Photo Real – Molly Crabapple on Photoshop, Feminism, and Truth
Two weeks ago, Jezebel published un-retouched outtakes of Lady Gaga’s Versace campaign.
Without Photoshop, Gaga’s wig was more wig-like, her makeup flat beige, but she was the same skinny, strong-nosed chameleon that Stephani Germanotta has always been. The outtakes were not interesting but showing celebrities without Photoshop is Jezebel’s brand.
Jezebel exploded in popularity in 2007 by offering a $10,000 bounty for originals of Faith Hill’s Redbook cover. The raw photos proved the magazine had liquefied the star’s waist, softened her nasiolabial folds, and brutalized her elbow into a bendy tube. This January, with more controversy, Jezebel paid another $10,000 for the originals of Lena Dunham’sVogue cover shoot. Those revealed only a tidied dress.
Jezebel’s is a feminism that seeks its scapegoat in altered images. To refrain from Photoshop is girl-positive marketing gold. Dove Campaign for Real Beauty delights itself by putting out fake filters that chide retouchers. Magazines sign “No Photoshop” pledges. Clothing companies crow that they’ve never taken a clone-stamp to their models’ thighs.
To these feminists, Photoshop is to blame to unrealistic body standards, poor self-esteem, and anorexia in teenage girls. The campaign against Photoshop is the perfect cause for white, middle-class women whose primary problem is feeling their bodies do not match an increasingly surreal media ideal.
Photoshop, the belief goes, takes a true record of a moment, and turns it into an oppressive lie.
But fuck Photoshop. Photos are already lies.
We’re giving away tickets to see Lena Dunham and David Sedaris on November 19 at Carnegie Hall. Want a pair? Just RT this tweet and you’ll be entered to win.
Classism – Li’l Thinks by Kate Carraway
Illustration by Penelope Gazin.
Fun fact: when you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re probably talking about class. I mean, maybe, maybe not… but probably. Classism expressed from and about any point on the socioeconomic spectrum, is implicitly part of almost everything interesting and useful and real to talk about. The prejudices themselves aren’t invisible, but classism in action is sometimes quiet, or tucked into other ways of diagramming and demeaning the human experience; class is ever mutating, floating like a gas, present when it’s not there, and not there when it seems to be. If I were to take a wild swing at it, I’d say maybe half of what seems at first to be casually racist and sexist and generally xenophobic is classist (it’s not as if racism and sexism aren’t inextricably part of class) and basically allowed to be because nobody gets into it (at least, not outside of the broadest us-versus-them stuff of party politics, and mostly abstract economic debates), and nobody wants to.
Considering the finer, lived, human details of class, though, is so weirdly verboten. Money, status, “class”—both specific and temporal (what the middle class “is,” for instance, has changed along with its numbers)—are among the most determining and influencing aspects of how a life is felt and experienced, but addressing them directly—in conversation, in criticism—will have the effect of narrowing and nullifying instead of working to contextualize, expand, and be real with whatever. Some of this is that it’s “rude” (guh) to talk about what you have or don’t have. Some of this is that when people talk about class, which is largely outside of social sanctioning, there are more ways to be wrong, to offend. (Like, if you’re a huge racist, you’ve probably at least been told you are, at some point.) Classism is also mostly sanctioned: “white trash” should be a suuuuper fucking embarrassing thing to say (so should “rich bitch” and “trust-fund kid” and anything else that presupposes a character or quality based on economic status, or an imagined one), but it’s not.
Seven Dark Horse Candidates for Pope
Tomorrow, a bunch of men in robes will lock themselves in the Vatican, cease all forms of communication with the outside world, and cast ballots until two-thirds of them agree on who should take over as spiritual leader to a billion people. Catholics, church watchers, and fans of big hats have been discussing, via slideshows, who the most-likely candidates for the popehood are ever since Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation a month ago. Everyone agrees that the next pope, like pretty much every pope in history, will be an old guy who is already a high-ranking member of the Church, but it doesn’t have to be. The new head of the Catholic Church technically doesn’t have to be a cardinal or a bishop or even an ordained member of the clergy. So, there’s a chance, however small, that those old men in robes will decide that in order to restore the reputation of a centuries-old institution that has weathered some pretty dire crises in recent years, they’ll need to think outside of the box. Here are some of the unlikely, but still possible, candidates for pope:
Photo illustrations by Christian Storm
Pros: The Boss was born and raised Catholic and continues to identify himself as affiliated with the Church. No one can deny the powerful Catholic themes of sin and redemption present in many of his songs, and he is already used to traveling the world offering benedictions to hundreds of millions of followers.
Cons: Already has a better job than being pope.
