I am over the hot take. You know what I’m talking about: the type of takes that offer a quick and often dirty view of an event, a moment, or a person. They moralize. They require little reporting. And most distressingly, they like to pretend that one’s opinion can stand in for analysis (That’s a tall glass of nope). It is a take so hot that it scorches our brains with its ineptitude and shallowness. In our saturated 24/7 media culture, hot takes dominate. Outlets seek to have the first piece up, and the quickest opinion somehow emerges as the only one necessary. Writers react rather than pause. Provocative opinions prevail. Pundits stake their claims, no matter how cynical, silly, or stupid. Everyone wants to be the first one to say something, anything really, before the news cycle moves on. The story of the moment appears and disappears as all the takes on it.
In the rush and the heat, I fear we all lose. Yes, experts, journalists, and analysts can respond in fast and smart ways. Quick commentary does not equal bad commentary, but it can be. It often is. Hot takes feel sloppy and contrived. (Hot take appears too closely related to one of my favorite descriptors, the hot mess). They lack the information we gain as an event unfolds. They cling to tired narratives of how the world works. They plug stories into well-worn cliches whether the stories belong there or not. They offer judgment, but are often light on facts. They don’t dig deep enough. They don’t question the rush, but feed it. People clamor to have a say, but no one wants to listen. Days later, italicized corrections appear at the bottom of the page. Facts emerge as rumors. Apologies are issued. But, who’s paying attention by then?
Instead, I prefer the cold take, the thoughtful and distanced view. A slower piece built upon context, history, reporting, and analysis. That builds the story however it wants to go. That takes the time to dwell and think. That questions the narratives we prefer and throws them away in the search for new and better ones. That seeks answers that aren’t easy or predictable. That avoids the cut and dried versions of life that make everything seem so simple when it never really is.
I want my takes ice cold. Without easy moralizing. Without opinion pretending to be analysis. Without the frenetic rush. I want takes, weather time. Takes that stand out from the noise of the internet. I need takes that require me slow down to appreciate them and guide me through topics despite their difficulty. I hope for takes that aren’t simply placeholders, but say something important that we must hear. They should show us something we didn’t already know or make us question what we assume is common knowledge. These takes shouldn’t shy away from ambiguity and nuance. Instead, they should reside in both. It might be too much to ask, but I also want them as lovely as they are true.
I prefer cold takes, and I attempt to write them. I hope you’ll read along with me.