"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"

Letter From The Editorial Director.

2/4/00


If you are looking at your computer screen, you have probably noticed Suck's new front page by now. Yes, the one that looks exactly like a 1994-era e-résumé. As Suck's Editorial Director, I would like to explain the rationalizations behind this new configuration.

Suck has been a popular site for a long time. Visitors arrive here expecting to find intelligent and funny comments about the Internet society, hilarious cartoons, and bittersweet chronicles of love among the digerati.

Well, none of that is going to change.

You will continue to read all of your favorite underinformed gas attacks by your favorite writers. We'll continue to pile much-deserved satire on our rivals on the Web and elsewhere. We won't give up angling for better jobs by insulting our would-be employers.

Since the launch of Suck in 1995, we've been officially recognized as a "cool site" for cutting-edge satire. In our time, we have been honored with numerous prizes, including a Palme d'Or from the Missouri Museum of Modern Art in Branson and an Order of the Golden Sphincter prize from the Volksstumpfmuseum Stuttgart.

But in light of the Web's move into the mainstream of our society, we have come to the conclusion that Suck's signature tone — that heady mixture of smarmy pseudo-erudition and reflexive scorn — has become inappropriate in today's journalistic marketplace. Our attitude adjustment is long overdue, as our detractors have been saying for a while.

And we've been listening. So while you will still find up-to-the-month-or-so commentary on current events, business leaders, and the mass media, we will no longer speak in a language of encompassing irony, with the smug shadows of invisible quotation marks beating their wings overhead. We are pulling the plug on the mockery machine.

It's a challenge. As executive vice president of content agglomeration, it's my job to put this decision into practice without ruining the brand reputation or "cred" that readers associate with our product. But something had to give to make Suck keep up with the times, and that something was the tiresome style that has, frankly, outlived its purpose and function. Suck will no longer feature a meandering column of bold type, and likewise, it will no longer support long-winded, link-addled monologs on abstract topics of no interest to the general reader. The Suck Daily will be instead a straightforward comic feature or a whassup-with-that-style Op-Ed piece, albeit with the same kind of zany humor that has distinguished Suck writing for half a decade. The brittle, airless, late-'80s posturing will go, too; Suck writers will be encouraged to write in the first person and to relate personal, Tuesdays with Morrie–style anecdotes and memories about life and love. Because I think we all agree that Suck should be a little more American Beauty and a little bit less American Psycho. Hard-to-read essays filled with obscure allusions and odd neologisms will go the way of Spy as will all those too-cool alternative weeklies that deaden hopes and stifle smiles around the country.

I am a regular guy. I'd rather hoist a brew at a local pub than show off my pierced tongue at some coffee shop. Sometimes, as my "buds" and I are driving along in our convertible, I might notice a "fox" and announce, "Hey, good-lookin'! Be back to pick ya up later!" on my Mr. Microphone. I don't want to be a "hipster" content manager anymore. I want to let my hair down and my belly out.

Now, many people, naturally, will suppose that this is some sort of prank. Well, it isn't. Like many other sites these days, we recognize that the Internet is no longer the exclusive domain of urban hipsters and fringe elements. Today, it is the most vital communications medium in the world (besides television), and more and more people think of the Internet when the word "communications" comes to mind. The acquisition of Time Warner by America Online officially ended the Internet's honeymoon period. Today, a Web magazine has to appeal to a broad audience of men and women in every region of the country. And Suck has responded.

Now, we know that there will be many hard-core fans out there who will say that Suck has sold out. But then, they said that when Suck was bought by Wired, and again when Wired was acquired by Lycos. No doubt, they will say it again when our plans go forward for introducing a spate of new columnists, including cyber-seer Jon Katz, monologist Spalding Gray, and radio personalities Art Bell and Paul Harvey. But the fact is that just as in all mass media, the bottom line on any Web site remains "hits." Sure, we could write as if our only target audience were a bunch of overeducated misanthropes with the emotional equivalent of Methuselah's Syndrome, but the 21st century isn't going to be about niche marketing or micro-fandom, and Suck knows that as well as anybody.

In the weeks to come, expect a whole new look from Suck. Beside our new editorial features, expect a comic "vortal" to your favorite comic strips, syndicated features, and Usenet joke archives, as well as an ever-changing assortment of animated GIFs and streaming videos with NetNanny-ready meta tags for the convenience of parents. The entire Suck archive will be searchable by subject lines, rather than by indecipherable and unfunny punning titles. Our popular Fish section will take the form of an online chat room, where you can talk to your favorite Suck writers and other Suck fans. And there will be an online store where you can order Suck merchandise, from Webmoguls POGs to stuffed Sucky the Fish toys.

I just want Suck to be a Web site for regular guys.

Sincerely,
Yogi Okaycola
Executive Vice President

P.S. I'm sure many well-known publications will want to ask me about my decision. I will not be able to talk to them intentionally. I want to be alone.

P.P.S. Also, I never really liked this whole business with the Suck pseudonyms. Actually, my name is Roy.