Writers, by nature, are passive-aggressive, easily agitated creatures prone to taking their work too seriously. Those with the "thickest skin" (or "hide" if you're more literary-minded) have developed this imaginary armor usually through repeated bouts of public criticism and have learned to compartmentalize some of their glaring shortcomings by either a) correcting them or b) ignoring them. Both are successful tracks, usually, and those with the most impenetrable outer layers tend to develop immunity and go about their business accordingly, blissfully aware of their station in life.
But more often than not, others tend to use email (or some social media landscape like, oh, Twitter) to project those lingering feelings of self-doubt and shame onto their critics. Sometimes this results in rectifying the problem, civilly, without collateral damage, but then sometimes it results in a dehumanizing email flame war with a faceless stranger plunging both authors into a state of harsh self-examination which ends (usually) in self-disgust.
Then there's the case of Harris Wittels, a television writer with a lucrative production deal, who is a writer for Parks and Recreation, a popular television sitcom on NBC Universal. (Wittels is probably better known to fans of internet humor and memes as the creator of the "Humblebrag" concept.) Last Friday, Defamer posted what some would consider a takedown of Greg Daniels, beloved mastermind behind Deedle-Dee productions, which helped create the American version of The Office and Parks and Recreation. A couple sections of that story did in fact include some unpleasant opinions and facts about Wittels' productivity during his lucrative production deal, corroborated by sources inside NBC Universal, to which Wittels vehemently disagreed and denied. (His email disagreeing and denying this information was also subsequently published.)
But Wittels' displeasure with the piece extended into the weekend, where the rankled young scribe proceeded to bully the anonymous author of the piece on Twitter, once he found out the name of the author. He has since erased those Tweets, but here they are for the purposes of continuity with this story:
From there, in an attempt to defuse a situation which had grown tiresome and scary, the author of the post, Beejoli Shah, decided to show Wittels an email Gawker received Friday night from someone associated with the Parks and Recreation [UPDATE: Those associated closely with Parks and Rec have investigated the email and questioned their staff. They have concluded that it did not come from anyone who works directly with their show. This means it's not any of the main writers, producers, creators, or Amy Poehler. Harris Wittels does not know the individual who wrote it, either, and it's unfortunate that his response suggested that. It is probably just a random lunatic on the internet, as they surmised. — ed.] saying "she deserves to die and all the parks writers will gladly fuck the shit out of her dirty lifeless body" along with many equally appalling sentiments. Shah had appended a note indicating that Wittels might be interested to know what his fans and colleagues were saying on his behalf. Wittels replied:
Reap what you sew [sic] I suppose. Also I hate to edit an editor, but it should be "your fans SEEM really cool" not "seems." Enjoy the rest of your day and stepping on people to climb the ladder. That always ends really well for people. Never comes back to bite them in the ass. You will have a very successful career filled with people who like you
You're a cunt,
The email back-and-forth continued between Harris and Shah for a little longer, and we decided to further advance our story about Greg Daniels, the one Wittels has since made about himself because, hey, a man's livelihood is on the line here. Yesterday, I followed up with Mr. Wittels to give him a chance to respond to some of our follow-up coverage. I asked him about his Twitter outburst and the subsequent cunt-calling in the follow-up emails. He found the initial questions not all that clear but I nailed it on the second go-round, thank heavens, and he did his best to further clarify:
Oh okay well lets see, I guess my intention of calling her a cunt was to call her a cunt (because she is you see) Then when I asked her why she did it, I guess I wanted to know why she did it. It's all pretty self-explanatory. In closing: You are all trash. Your parents are ashamed of your careers and the cocaine-huffing gossip monsters you've become. You pick petty fights for a living. And you feed on people who actually contribute things to society. Please get hit by a bus. And buy the Humblebrag book on Amazon. Cunt cunt can't who gives a shit about any of this cunt cunt, Harris.
We had many more exciting exchanges back-and-forth, most of which were very unproductive and very unbecoming of two grown men. But you get the gist. And I will confess that I only emailed him with the slightest provocation to make him rage-type more horrible things to fill this story about his horribleness. He fucking deserved this attention to detail.
But please do consider buying the Humblebrag book as it is a great way to ensure that Harris Wittels continues to contribute great things to society.
On that note, it is my pleasure to announce that Beejoli Shah will be the new writer behind Defamer because, if anything, she's proven that she's able to endure the sociopathic rantings summoned by both her former and (now) current employers. She will properly introduce herself in the next few minutes.
[Photo via Twitter]