I figured as much.
That's always the risk when you're purposely trying to write self-conscious, 'clever' material. You can get so focused on trying to be 'clever' that you forget to actually write something good. I had same problem when I first started writing lyrics. I was trying so hard to say something wise and original, that it just ended up sounding vapid and meaningless. Not that my lyrics are that great now, but at least they're honest.
Then I guess that leads on to what Gardner was saying in the post you linked. That just because something is popular in the mainstream, it doesn't mean that it can't also be clever and insightful. Even the stuff that is actually garbage has it's value, as Werner Herzog talks about in this interview:
The poet or the filmmaker or the musician must not avert his eyes. We should not be sitting in the library and study it as academic subject... Paul I think you've started watching Wrestlemania... because you must not avert your eyes. This what is coming at us. This is what a collective, anonymous body of majority wants to see on television.
One last related thing is that the writing style of the story in the OP made me think of Infinite Jest at some points. And there's an interesting David Foster Wallace quote that I think acts as a nice accompaniment to Gardner:
It’s like, if you’re used to doing heavy-duty literary stuff that doesn’t sell well, being human animals with egos, we find a way to accommodate that fact by the following equation: If it sells really well and gets a lot of attention, it must be shit. Then, of course, the ultimate irony is: if your thing gets a lot of attention and sells really well, then the very mechanism you’ve used to shore yourself up when your stuff didn’t sell well is now part of the Darkness Nexus when it does, so you’re screwed. You can’t win.
And now here I am sat wondering whether this post I've written is just me trying to sound clever, haha. I'll have a look into Howard the Duck, thanks.