Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bill Simmons has Masshole appeal, any way you thin-slice it

People will decide for themselves whether Bill Simmons The Book of Basketball is worth picking up (it's 700-plus pages, so lift with your legs) but it's worth pointing out a couple of the more splenetic reviews.

The joke, whoever, might on Charles Pierce at Deadspin ("Somewhere in these pages is a real book, and somewhere in that book is a very real heart and a very redeemable soul") and Josh Levin at Slate ("He'd be twice as funny — and a lot less repetitive — with half the jokes.

Sorry, fellas, calling out Bill Simmons is as dated as the phrase "calling out." Some loser did it 10 months ago:
"Simmons' act was fresh in the late '90s and in the 2000s, but it's become the sport media's analog to Will Ferrell's man-child act. It ticked the giggly in the late '90s and early 2000s, when people — especially men who realized that you're not going to be young forever, but you can at least be immature — just needed to disappear into, say, one of Ferrell's comic constructs and laugh like a hyena for 92 minutes. Eventually, you wonder when someone who's a NBA guy in his medium will stop making an ABA movie, to paraphrase one review of Ferrell's thin 2008 vehicle, Semi-Pro. It is often a similar deal with Simmons' references to 1980s pop culture, the Boston Celtics of that era, gambling, Grady Little and porn."
— January 16, 2009

Like Sean Kealey of Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician said, "What were the odds (Deadspin's) review of Bill Simmons' book would be negative? 1:100?" Neverthless, those who relish the carve-up of genius will dig Pierce's takedown ...
"He did not reinvent sports writing, or even the way people write about sports, which is not the same thing. He didn't even really break down the formidable 'kicked in the gonads' barrier as far as the language of journalism goes. (Did anyone arguing that point ever actually read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail? Hunter Thompson wrote some pretty wild stuff before he got to He didn't pioneer the use of pop culture reference in sportswriting; Andre Laguerre's Sports Illustrated did that and, anyway, Simmons' vaunted pop-cult knowledge is carved out of a very thin loaf of Wonder Bread. He did very little that was new. But he did it on the Internet. He created a gig for himself and sold it well. That should be good enough.

"But, alas, he seems to have bought into a lot of this messianic bullshit, and it shows."
... and Levin's:
"Simmons wouldn't be Simmons without the pointless asides. One of the Sports Guy's biggest flaws, though, is that he tries too hard to entertain: He'd be twice as funny—and a lot less repetitive—with half the jokes. Simmons clearly gets a rise out of mixing sex and sports. Three pages after the Moses Malone-Marilyn Chambers analogy, he says that Shaquille O'Neal is like porn star Peter North — 'dominant, but not the best." He also likens Karl Malone to a 'fake-boobed Asian stripper' and Jason Kidd to "a smoking-hot girl … wearing a 32A." (The small bra size is a reference to Kidd's poor shooting ability. It kind of makes sense in context.)"
Does anyone else find the sports-porn analogies a bit creepy? People consume porn is mass quantities, but it's the low-hanging fruit on the analogy tree. The rub is Simmons created the taste which he is to be savoured by, so screw aiming higher.
There's some depth there, but he serves as a very flattering mirror for similarly stunted males to gaze upon their own reflection and say, "Nothing needs changing here."

It's very Guyland, which is why he needs to be stopped. The possible irony is those who set the bar a little higher, the blogging sober and thinking too hard types, might be the ones who are out to lunch. You will never know for sure.

Bill Simmons: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut; The Sports Guy's The Book of Basketball is a crude, fantastic mess. (Josh Levin, Slate)
You Are Not The Cosmos: A Review Of Bill Simmons' Book Of Basketball (Deadspin)

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