Monday, August 27, 2012


No Epiphanies Whatsoever

Maybe we should talk about Cat Marnell now? Or, maybe not?

What do you think?

177 Comments / Post A Comment


Merrr. Let's not.

Edith Zimmerman

@TheclaAndTheSeals Yeah.


Let's all re-read the "Girls and the Hot Mess" article from The Billfold instead!





@TheclaAndTheSeals Can we just send The New Inquiry off on an iceberg?


Awesome great@k


The only thing less interesting than drug addicts is reading about drug addicts. I just can't with her.

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

read 'xojane' then 'vice' and ejected.


Leave Britney out of this!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Slutface Yeah. My mantra lately has been, "If Britney can survive 2007, I can survive this." She's a badass.

Judith Slutler

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Uh I love you for this.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Emmanuelle Cunt I think I picked it up from a Hairpin comment thread at some point? I can't really remember. But it is apt.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose 2007 was the worst year of my adult life. And the whole time I was like "at least I'm holding it together better than Britney!" (yeah, barely, and also I kind of had to, being a very broke ordinary person). And then in 2008 I pulled things back together and by late fall, when my life finally felt back on track? Circus came out and I love that album to this day because both me & Britney made it through. (Also, I enjoy quite a number of the songs!)


Pretty sure my morning constitutional had more literary merit that the subject of this post, and was far more interesting.


@Emby Are you Cornelius Bear of Achewood fame?


Let's not, I think she's completely sordid and banal.

maybe partying will help

I had never heard of her.

Now I guess I have.


http://catmarnellorgorevidal.tumblr.com/ Sums up my feelings on Ms. Marnell.

Is she a good writer? Debateable. Is it fascinating to watch rich girls destroy themselves for the spectacle of it all? Maybe. But she has to realize her schtick has a shelf life--even the worst car crash, rubber neckers eventually hit accelerate and move on.

I also find her choice in drug use to be...weird, possibly suspect. I mean, who the fuck does angel dust more than a handful of times. It's terrible.


@parallel-lines Has anyone else noticed she also defines herself by two things (which are mentioned in just about every single article):

1. she was a beauty editor at Lucky. She never really says how or why she left, but it's obviously a point of pride for her and I'm guessing something happened at that job that makes her cling so furiously to it (unlike her other jobs)

2. Her dad is a psychologist, and he put her on drugs as a teen so she never really had a chance

I feel like every article is just a repetition of those two points: designer bag, I do drugs, Lanvin shoes, my dad made me do drugs, self tanner, I used to work at Lucky, semi famous downtown scenesters, I still take drugs because of my dad. Rinse, lather, repeat repeat repeat.

Cat or Gore Vidal?@twitter

@parallel-lines Thanks for the plug, homeslizzle. I have a love hate relationship with Cat. On the one hand, I love everything about her, and on the other hand, I hate how much I love her

Lila Fowler

The only thing I think of when I think of Jane Pratt is this. Daria's description of "edgy" perfectly described Jane then and perfectly describes xojane now.

Cat or Gore Vidal?@twitter

@Lila Fowler yeeaahh that's what I assumed as well, until I read the recent nymag profile on her. Jane Pratt is a kooky chick, but I don't doubt her sincerity at all. I think Cat thrived in a permissive environment, but I don't think Jane promoted Cat's illness. It was just an accidental recipe for the escalation of addiction.

Here it is. I really like her after having read it. http://nymag.com/thecut/2012/08/happened-to-jane-pratt.html

sarah girl

This article is... really something.


@Sarah H. It's the weirdest mixture of Britney Spears lyrics and insane pomo logic (" Marnell sometimes seems like the example – perhaps even too much the example – of what happens when capitalism catches up with you."
"Marnell’s “unthinkable jouissance” is just that—an explosive pleasure so seemingly destructive that many of us would rather not contemplate it. Her pleasure threatens the logic of reproductive futurism by exposing how meaningless life could get. ")

It's absurd maundering with no point! There was seriously *no point at all* to that article.


@wealhtheow jouissance! JOUISSANCE! Sinthomosexuality! I have not had enough coffee for this.

Also: "Without an acceptable body, it becomes harder to glamorize illness." NO SHIT SHERLOCK


@Sarah H. - aiiiiiiiiieeeee, I know! I read that and then I felt my brain dribble gently out of my left ear. Does anyone have a napkin?


@Sarah H. Yes. I am confident enough in my own faculties to say that the fact that I had to plow through each paragraph with a snow shovel, and then eventually throw my hands up and close tab without actually understanding what was said is entirely the author's fault. Yeesh.

Oh, and also? What the heck is the author asserting with this quote: "What is sex without procreation but the assertion of no future?"?

No. Just...no. Stop.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@wee_ramekin Yeah, that's teetering between ignorance and offensive to a lot of folks.

Faintly Macabre

@wee_ramekin I stopped here:
"Other writers made similar distancing gestures, eschewing complicity in Marnell’s narrative by excusing its prurience through lauding its aesthetics."

