Threat Quality Retrospective

Posted: August 3, 2015 in Threat Quality


Inspired by that one nerd who keeps turning up in the comments to call me a taste fascist and imply that I’m insufficiently respectful of the opinions of Jonathon Chait and Joss Whedon, I have been looking back at and doing some thinking about Threat Quality and about the writing that I’ve done here and that other people have done here, and what the future of this “blog” is, et cetera and so forth.

Let us consider.

I started this site with Jeff Holland about seven years ago, one night after getting very drunk in a bar.  It seemed like a very good idea at the time, but since I’ve stopped drinking, I’ve had some new perspectives on my history of (very good) ideas.  I feel like I was inspired mostly by Gawker, and a little bit by things like The Awl and other similar small blogs that cropped up in its wake — I think of these as the 21st century equivalent of old-time magazines which were actually basically a dime-a-dozen in the 19th and early 20th centuries; a handful of them have endured (“Vanity Fair”, “Harper’s”, “The Atlantic”), and so we think of them has having cultural cachet, but back a hundred years go they were one among many garbage magazines that ran, sometimes for years, sometimes for months, sometimes for weeks.  (Holland had some ideas about what the site was too, presumably, but I don’t know what they are, you’ll have to wait for HIS retrospective piece for that.)

Anyway.  Obviously the early Threat Quality posts were all over the place, while I tried to get other people enthusiastic or interested in it — this didn’t really succeed because I don’t have any money and never paid anyone; sorry, guys.  But it also didn’t succeed because I plainly had no idea what the hell I was doing here — was this a literary journal?  Was it about politics?  Comics?  Books?  Just some dumping-ground for whatever weird thought I had at two in the morning?

“All of those things,” I guess is the answer.  And while Holland I think has had a pretty consistent voice throughout our better-part-of-a-decade run (Holland went to school for writing, which I think is conducive to developing a distinctive, consistent voice; I went to school to study Bronze Age epic literature), I’ve tried out a bunch of different voices and a bunch of different approaches, often mimicking other writers that I like (you can see, for example, the brief period in there where I was reading Videogum every day, and I was plainly trying to mimic Gabe Delahaye’s writing style).  A lot of it is unnecessarily florid, a lot of it is unnecessarily mean — some of it is genuinely angry, some of it is performatively angry.  Looking back, I can’t always tell the difference.

I also can’t keep my attention focused on any one thing for more than a few weeks at a time (see every “feature” that I’ve started that didn’t last more than a couple of posts), so we bounced between trying out short fiction and book reviews and I don’t know, any other kind of garbage.  “This is a thing I saw on the internet last week.”  Also, because I’m lazy, I didn’t work very hard at promoting the site (this is exacerbated by the fact that I still can’t explain what Threat Quality IS), and you, twenty or thirty people who might be reading this, are Threat Quality’s only readers.

I think I eventually settled in to this “Dramaturgery” idea, but I’m still not sure I really like it.  I definitely don’t like writing reviews — contrary to what that one guy seems to think, I actually don’t really care whether or not people agree with me about things and actually don’t particularly care whether or not they even KNOW my opinions about things.  For the most part, Dramaturgery is me feeling my way through my own ideas about aesthetics and story; I put it up here because maybe someone else can use it, maybe not, whatever, guys.

(This apathy is the same reason I never went to get my PhD in theater after I finished my Master’s program — I cannot conceive of myself spending time and energy convincing a bunch of academics that my theories about Brecht, for example, are right.  Who cares what those guys think?  If the idea is right, why am I wasting time writing a paper about it?  I can just do it.)

So, all of that said, I have been thinking very strongly these last few months of winding Threat Quality down.

Or, I was thinking that, then a friend of mine had some ideas about things he wanted to publish that his regular publishers wouldn’t run, and another friend of mine told me about how she wanted to publish things that she didn’t have a platform for, and then David Brooks started saying ludicrous things, and I figured, “Hey, all right.  Let’s give this another shot.”

And give it another shot we shall!  I think that, moving forward, you can expect a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule here.  I am probably going to do one piece a week, which may or may not mostly be me hassling David Brooks, because I firmly believe that it is a social and moral good to hassle that guy.  The remaining two weekly posts are probably going to lean heavily towards issues of politics and social justice, in particular with their relationship to art — theater, movies, books.  I don’t completely know how that’s going to look.  I’m going to work a little harder to try to get some new people writing here, bring in some new ideas and fresh perspectives.

I’m also going to one day continue with the next part of Sword of Savonarola, and that’s going to cross-post here; likewise, I’ll probably still use this platform to try to signal-boost things that I think are interesting.

We’ll see what happens, friends!  Thank you for reading, thank you for being, if not pro-Threat Quality, at least Threat Quality neutral; we will all see what this new phase of our existence looks like.

  1. braak says:

    In no small part, I’m reluctant to just switch Threat Quality off because I think I did a really good job on the logo, and I don’t want to waste it.

  2. Uh, That was me, I was accidentally still logged into my work account, you can go ahead and delete the post waiting moderation.

  3. brooklyn2y says:

    I blame Holland. For everything that has happened.

  4. Alex M says:

    I just wanted to say that I’ve always enjoyed reading the blog, and often skip back and forth through the archives re-reading posts, quite frequently.

  5. Alex M says:

    Wait, does it even make sense to say “often” and then “quite frequently”?

  6. braak says:

    At least it makes the spirit of sense, and Threat Quality Press appreciates your enthusiasm!

  7. Jane says:

    I like Threat Quality! I thought your (Braak) article on the Chait article was great, and it really helped me think through my own thoughts on political correctness. Also the article on the BLM protestors and why they *should* be disrupting Sanders was great. I like that Threat Quality is a random grab-bag of discourse bits on culture and art. If you had a consistent theme I would stop reading.

  8. braak says:

    Well, as you can see, we may end up with a little bit of a tighter focus (though my editorial mandate is always, “I am interested in what people are interested in,” right now that is a lot of “race, gender, politics”, so), hopefully there’s still going to be enough variety to keep you reading!

  9. janedotx7 says:

    Just stay angry, guys.

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