The Date: October 2, 2006
The Event: Pitchfork Media "reviews" Jet's Shine On
The Result: Millions see a Chimp drink its own urine
Critics passed it off as little more than a cheap publicity stunt. It was, indefensibly, a wanton embrace of wordless, hoped-to-be-forwarded-in-emails gimmickry designed to bump up traffic. And, if the pen is mightier than the sword, surely the pen is also mightier than the embedded YouTube clip?
Yet, Pitchfork Media's ruthless treatment of Shine On, the artistically bankrupt second album for morally-bankrupt retro-rock bloodsuckers Jet, became the stuff of instant pop-cultural legend.
Instead of spending hundreds of words slandering Jet's moronic, vapid apings of haggard, hand-me-down Rolling Stones riffs, the indier-than-thou minions of the self-important Pitchfork empire encapsulated the badness of Shine On into a picture (well, a video) they hoped would say a thousand words.
Rather than a written analysis, the website's "review" of Jet was a video of a monkey urinating into its own mouth.
That grand gag generated a lot of debate about the duties of criticism, and about the death of the written word in the embedded-video era. Any reasonable analysis would suggest that Pitchfork's actions smacked of recalcitrant adolescence. And yet, at the same time, the website played out a fantasy that almost all rock-critics have dream about at one point or another: completely demeaning something without having to take the time out to justify it. Never has laziness seemed so inspired.