Pros: What better way to reach out to a younger generation who’s lost touch with Catholicism than to elect one of the Millennnials’ most beloved icons? Lena Dunham has touched millions, if not billions of lives for the better and taught a generation how to laugh, how to love, and how to live through mistakes. Her image graces dorm rooms, billboards, and magazine covers all over America—in many places, she is already better known and more venerated than the Virgin Mary. Everyone under 30 idolizes her and follows her every utterance as if it were law. If the cardinals had the courage to make her pope, Catholicism would have swarms of new converts who would thrill at the chance to follow Lena on her next adventure of self-discovery.
Cons: May have had a bunch of abortions.
My Obseshes - by Kate Carraway
OK you guys this is going to be a tough read because I did it while I was bent over at the waist—or like between being bent over, but not for long because sitting up is real, real hard—because I ate some chocolate really quickly before a meeting (it’s like having lunch AND a coffee!), and it’s just all been very heave-ish and whatever adult moves I like to think I’ve made lately have shrunk in the face of midday self-imposed chocolate poisoning.
SAINT LAURENT PARIS LOGO
Is there anything more erotic than the original Yves Saint Laurent logo? The tilted “Y” and “L,” the all-caps, the threatening haunted-house-y-ness of the font, the getting-skins touchy-touch of the letters, all up on each other. And then, and then! The secondary logo where the “Y” “S” and “L” are threesomeing around like gross snakes? Just, magnifico.
So what do we think of the new logo? I feel no less rhapsodic about SAINT LAURENT PARIS, black-on-white, all-caps-y and brilliantly spaced, a held breath instead of sexual deliverance, but without the “Y” does it achieve that same level of immediate textual gratification? I dunno. I do like how un-t-shirt-able it is, that’s for sure.
I don’t know if this is directly Cat Marnell-related or indirectly Cat Marnell-related (in no world is it unrelated to Cat Marnell), but I read some random shits this week about the potential and relative value of writing from inside an experience, rather than, I guess, from around it or past it. And every person on my Twitter feed was very “What’s yr deal, Elizabeth Wurtzel?” even though she had just explained her deal, in detail! And then sometimes also parsing, in quick bits, the ego and intentions of Lena Dunham, there less “What’s yr deal” and more “Let me tell you about yr deal” which is the diff between 26 or whatever and 40 or whatever.
I like this in a HAHAHAHAHAHA kind of way because what it presumes, that anyone with some distance from the particular horrors or whatever is being publicly metabolized by these women (I don’t do it, but I know it’s hard) is somehow and necessarily in a better position to reflect on the meaning of transgression (than the currently transgressing! HOW?!), is both incorrect (which is no big deal) and ungenerous and self-important (bigger deals).
Coming from a place, in memoir or whatever else, of I-don’t-know!-ness, of vulnerability and conflict and nuance, is so much more interesting and important and legitimate, and should be important to people who front as arbiters of authenticity. Right?! Like, Not Knowing. I Don’t Know. “How could I know?” You can’t. I like that line, or I guess “those lines” in that W.S. Merwin poem like “I asked how can you ever be sure / that what you write is really / any good at all and he said you can’t / you can’t you can never be sure / you die without knowing / whether anything you wrote was any good / if you have to be sure don’t write” and the truly mean and judgey mania demonstrated by people who have to be sure, not just about the writing itself but by the experience, what it was and what it should have been – if you have to be sure! – is TOO WEIRD for me to even synthesize, is TOO MEAN to agree to. See?
Growing up in New York City, I knew about Jemima Kirke long before we ever met. We both went to art-centric private schools in Manhattan, and Jemima was a myth you heard about during Monday-morning homeroom. Her dad was a rock drummer, and her mom owned a vintage boutique that supplied dresses toSex and the City, so it was ridiculously unfair that Jemima was also stunningly gorgeous. Normally, this breed of legendary cool chick meets some tragic fate after graduation, or moves away and is never heard from again until she appears in a Japanese perfume ad under a different name.
Somehow, Jemima has avoided both fates, and she’s being talked about now more than ever, mostly because of her role as a fun-loving party gal on HBO’s Girls, which revolves around the stories of four young women who keep trying and failing at relationships, work, and life (it also makes dorks on the internet very angry for some reason). In real life, Jemima is a wife, the mother of a young daughter (with another baby on the way, obviously), and a visual artist, so when Richard Kern and I drove out to her family home in East Hampton to photograph her (at eight months pregnant), I was curious as to whether she had been wholly domesticated by this point. I also wanted to see if she’s still pretty. She is, and she’s got her shit together so much that it’s somewhat upsetting.
VICE: I ran into you when you were 18 and back home for the holidays from the Rhode Island School of Design. It was at an afterparty for our friend’s band Dopo Yume. From the moment I met you I’ve always seen you as this beautiful, glamorous—
Jemima Kirke: Wait, what happened at the afterparty? Now I want to know. Do you remember?
