Is a person's reaction to humor subjective? I think so. Personally, I prefer David Letterman to Jay Leno. Early Evelyn Waugh cracks me up, but I can do without Christopher Buckley. I love The Daily Show, but I thought America was lame. Am I right or wrong?
This rhetorical question is a partial response to two interesting posts from Soupie and Larry: "Johnson, J. Dissenting" and "pistol packin' mama." Both take the position that they don't think Anonymous Lawyer is funny. They have other objections, as well. Soupie says, in part, that Anonymous Lawyer makes "lawyers look even shittier than they do already by drawing attention to the very worst aspects of the profession." And Larry says, in part, that "to publish AL as his tone is now (smug and self-congratulatory) is to legitimate poor partner treatment. Or, in other words, it sets forth as appropriate acting like a prick and treating others poorly. I don't believe that kind of treatment is okay, even if the stakes are enormous and pressure to do well is high."
It seems reasonable to object that Anonymous Lawyer isn't funny; responses to humor are subjective. But I don't agree with the other criticisms, which overlook the methods and goals of satire. My contrary views are explained in my various posts about Anonymous Lawyer, most of which are listed here. Still, I think it's right to discuss these issues. Larry's quote, for example, which she published on her weblog yesterday, is taken from an e-mail she sent me in November before the New York Times article. In my response, I thanked her for her e-mail and stated my contrary point of view. I wrote, in part, that "I don't [think] that the 'author' behind the character of AL is condoning poor partner treatment or what goes on in big firms--I think exactly the opposite." I also encouraged her to post her e-mail because "what you said is very interesting and I think it ought to be part of the debate as much as anyone else's point of view."
I was also open to Soupie's viewpoint. For example, I wrote a lengthy response to Soupie's comment to the post linked just above. I was glad he commented; as anyone who reads this weblog knows, I find the topic of blogging technique endlessly fascinating. So do others, apparently. Many have posted about Anonymous Lawyer. And other posts are on the way. Milbarge, for example, has promised a post soon. For the most part, all of the commentary is worth reading.
The only thing in the discussion that isn't helpful are ad hominem attacks. As Larry noted, once a writer's project is previewed in the New York Times, it's fair game for criticism--the project, that is, not the person. To the extent that some see fit to attack the text of Anonymous Lawyer by attacking the person of Jeremy Blachman, they're betraying themselves as shallow, mean-spirited, and dull. And bad literary critics, too.