“Hundreds of thousands of young girls are reading this and using it as the basis for what they see as cool,” Ms. Coates told the Journal. “She’s the biggest columnist at Vice right now and she’s helpless, addicted, dependent and victimized. She’s amoral, narcissistic and incredibly selfish. Vice gains traffic while she self-destructs, and we’re supposed to take it for granted that we’ll just watch this ongoing drama play out until rehab or death. It’s sick.”
Hmm, so I am still wary about coming down with specific judgments or positions on Cat Marnell, but I’m going through her Vice pieces right now, as well as some secondary takes on her. Whatever Marnell’s online presentation is—and that seems to be the only one people care or know about, regardless of what they say about fearing for her wellbeing—it is certainly more complicated than what Coates (who seems to mean well?) says above.
To say that the thousands of girls reading Marnell see it as straight cool, or that Marnell is oblivious to her own apparent self-destruction, is as dangerous in its moralizing as is that moralizing that hopes to declare what’s amoral in someone else’s decision to sell (out) her own life. I wonder if many of us readers do or even can take what’s happening for granted, really.
In another Atlantic piece yesterday, Jen Doll writes:
Further complicating matters, in Marnell’s case, there’s no comfy “salvation story,” at least not yet, and the fact that she stopped working at xoJane seems to indicate she’s not planning on rehab anytime soon.
Why do you think so many women writers “out” themselves as either addicts or eating-disorder-ridden only after the fact? Readers feel like they deserve to know that this story leads to one with a happy future, as well as one that will ultimately be normalized, legitimized, and absorbed into the realm of the good and acceptable. I’m not advocating killing yourself, but can you see how only being heard means framing your story in ways that are reasonable, aka not alienating and batshit-crazy? I think Marnell does understand that and there’s a palpable glee in how she rubs her images in your face.
The fact that this is such a compelling revelation to readers is wildly sexist:
This may be a big part of the fascination, that someone can be both “so bad” (i.e. troubled, addicted, refusing to follow the supposed rules) and “so good” (a successful writer, able to attract readers and tell stories about herself in a way that makes them keep returning for more).
We only asked for such transcendent and ecstatic “badness” from our male geniuses. That was a huge part of how we understood modernism.
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- dropouthangoutspaceout said: spot on.
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