Well, I can tell you and it can be off the record if you want…
No, it’s fine.
We were at Black and White, the bar, and obviously neither of us was old enough to be there. We were introduced by a mutual friend, hit it off, and then you asked me to go into the bathroom with you.
Oh yeah! I do remember that, and that you seemed somewhat impressionable at the time. So I thought, “I could probably get this girl to do drugs with me.” But I don’t think there was anyone else at the bar…
You offered me bumps off your keys while you were peeing on the toilet. And I recall thinking, Who the hell is this girl? Then when I saw the show and watched you doing the same thing, minus the drugs, it brought it all back.
The character I play is not so far from me. I mean, fundamentally she is, and some of her behavior might have been taken from things I’ve done, but—
But now you’re 27 years old and about to be the mother of two. How did this happen? Most people our age who grew up in the city are still kind of fucking around—living at home and not pursuing any of their passions, if they even had any to begin with.
I think that way of life stopped working for me really quickly. Some people know how to balance things, at least enough to be able to continue messing around, but I didn’t. I was very all-or-nothing about it, and you burn out really quickly if you keep going that way. It really fucked me.
How did you get into acting?
My friend Lena [Dunham] asked me to be in a movie that she was making with her parents’ money calledTiny Furniture. She didn’t have enough to pay anyone, and I guess it was slim pickings, so she asked me to be part of it and it was a success. Afterward she was offered the TV show and invited me to work on it. I never thought it’d go as far as it has.
Girl News - Girls and “Girls”
In this special edish of Girl News we will consider the only thing that matters right now, which is Lena Dunham’s new joint Girls, premiering on Sunday on HBO. (Actually, is that too exclusionary for you? Because actually fuck your face if so.) Dear cute Euros ‘n’ stuff who read this, maybe you don’t know what this show is? Does the hype and THE RECKNONING-ness of this, nevermind the damp fury of 12,000 internet TV writers, not reach you over there? If that’s the case then just pretend I’m talking about a Playskool version of Sex and the City, which I essentially am, and which is really totally good.
Know that thing where you’re so impressed with how bright you are that it’s like birds whispered stinging, biting bon mots in your ear while you got dressed in the morning, but then later on you’re like WHAT AM I? and scratching your nail art into your forearms and frantically petting your neck-hives in a hallucinatory-becomes-physical-reality-response to how insignificant you and your ideas are? That’s what this show is about. That plus friends, plus abortion. (It’s important to bring food to an abortion party, is a lesson from both life and TV.) Anyway screaming “Coffee is for grownups!” from the hotel floor at your parents after doing opium is SUPER my reality, so, checkmate, Girls.
The New Yorker goes, it goes: “Its underlying subject is its very existence,” and YEP! I don’t have to tell you why, right? Just let that sit on your skin for a minute before you absorb it. It’s important.
BUT OK CALM DOWN THOUGH
Is it really so revelatory that a 25-year-old girl made a better thing than everybody else?
I might be a boy-detective (diff than a “boy detective”) but I still don’t know what the ass is going on with all y’all. I have this mountain of annoying email (STOP) being like “this is what I think about you/girls/me/guys/etcetcetc” but nobody has ever adequately explained what it is like to be a dude dealing with girls right now. Sometimes in the middle of an almost sexually satisfying fever dream on Twitter @ing with girls about girl stuff it’s like… wait… Boys. Where are you and what do you think of us? Are we as not-doing-what-we-want to you as you are to us? Do you know how shitty you are, and how fun and funny? Because we/girls know that dudes are inside their very own dystopian socio-carnival of conflicting man-expectations and possibilities (I wish MANswers was about all this instead!) and how you are supposed to be all pfffft and shirtless and a ghost but also nice?
Anyway it’s a cool thing that the various boys on Girls suck but not in a cartoon hipster way, just in a way of what it’s probably, genuinely like to be allowed to suck, like academically and medically suck, and also be confused but nonchalant and unworried. “Girls never ask me to use condoms.” “Girls never ask you to use condoms?” “Nope.” Is that what it’s like? IS IT?
THE VOICE OF MY GENERATION, OR “A” VOICE OF “A” GENERATION
There is a line in the second episode that handily defines our generation’s central challenge, since we are without a war, sort of: “I almost came.” Actually it is “That was so good. I almost came.” So that’s what we’re saying now, like, “That is such an almost-came thing to do.” Except let’s never use the word “generation” again, because I just threw up on it and it’s gross now. “I almost came.” NO! NO! NO! is how I felt when I heard that even though I’ve thought it, literally and metaphorically, so many different times that I had to retire from the league. How do people get married?
“Jew” doesn’t count as “brown,” HBO.