I could figure out what this sentence is supposed to mean if I tried really hard, but it (and the rest of the article) is so poorly written that I don't even want to bother.

(Also, using two versions of the word "by" does not hide the stylistic error!)


@wee_ramekin I think Hu is paraphrasing queer theorist Lee Edelman, who writes about the trope of the bachelor/homosexual (think Scrooge) as an emblem of Freud's death drive because he refuses to procreate, and thus his pleasure is not future-oriented. Whether his argument is applicable to Marnell's persona, however, is another story...


@LooseBaggyMonster Hmmm. I defer to your greater knowledge on the subject, since I am not at all familiar with Edelman. I do think it's a little esoteric for a piece about a drug-addicted blogger.

Since drawing the parallel seems to require familiarity with a queer theorist that many (most?) people don't know, I think it was misguided at best, purposefully alienating at worst. Taken on it's own without the context of Edelman's work, that sentence is incredibly pretentious.


@wee_ramekin Well, to be fair, Edelman is quoted/referenced pretty often in the piece, so I guess the reference is there? I have been tempted to say less charitable things about this piece. (It took me a while to dig through that section though...flashbacks to my least favorite college philosophy class. Jouissance!) But as a lesbian who finds queer theory only slightly more interesting than navel-gazing about addiction, i.e. not at all, I found it really off-putting, like maybe don't quote other people's theories of oppression for some rich straight douchebag who just really likes cocaine.

Any time you're tempted to say, "Replace the word homosexuality with [this other word]," it's probably best to just not finish that thought.


@wee_ramekin I didn't think people took evangelical day school that seriously, tbh.


I find her oddly fascinating...but I can't really explain why, & obviously I have a certain amount of guilt for being part of the rubbernecking crowd that (by virtue of our interest) can arguably be accused of enabling her trademark self-destructive behavior. I'm not sure there's really anything more to say about her than that (other than, "I don't care," which is also perfectly legitimate).

but I'm glad I read this most recent analysis of the Cat Marnell phenomenon (for lack of a better term), since it went a lot deeper than the other responses I've seen.


I'm going to out myself and say I'm fascinated by it. I don't know that I love her writing, but it's better than most contemporary "fuck-up" writing.

There's something - especially for people with self-destructive impulses - that makes it incredible to see people willing to light their own world ablaze. I know it's immature and stupid, but there is this amazing freedom in just willful, endless destruction of your self, infinite surrender to id - it really is freedom, in a horrible sense of the word, when it is going well.

And then it ends in addiction, which is probably the most severe violation of freedom the average person will ever encounter. In some ways it seems to me (I'm guessing, never having experienced both, but having seen firsthand others go through them) like it might be a greater deprivation of freedom than prison - addiction is takes your mind hostage, not your time.

I dunno. I went through the whole canon of self-destructive lit as a 15-22 year old, and I thought I moved past it. But reading Cat Marnell - it's the first time I've really been interested in Vice (other than their travel bits, which are amazing) since like, the first year or so of this millennium. It's a tired old narrative, but probably only the 2nd time (I'm counting Ann Marlowe's pretty solid book on junk-addiction, but that's set in a slightly order NY than I know) to see a woman not terribly far removed from worlds/circles I know go down the spiral.

Cat named Virtute

@leon As someone who watched a good friend circle around the party/addiction drain for more than a year, let me tell you, there is very little freedom in it. Maybe in the beginning, when you're young and don't know better, or depressed and don't/won't know better, but that quickly ceases to be the case, and feeds, I think, into the glamourization of this kind of attitude and life that leads more naive people to it.


@leon s I agree with @Cat named Virtute, it's not freedom, it's extreme dependence. She's stuck in a toddler mentality, selfishly indulging every mood and desire, while others clean up after and care for her, because she's entertaining and attractive.


@leon s I'm with you on this one. For me, she does a good job of describing really, terribly awful sexual encounters. They're so sad you cringe, but there's just something to it that made me go, "Yup. Been there."


@leon s I'll admit I'm also completely, utterly fascinated. I'm not proud of reading every word written by her or about her, but I absolutely read every word by her or about her, openmouthed and bug-eyed. I do think that she IS a good writer, in spite of her issues, and I think her sense of humor is startlingly good - when she's not wallowing too deeply into the poor-little-rich-girl routine, some of the lines she comes up with can make me laugh out loud. I'm also wondering if she might spontaneously combust at midnight on her 30th birthday.


I was thinking about that Amy Poehler quote "I'm over this weird exhausted girl, I like bossy girls, who are filled with life". Because I get it, she's pretty and fucked up. Next!


I've never heard of her before, but wasn't there someone very similar to this about five years ago? A young Manhattan party girl, landed a book deal, people loved to watch her self-destruct. Wish I could remember her name... imagine Marnell will be similarly forgotten a few years from now.

Creamy Goodness

@mainesqueeze Could it be Elizabeth Wurtzel you're thinking of?

