Why Complex is Wrong

There was an article published in Complex magazine that was meant to be something of a polemical attack on Lorde, you can read it here. Since it is not artistic criticism, and it takes a very patronising position I feel it is fair for me to put forth my own counter argument.

To summarise the issue at the centre of contention is a statement Lorde put up on her tumblr page speaking out against media centres like Complex asking for interviews so they can do profiles and other pieces on artists whom the public wants to read about. Their articles sell their magazines and subscriptions – they therefore rely on artists giving them time. The artists need them too for the same reason, the symbiotic relationship should not be denied.

The problem Lorde has is when the same companies dump on her work (and that of other artists) while at the same time asking – or perhaps demanding – for interview time. Mr Ahmed who penned the Complex article protests that entertainment journalists have a responsibility to maintain their journalistic integrity by criticising harshly when they deem an artist to have produced bad work. At face value this seems like a fair point. Unfortunately I believe it misses the point of what Lorde was talking about. Some critics will focus on the work and evaluate it accordingly. Sometimes however, they cross the line into personally attacking an artist, and when they do this one day and march up to her asking for an interview the next is (quite understandably) in bad form. 

I have not had the opportunity to meet Lorde and ask her myself if I am right in my interpretation of her views, so I can only examine the logic and present my own view. She wrote on tumblr in defence of her friends in the industry, and the emotional context of the post should not be forgotten.

 I have been in contact with Mr Ahmed on twitter and confronted him on a point which I felt hurt his argument and gives a revealing glimpse into the character of journalists of this kind. He made a point of saying in his argument that as a seventeen year old, Lorde understandably has an incomplete view of journalism. The patronising tone of this comment is exactly the point I am illustrating about criticism being ad hominem, or to the person. On twitter Mr Ahmed said it is part of journalistic practice to refer to the ages of subjects, and completely missed the point I was trying to make that it is a big assumption and shows a complete lack of sympathy.

According to Mr Ahmed the defence of something as being ‘journalistic’ can cover all manner of sins. Also entertainment journalists are as essential to the music industry as the artists. I can’t motivate myself to make much out of whatever someone says to make themselves feel more important – except that. Reading stuff like this in Complex reminds me why I decided not to pursue journalism, if that’s the kind of kool aid drunk by journalism students, I’m quite sure that with me it would fatally disagree.   

It cannot be unreasonable to decry attacks from the media when they are asking favours at the same time.


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