Kids These Days
The Vivienne and Knox Jolie-Pitt of newsletters is speaking truth to one conspiracy theorist after another and generously mentoring young upstarts.
We may be the New York Times’s second most promising hot-’n’-hip downtown indie girl duo forging the Future of All Media1, but every now and then even we must reckon with our own obsolescence. One of your Spreaditors was recently, and acutely, reminded of this when she stumbled ass-over-teakettle into a paragraph in…Time. Writing about The Ultimatum: Queer Love, critic Lindsay Lee Wallace unleashed a veritable torrent of terminology that sparked this exchange on the ole Spread Thread:
“Honestly no clue what she just said. Old AF over here.”
“I totally get what she’s saying 🤷🏼♀️”
Christ. Time magazine, of all places, had both of us culturally lapped, and only one of us was mature enough to admit it. This crisis of not-getting-it-ness could be solved by one person, and one person only: Intern Tess—a city kid of 19, currently in pursuit of a liberal arts degree!
Herewith, in honor of Pride month, we present Wallace's original brain-bending graph, annotated by our trusty Spreaditor-in-training, Tess Abraham-Macht. (Please address all criticism—oops, we mean fanmail—to firstname.lastname@example.org, which is a totally real email address that we did not invent just for this purpose.)
“Where are the tumblr-pilled tenderqueers, the ‘u up?’ f-ckboi lesbians , the allegedly enlightened androgynous astrologists, and the bisexual girls still ensnared in the gender expectations of their past relationships with straight, cis men? Where are the poly people and ‘ethical sluts’ who would throw the show’s entire premise into riveting question?”
Tenderqueer. Originated on Tumblr in 2010; refers to the sensitive “soft bois” (Harry Styles, Timothée Chalamet) of the queer community who wear “clothes reserved for nursery school children” such as “primary colors and dungarees.” Recognizable by soft exterior and—according to writer Dolly Rose—“unwavering avoidance of responsibility or culpability at all costs, paired with the use of social justice and personal advocacy language to ensure that lack of accountability.”
Fuckboi lesbian. Queer version of the hetero male fuckboi popularized in rapper Cam’ron’s “Boy Boy” . Originally synonymous with “asshole” or “dick”; later appropriated by broader (white) culture to refer to a womanizing guy who treats conquests poorly, lacks empathy, and most importantly, avoids a relationship at all costs.
Refers to condition we’ll call Hetero Hangover. Afflicting bisexual girls recovering from past relationships with men. Symptoms include anxiety when a non cis-het partner doesn't post you on Insta for two weeks…because your former boyfriend didn't post you in two years. (“I just don't use Instagram,” such men are apt to say, somehow forgetting about the model whose bikini pic they liked two days ago.) See also: worries about a female or nonbinary partner being too kind, as in, “Wow she didn’t kick me out after we fucked. We spent the night together!”
Ethical slut2: coined by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy in their 1997 “how-to” book for healthy non-monogamy. The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities reclaim slut as “a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.”
Thanks, Tess! Look, friends don’t let friends walk around sounding like Miranda Hobbes at a Che Diaz stand-up special3.
Rachel & Maggie
P.S. Yesterday, June 13, 2023, will go down in history as the release date of Keziah Weir’s debut novel, The Mythmakers, which we were reminded of when our preorders arrived in the mail, exactly on time. The Mythmakers is, as they say, “much anticipated” by everyone the world over, but especially by us, who worked with Keziah at Elle and know her to be brilliant, funny, exceedingly kind, unerringly modest, conscientious (way ahead on that whole bike-to-work-lunch-in-a-Mason-jar thing), and powerfully brainy in the most endearing way (her lifelong mission: reeducating the world on the pronunciation of Vladimir Na-BOH-kAaahv). You should take our word for it but, fine, if you wanna hear from Big Fancy Critics in high places, hereyougo.
What the hell did happen to Lara Logan?