Brian Van Nieuwenhoven@facebook

@mainesqueeze Or Abigail Vona.

Or any of 5,000 qualifying female writers in their 20's

Creamy Goodness

@Brian Van Nieuwenhoven@facebook I'm old, so that was the one that came to mind :/


@Creamy Goodness That was more than five years ago and, say what you will and blame the whole confessional genre on her, but she can write.


@Brian Van Nieuwenhoven@facebook It must have been her I was thinking of - but you are right that there are a lot of similar stories out there.

Creamy Goodness

@elsbels Not understanding your hostility or need to score points off me, but I hope it helped you get through your day. Cheers!


If I wanted to hear about the life of a narcissistic addict, I would still talk to my old roommate.


@RosemaryF I feel bad for anyone who has to work with her.


@parallel-lines Apparently, somewhere in the anals of the interwebs, I read that Emily McCombs (editor on XoJane) wrote and incredible take down of Cat, about how horrid she was in the office, how her pounds and pounds of foundation were so insane, even how (terrible) she smelled. I guess it was "too mean" to publish, but some of the XoJane staff read it but - for as much glorifying of drugs as Cat is doing, that piece should probably be published right along side Cat's worst/best.

Vera Knoop

@Olivia2.0 I always wondered what it must be like for Emily, who has dealt with all kinds of addiction and really owns her shit, to work with someone like Cat. I worry that now that Cat's gone, pressure will be brought to bear on Emily to be The Publicly Fucked-Up One.


@RosemaryF Yeah, the alternating between "I'm a sad drug addict who is lonely and sad" and her tendency to leap into the comments of her articles to defend her behavior by saying "At least I'm not boring like you!" is a pretty run-of-the-mill addict thing.

And even though every addict is extremely similar in so many ways, each one loves to think he or she is totally unique. Her experience isn't actually that unique or special or different (except maybe the not having to worry about working thing, which is much less common), she's just writing it down.


@Vera Knoop
I'm always flummoxed by assertions that Cat is a good writer, and that she writes about addiction in a "real" way, and I wondered how Emily might feel about those assertions. Emily is actually an incredible writer, who writes about addiction and disordered eating in a much realer way, and frequently moves me when I read her. I kind of hate XOJane a lot, but I check in because I just want to keep reading Emily, and if she publishes a book, I will buy it so fast.

Vera Knoop

@teebs Yes, exactly this. Honestly, it's how I feel about XOJane in microcosm. Emily is not the only writer I really admire on the site, but Cat was not the only one I really... don't admire.


@HeyThatsMyBike "And even though every addict is extremely similar in so many ways, each one loves to think he or she is totally unique. Her experience isn't actually that unique or special or different (except maybe the not having to worry about working thing, which is much less common), she's just writing it down."

Honestly, reading Cat Marnell is like reading my old journals. It's boring. And all the has is the drugalogue. There's nothing redeeming, no introspection, nothing about how she got out of her addiction, etc.

Emily, now. Emily is amazing and I would read anything she wrote.

Cat or Gore Vidal?@twitter

"McCombs told me that it was Marnell's idea. "When Cat's New York magazine feature came out, she suggested that we might want to capitalize on its traffic by having a staff member write a 'brutally honest' article about what it's like to work with an addict. In response to that request, I wrote a draft that was more explicitly about Cat and the difficulties of working with her when she was using. She was hurt when she read it and so we didn't run it."

"I read some of the unpublished piece. It was nasty—shockingly so. An entire paragraph was dedicated to describing, in great detail, Marnell's physical unattractiveness and smeared makeup. It was undoubtedly mortifying for a beauty editor to read.

"McCombs reworked it, made it less about Marnell and published it. "I didn't ask her permission to run the 'Dealing with Active Addicts' piece, but she didn't ask my permission to write about events in the office either."



@EternalFootwoman Exactly! If you've lived with or been an addict, her writing provides absolutely no new insights. At least in my opinion.

Faintly Macabre

@Cat or Gore Vidal?@twitter I just read the thing Cat wrote about Emily before that ("Dealing with the Office Bitch") and a. daaaaaaamnnnn, b. people are getting paid to behave and write like this? Clearly I need to go back to kindergarten, because apparently that's where all the recruiters are.


It's interesting until it isn't, and then all she's left with is herself.


I feel about Cat Marnell the way I feel about Girls... both Internet famous to a very specific, small audience that makes me feel like a New York asshole when I bring them up to anyone outside of it and they say, "what?"


@Megoon I'm really interested in what you said, Megoon, because reading this piece made me think immediately of Girls. I just saw it for the first time this weekend and find it hard to watch. As someone who has never lived in NYC, do these characters reflect reality? Or is it just, like, NYC porn (glamour, drugs, very thin women)?

Vera Knoop

I grew up in NYC and still live here.
They reflect one reality, but in my experience, it's one that has to be sought out and carefully maintained with lots of money and free time. There are a lot of more interesting realities here, though.


