So there’s this writer named Chris Jones. He wrote (and still writes) for Esquire, and he writes for ESPN nowadays. He is a very good writer! Well, he has written some very good stuff for Esquire (such as his famous Ebert profile and that “Price is Right” story, among other gems); his writing in other mediums (blogs, Twitter) is an entirely different story.
Brett at Uproxx explains this problem perfectly: What happens when you like/admire/respect someone for their work, and then when you follow them on Twitter or read their personal blog you find out they are kind of terrible? I have had this happen on a few occasions, discovering that writers I like also write inane or idiotic things on their blogs or Twitter. (This isn’t limited to the Internet, of course; I have also had the same thing occur after meeting writers in person. The lesson here is to never meet people or leave the house or read things.) This is the problem with liking/admiring/respecting writers: You build up an image, or at least some feeling of positivity, based solely on their literary skills. And then you meet them, or you meet someone who met them, or you read their tweets, and something about them is so unlikable that you wind up respecting them less as a writer.
Chris Jones, who tweets as @MySecondEmpire, seems intent on creating this sort of online persona for himself. He whines about not being nominated for awards, he writes lengthy rebuttals to blog posts written by “a dabbling writer and graduate student” (his words), he writes absurdly bitchy responses to writers who dared critique something Chris Jones said. (He also tweets some of these same responses.)
I say all of this as a prelude to what happened today, when I guess the Internet discovered something Jones wrote for the current issue of Esquire. He says that some women are bad at sex, but “most women act as though they’re sexual Olympians,” and proceeds to tell women how they can be less bad at sex.
It’s pretty terrible on its own, and it is very likely that had any writer published that they would have earned the same mockery. The barbs came in from Gawker, from Jezebel, from BuzzFeed, from Uproxx and even from Mara Wilson, the child actor who starred in “Matilda” and played the evil youngest child in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” She is a writer now, and though Jones initially dismissed her response, they actually wound up carrying on a conversation. Many of the criticisms offered to Jones were varied and intelligent, because his Esquire story was inexcusably, appallingly dumb.
But Jones’s general method of response was sadly predictable. First, he wrote this, clinging to the ever-clever “Y’all are just haters” defense, wherein anyone writing anything online in response to this story is told their forum of commentary (and therefore the commentary itself) is invalid. (This also lumps together any and all criticism so he can dismiss it rather than utilize any of it going forward.) He also wrote this, which is actually an understandable rebuttal to that Gawker, because I can’t really imagine he wrote that story about his wife (but at the same time, he is a long-married man writing about his sexual experiences, so obviously somebody is going to wonder how his wife factors in).
Anyway, this is all a long way of saying that if you enjoy his writing, I highly advise that you stay away from his blog and don’t follow him on Twitter. (I do still follow him, but I hate-follow plenty of people. Wil Wheaton, for example.)