“Are we ready for ugly women on television?”

That’s what the Guardian is asking, at least. To illustrate the question, they use a picture of Brian Taylor, who is a Scottish journalist and also apparently the rightful cutoff of sexual unattractiveness. In other words, women now have to be as attractive as Fiona Bruce to appear on TV, but the bar should be lowered so that anyone above the female equivalent of Brian Taylor should go on. Continue reading →

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I Watched This for Free on the Internet: Cat Dancers

New York City was no place to raise a black leopard.—Roy Holiday

HBO documentary Cat Dancers is your basic tale of show business and deadly animal attacks. Ron and Joy Holiday were professional adagio dancers who decided to incorporate big cats into their act as they got too old to do lifts and poses. They toured the country in tight, teensy costumes, while the cats leapt, sat, and growled to audiences’ delight. As the act grew, they accumulated leopards, tigers, ocelots, and a younger man, former ringmaster Chuck Lizza, who became part of the act as well as their live-in lover. The human ménage is less interesting in and of itself than for how it fell apart. One day, Chuck was unfortunate enough to trip backwards while one of the tigers was out of its cage. Apparently the tiger saw Chuck as prey and lunged for his neck; Chuck bled to death. Continue reading →

You’re Never Going to Sleep With Her, So Give Up Already

“Your Kid is a Little Asshole. And guess what: it’s all your fault.”

Odd title, isn’t it? Especially because I don’t have a kid. Why is this author on fine essay-writing site (well, it has serif fonts, so I guess it’s good) Medium telling me that my kid is an asshole? But I’m still drawn to the story, of course, because the title is so abrasive—hey, wait, this guy is calling children names! I want to agree or disagree with him!

But I’m not going to do that right now. I want to tell you a different story than the one the author told, using the same events, but looking at them in a different way. Interpreting this differently, I can make you a whole new story—one that tells you nothing about the child but everything about the author himself. Continue reading →

How Much is a Life Story Worth?

I just finished Eva Illouz’s Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery, so I’m now obsessed with the idea of narrative as a tool of therapeutic healing. Illouz’s thesis is that Oprah’s stories create a way for her viewers to understand the universe. Suffering is linked to self-improvement. In addition, telling your story is a special act–you can heal your own life through examining your own actions, just as you could in a therapy session.

I’m not reading O: The Oprah Magazine anytime soon, because I think my doctor’s office has Redbook instead, but I’m still on my xoJane kick, into these stories of women’s suffering.  think that these stories are supposed to help heal the storytellers but they provide a model of existence to readers (conduct might be a strong word–a lot of these stories involve how to properly react to things, and “conduct” implies action). So, if you’re writing something like “I Can’t Have Sex With My Husband” or “I Was Raped by My Dentist” you’re providing a service to other readers, who will hopefully learn how to be OK with not having sex with their husbands or at least be a little kinder to them when they do have sex, or learn how to exist in a world in which injustices such as rape occur.

However, for all their supposed emotional value, these articles aren’t financially valuable. In this article about faking cancer (spoiler: faking cancer is bad), commenter “birdbrain” gets upset that her story has been stolen by the author. I want to concentrate not on “birdbrain”’s accusations, but about the amount of money involved. It’s $50. This girl—and all the other girls that write their healing, empathetic life stories—are getting paid $50 per 1,000 words for a site that shills $36 panties. That’s right, if you’re living the life you will be paid a panty-and-a-half for your work. Continue reading →