@lagreen I find small, specific parts of the show very realistic and funny, but I don't watch it and go "yes! That totally happened to me; that's so right!" It's weird watching a show about ladies in New York that is so unaspirational. Like, if Hannah were my friend, I would feel bad for her.

I think it's a weird little show that'll get a lot better in season two... I don't know. I think it seems like a show that, in the olden days, would have attracted a small audience of hardcore fans and slowly grown more accessible to a wider audience. I don't think the Internet hype did it any favors. But I guess what I meant from my original comment is that a TINY percentage of TV watchers paid any attention to the Internet hype/backlash/backlash to backlash. When I talked to my sister about it, she was just like, "Hype? Backlash? I just randomly watched it on HBO Go; I'd never heard of it before then." Kind of the same thing with Cat Marnell... she's internet famous, but I'm not going to talk about her with anyone outside the NYC media world.

Anna Jayne@twitter

@Megoon "Like, if Hannah were my friend, I would feel bad for her." - exactly. Once I decided it was okay for me to hate all the characters, I started liking the show a lot more. I think those girls exist in the real world too, they just aren't the people I would want to hang out with.


@Megoon Yeah, I was confused by a lot of the criticism of Girls because from the beginning I was watching it as a show about awful people who you were supposed to mostly hate (except Shoshanna, I have a weird amount of affection for her).


@Megoon I am as much baffled by the critical acclaim "Girls" has received as I am about the adulation heaped on the oeuvre of Joyce Carol Oates. That said, I think someone who likes one will like t'other. Something something hurting women masochist subtext something.


@Megoon HBO Go is great. I watched all of Girls season 1 this weekend, mostly while lazy-hungover. The sign-in/password to HBO Go is one of the few things given to me by parents these days which is a fraction of what bugs me about the characters and is addressed in that show. Also the "hurting women masochist subtext", D.@twitter said it. I found the show pretty damn funny though. Also, the Venture Capitalist dude is the worst!


@D.@twitter I've always been annoyed and mystified by Joyce Carol Oates's acclaim, but I thought Girls was pretty funny.


@darklingplain Yeah, I was always under the impression that no one on Girls is supposed to be aspirational in any way. I kind of think of it as a less played-for-laughs, Brooklyn Hipster Trust Fund version of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.


@darklingplain I like Shoshanna too! I think she's kind of the most realistic? I have totally met Shoshanna.

@cosmia The Sunny comparison is spot on.


Never read her stuff before, though I really do hope that she is actually getting help for her problems, rather than not because it would mean she doesn't have a job anymore. Like, it's good that we can be more forthcoming about drug addiction and mental illness now, but if that becomes your whole life and so you don't make any effort to get help, that is majorly, majorly fucked up and wrong.

Vera Knoop

@Megano! If it helps (?), she's got a trust fund and doesn't seem to actually *need* to work. Not sure how that changes the equation, but it seems like an important data point.


jesus, cat marnell is a little bit boring and a large bit not very good, but this quote, THIS QUOTE: Hundreds of thousands of young girls are reading this and using it as the basis for what they see as cool.

WHAT TWADDLE, WHAT INSOLENT POPPYCOCK. All over the nation there are naive little dipshits learning to worship Charles Bukowski and William Burroughs and and and who even do young boys like, I don't know, BUT THEY HAVE TESTICLES so they are not naive, dumb herds of livestock who must be guarded and shielded and given "ROLE MODELS" -- the girdles of the mind, the Spanx of the spirit. Fuck all this, teenage girls aren't that dumb and they aren't our possessions and they can read about drug takin' and sex havin' all they want and it is fine. IT IS FINE.


@queenofbithynia I have equal derision for teenage girls who are enamoured of Marnell and teenage boys who worship Kerouac.


@Decca But also, terrible taste is an important developmental stage! I do think if you're going to love things that are bad, which everybody should do in order to develop generosity of the soul, it is best to do it when you are 14. if you wait too long after that, self-awareness will prevent you and then you will never fully flourish as a person.

I am proud to say I hated Kerouac even as a teenager, although I read him determinedly for a little while because I was sure there was some secret knowledge in there somewhere for me. (there was not.) but I learned all about cocaine and serial killing from Bret Easton Ellis back then and it didn't hurt me any.

(or did it)


@queenofbithynia Oh, absolutely. And while I never thrilled to Kerouac myself, I had plenty of pop-culture blind spots as a teenager. But I can still feel that derision!

"which everybody should do in order to develop generosity of the soul" I love this.


@queenofbithynia "I do think if you're going to love things that are bad, which everybody should do in order to develop generosity of the soul, it is best to do it when you are 14." Well now I feel a lot better about reading every single Xanth novel my freshman year of HS.


Question: when I was about fifteen everyone I knew was reading Kerouac and banging on and on about it and I thought it looked boring so I didn't. The other day I finally tried reading On the Road and got about a third of the way through before deciding that life's too short and giving up with boredom. Am I missing something??!?

maybe partying will help


I know that feel, bro.


