’ve never met them) and not the magazine itself, which I can’t see as deserving it. (Thanks to Bookslut for the link. Also seen at TMFTML.)

For interesting perspectives on the whole McSweeney’s-bashing phenomenon (of which Believer-bashing is a direct descendent), check out the comments to “An Open Letter to Sara Bauer” at Return of the Reluctant. This thread is in response to Bauer’s original “An Open Letter to Young Women Who Work at Chain Bookstores” in McSweeney’s. (Thanks to Maud for the links.)