Sweet Jesus, do I ever hate research. I mean I really hate it. I like to do research about as much as the idiots setting United States foreign policy right now, meaning not at all – or occasionally allowing fantastically unqualified, arrogant f*ckwits to do it for me.
It’s just so spirit sapping and boring. More importantly, time spent researching is time that I can’t spend writing hilarious, rumor-based criticism of various countries that rhyme with ‘Pitaly’ and ‘Pomania’.
But I do the research anyway. Why? Because I’m all-man, that’s why. I suck it up, eat two valium and do my duty for the sake of my art. However, this week pre-research has unexpectedly backfired on me, sparking a career-defining moral dilemma.
I’m leaving on Thursday for two weeks on the Micronesian islands of Guam and Saipan. Like the dedicated, vigilant professional that I am, I started researching a few days ago and inadvertently stumbled upon the web site Saipan Sucks, which is an apparently fact-based smear job on Saipan’s people, government and visitors. The vivid and epic pictures painted of greed, ineptitude, corruption, depravity and xenophobia haven’t done any favors for my pre-trip optimism.
I long for the days (last week) when, told of my upcoming trip, people would ask “So what’s Saipan like?” and I could honestly say “I have no f*cking clue”. Now I have to say, “Well, it appears to be a gorgeous, sandy, blue-watered backdrop to greed, ineptitude, corruption, depravity and xenophobia. Good times, eh?”
Fortunately for everyone, I am a clear-headed, open-minded, crack journalist who recognizes that just because someone wrote something on a web site, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily true (unless I wrote it). Still, it’s difficult to be totally impartial in the face of so much bad island juju, where I’ll be trapped like a plump and savory dog for six nights if any of it turns out to be true.
So, having learned this difficult lesson, I wonder if it isn’t in fact my duty to not research destinations before going? Just letting my personal experiences (and the local tourism bureau) guide my writing, without any chance of me being swayed by pesky political and social injustice? Wouldn’t I effectively be ruining my article if I researched anything? Should I never research again and just make stuff up and/or thinly paraphrase marketing copy in order to keep my objective journalistic integrity?
You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. But being damned if you don’t take less effort, so the choice seems clear.
[NOTE TO MY EDITORS: I’m totally kidding. I research stuff when the occasion truly calls for it. Like that ever happens…]