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How long is Jude D. “Jude D.” Russo going to wear us out with these cheeky but vapid diatribes? At the beginning of his tenure at The Harvard Crimson, the slightly antiquated harrumphing was charming enough in an impudent sort of way, but the act’s gotten old, and his most recent vanity piece, “How to Write a Jude D. Russo Review,” is the worst kind of self-fondling garbage and hopefully will mark an end of a justly uncelebrated career.
Russo is pretty obviously aware that his posturing is a bit fraudulent. Oscar Wilde says the punishment for those who make masks for themselves is that they must wear them, and we have to take some modest pleasure from the fact that the mask Russo has made for himself is a pretty uncharming one and that he doesn’t seem to like it much either. His conclusion “You’re now a terrible, terrible person that nobody likes. Good job!” is pretty grim, as far as self-indictments go, but the possibility of any sort of redemptive irony is undercut by the fact that his self-awareness is completely untempered by any sort of indication of intention of self-reform. If this were a Jude D. Russo review, there’d be some sort of sententious human-nature observation here, but we trust the reader enough to let him draw his own fucking conclusions from the circumstances.
Because at the end of the day, that’s kind of the issue: not trusting the reader. It’s pretty clear that Russo’s problem is wanting to make sure that everyone thinks he’s smart, he’s tasteful, he’s authoritative, instead of just acknowledging that he’s making this shit up as he goes along, just like everyone else. People don’t care that you can cite Xenophanes or that you can rap all the Kanye verses from “Watch the Throne;” people care that you’re a human being, and that seems to be the department where Russo’s pretty lacking, behind the over-written prose and classical invocations and little strained nods to current pop-culture that are clearly meant to let his audience know that he knows about everything, not just old stuff or high-arty stuff. Russo wants you to think he knows everything.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter whether or not you know everything, which Russo obviously does not anyway. What does go a long way is having some humility and an occasional touch of personal sincerity (or at least a good facsimile thereof) and even the once-in-a-blue-moon ounce of human compassion, and these are all departments in which our boy is pretty lacking. “How to Write” underlines this circumstance with a big red marker. So, as he bids farewell to his job on the Crimson, let’s give him the send-off that even he knows he deserves—
“Now, ladies and gentlemen, let me lay on you a so-so entertainer, not much of a humanitarian, and this cat was never nobody's friend, in his final appearance on the great stage of life (you can applaud if you wanna)—”
—Jude D. Russo is the Crimson’s Arts board’s outgoing film exec and the Crimson’s newly-formed Nihilism board’s incoming chairman.
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