13 Horror Movies to Watch and Talk Shit About This Halloween

13 Horror Movies to Watch and Talk Shit About This Halloween

Every October it’s tradition that I attempt to watch one horror movie for every night in the month. And every year, this one included, I make it about halfway down the list. I really tried to do better, but like most people I’m limited to after-work hours and weekends, and it turns out it’s pretty hard to watch a movie every single day. I did my best.

Because I was limited what I could stream on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, find on demand, or purchase using someone else’s itunes account, not every movie I watched had excellent ratings. In my house, we’ve established a general rule is that if the rating on Rotten Tomatoes is over 70%, then the movie is worth watching. If it’s free AND we’ve heard of it, you can’t really ask for much more than that.

Here are the 13 horror movies I watched this month. Some great, some not so great, all fun to talk during.

1. The Babadook, 2014 (Rating 98%) Ok, this one is kind of cheating because technically I watched it in September when James and I were in the Catskills. If you can find one, a log cabin in the woods is the perfect setting to watch this Australian movie about an exhausted single mother and her son who are both struggling emotionally to deal with their shitty lives (and each other) so much that they become haunted by a mysterious children’s book (or is it?) This movie is a nice combo of jump scares, suspense and psychological thrills. The scariest part, though, was after the movie ended, when James woke me up in the middle of the night by saying “Baba…dook…dook…dook” in his sleep. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen to you. The Babadook is currently on Netflix

2. 28 Days Later, 2003 (Rating 87%)I first saw 28 Days Later in ninth grade and proclaimed it “the scariest movie I’d ever seen.” This wasn’t saying much as I was only 14, but it wasn’t saying nothing either as at the time I was  very much horror-obsessed. I’d pretty much been raised on the John Carpenter Halloween films and had seen every installment of the Friday the 13th franchise by the time I was 8 years old. I was even familiar with zombie movies, but they were the slow, dragging Night of the Living Dead variety and not the animalistic, spitting/growling/running faster than humanly possible breed you see in this movie. Watching it now, I’m way more desensitized to the whole zombie thing (thanks, better part of the last decade) so it hardly feels as shocking as it did at the time. But it’s still pretty darn intense. And the whole Cillian Murphy bewitching eyes/luscious lips combo doesn’t hurt either. 28 Days Later is currently on Netflix.

3. Scream, 1996 (Rating 78%)This trilogy is classic as fuck, which is why they make up three of the movies on my list. Again, they were films I hadn’t seen since the days I used to crush Blockbuster VHS. Re-watching them today, I was legitimately confused that something with so many levels of irony could have ever been parodied as much as it was. But what do you expect from the Wayans brothers, I guess? Scream is so meta that of course it’s Wes Craven, although maybe you didn’t know he was the man behind it all (I didn’t either until recently). If you haven’t watched them recently, give them a revisit. At least the first one, if for no other reason than to watch Rose McGowan be perfect, even while being bisected. She should really be on this poster.

4. Scream 2, 1997 (81%)

 A killer is haunting your fav teens again, but this time – they’re in college! AND SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR IS HERE. And a movie called Stab just came out about the murders in the first Scream movie. And maybe that movie is inspiring the current murderer?! What do we do?? I guess we just lol in awe that Portia de Rossi is in this movie and we never knew!

5. Scream 3, 2000 (36%)
This one is shittier than the others, but is still fun and goofy. Plus, my all-time love Parker Posey has a main role as the actress that plays Gale Weathers in the on-screen movie version of the movie. How could I not at least give it a chance? That, and sometimes you just have to watch a movie to remember what the year 2000 looked like. Wow, and we thought we were so advanced.
All three Scream movies are currently on Netflix. 

6. Rob Zombie’s Halloween, 2007 (25%)

Fuck this movie. Obviously since it had terrible reviews anyway I shouldn’t have expected to enjoy it. But I was drinking and Hannah was bleaching Reid’s hair in the kitchen so it’s possible I was affected by the fumes. Rob Zombie’s Halloween is a bastardization of the original that focuses more on grotesque, violent images, and fucked up drama than anything truly scary or even suspenseful. The whole time I was like “I just want everyone in this movie to die,” except during the painfully long, gratuitous rape scene, when I myself wanted to die. I think I watched this on Amazon Prime, but it doesn’t really matter.

7. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare1994 (77%)
If you’ve already seen Scream and the original Nightmare on Elm Street, you know what Wes Craven is about. In the same vein, New Nightmare plays with the blurred lines between reality, fiction, and the world in our dreams. While this movie is hilariously dated and ridiculous, I could see how it may have been somewhat groundbreaking (no pun intended – there’s an earthquake in the film!) in pre-Scream days as a self-referential horror. Heather Langenkamp plays herself, as the actress who starred in the original Nightmare, trying to fight off Freddie Kruger – who’s escaped from the movie world and is haunting her and her son IN REAL LIFE! It’s definitely got some layers to it, and almost enough camp to excuse the melodrama/all the pickled oak in that damn house. New Nightmare is currently on Netflix.

8. It Follows, 2015 (96%)
Widely regarded the best horror movie of the year/in fucking ever, It Follows is the story of a teen who contracts a SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED HAUNTING. It’s a pretty unique story, the actors are great, and it’s beautifully shot. The concept is so thrilling, in fact, that my brother and I stopped the movie halfway through to hypothesize on how the mystery would be solved. Without spoiling anything, the end didn’t exactly meet our expectations. Or the whole third act, really. But plot holes aside, I was legitimately terrified almost the entire time, and very visually stimulated. And that’s pretty much what makes a horror movie great. It Follows is on iTunes, aka you gotta pay. But it’s worth it.

9. The Nightmare, 2015 (71%)This “horror movie” is actually a documentary on night terrors (and the big, faceless monsters that attack you during them). It’s a concept that, even after watching the movie, I don’t really find all that scary. It kinda seemed like most of the people they interviewed were a little out of touch with reality to begin with, some positing that they were observing another dimension in their terrors or being actually visited by aliens – and the director, who suffers from these nightmares himself, validates these concerns. Cue a lot of eye-rolling on my part. One thing I found pretty strange/interesting though is how common these visions are, and how similar they are from person to person. Some of these hallucinations are even thought to have inspired horror movie conventions, like the mysterious scary man in a hat that comes out of the shadows (Freddie Kruger? The Babadook?) or the alien face (you know the one. It’s identical to a 90s temporary tattoo). The Nightmare is available on Netflix

10. Honeymoon, 2014 (70%)

I can’t tell you too much about what this is about without giving anything away. Suffice it to say, two newlyweds go on their honeymoon to a cabin in the woods, and one of them starts acting…real weird. It seems like an intense indie drama until towards the end, when you find yourself yelling “WHAT THE FUCK! WHAT THE FUCK!” I actually really liked this movie, and thought Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) was super captivating and great at being strange as hell. Watch this one, if just for the shock factor. Honeymoon is available on Netflix

11. Oculus, 2013 (73%)

This one is about two siblings seeking revenge on an antique mirror that possess people. The movie begins by unloading the backstory and exposition in a tangled mess, and flips between past and present so much that James and I kept calling it Oculus 2. I get what they were trying to do, and there’s a substantial amount of jump scares with a few solid mindfucks here and there, but they aren’t held together with enough logic for me to call the movie “good.” Still, I recommend watching it because it’s SO fun to make fun of (I mean, what’s up with the main characters’ hair?). Then afterward you can watch a very satisfying youtube video that lists all the things wrong with the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV4MnmOi5KI 

Oculus is available on Netflix

12. Let the Right One In, 2008 (98%)

Finally, something actually worth it’s weight in good reviews. Let the Right One In is a Swedish movie partly about vampires and partly about young love, and somehow manages to handle these both in a non-corny way (can you believe it??) In some ways, it’s more of an indie drama/love story than a “scary” movie, however, it has some pretty badass attack scenes and one spontaneous combustion, so it served up the excitement I craved. Also, it’s just freakin’ gorgeous to look at. Best enjoyed with a bottle of red wine. Let the Right One In is currently on Netflix