@timesnewroman NOPE.

and I mean, just to be clear that this is not ladies dismissing a classic boy book or some shit like that, I liked Catcher in the Rye a great deal and still do, even though everybody but everybody seems to have nothing but inexplicable scorn for it nowadays.

any 15-year-olds I get to know, I'll tell them to carry around some Genet or something if they want to look cool. You leave that Kerouac where you found him, kids!


@alannaofdoom One of my friends is reading the Last Herald-Mage trilogy right now, and I am having SUCH painful nostalgic flashbacks. So bad! So much like candy coated crack for my thirteen-year-old brain!

H.E. Ladypants

@queenofbithynia But here is the thing about Burroughs and Kerouac! They were all very talented writers! They were all actually artistic men who cared deeply about literature, were very well-read and had very distinct goals about what they were trying to do on the page. I mean, you can like it or dislike it but it still stands up as literary work that you pick apart, praise, or criticize. So I'm really hesitant to compare watching a public meltdown as being the same the same thing. Even if you hate Kerouac's writing, you can't deny that there's more to it than just his alcoholism. There are discussions of Buddhism, faith, class, America's image of itself, and loneliness, as well as deliberate experimentation with language. Which to me is sort of the big difference.


@anachronistique AHhhh Vanyel (and Mercedes Lackey in general) satisfied that idtastic, no-one-understands-me-but-soon-I'll-show-them-all portion of my teenaged brain so, so well. I still have that series and break it out sometimes for funsies.


@H.E. Ladypants Certainly, I'm not trying to equate the output of Marnell, Kerouac and Burroughs just because I don't care for the first two and have a slowly diminishing interest in the third.

But I don't think art vs. memoir vs. journalism vs. Internet flurging has any much bearing on whether a thing is treated a "role model" for girls -- girls are as likely to slow down to look at a gruesome car accident as anybody, they're not more likely to want to get in one because it's a pretty girl with the broken neck, they're not imprintable ducks any more than other people are -- but rather, anything read with attention by girls is assumed to be read for the purposes of humorless and obsessive mimicry, and anything written by women is evaluated on the basis of whether it would be healthy to emulate either the actions depicted or the real-life behavior of the author. I think that garbage standard is applied with no attention to the quality and kind of her creation. I do think that if "Cat Marnell" were a fictional creation by a bona fide artist, there would still be a lot of hand-wringing, about the need to steer and mold girls in a healthier direction, just so long as the artist was a woman and her fans were girls.

(see: the continuing obsession with Twilight and the gall of teenage girls to engage in sexual fantasies that are not pre-approved by their parents. But I am not saying that is Kerouac-level artistry either



@queenofbithynia Yeah, I don't know. I see your point but I think the cultural permission women have to be only pretty is a factor in the danger here.


@queenofbithynia Hating Catcher in the Rye feels almost as necessary to keep up with the cool people and such (First world problems, amirite!?) as hating Twilight. Man, that book was so good when I was 14 and lost and that's how I will remember it.


@queenofbithynia I don't know dude, any young boy enamored with the Beats must be part of some dumb herd of livestock.

*e @Decca noooo the words from my mind, you took them

H.E. Ladypants

@Danzig! Good to know I spent my teenage years being gender confused livestock.


@H.E. Ladypants I was being flippant! Flippant! I'm sorry, I've been really mean today

Tragically Ludicrous

In the (not contextually similar) words of the Pet Shop Boys, do I have to?


@Tragically Ludicrous also, What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve [reading] this [drivel]?


Marnell. Power. Stevens. Deeley. Are all famous Cats messed up?


@Decca Mr Mistoffelees would like a word with you.


@Decca What is messed up about Cat Deeley? She seems pretty fun and together. Or are there dark secrets hiding behind those wacky SYTYCD dresses?


@Bittersweet Oh, that was a joke. I love Cat Deeley!

But as a Cat(herine) myself, I fear for my soul.


@Exene sorry can't speak now, gone to the Heaviside layer


@Decca Phew, I was afraid my mythical friendship with her would be torpedoed by severe assholishness or a secret addiction to beta blockers.

raised amongst catalogs

@Decca Oh, relief! I was wondering what I didn't know about Cat Deeley and hoped it wouldn't make me not love her. Fact: took a photo of Cat Deeley to my last haircut to guide my stylist and came out not having Cat Deeley hair at ALL.

Faintly Macabre

@Bittersweet I would be so sad if Cat Deeley turned out to be evil. I want to go dress shopping with her! (Or really watch her go dress shopping, which I imagine is just her merrily saying, "WOW! What a beautiful dress! I'll take it!" at every dress or shirt she sees.)


@Faintly Macabre Wait, what's wrong with Cat Power? ...I almost don't want to know. 0_o

Porn Peddler

Let's not ever. Let's not devote this kind of time to tragic white girls without talking at length about how it is a privilege for her to be seen as fascinating and beautiful and tragic.

Cat named Virtute

@Porn Peddler Bingo. Well said.


