by Mark Mitchell
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
For everything I like about Tim Seeley and Priscilla Petraites’ Brilliant Trash 1, I find it a frustrating read because I’m not entirely sure of its intentions. Seeley (who shares story credit with Steve Seeley) is clearly disaffected with modern society’s dumbed down discourse — the pages of Brilliant Trash 1 are splashed with images of Twitter, Facebook, and BuzzFeed proxies hawking articles with headlines like “Low Income, But Low in Cum! The Poor Fuck For Their Dinner” — but it’s not clear to me who the target of his derision is. Is it the people or the institutions?
After a prologue where a V for Vendetta-like masked woman with the moniker “Lady Lastword” ends up blowing a crater into Jerusalem (here again the issue flirts with hot button issues for opaque reasons), the focus of the issue turns to two writers: Capricorn Halle and Kennedy Avis. Capricorn is introduced as a Legitimate Journalist, refusing to run an article about Lady Lastwood until she’s satisfied it’s the truth, while Kennedy is working for BuzzFeed surrogate Eye Know, haphazardly churning out content like “One Weird Trick to Burn Extra Body Fat During Sex”. When Capricorn dies suddenly after suffering from a sort of superpowered psychic connection, Kennedy is unwillingly thrust into a quest for the Truth.
Even as I’m sympathetic to the issue’s general anger with the current state of the world, I have a hard time understanding the its approach. Kennedy’s portrayal as being less-than and generally going after BuzzFeed for publishing listicles seems like low-hanging fruit in the current context. BuzzFeed News continues to do respectable and often vital journalism that’s considerably less dumbed-down than your average cable news network, and BuzzFeed in general has a solid record of hiring young, diverse writers with something interesting to say, and giving them a platform with which to say it.
Additionally, deriding people for reading listicles and other throwaway content is like being angry at the advent of leisure time. A person can be both well-informed and enjoy answering a series of questions to determine which of the Golden Girls is their soulmate. Also, surprise, dumb people have always existed, and removing pleasurable aspects of life isn’t going to suddenly increase their interest in geo-political affairs. Besides, how blissful to go through the nightmare of life like a happy golden retriever, unaware of the horrors currently surrounding you. Who doesn’t occasionally envy the ill-informed?
The title of the series seems helpful at first glance: Brilliant Trash — perhaps referring to how something that seems worthless (a website founded on 90’s pop culture quizzes and articles comprised entirely of lists, or a writer for said website, maybe?) can prove to be vital? But if that’s where the book is ultimately heading, it seems a long road to get there. The anger in Brilliant Trash 1 is too hot and too unfocused to provide a clear picture of what it wants to be.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?