This interview series aims to make the “invisible labor” of web production visible. Over the next few months, I’ll be talking with a wide variety of content producers, exploring the dynamics of their own form of web production, how they mix that production with their “real” lives, and the various forms of gratification they receive from the work that they do. In short: how do you do what you do, and why do you do it? Talking about the realities of labor isn’t narcissistic, per se. It’s political, it’s progressive, it’s feminist. It’s also totally fascinating.
Pola Negri looked like something from a storybook: she had jet black hair, pale skin that reporters compared to a camellia blossom, and a sensual mouth that, painted bright red, read as something deep and mournful onscreen. She was Polish by birth and Hollywood’s first foreign import; the Czar of Russia once said she had “the most kissable hands in the world.” To American audiences, she was exoticism manifest: an amalgamation of connotations that added up to different, not us. That exoticism was fiercely appealing—five years before Negri came to Hollywood, it had made Theda Bara into a massive star, at least until the public figured out the creature who had [...]
I woke up this morning, turned on my phone, and immediately knew that today would be the best day, because today was the day that my favorite author, Alice Munro, had won the Nobel Prize in Literature. She’s 82 years old, she’s Canadian, she’s selfless in interviews, and she’s spent her life writing small, immaculate vignettes of women—which is all to say that she’s unlike almost all writers who’ve been awarded this prize, and I couldn’t be happier.
Alice Munro is known as the master of the short story. Stories this morning have credited her with rejuvenating the form, and I don’t disagree. I didn’t know I liked short stories [...]
During the awkward first days of grad school, the institution sent in one of the third-year students to make us feel comfortable in our new environment. In truth, they made us feel fearful of our station in life. Take the first question one asked me, for example: “So are you a theoryhead?”
Blank stare. I think I thought he was referring to a new David Lynch film? I gulped my glass of bad grad reception Chardonnay like a doofus and dodged the question, but its relevance would soon become clear. Humanities grad school is replete with so-called theoryheads—students, mostly dudes, who love to speak as unintelligently as possible and lord [...]
I’m not, strictly speaking, a Molly. I had a Samantha and a Kirsten, and both of them spoke volumes about who I wanted to be (privileged, so well dressed, urban) and who I was (Scandinavian, solidly built, rural). Chiara Atik has already written the definitive statement on what your doll says about you, and I don’t disagree with her assessment of Molly-owners:
If you had Molly, you probably wanted Samantha instead, but contented yourself with Molly because you too wore glasses, liked books, were bad at math, and would concoct various schemes to get attention. (Oh, Molly.) If you were a Molly, and had a Molly (as opposed [...]
From The Hairpin's eight-part Kindle Serial "An Experience Definitely Worth Allegedly Having."
You’ve heard this story before. Clarification: you’ve heard this story before if you reside within the not altogether rarefied demographic of middle- to upper-class students who studied abroad at some point in their college or postcollege career. Sometimes the details are slightly different—one of my friends went to Vietnam; another spent at least a month in the backwoods of Ecuador making pottery with an eighty-year-old master.
But the reason so many people undertake the voyage that so many others in their place have before—that’s not too difficult to understand. Studying abroad in Europe [...]
"The digital porn guy wants a fantasy that doesn’t exist, but the postfeminist girl wants one as well"
Our dearest Anne Helen Petersen has a great post up at her blog on Don Jon and the "digital porn dystopia," a smart counterpart to the idea of "postfeminist dystopia" that she's written about both here and elsewhere. About the double bind that both Scarlett Johansson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character find themselves in:
Her pleasure is faked; his pleasure is never what he wants it to be. Lose, lose.
Jon tries to quit porn, but soon discovers that porn surrounds him: the objectified, fetishized female body has become so normalized that even women’s magazines, exercise videos, and fast-food restaurants use it to sell [...]
When I started writing on the internet, I found it so liberating: I could master WordPress; I could figure out how to post and promote, I was in control. Whenever even one more person happened onto my blog, I felt like the work I was doing was somehow worthwhile. When I moved from writing on my own blog to writing Scandals of Classic Hollywood (and, later, for other sites), the production changed, but so did the size of the audience. The gratification levels exploded accordingly.
But I was struck by how many readers assumed that I was just riffing on vast stores of pre-existing knowledge—like I sat down, [...]
At Dear Television, Hairpin Pro-Bowler Anne Helen Petersen takes on the "exquisite repulsion" of American Horror Story: Coven:
American Horror Story disregards hierarchies. It signifies as one thing and is another. It is, in other words, abject as hell. Which is precisely why it inspires the reactions it does: it’s addictive yet embarrassing; you love and hate it, can’t decide if it’s sympathetic or predatory, misogynistic or feminist. Fiona is a shameless ball-buster, but she’s also terrified by her own aging body, beholden to societal understandings of what “beauty” and “vitality” look like. Even as the “Supreme,” her power only extends so far: she can decimate men, but she [...]
When I was three years old, my mom used to take me to the library, find me a pile of books, and let me sit and read for up to an hour while she went and browsed the stacks. When I was 14 years old, I made my mom paint my room black, and I spent a lot of time watching The X-Files and being mortified by her. But she never forgot that I could also be that first kind of patient, inquisitive girl, even when I insisted on listening to Walkmen tapes of Queen’s Greatest Hits while hiking in Glacier Park.
Like so many of us, I didn’t fully [...]