@Porn Peddler Agree to a certain extent re: privilege. We spend a lot of time and energy on Cat Marnell because she's beautiful/skinny/white/rich and there's a sortof sick fascination with watching someone for whom life could be so easy screw it all up. But let's not forget that addiction is a real-live mental illness, right? Which doesn't stop for privilege.

Porn Peddler

@Penny Completely agree! She may be brimming with privilege but I think in a big way, that privilege encourages and enables her addictions. Which is fucked up and also fuels the narrative of Cat Marnell as the Bruised White Lily rather than, you know, Cat Marnell has an illness that rules her life.

Porn Peddler

And also, that comment, I think, came out wrong, somehow. Cat Marnell has written a lot of amazing shit about addiction! She's not brainless because she's an addict. She's in fact really smart a lot of the time. IT'S THE FUCKING REACTION TO HER THAT I CAN'T STAND.

Citizen Cunt

Maybe if we don't pay attention to her she'll go away.


Now's as good a time as any for this emoticon:


Vera Knoop

@TheBourneApproximation t(*_*t)


@Vera Knoop

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻


Just like "Call Me Maybe," I hadn't heard of this until now, and have a feeling if I can hold out a couple more months I'll never need to.

Both crises of modernity averted through the clever use of BOOKS!

Vera Knoop

@pharmakeus I love this, and by extension you, so much.


@Vera Knoop Awww, thank you (now back to said books. life is hard)!


When I read that Marnell article about hating The Pill and only using Plan B as birth control (uhhh.. wha?) I didn't know she was addicted to drugs. On one hand, that makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, WTF xoJane? Doesn't it seem like an obviously bad idea to publish what is basically another addiction story in the Health section of your website?

social theory

@muddgirl i just want to know who made the executive decision to let her be the health & beauty editor/columnist or whatever. i can't even.


@muddgirl I'm still recovering from reading some extended comments discussion over there with girls who relied successfully on withdrawal as a birth control method telling other girls it's actually really hard to get pregnant, you don't necessarily actually need birth control AGGGGGHHHHHHH.


@social theory I thought it was hilariously ironic, in the truest definition of the word.



Also, can everybody PLEASE PLEASE stop doing the "XYZ is my spirit animal" thing. Jesus.


Well, not everybody. You know who I mean. I am too tired for this.

maybe partying will help


Seriously. Use "Patronus" or something, it's not that hard.


@maybe partying will help Cat Marnell would make the worst Patronus.

"I woke up when I was coming out of a wand and I was silver, bright spray paint silver, which I did not like because oh my god where did my fake tan go you guys? There was a dementor with eyes as vacant as Lindsay Lohan's that time I saw her in the bathroom at Schiller's before an epic coke binge, but I was really tired from not eating and so I was like whatever and now you're dead, sorry."

maybe partying will help


Seems like if she materialized at all, it would be in a poof of angel dust.

(I still have no idea what angel dust is, I must have missed that lecture in DARE)

Nicole Cliffe

Is it PCP? Do people still do that? #toomuchpbsmysteryinhighschool


@Nicole Cliffe

There is literally one thing that comes to mind when people talk about PCP, and it's the episode of CSI where the football player and the cheerleaders get high on angel dust and he eats the cheerleader's stomach while she's still alive and they figure it out when he contracts e.coli from the bad burger she'd eaten earlier in the day.

So when people talk about Cat Marnell "glamorizing" the addict lifestyle, I'm just waiting for the day they find her having an allergic reaction to the peanuts she just ate out of a coke fiend's lower intestine. So beautiful and tragic.

Vera Knoop

@maybe partying will help
Angel Dust is PCP. Bad, bad shit.

maybe partying will help

@Vera Knoop

I used to have this super-80s pamphlet about the horrors of drugs. I wish I still did, it was hilarious (and had all sorts of outdated slang in it). ALSO it had a guide to recognizing Satanic cults!

Anna Jayne@twitter

@Vera Knoop this is what I think of when I think of angel dust. It's Helen Hunt!!

Vera Knoop

@maybe partying will help "I'm not a chicken. You're a turkey!"


@Anna Jayne@twitter Me too! And yet also "Angel Dust" by Gil Scott-Heron: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWitRABYVBk

Cat or Gore Vidal?@twitter

@frigwiggin Gore Vidal is my power animal


@frigwiggin Melis is my animorph


This is the first I've heard of her, so I read some of her stuff. Some of them are not so great. But there's some really good little nuggets hidden in there, stuff that actually resonated with me. As someone who's never done anything but drink and smoke, I was surprised at how well she was able to convey that... bleakness. In a way that was depressing, sure. But really honest. I think she knows how to write but I feel bad for her that this is her shtick, and she's gonna be stuck with it.

Johnny Occupy Lemuria@facebook

I can't help but think that this entire hand-wringing concern machine would disappear if we were discussing Hunter S Thompson.