13. We Are What We Are, 2013 (85%)

Ugh, gotta love a horror that centers around hyper religious psychos. As a fan of cult stories and talented young actresses, I loved this movie about two sisters trying to escape their family’s…unconventional…tradition of cannibalism. It was tough to watch at times, but I couldn’t wait to see how it ended. And I wasn’t disappointed. Also, Julia Garner and Ambyr Childers are mesmerizing and I want them to be my new best friends. Hooray for human meat! 

~~~

So, tomorrow night after your Halloween party inevitably disappoints, take off your wig, plop down on the couch and queue up one of these spooky movies. Then call me up after so we can make fun of them! 

Happy Halloween!

Advertisements

#FLASHBACKFRIDAY: My Seventh Grade Dressing Room

IMG_3380
Wow. Happy Friday – this was probably the longest most stressful week of 2015 so far, being that it was the only one that didn’t include a major holiday.

Today, we flashback to the year 2002. In seventh grade I was obsessed with teen magazines. YM, Cosmogirl, Teen Beat, Teen Vogue, j14, Seventeen…sometimes even the real Cosmopolitan which I would thumb through, wide-eyed, not understanding a single word.

“What’s a cli-TOR-is? I want one!”

Americans had a much different view of celebrity culture in the pre-social media days. While little girls still worship the stars of Pretty Little Liars or whatever show teens are watching the same way we idolized Hilary Duff back then (yes there was a time she was VERY MUCH relevant and we all cared about her – don’t deny it), I can’t help but feel like celebs have been humanized by the vehicles they now have to communicate with fans. Instagram, Twitter…it used to be that the only way we could learn about our favs was through printed and bound magazine articles that made them seem so disconnected from our normal tween boring-ass lives.

One form of listicle I remembered seeing often was the WHAT “SO-AND-SO” HAS IN HER DRESSING ROOM! variety.  Looking back this was nothing more than a very effective way of slapping a celebrity name on some random products to endorse them to impressionable kids. I still run into these crocks of shit all the time as an adult. “REESE WITHERSPOON SWEARS BY KIEHL’S!!” I mean, I’m a smart, grown, educated girl but if a celebrity told me she dodged highway traffic as her preferred form of exercise I’d probably consider it for at least a second. We’re all pretty much brainwashed, and have been our whole lives.

Since I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I’ve always kept a journal. Since I’ve also always wanted to be a celebrity, some of the things I wrote in my journal looked like this entry from May 11, 2002, written in green gel pen.

IMG_3381

“~What I Would have~in My DRESSING~ROOm!~

-1 case of DASANI water bottles (filled)
-1 case of Lipsmaker sponge on sparkler all flavors
– 3 things of hunny
-flinstons vitamens
-computer w/ AIM
-zyrtec
-Acuvue color contacs
-Secret sheer dry
-Baby oil & powder
-tanning oil
-Dentine Ice gum
-Qutips
-oil absorbant pads
-clean & clear foam face wash
-fruit, hehe
-pringles”

And another consumer was born. At first reading this I couldn’t help but feel sorry for my little 12-year-old self. She’d been duped by magazine ads and bullshit articles. She thought the right skincare products are what make you a woman and she wanted to be famous so she could have as many Pringles and as much lip gloss as she could ever want. It all made me so sad.

But then I remembered how good Pringles are – so I put on some lip gloss, and I went out to buy some.

Virtual Reality

IMG_8220 I don’t talk to Alex enough. You know Alex, my long time friend, the third big brother I never had, the one who has lived in LA for a few years and has what I think is an assistant-ish super Hollywoody-type job? We sometimes write together. Mostly he writes without me. He is very productive. I am very, well, you read the blog. One of Alex’s major pastimes is cyber-bullying me. He does this because he knows I don’t take criticism very well and he likes to take his emotions out on the people who will react most strongly. I’m trying to learn not to take it personally. Usually it ends up okay if I can keep my cool long enough to get him to apologize. We tried talking about this through text recently, and it quickly spun into a different conversation.

Me: I’m stressing myself out. You’re a real ballbuster you know

Alex: Same. I was having really bad panic attacks so now I’m not drinking caffeine But that won’t solve everything What’s going on w you

Me: Last night I had a dream I was raped by two guys and then my teeth turned to sand dollars and crumbled out of my head

Alex: Oh my god

Me: I’m sure that has to do with some underlying psychological something

Alex: Yeah…

Me: But I actually feel pretty okay on the surface

Alex: I’ve been feeling mentally unstable the past month Like losing reality Idk why

Me: We should talk more

Alex: Probably I just don’t even know what the problem is.

