When I first became aware of the furor surrounding the "outing" of the man known as "Richard" from the blog "WASP 101" by Christian Chensvold of Ivy Style, my immediate gut reaction was to sit back and keep my mouth shut about it. I found the whole thing to be childish and unseemly on all sides. But I will readily admit to being drawn into all the gossip (because really, that's what this is), and the longer it drew on the more upsetting I found the whole thing, enough so that I now feel compelled to address it here. If you've had enough of all this the last few days, and perish the thought of reading more about it, then simply don't. Before I begin let me remind you that we all have the free will not read anything we find objectionable, silly, stupid, or whatever else.
I'm not going to address WASP 101 directly, or offer my opinion on it. "Richard" has long been the whipping boy of whatever nerdy menswear "scene" a small handful of us have created via blogs and alter egos these past few years. So many people found him odious and foolish, and yet he persisted, in no small part because people kept reading. I will not tell you what I thought of it, because it simply doesn't matter.
And then there is Ivy Style, a site regarded by many as some kind of quasi-encyclopedia of what a 23 year old rich boy wore and liked in 1963, or something. I'm not going to offer my opinion of that site either. Again, it doesn't matter. Another favorite, but again only among our own goofy little clique.
They say there was some kind of "feud" or "rivalry" between these two for years. What I saw was a somewhat clueless fellow making an easy target of himself, and another fellow willing to step in and bully him about it. Bullies like easy targets. They either run and don't fight back, or worse, fight back ineptly and in doing so only add logs to the fire. While "Richard" could have exercised more tact in leaving well (or bad) enough alone, Chensvold could have done the same. Blame, for what real crime I'm still unsure, can be laid on both sides, but there is a big difference between blissful stupidity and obsessive and vindictive behavior. Chensvold seems happy to hide behind a wall of "journalistic integrity", but that somehow never stopped him from taking periodic potshots at a very, very easy target. Making fun of people for the amusement of others and a boost in traffic doesn't sound like any kind of journalistic integrity or code of ethics I know. It sounds childish and quite low to me.
So much has been said about whether a person who writes a blog has the same rights to privacy as anyone else. I agree that once something hits the big ole internet, it inherently becomes public, and that no one can expect full anonymity while publicly writing and posting photos for the whole world to see. Clearly, anyone seeking full privacy would do well to stay away from any active role in the internet. I won't speak to the legal issues surrounding this. And then there's this altogether too involved discussion of what effect this will have on the career of a state rep. from a rural district in North Carolina. Not surprisingly, no one seems to care except our little nerdy community....because it simply doesn't matter to most people. Mountains from mole hills, boys.
Maybe you found WASP 101 to be vapid and misguided. That seems to be the popular opinion. In that case, don't read it. Maybe "Richard" could have used his head a little (lot) better in all this, but that's not my problem. What really stinks here is the stalking, obsession and sheer amount of time and effort someone has put into "taking down" a small beans politico who happens to have been the author of a silly blog. Seriously, its out of hand. Had we all stopped reading "Richard" he might have gone away quietly anyway. Now, with all that's happened, the whole "online menswear community" (gross, did I just say that?) looks like a bunch of petty geeks and nerds with little better to do than gawk at their laptops nitpicking the activities of complete strangers.
I've enjoyed clothing my whole life, and spent most of it struggling against negative response from the world at large for it. In the last few years, the few of us who care about this almost managed to be "cool", for a minute anyway. Not that I ever really cared what anyone else had to say about it, but it was nice to be on the other side of the coin for a while. Things like this throw that all out the window, and make us look like resentful nerds, and drives us straight back to square one. I find the ongoing attack far more distasteful and pointless than anything "Richard" ever wrote.
Thanks, Chensvold. Good job. You really made your point.
p.s. Ivy Style has been removed from the blogroll. I will publish all comments that come in for this post, but come Monday the matter is closed. Until then, speak your minds. We need to put this behind us, because it really is a waste of everyone's time. No one cares but us, and continuing to carry on about it makes us all look bad.
p.p.s Also, what he said.