Things I Read That I Love #253: Surrendering To The Trash Aesthetic

HELLO and welcome to the 253 installment of Things I Read That I Love, wherein I share with you some of the longer-form journalism/essays I’ve read recently so that you can read them too and we can all know more about Lana Del Ray! This “column” is less feminist/queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is feminist/queer focused, I put it on the rest of the site. Here is where the other things are.

The title of this feature is inspired by the title of Emily Gould’s tumblr, Things I Ate That I Love.


“Cat Person”, by Kristen Roupenian for The New Yorker, December 2017

This is a fiction story! Perhaps you read it, because everybody read it, which blew my mind b/c nobody reads fiction anymore. Except some of them didn’t realize it was fiction! Anyhow, this is a conversation we all had last week, we’ve all moved on now, it’s over. But! If you were into this, I’d like to humbly recommend the short stories of Mary Gaitskill, Maggie Estep and Miranda July.

Late Nights Online, by Helena Fitzgerald for Hazlitt, December 2017

Those days when getting a photo of yourself onto the internet was harder than it is, today, to get a photo of yourself off the internet. When we could all be other people, beautiful and in perfect shape at the absolute peak of our maidenhood, unashamed, anonymous forever, secret and far away.

A Journey Through a Land of Extreme Poverty: Welcome To America, by Ed Pilkington for The Guardian, December 2017

The UN monitor, an independent arbiter of human rights standards across the globe, casts his eye on this cruel place.

Twenty-Two Years After Arizona Sent Barry Jones to Death Row, the State’s Case Has Fallen Apart, by Liliana Segura for The Intercept, October 2017

I keep thinking about this one, for some reason — a man who wasn’t a good man, really, but wasn’t a murderer either, and really didn’t do too well when push came to shove.

The Most Hated Poet in Portland, by Laura Yan for The Outline, November 2017

A self described “woke feminist/writer of color” attempts to understand the vitrol and also its target — a white boy who published a lot of truly insufferable poems.

There isn’t group of people who are more or less susceptible to the tendency to gang up on the internet. “Everyone online falls somewhere on this spectrum,” Aboujaoude told me. Because there are so few filters as to how people express themselves, these impulses to react, to pile on, “surface automatically.” It doesn’t matter if you’re fighting against misogyny or support male pick-up artists: the inclination to speak out works exactly the same way. Some people view this lessening of boundaries — of not having limits on what we say — as liberating. But Aboujaoude thinks it’s dangerous. “If you lose the ability to control…impulses like that, civilization and culture itself has turned,” he said.

Hard Times at Plimoth Plantation, by Michael Hare for The Outline, November 2017

I had Thanksgiving dinner here the year my family lived in Concord, outside Boston. I loved living history. Honestly still do. Always down for a peak behind the curtain.

Annals of Technology: Beauty is Justice, by Jiayang Fan, December 2017

We read a lot about what smartphone technologies and selfie culture are doing in America, it was really interesting to read about how its changing beauty norms and behavior somewhere else, under entirely different circumstances. I listened to this on Audm (which is turning out to be SO buggy that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it yet) while driving through Hollywood at night, which was its own surreal experience.

Teen Girl Posed For 8 Years As Married Man To Write About Baseball And Harass Women, by Lindsey Alder for Deadspin, November 2017

I… have some questions

Female Gaze: Lana Del Rey, I Love Dick, And The Love Witch, by Meaghan Garvey for MTV, May 2017

Biller has that piercing, Eve Babitz–type grasp of the essence of L.A., enamored with its artifice but close enough to see right through it, and her visuals alone can be comic gold: chintzy living room orgies, lunch spreads in sick hues of ham and Jell-O, drippy free-love nudist communes. But the plot is ultimately traumatic: Seeking the liberation the sexual revolution promised, Barbi finds nothing but degradation and abuse. It’s “funny,” I guess, in the way that Hamlet is “funny,” but really it’s closer to tragic.