In the Atlantic, staff writer Elaina Plott Calabro goes deep to track the descent into madness of perhaps the most visible female TV news correspondent since Christiane Amanpour—showing us, point by point, how Lara Logan slid from 60 Minutes’ star reporter to keynote speaker of her local Fredericksburg, Texas, chapter of Moms for Liberty, where Calabro finds her spouting conspiracy theories so wackadoo, not even Newsmax will touch her at this point. Calabro carefully traces Logan’s story, from the traumatic divorce of her parents all the way up to the unthinkably hideous mob rape she suffered in Tahrir Square in 2011, and then her humiliation after a controversial 60 Minutes story was discredited…and yet still, the 180 leaves me baffled. Maybe I just can’t comprehend the radicalization of someone—particularly, I’ll admit it, a wildly intelligent woman—who seemed squarely on “our team.” Whatever broke inside of Logan’s brain, her indoctrination is fascinating, and all the more terrifying for its apparent complete sincerity. Writes Calabro: “In the past several years, I have written about a number of public figures on the right who believe very few of the things they profess to believe, who talk in public about stolen elections and wink at the specter of global cabals, and then privately crack jokes about the people who applaud. I don’t think Logan is one of these figures. People who know her say the private person is also the public one.”—Maggie
Read Lara Logan’s Break With Reality here.
“Juicy and fleshy and fresh.”
There’s so much Important Journalism out there that needs your attention. Vanity Fair’s investigation into the history and post-divorce fate of Miraval, Brangelina’s wine estate/empire isn’t that exactly—or at all! But as I learned yesterday, it’s an absolutely top notch way to kill time at the airport. Reporter Mark Seal really gets in there, interviewing ostensibly every major player in the South of France wine-making universe to get at both what happened from the celebrity drama perspective, starting with Brad and Angelina’s decision to buy the mega-property, through the Private Jet Incident That Changed Everything, and into the legal rat’s nest of the present day, as well as the global businesses of wine and movie stardom. This read is a lengthy one, so be sure to pour yourself a jumbo glass of frosé before you embark.—Rachel
Get thee to Hudson News! Or read it here.
“International Male knew I was gay before I did.”
My favorite quote in my book about the cult of J.Crew is from the storied Barneys creative Simon Doonan, who would not have joined said cult if you paid him (indeed, rumor has it at one point the company tried to do just that). Doonan recalled a moment in the late ’80s when even his fashion-enabled colleagues were mysteriously drawn to rollneck sweaters: “We all had our fabulous Barneys discount cart, but instead of Jean-Paul Gaulthier or Comme des Garcons, they were choosing to buy bland preppy duds from some mail order catalog.” And not even a nice, tawdry catalog—Fredericks of Hollywood or International Male, “which, at least, sold something cheeky and sizzling!” Simon! I shouted at my screen this weekend when I saw Erik Piepenburg’s ode to the International Male catalog…pop up, so to speak. (Sorry, had to.) There may not have been a lot of common ground between the readers of the J.Crew catalog and Int’l Male (or maybe there was: indeed, that Venn diagram is not all that hard to picture) but both, it seems, were powerfully formative, and I love reading “how for some 40 years a catalog of outré men's wear became a generation-defining gay chef d’oeuvre.”
Oh, Canada! While I’m bending over backwards to make self-serving book references, thank you to the lovely and amazing Olivia Stren—a Canuck whose comedic gifts are undersung—for finding a way to connect The Kingdom of Prep to her own klutziness: “I sustained an injury on the pottery wheel (it fell on my foot). Reader, I landed in the ER by making a mug,” she writes. Somehow, in her hands, it works.—Maggie
Read “Thoroughly Reading International Male, Buying No Clothes” here.
The story is pegged to a new Netflix doc, All Man: The International Male Story, which you can watch here.
Read “Unbuttoning the Leisure-Filled Fantasy Old J.Crew Sold So Well” here.
Disagree? Reply in the comments…
Far beyond the Eat, Pray, Love of it all, Elizabeth Gilbert has always exuded what kids these days are calling main character energy (though not as much of it as her bestie Glennon Doyle). She’s now starring in The Conversation About Russia, with major thinkers such as Franklin Foer weighing in on her involvement in such major outlets as the Atlantic. How’d she get here? Gilbert pulled her new novel, The Snow Forest, about a family in mid-20th-century Siberia, from publication after an outcry on Goodreads. To reiterate, the work is fiction. “In meekly complying with the angriest voices, she accepted their argument that setting a book in Russia is an act of collusion, even though that’s an entirely nonsensical argument,” Foer writes. “In effect, she’s allowing the irrational feelings of her readers to set the terms of acceptable discourse. For a group to block a book, it just needs to clog the comments on Instagram with hurt feelings.”—Rachel
Read “Eat, Pray, Pander” here.