H.E. Ladypants

@Johnny Occupy Lemuria@facebook I think the difference is that underneath all the eccentricity and drugs, Hunter S. Thompson was actually a pretty brilliant journalist. If she'd written something akin to Hell's Angels first, perhaps it would be a different story.

ETA: Which is not to say that eccentricity on Thompson's scale would be tolerated in a female journalist. Just to say I don't see Cat Marnell making poignant observations about presidential campaign coverage any time soon.

Cat or Gore Vidal?@twitter

@H.E. Ladypants Hunter S. Thompson lived during a much more politically-involved time. Withholding judgment of Cat, she is a spot-on representation of our shallow and pleasure-obsessed, social-media oversatured et. al. culture. I think the controversy starts because so many people have responded to her positively (might have something to do with the fact that amphetamines are being prescribed at an all-time high) and the rest of the gatekeepers are kind of bewildered as to why. Honestly, I haven't seen this much projection onto a public figure since Kurt Cobain. Cat's a mini-Nirvana, dealing with her own angst and shit, in her own creative ways.

The only similarity between Cat's writing and Lena Dunham's "Girls", both of which I initially hated, is that, once the backlash against them hit full-force, made me reconsider them each as legitimate forms of entertainment.


Every one of these that comes out is written in a tone that makes me think she recently died of an overdose or something and I'm supposed to bring that knowledge to this obviously justified grim sounding overview of her writing. After a few paragraphs, when surely a more specific reference would have shown up if anything had actually happened, I realize the author is just another person having a crisis of self-image because they're interested in Cat Marnell. And I close the tab.


@themmases Crisis of self image, or, they/their publication has not yet generated enough Cat Marnell-related click traffic so they are taking one for the team.


@themmases That article made me un-regret the recent absence of Continental philosophy in my life.


@themmases This is exactly the process I experienced when reading this article.

Judith Slutler

@themmases hahahahaha exactly. Even the title "maybe we should talk about Cat Marnell now" made me think that!


Gold stars to every one of y'all, because the comments here are a) more intelligent, b) more clearly written, and c) more entertaining than both the original article and anything I've read by Cat Marnell. I haven't even finished my first cup of coffee but I'm already feeling smarter just for having read all these comments!


Except that there probably will be an epiphany, along with a reckoning, a marriage to someone rich and stable, a baby and a book deal.


I think this whole shtick is gonna be through with her before she's through with it, and that is never a pretty way to end things.


I remain totally flummoxed by Smart People of the Internet's protracted quest to make of Cat Marnell anything more than a slightly-more-verbally-adept Lindsay Lohan.
There is very little about Marnell that intrigues beyond the cursory gawking-value that a skinny lady on a tightrope above a shark tank inspires. At best her writing is marginally competent, at worst it's the kind of maundering blather that you'd expect from someone who is pushing 30 and still claims a fascination with Althea Leasure.

There's hardly anything novel or compelling about someone who can afford-personally and financially-to burn their whole lives down for attention and shock value. Maybe the journalists who profess to a jealous fascination with Marnell are perhaps trying to convince us of their own edginess-by-proxy, asserting that they are able to self-identify with the kinds of "I was so fucked up" war stories that are most at home in the creative-nonfiction homework of art school freshmen.

Try as I may, I can see no literary value in her writing beyond the ability to allow someone like this to vicariously experience the reckless thrills her sensible responsibility has forced her to forsake. This, in itself, is harmless. There is nothing wrong with occasionally devouring confessional garbage-writing, just as there is nothing wrong with occasionally devouring a McRib, or two seasons of "Teen Mom" back to back when you have your period and it's raining. But in the interest of trying to have a civilization here, let's call things by their right names and stop insisting that every culturally sophisticated rich kid armed with equal parts pharmaceutical and fashion references who thwacks away at her laptop for a few hours between rehab stints is some kind of literary oracle, even if "only on the internet".


@AshFrieds@twitter THIS! THIS EXACTLY! *Applauds*

social theory

@AshFrieds@twitter fwiw, i think i actually prefer lindsay lohan to marnell.

Miss Violet

@AshFrieds@twitter AMEN and thank you for writing this. I love a good addiction memoir but this whole "Untalented rich drug addict hates self, loves fashion - news at 11" thing is ridiculous. I'm mad at myself that I've now given this more thought than it deserves.

And the article that is linked to above is the kind of ludicrous pomo twaddle that was everywhere in the early 90s. I didn't realize people were still writing shit like that. I'm so glad I no longer travel in "academic" circles!

Faintly Macabre

@AshFrieds@twitter Beautifully put.


@social theory At least Lohan used to be a good actress. Marnell's writing is unreadable to me.


@socialtheory Me, too.

Vera Knoop

But seriously, WTF did I just read?


@Vera Knoop Ugh, seriously. I have no particular opinion on Cat Marnell, but that article was ridiculous.

"What is sex without procreation but the assertion of no future? What is smoking crack but the desire to inhabit a space of postponement, as though nihilism were something one could dip into, and then slip out of again?" Really?


