Last week Fiona Duncan sent an e-mail, saying she’d like to write a piece on the Terry Richardson petition going around the web, asking major companies and magazines to stop using him as their photographer due to his sketchy (to say the least) behavior with models and talent. This morning Fiona sent over this truly wonderful rant, at first saying she was unable to write the piece, while simultaneously doing the opposite. She gave me permission to publish said e-mail. I hope her sentiments are echoed and shared.
My p.o.v. is that magazines aren’t just hiring Terry because they like him, they’re hiring him because he sells issues, because his images recirculate like mad (exposure is the symptom of the times). Terry’s images proliferate not just because onlookers think he’s a cool, relevant dude, it’s because there’s both an audience that loves him and one that hates him. Our culture is full of haters and they are only contributing to the creation of media they will hate. All the Vice commentators with their vicious trolling–even if they are condemning the material in a nuanced way–that will only make Vice publish more stories like that because retweets! All the feminist blogs who reproduce Terry’s images while cranking on him, that’s just more publicity for him. LOOK AWAY.
The internet is fueled by eyeballs. Even if those are rolling eyeballs, scathing eyeballs, embarrassed eyeballs–those eyeballs will make for more content like you’re already seeing. We Can’t Stop, No We Won’t Stop… Miley Cyrus’ flat ass is like a metaphor for all that’s wrong in media production. She’s managed to become this thing that everyone wants to talk about, from the most educated, out-of-meme-land individuals (like my dad) to the expected media junkies. Our interest in her is not just about her, it’s about our interest in her. It snowballs with every subsequent post (I’m picturing an eyeball snowballing and it’s like Beautiful Katamari!). The Miley hubbub is not even about sex (but it is about that too because we’re fucking animals, thank Gaia!), it’s about our being fascinated by objects of fascination in our current mediascape.
Miley’s cute, I like one that song, but I’m tired of Miley because she distracts from things I’d rather be thinking about. Commentators alllllll over the web will point out the same. “Why are we blogging about Miley when we should be talking about Syria,” they type. WHY? Because you click & comment on this shit (writers are paid/hired for their ability to get clicks). I want to turn the question back on those readers: why are you commentating on the fact that we are blogging about Miley when you should be reading about Syria? Don’t stare at the car crash, look at the road ahead, or you’re likely to cause another crash, yaknowhatImean?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot (in my bed, legs bruised from sleeping with books, when was the last time I washed my hair?) — about why the Internet is full of cruel noise. HOW DOES THOUGHT CATALOG EXIST. Because the people I meet IRL are not cruel, senseless, obtuse, binary minds. But by the data gathered online, one would think they are. And then I realized… I used to click on link-bait. I used to click on headlines like [these be real]:
I clicked on these not because I wanted to know about these things, but because I wanted to hate-read/lol at the idiocy of the posts. I used to read the NYTimes Style section “think pieces” on young women’s sexuality because I was curious what they had to say about me even though I knew I would scoff and then tweet something dismissive. Well, I don’t anymore. Because I don’t want to validate it with my retweet. Valerie Steele imparted this same wisdom to me when I wrote that big piece on why all fashion writing is awful last year. I asked her what she most hates about the fashion industry, what bothers her. And she said… Nothing. Nothing bothered her because she can’t be bothered with things she doesn’t like. There is too much good in the world. Too much worth paying attention to to get caught up in the tacky stuff. And so she concentrates on making these incredible exhibitions and books and talks. She is putting out the nuance, rewriting history, and guess what — people aren’t paying as much attention to it as to #OMGTINDER because it’s work.
I’ve been looking back on the posts that I’ve written over the last 20 months publishing online and those that have gotten the most attention are hate-ons. Sure, they were productive hate-ons, because that’s what I do (I hate because I looooooove). But they were still hate-ons. On a disparate arrays of subjects — film, fashion, Miley. People love reading the contentious, and the simplistically contentious because it’s easy. It’s easy to read that stuff on your break at your boring office job, to recirculate it around the office. #LOLCATS
I could go on — to discuss why I think people crave the easy reads, crave the hate-ons (the economy is fucked up, the world is fucked up, we feel disempowered, blah blah blah). Buuuuuuuut how did I even get this far? Oh right! Terry! W/r/t Terry Richardson, I think the Internet has been wonderful in giving voice to models who have been victims (hate that word but wtv) of his exploitative, cocksure gaze. Yay the internet! Freedom of information! Voice to minorities! But but but but that should end there. If we want less Terry in our lives, we should look to alternative sources of media, give them our eyeballs and our love. Read Encens! Read old Wet Magazines on VFILES! Read Adult! Read the New Inquiry! Read A Very Recent History! Don’t click on link-bait, don’t hate-read, LOVE! Love what’s good and righteous and hopeful. I am such a hippy!