Drunk Writing: The Media and Pitting Women Against Each Other
At a certain point in life, doesn’t how we treat celebrities in the media get kinda weird, or is that just me? I’m not talking about how much we admire them or look up to them, or our desire to know so much about them, but these are pretty good places to start, because sometimes it feels like we think we know everything about them. Nowadays, with social media being what it is, stars have a more personal and direct connection with fans, sure, but think about how much you agonize over one tweet or Instagram caption, then imagine having a very visible reputation to uphold and a fervently attentive, large fan base. Celebs have to be intentional with the information they put out, no matter how organic it may feel, but more than that, entertainment news saturation from multiple TV networks, gossip sites, and social media has led to us putting too much stock in assuming that we know who a famous singer or actress is on a personal level, how she feels about literally anything, and…ugh where was I going with this…OH RIGHT how she feels about other people.
Enter media-hyped catfights (ugh someone kill this and the phrase “catty” please).
The most basic version of this fascination is the question as old as civilization: “Who wore it better?” Obviously, if two women are spotted out in the same dress or top (because no one is allowed to shop at the same store in Hollywood), one of them has to have lost this battle – because that’s what fashion is to women, a battle. Actually, according to the media, women only have either an overabundance of friendship and love for each other OR ginormous hatred and animosity for each other.
Take, for example, the recent non-controversy of Lorde and Taylor Swift (sidenote: a lot of examples I could include would end up involving T-Swift). From what I can tell, she basically just dodged a question about that infamous “squad,” which immediately had people assuming that she and Taylor were no longer friends but in fact Mortal Enemies™. Lorde actually had to specify later on Twitter and say that there was no real beef between them and she just “fucked up an interview question.” Again, one small comment (or lack thereof) and the media crafted it into an entire narrative on something extremely personal, in this case a friendship, that we truly have no license to know about.
You know when you’re in the car with your mom, and she’s like “Hey, I haven’t heard you mention ____ in a while, what’s up with her?” and you’re like “Not sure, we haven’t spoken in a while,” and then she’s like “Oh no, what happened with the two of you?” and you’re like “Literally nothing, you just heard me mention her a few times and we aren’t that close anymore”? This feels a lot like that, but with a lot more time and money put into making a news story out of it.
And I guess that’s why it keeps happening, these fights that the entertainment world keeps casting women in. It’s fun to paint women as petty adversaries and report every detail you can wring out of a friend-of-a-friend, right? It’s rewarding to become invested in celebrity feuds, right?
Obvious sarcasm, the “women can never be happy for each other and secretly always want to tear each other down” act has been damaging to society and female empowerment in many ways, and it would be better to think that we are constantly looking to uplift each other, but the fact of the matter is that this portrayal of “catfights” gets in the way of constructive criticism as well (spoiler alert: more Taylor Swift ahead). Remember a couple of years ago, when Nicki Minaj called out the VMAs for celebrating a certain type of female artists’ music videos as “Video of the Year” while snubbing others, and then Taylor (sigh) immediately assumed that Minaj was attacking her and got defensive, trying to throw the blame on men? Yeah, this eventually turned into a “Nicki vs. Taylor” story and derailed the original point Nicki was attempting to make: how black artists, specifically black female artists, are categorized in the music world, how this leads to them not being considered for certain awards, and how their artistry is valued as opposed to how the artistry of white (and white female) artists is valued. What could have turned into a much needed, productive conversation about intersectional feminism, race, and the music industry was ultimately reduced to another female feud and a “kiss and make up” moment at the awards show.
Women, famous women (who are again just people a lot of other people know about) included, don’t all have to love or hate each other. Women can compete civilly, and associate civilly, without going to the extreme of love or hate. And there are much better hour-long news stories out there than dissecting a relationship you are not even a part of. The only time I want to see women being theatrically and viciously pitted against each other from now on is if I’m watching GLOW, a show about female wrestling on Netflix (also, please go watch GLOW on Netflix).
Feature photo by Mitchell Hollander via StockSnap.io