@darklingplain Yeah, I don't have sex to procreate and I don't feel like I'm making a particularly nihilistic statement or anything? I wanted to be kind of offended by that random homosexuality bit, but it didn't even make enough sense to bother me.


@Mira I'm having a hard time seeing how my having sex without wanting to procreate is nihilistic instead of just really, really fun.


@Vera Knoop Just wanted to say: I wrote that piece carefully...and didn't want non-procreative sex to be so easily lumped into the one on crack + nihilism, which I still stand by. I also stand by the idea that protected sex is a rejection of procreation and y'know the future child. That said: yes yes, fun sex for all!


@JaneHu Sure, protected sex is a rejection of procreation--but how did you get from there to a rejection of the future? If someone doesn't want a baby with every person they sleep with, every time they sleep with them, that has *nothing at all* to do with their views on the future, or the meaningfullness (or lack thereof) of life.

Judith Slutler

@JaneHu But "No Future" was about homosexuality and transposing stuff about a heterosexual (?) lady into it, idgi, seems a little arbitrary


@Emmanuelle Cunt I don't think so at all considering Edelman is posing a position that any and everyone could get with. As another smart Hairpin reader warns me: "and I'm not even getting into how I felt as a gay woman reading that comment on sex without procreation." But apologies, sincerely, for being offensive and appearing insensitive. I didn't mean to be so reckless with my theory, but it looks like I failed at that. Also, as a heterosexual woman, I can vibe with a lot of what Edelman proposes in that book, but I understand if that doesn't apply to all straight people. I'll try harder, or less hard, next time.


@Vera Knoop It was explained to me once that TNI is, like Grantland and n+1 before it, more or less a clearinghouse for post-grad writers who didn't have the talent or connections to get published in good journals. So we get contemplative pieces on Cat Marnell's relationship to capitalism, or fiery pieces on how the "It Gets Better" campaign is a tool of violence against queer youth because it does not incite them to violence against violence. And between those, overlong satire pieces.

Maybe it's just a function of the way the internet has annihilated public commentary. I don't know.


@Danzig! I'm not party of the academy! I say moratorium on "pomo"! I'm not a grad student! Sorry sorry sorry!

Oh, squiggles

If I say no, does that count as talking about her?


I tried reading her stuff awhile ago when the whole "getting fired at xojane" debacle happened, and it was...pretty boring? Nothing went anywhere and I couldn't figure out what the point of describing how you were so fucked on drugs you never washed your hair was the entirety of what was supposed to be a hair product review post. I mean, I guess it could work as a memoir, but her writing has no style or substance so I didn't even care anyway.


@cosmia Yeah, I read a few of her articles around that time and I just...don't care. I mean: go to rehab, get a job, be an adult. Or don't. You're an addict, it's boring and gross, it's the opposite of interesting, you're exactly like every other addict in the history of mind-altering substances, next.

Who would even want to read a memoir about that? I've known addicts and they're exhausting. That's about it.

Kaitlyn Kochany@twitter

I spent most of the month reading about Cat Marnell: Girl Avatar and trying to figure out how much I believe in the whole Marnell machine. Her writing is trashy fun - if this was a fictional character, I would be intrigued but ultimately unsatisfied - but because she's a "real girl" we're supposed to have big frowny concern faces about what she means about mental health, beauty standards, being a woman, drug use and internet fame?



Dorothy Parker. Hunter Thompson.
What I find interesting is her honesty about NOT being in recovery. About NOT trying to get "better." That's the part that's literary and even helpful in my eyes. She has some interesting observations to make about addiction in women and addicted women in society.


@professorsnootypants I totally agree. There's something about the feeling of being caught up in the centre of it all, with no view to getting out, that I find so fascinating. It's a perspective on addiction that we rarely see, or maybe we too often look away because it's so damn ugly.


I love how many comments (to which I'm adding mine!) have been generated by people saying they don't want to talk about someone.


I do not understand why people like her writing. There is better writing on this site any day of the week, between the articles and the comments.


You hairpin gal's turned me onto xojane a year ago, and I've been a huge fan, reader, and supporter ever since. I enjoyed reading Cat's writing and considered her points of view on make-up (and even tried to implement them into my own routine, but seriously I am never taking anyone's make-up advice ever again aside from my mother's and Jane Marie's. for real.) but her shit took a wild turn at some point, and that turn was somehow missed. Her last few articles on xoJane were so absurdly bad that I remember just skipping over them entirely. And I was sad to see her go, maybe just out of the comfort of sameness, but I knew it was the right move for the site. Now there are all these articles ABOUT Cat and I just think it's ridiculous and overhyped. Maybe it's because none of my friends really read blogs like I do, so I never had real discussions regarding these writers outside of comments sections, and therefore the vast audience wasn't apparent to me. I don't think there's anything to say about her and I feel like reading these articles is redundant and a waste of time for anyone who actually read her writing. I believe she wholly speaks for herself and knows exactly who her audience is and how she is perceived, especially now.


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