Millennials Are Screwed, by Michael Hobbes for The Huffington Post, December 2017

Well I will tell you this, my friends: the way this is laid out visually is super interesting and great! What a time to be alive, this era of graphics and animation and fonts and screens and hearts and souls. screams into a pillow

The Reckoning: Women and Power in the Workplace, by so many women for The New York Times Magazine

A collection of art and essays from a diverse array of authors and artists including Jenna Wortham, Jazmine Hughes, Parul Sehgal, Vivian Gornick, Ruth Franklin and Meghan O’Rourke. There’s so much here to take in and think about. Zoe Heller’s piece, in particular, resonated deeply with me, as did Laura Kipnis’.

I’m disappointed that the story has remained focused so squarely on the villainous doings of the metropolitan elites. I was never under any illusion that this was the beginning of the end of the patriarchy, but I had hopes that there would be more of a ripple effect, that we would begin hearing about sexual harassment and abuse in the farm industry, in fast food, in retail, in hotel housekeeping…

[…]

…Instead of moving outward, much of the conversation among women on social media has been taken up with identifying and decrying lesser forms of male misconduct — dirty jokes, unsolicited shoulder massages, compliments on physical appearance. It is inevitable that in the great outpouring of female wrath, minor grievances, as well as major ones, should have emerged. And hostile work environments aren’t built on violent sexual assault alone. Nevertheless, we seem to have wound up spending an inordinate amount of time parsing the injurious effects of low-level lechery on relatively advantaged women.


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Riese is the 35-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2471 articles for us.

7 Comments

  1. i feel excited that i’ve already read so many of these, like i am getting an A in internet reading class or something!

    some thoughts:

    – i loved “cat person” and i’m still talking about it AND the author just got a SEVEN FIGURE BOOK DEAL

    – the piece about AOL Instant Messenger (aka AIM) felt like it was written explicitly for me

    – the most hated poet in portland piece made me feel confused, like i was supposed to have sympathy for him? but mostly he sounds terrible? idk

    – the teen girl poses as married man deadspin piece was…so weird? i don’t know i felt like there must be something not being reported here, like how is this the full story, wtf is going on

    can’t wait to read the rest <3

    • Re: the horrible poet, I really don’t think the author has any intention of making him look like he has actual talent or excusing the way he writes about women, but his story does illustrate the way people on the internet come down on strangers in disturbingly harsh ways.

      Online, people like that guy become abstractions/symbols of straight white male mediocrity etc, and people target them in ways they wouldn’t if they knew them in person. I know a dozen dudes like this, but I would never send them personal messages telling them they are talentless hacks because it’s cruel and accomplishes nothing. His work should be critically panned, but nasty personal messages don’t qualify as critique.

      This shitty poet’s case is a cautionary tale for people who identify as leftist or progressive because we are equally capable of saying vile things to people in the name of righteous politics. People on our ‘sides’ do send threats and bully people, and we ought to remind ourselves from time to time that this isn’t resistance. It’s not as if nasty online attacks become legitimate when wielded by some people and not others.

  2. I didn’t want to feel sorry for mediocre white hipster boy poet, but I kinda do as someone who was as a child regularly picked on as a source of entertainment. That’s not cool to do anybody just for their mediocre art unless they got a major awards and accolades for it like Anish Kapoor or something.

    Totally unrelated yet completely related but have y’all ever heard of William McGonagall?

  3. OHHHHH, this part of the AIM piece:

    “In YA novels about fantasy adventures, stories in which lonely teenagers escape their dull lives into magical realms only they can access, there is always a ritual to getting through the known world back to the unknown—the Pevensie children have to find a wardrobe to get to Narnia, student wizards have to run at a particular piece of brick wall in King’s Cross Station, Will and Lyra have to cut a doorway in the air with a magical knife. The AOL modem start-up noise was, for me and for many people of my generation, the ritual that permitted the crossing from the mundane realm to the fantastical one.”

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