We got an email asking when we would weigh in on this latest Bill Simmons–Keith Olbermann Twitter dustup. Ugh, fine. Truth is, I’m never much for media fights like this or this (or the first Simmons-Olbermann Twitter feud, for that matter) because they’re just too meta, too “we’re the most important people ever”-ish, too negative for the sake of negativity and just plain unfun. Again: ugh.
For those of you clamoring to know the riveting details after that opener, here’s what happened. Again, there’s precedent for this: Olbermann and Simmons took some shots at one another last year, before Simmons, presumably realizing that dragging one another through the mud was perhaps not the most enjoyable way to spend one’s time, declared he was finished. Then, yesterday, Olbermann started things up again. It started when Simmons tweeted this about the Mavericks-Lakers series:
The Kobe era just made the turn at Dealey Plaza and passed the book depository…
(That’s a JFK assassination reference, for the under-45ers.) Olbermann found the reference tasteless, and said so. Simmons, in turn, noted Olbermann has not exactly been immune to making remarks in poor taste…and of course, got in a dig at Olbermann’s relatively obscure new employer for good measure, as well as his frosty relations with previous ones.
As far as the merits of the argument: yes, JFK’s assassination was a national tragedy. Then again, the formula goes “comedy = tragedy + time,” does it not? Of course, if Michael Scott was right in saying that “the Lincoln assassination just recently became funny” in 2006, we’re of course not nearly as far removed from JFK’s killing.
But addressing taboo subjects is a critical part of comedy – this video, for example. Or for another example from The Onion, take a page from the sublime Our Dumb Century that has a bit to say on the JFK assassination. Sometimes, comedy comes from events that are awfully unfunny on their own.
Mostly, though, I’m just still queasy about how much attention pissing matches like this call to the media members themselves, and the more I write about it, the queasier I’ll feel about potentially bringing it yet more attention, etc., etc. We might all get some enjoyment out of feuds like this, but in my case, I’ll feel dirty about it later, and so my final take on the sparring is this: I wish it never happened, so I didn’t have to pay attention to it.