Lord Beanie, Talking Head

Once a journalist in his own right, is Tim Pool still worth watching?

It has taken some three or four months to feel I can finally put into proper words why I have shifted from being a genuinely engaged viewer/subscriber of Tim Pool's programs on YouTube, to being a person who "hate watches" him. To begin with, I have long now held that Pool is disingenuous when it comes to the notion of supporting indie artists, as the only ones he himself ever mentions are ones he personally benefits or profits from being connected to. If there isn't something in it for Tim, he doesn't give a fuck. That's a point I've banged on about for nearly a year now, so let's push quickly past that.

The bit that finally slid into place for me only made such a movement because I've been reading David Foster Wallace's "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again". A few days ago, I finally got to his piece regarding the Celebrity Cruise trip he took, and when taking in his response to reading Frank Conroy's "Essay-tisement" in the cruise line's promotional pamphlets, it clicked into place for me.

Tim Pool's videos have become, by and large, immensely formulaic. This is not a problem in and of itself, especially not for folks like myself who enjoy consistency. But the elements OF that formula are where the trouble resides, swirling like a vortex of barely concealed eddies that can drag you out into lethal undertoe. And here's the formula breakdown:

Step 1) Introduce and show front screen grab of eye-catching headline from mid-to-large-scale media outlet. Make snide remark if the outlet has recently been less than reputable, offer mild praise if it has done good work.

Step 2) Claim that the audience is about to hear Tim effectively read the article for them, pausing now and then to comment or sidebar, but then proceed to say "But BEFORE we get into the article, first head on over to Timcast dot com, gib me money and you get exclusive material".

This formula has even overtaken his live IRL show, rather annoyingly.

Step 3) Read through articles, pausing to comment here and there and brag about his own achievements and previous works.

Step 4) Pose a few rhetorical questions in response to article(s), raise eyebrows, tease that he'd postulate more except for risking YouTube banning him (another nod to 'Gib me money for my site)

Step 5) This one is just for the IRL show, which final half hour consists essentially of a paid Q and A with his most adoring, paying fans.

I suspect a lot of folks who, like myself, have converted from supportive viewers to hate-watching, have made that conversion for reasons similar to mine. While I do find it useful and informative material in some cases, I have more and more been finding myself pausing his videos, going to the source articles myself, and then exiting out of Tim's videos altogether. The man has so enlarged his own legend and cowed his cohosts/employees that it's a wonder that Ian Crossland hasn't done what Adam Crigler had the good sense to do early on- get the hell out from under that massive ego.

When Tim gets called out for having what is seen as a 'bad take', he defends his position, which I can admire to a point. However, rather than evenly and in a controlled manner saying 'Hey, I get it, but this is how I see it, we're just not going to agree here', he comes back with a hot-headed "My opinion is THE RIGHT ONE!"

It's all about him, his brand, his legacy. And what's grating is that he's pretty transparent and cocky about it. It comes off as very 'Do as I say, not as I do', and when he tells people to stand up and fight, and those folks ask, 'Then why did you always flee when the heat came down', there's either no response at all, or a deflection. Like Conroy's "essay" for Celebrity Cruises, his words ring hollow, and worse, traitorous. Traitorous in that we have been given to understand for so long that Tim is a journalist, an informer, and that he has worked for a long time to offer perspectives that lead to greater thought and discussion. But when the money gets to be so alluring, and his personal exposure to risk so reduced, he turns that presentation and fact-hunting mechanic that he honed once upon a time, and turns them instead to his own personal profit, luring in folks who might not know better.

After all, David Foster Wallace was well familiar with the works of Frank Conroy when he came across that "essay" of endorsement. How many other cruise passengers could claim the same? How many were just duped by the expertly wielded prose of Conroy's mastery of craft?

And how many Timcast dot com financial backers are aware of how much of a shift there has been between what Tim used to do, and what he now SEEMS to do, but only in exchange for their money? I'd wager not even half.

Look, I think Tim's a better talking head than most in mainstream media these days, but let's not kid ourselves about what he has become- a slightly less obnoxious Andrew Breitbart who prefers a late 80's/early 90's skater chic for outer appearances thanks to his continued love of skating.

If Tim would cover indie artists and creators who he doesn't stand to personally profit from, I might come back around to thinking he's an alright sort. But that's about as likely as him responding to a chat that hasn't been bought and paid for.