Maybe Old Media Deserves to Die

Congratulations New York Times, you’ve outdone yourselves.

Congratulations New York Times, you’ve outdone yourselves.

Back in 2005, the Gray Lady published two spectacularly dumb style pieces: one about how men sometimes enjoy hanging out together, and the other about how women sometimes admire each other. I strongly recommend you read these – to this day, I halfway believe they are practical jokes. Anyway, last week, I would have confidently held these up as the most pointless articles the Times has ever published.

Then came Monday, and columnist Roger Cohen’s sequel to “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”


This is such a glorious mound of Fail that I don’t know where to begin. It’s like Christmas morning.

Okay, first of all, why? It is the day before Barack Obama’s inauguration. Barack Obama – heard of him, Roger? Is this really the best time to update a 20-year-old pop song? I could see how it might be appropriate if you made it just about the Bush era, but a lot of these references are from the 90’s. Very first item is Bill Clinton. So once again, why?

And the second item is “Tina Fey.” For God’s sake, couldn’t you have at least tried to keep things in order? The introduction begins, “With apologies to Billy Joel, who’s more of a chronologist…” In other words, “I am a worse/lazier writer than Billy Joel.”

Also, putting everything in random order makes this pretty darn close to unreadable. It’s not building to anything. It’s just a bunch of things Roger Cohen remembers that may or may not rhyme.

Next up: Roger, you reproduce the entire chorus six times. That means a third of your column is not only plagiarism, it’s extremely boring plagiarism. Billy, please sue him.

Two thirds of the way down, one of the items is “,” and it’s a link for some reason. Like literally, you click on it and go to Two items later is “Amazon,” but no link. I really hope the thing is some sort of an ad, because at this point I’m rooting for anything that increases the lameness. Roger is hitting a perfect game here, and I want him to nail the dismount. I know I’m mixing metaphors, but it still makes more sense than anything Roger wrote in his column.

Honestly, you can look at any random line in this thing and find gold. Here’s the very beginning:

Bill Clinton, Tina Fey, capitalist China, O.J.,
Asia rising, Facebook, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Do we really need both “capitalist China” and “Asia rising” in the same song, much less the same line? And “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?” Sure he retired in ’89, which means he’s within the timeframe of this sequel. But is he really one of the most significant events of the past 20 years? You know who’s not mentioned in this song? Michael Freakin’ Jordan.

I spent three minutes on YouTube and found two other sequels to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” that are definitely better than the New York Times version. Hell, I’ve been in summer camp talent shows with better song parodies than this.

That’s why I’m creating the Roger Cohen Golden Phone award. It will be given out whenever I come across something that is truly, epically phoned in.


11 Comments on “Maybe Old Media Deserves to Die”

  1. Rob #

    Take it easy on Roger Cohen. The guy at the Times who deserves a Golden Phone is Bill Kristol… in fact, he’s probably earned a Lifetime Achievement award…


  2. fenzel #

    The phone needs Roger Cohen’s name or face on it so that we remember that every time we award it to someone.


  3. lee OTI Staff #

    I nominate Activision for Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. If you’ve played Guitar Hero III and the Aerosmith version, you’ll know what I’m talking about.


  4. Gab #

    Are you saying the Aerosmith version of Guitar Hero is bad, Lee? I happen to like it.


  5. lee OTI Staff #

    Gab, have you played Guitar Hero III? GT:A isn’t terrible, but I do have beef with it (the Wii version at least, can’t speak for other platforms). Warning, Guitar Hero III spoilers (can there even be such a thing?).

    -Too many recycled elements from GTIII: sure there were plenty of new songs and locations, but the main (non-Aerosmith) characters were all the same from GTIII, just with different outfits.

    -Half the songs of GT:III. Too many were mediocre Aerosmith tunes.

    -Overall sloppiness, including some terrible looking crowd graphics.

    Perhaps the worst thing about this game though, is a small yet important detail that the designers must have overlooked.

    You know how at the end of GT:III, how you unlock “Through the Fire and Flames” after the final guitar battle? While the song loads, the message “Good luck” appears on the screen. It’s the only time such a message appears in the whole game, and it’s the perfect short, ominous message to set the stage for the impossible impossibleness that is “TTFAF.”

    Now, when the same thing happens in GT:A, after finishing the career mode, the bonus song loads, and once again, “Good luck” shows up on the screen. My palms were sweating. My heart was beating in anticipation. What could it be?

    Well, it was a lame, slow Aerosmith song that was not difficult to beat AT ALL. After beating the song and overcoming my disbelief, I looked up anticlimax in the dictionary, and I saw the last five minutes of my life replayed.

    This is all to say that Activision really phoned in GT:A and that they might be deserving of the Roger Cohen Golden Telephone award.


  6. Gab #

    Heh, I guess you just take your Guitar Hero games a wee bit more seriously than I do. Granted, I don’t help *run* a website with “overthinking” in its name- I just frequent (i.e. stalk) it. I’ve only played Guitar Hero on Wii, myself, and I guess I’ll admit the Aerosmith one seemed like a bad knock-off, but I didn’t take it quite as personal. I usually just play to have a good time with my siblings and friends, not to get a good score- so my little sister (13) and I usually end up effing around with it, since she’s the one kicking ass in Expert and I’m still getting the occasional 60% in some spots on Easy- in “TTFAF,” as you put it, she’ll press buttons as I “strum” (meaning wiggle the whatchamacallit back and forth really fast without paying much attention) for example, and we call “Star Power” “Doing the Thing” (“I did the Thing, Sis, I did the Thing!” “You did the Thing!”). That’s probably insulting to you.

    So here’s another question, and it only proves my ignorance with All Things Guitar Hero: Why “GT:A”? As in why a “T” instead of an “H”?


  7. Swirthe #

    I second Francis Hwang’s nomination, as long as the award is going to the man who gave Bono a column rather than Bono himself.
    The article may be awful, but not necessarily “phoned in”, unlike choosing someone like Bono to write a column rather than finding an actual journalist or writer who have experience in writing something like this and can come up with something worth reading.


  8. Gab #

    So Joe the Plumber is out. Drats.


  9. lee OTI Staff #

    “So here’s another question, and it only proves my ignorance with All Things Guitar Hero: Why “GT:A”? As in why a “T” instead of an “H”?”

    No, that only proves my ignorance at spelling, and the fact that I’ve been playing Grand Theft Auto (GTA) waaaay too much these days.

    You know what’s the opposite of phoning it in? Grand Theft Auto IV.


  10. Gab #

    You know, I tried playing GTA I and II and couldn’t get into either all that much. Which I find strange, since I love zombie and other mission-oriented-type games so much. I mean, I could play through all of a Resident Evil game in one sitting, and I could do mission after mission after mission of Bond, but I got sick of GTA after the first few tasks. All are violent, but different kinds, I guess, aye? Anyway, I assume you’d say GTA IV is the best of the series and thus better than the first one?


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