Gawd, what’s Tig got to say about all this?
That’s all I could think, reading the New York Times’s head-scratcher of an interview with First Lady-in-the-running Cheryl Hines, who is married to far-out anti-vaxxer/presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. but is also—far more interesting to moi—compadres with comedian Tig Notaro on the podcast Tig and Cheryl: True Story (in which the duo riff very loosely on the documentaries they’re both watching; it’s a solid background listen while you’re, say, labeling size-5 shorts for summer camp). The Times is going after what Tig fans want to know: How does Hines, who seems like a perfectly rational, relatable human being, square with her husband’s fringe views? Sadly, it only confirms what we already knew: that “everyone” in the Larry David wing of comedy loves Cheryl, who doesn’t appear to agree with her nut job husband—yet the only time she’ll say anything definitive about his coo-coo crazy beliefs is when he goes absurdly off script and, like, invokes the Holocaust. But, I mean, this matters: Kennedy is getting actual traction. Sooner or later his wife is going to have to get fully on board, or save herself and jump ship. (Sailing metaphors just feel right when you’re talking about Kennedys, don’t they?). Tig to the helm!—Maggie
Read “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Wants to Be President. Cheryl Hines Is Along for the Ride” here.
Walking and talking and momming.
In my favorite bit from Nicole Holofcener’s new movie, You Hurt My Feelings, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s character hurls her teeny-tiny sixty-something body on top of her son’s significantly larger twenty-something body to protect him from danger. It’s a hilarious-but-so-much-more moment that I’ve been thinking about at least daily. The Cut’s Brooding columnist Kathryn Jezer-Morton, who has an uncanny talent for taking whatever’s rattling around in the back of my brain/heart/soul and surfacing exactly the right magazine-y idea for properly exploring it, used this week’s dispatch to interview Holofcener specifically about being a parent at different life stages. The upshot is nothing you don’t already know (Holofcener is very cool—sometimes even aloof—and aspirational!) but, like her movies, the chat is a kind of balm for the bougie-creative soul.—Rachel
Read “Nicole Holofcener Can’t Tell You How You’ll Mess Up Your Kids” here.
Turning up the heat.
Last Friday, I got around to watching Ben and Matt’s “business movie,” Air, and I’ve spent the past five days outraged about how bad it is (I will fight you) and mad at all the critics who didn’t prepare me for a full-on abomination. Also, oddly hungry to watch a significantly better corporate hero’s journey (I am not above warm-and-fuzzy capitalism). Could Flamin’ Hot, an actual feature film about the lore around the development of spicy Cheetos, be what I’m craving? Flamin’ Hot director Eva Longoria convinced me in her New Yorker interview that I should at least put it ahead of the BlackBerry movie on my list. Since she made her mark in the pop-culture firmament two decades ago, when her Desperate Housewives character had a fling with the gardener, there has been no shortage of interviews with Longoria (lady hustles like no one I’ve ever seen), but here she’s in conversation with the ultra-serious Stephania Taladrid—the writer who’s fired off one excellent-and-harrowing tale after another about post-Roe life in Texas this past year—and the result is full of interesting details about her experience as a Texas Latina.—Rachel
Read “Eva Longoria Brings Latino Life to the Screen” here.
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The Spread would like to officially congratulate our little sisters Gutes Guterman and Megan O’Sullivan, who, following in our footsteps, have boldly taken the leap from print to digital media. Though, likely due to our age stature (age), we don’t understand their online not-exactly-a-magazine, Byline, whatsoever, we are proud to be their forebears and not at all seething with jealousy that they got a full Style section profile before we did. Love y’all! Read “They’re Here to Save Indie Media” here.
In defense our defense, your Spreaditors feel compelled to point out that this one, we definitely knew!
No, this second reference in two weeks to Miranda-Che is not a coincidence.