Yesterday, The Paris Review did a Reddit AMA, which by now is a reliable station on the digital PR circuit. An AMA, for the blissfully uninitiated, is when someone — anyone with a Reddit account — answers questions about, well, anything, usually for a preset length of time. Reddit has long, and largely rightfully, been a punching bag of wiser-than-thou cultural media types, with Gawker prominently leading the charge as an antagonist of the site’s perceived largely male Ayn Rand acolytes-cum-mouthbreathing gamers (real or imagined, it’s an easy demographic to caricature and hate). The Paris Review‘s AMA followed Marina Abramović‘s August foray onto the site, where she shilled for her Kickstarter campaign and, by all appearances, made a genuine effort to engage with the site’s users.
These developments might signal an ever-so-slight warming of attitudes in the arts and culture establishment toward the Advance Publications-owned social website (Advance Publications is the parent company of Condé Nast), which had long suffered what might gently be called a perception problem for its mostly male, IT-inflected, casually sexist, and sometimes gallingly creepy character. But with 5 million pageviews a month, and an AMA with Obama under its belt, it wasn’t long before the self-proclaimed “front page of the Internet” became an irresistible draw for even the most aloof. Countless actors, screenwriters, directors, and other creatives from show business have appeared on the show, though few entries have materialized from the world of serious journalism — Julia Ioffe, senior editor of The New Republic, and Alan Rusbridger, editor in chief of the Guardian.
In the arts, the list has been just as thin, with such luminaries as a one-time assistant to Mr. Brainwash (of Exit Through the Gift Shop infamy) and sci-fi illustrator Greg Craola tossing their hat into the ring. So, might we speak of a Reddit renaissance, with artists and literary types flocking to the site? No. But it certainly was amusing to read the editor of The Paris Review claim that doing a Reddit AMA ” … is badass. We should never do anything but this.”
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