Yesterday in Slate I wrote about the Seinfeld2000 Twitter account and the author’s e-book The Apple Store, recently made available for free on Gawker (following a copyright complaint from Warner Brothers). The book is a surreal look into the mind of an imaginary author, a demented, barely literate, Seinfeld and technology-obsessed, anti-Obama paranoiac. It is a hilarious comic pastiche that lampoons right-wing conspiracists, the pop cultural and technological obsessions of millennials, and many of the flaws in the original Seinfeld show itself, including its sometimes fraught relationship with race.
Slate: What made you decide to start @Seinfeld2000?
Seinfeld2000: Like everybody else I initially followed @SeinfeldToday. I was into it and I followed it for a couple of weeks, and then I just felt myself starting to get a little bit irritated by it.
I think an appropriate analogy would actually be—do you remember the Seinfeld where Jerry is upset because Tim Whatley has converted to Judaism “for the jokes” and then Jerry’s response is that he’s not offended as a Jewish person, but as a comedian? I’m offended by the account as a huge Seinfeld fan.
Slate: How did you choose Lena Dunham to be the only account to follow on Twitter and (spoiler alert) for the character “Gorge” to be obsessed with in the book?
Seinfeld2000: She’s certainly someone who is, again, “ modern.” She’s a very of-the-moment celebrity. She’s popular, and yet also a little obscure, and I think that creates a little bit of mystery. She’s very cool.
She’s following me and I’m blown away that she hasn’t unfollowed me yet. This account, it used to be, and still is sometimes, a bit hyperactive. I think if I was following this account, I would probably unfollow it by now. The idea of Lena Dunham, wherever she is, on the set of Girls or in her brownstone or whatever, going through her newsfeed and seeing Elaine getting diarrhea at the Apple Store, or something like that, is kind of funny to me. Sometimes she favorites. She responded to a direct message once.
Slate: There is a racial critique of the original show that I think you get at with the account, whereby minority characters are either invisible or they’re these ridiculous caricatures. You kind of broach this with the casual racism of Kramer, which is obviously connected to his blow-up a few years ago. But in the book there are also the racially charged “Jamal” scenes (that are very funny). What do you think of the accusations of racial insensitivity against the show, and how does that play into the account?
Seinfeld2000: My favorite tweet—I don’t remember a lot of them, but I remember this one—was where Jerry is dating an Asian woman and I think the line that Jerry said [on the actual show] was, “If I like the race, how can it be racist?” The tweet was Elaine’s [imagined] response: ‘because you’re fetishizing an entire race based on an ethnic stereotype.’ So, if I can make fun of that aspect, I will.
I also find it funny to harp on the Michael Richards incident. That something that happened so long ago can still haunt this guy relentlessly is darkly funny to me.
Slate: The New Republic’s Leon Wieseltier once told Maureen Dowd that Seinfeld was “the worst, last gasp of Reaganite, grasping, materialistic, narcissistic, banal self-absorption.” In that same column, Dowd said that yuppies were “doomed to eternal superficiality.” Your account seems clued into these critiques, especially when you lampoon the show’s product placement and ModernSeinfeld’s “modern gadget” gimmick.
Seinfeld2000: I agree with both of those original academic criticisms of the show. The series clued into that itself, and in the last two seasons—especially in that finale—it really presented its own sort of myopic horrible darkness. The last few dozen episodes were so surreal, and the show’s voice got really twisted. I think they took that [criticism] on.
Slate: How real is Seinfeld2000’s moral indignation, generally?
Seinfeld2000: I have about 10 percent of the indignation that is conveyed through this account. The character is so angry about SeinfeldToday—the idea being that actually ‘I was here first,’ and ‘they copied me,’ but they were better at spelling, and now I feel like I’ve been slighted. That conflict is very funny to me. Also, it creates a binary. You know, there’s Pepsi and then there’s Coke, there’s Energizer and then there’s Duracell. Consumers are conditioned to seek an alternative, and it’s funny to position myself as the anti-SeinfeldToday, even though I don’t really care.
Slate: Do you ever think you’ll reach the popularity of SeinfeldToday?
Seinfeld2000: I don’t think it will ever reach the popularity—you know SeinfeldToday is a monster. It’s gigantic. I think [my account] is not accessible for a great number of people. One thing that people tweet at me fairly often is, ‘this would be great if it was spelled correctly.’ I disagree, I think the misspelling really corresponds with the base, sort of dumbness of some of the concepts. It would seem too polished if it was precise.”
Slate: Why the Obama hatred?
Seinfeld2000: The character that is behind this account, he has a couple of things going on. There’s the whole Seinfeld internal psychodrama, but there’s also this weird conservatism where he’s, for some reason—I don’t know if it’s the result of Obama’s policies, or that sort of Tea Party spirit, or whatever—but this guy is just a little bit ignorant and hates the president. He is so anti-Obama that even in something completely unrelated that sentiment will make it through, to the extent that Obama for some reason is now a Seinfeld character.
Slate: You also insert these funny pearls of supposed wisdom into the book. You say at one point, “forget what Maslow’s ‘heirarchey of needs’ say: some time’s freindship is more important than nutrient’s,” or you’ll quote Nietzsche, or something. How smart is this character?
Seinfeld2000: I thought that if the book is someone’s idea of literature or high culture, then it should contain some of those nuggets of real truth—the raw, pseudo-intellectual truth that books are known for. I like the idea that the author of this book is trying to create something resonant, where people will be taken aback by the profundity of the work, but then two paragraphs later there’s a character using the bathroom for no reason.
Interview has been condensed and edited.