Me: Things are definitely feeling unreal, but in a way that is almost too real.

Alex: Yes that’s a nice way to put it I just feel useless

Me: Essentially we’re all insane and nothing is really worth it, and all the things that seem good are bad and vice versa, happy people are actually sad, alcohol gets boring after a while, and you just find yourself asking, “what now?”

Alex: Seriously That’s why I’m like “going sober” I like weed and booze but it does nothing. Success is the only high I want.

Me: Truly I don’t really smoke weed ever. I find it upsets me often

Alex: AND a cute boy that is nice and loves me

Me: Unless I literally have nothing else that I should be doing

Alex: It fucks me UP

Me: Which is never

Alex: I can barely handle it Right! It just makes you anxious about doing things you need to do so you don’t and then you feel like shit

Me: I’m glad I have James. Things are going well, but I find myself a little too pleased with the habitual domestic things we do like make dinner, and I worry that my ambition is dwindling and that the sum of my accomplishments will be having kids and a yard and a husband and being normal, and that I’ll like that
But maybe the secret is to just get a Xanax addiction and become a Stepford wife
At least then there’d be hope for a reality show

Alex: I mean if you like that then who cares But kids KILL That’s my cynical wisdom

Me: I do love kids Maybe for my 25th birthday I’ll freeze an egg

Alex: You literally can’t do anything with kids I’m sure they are great! Lol It is the future

Me: I’m going to write a funny mom book

Alex: YEA but that’s not a reason to have kids

Me: It’ll be called “mommy why are you crying: stories of how my children ruined my life”

Alex: You have like 12 more years
My mom had me at 36 and I’m completely normal
….. Lolol ok

Me: Yeah but she had two kids before you

Alex: That’s true

Me: You’re supposed to have ur first like
Basically when ur my age

Alex: Does that make it better?
Wow
But it’s just biology!

Me: Yeah :/

Alex: Drink those voices away!

Me: But seriously I’m freezing my eggs

Alex: Might as well
Mary is already 26

Me: Turning 25 is like

Alex: Jesus
But you see these cool couples with their kids and it doesn’t seem so fun

Me: Oh hey next big bday I’m old as shit

Alex: It just seems like prison
Dude 25 SUCKS
26 is better
But ppl will say it’s the other way around

Me: Not depressing, I mean kind of nice and exciting. I don’t hate my life or anything so I’m not like disappointed in myself
You always disagree with me on this tho
Ages

Alex: Oh god I am.
On getting older??
I think I’ll be chill when I’m 35

Me: On which ages are the worst

Alex: Bahaha

Me: Idk if I’ll ever be chill? Let’s be honest

Alex: 20s are just hard. It’s just weird seeing all these people I know getting married
Hahahahah
I think so
You’re pretty cool

Me: Basically I just keep telling myself that every stupid failure and shitty experience will make a fun story someday
And at the very least maybe I’ll have a rich husband, if I’m lucky someone I love
Woo dream big
Thanks btw you too

Alex: Hahaha
Yames

Me: It’s not that I should suck less at life, it’s that I should be writing more about sucking at it

Alex: He seems great to me Mmmm yea

Me: He’s great in a lot of ways.
You’d like him
But he’s an easy target.
Sensitive

Alex: I think I probably would
He IS sensitive
I think he’s just Italian

Me: He’s a Capricorn
And he’s only half Italian
But I like that he’s traditionally masculine in a lot of ways. Plus he loves me. I guess that’s really the point here.
You wanna start a literary zine?

Alex: I like that And he’s sexy

Me: Yeah he is

Alex: To me
Lol In a platonic way

Me: And to me, obviously
His body is incredible it like sucks that he won’t dress for it
He buys his work shirts at Costco
Which is like hot in its own way

IMG_8251My boyfriend standing in front of his high school alma mater and doing some pose that I choose to pretend is tai chi

IMG_8284

A picture of Lindsay Lohan’s family’s house I took on a bike ride through Merrick, NY. Lindsay and James have the same hometown. This is relevant because it just is.

Alex: A zine sounds fun but I have a lot on my plate at the moment I can’t make a commitment
He is so normcore but not even bc I don’t think he’s post indie

Me: I was mostly joking

Alex: This is v funny

Me: I was going to toss out the potential title “are any of us doing anything”

Alex: Most frat guys are like that though. When he makes more money you can help him out.

Me: Yeah he’s not normcore he’s just norm, like I’m aware that he interacts with the world without quite as many levels of irony as me, and I’m fine with it, because it’s all bullshit anyway
The fact that I’m fine with it is what makes me scared I secretly wanna be norm
But I wanna be norm in this like fantasy sort of way, like only because New York is a dystopia in so many ways. Like I don’t even wanna be norm I wanna like actually live inside a sears catalog or something

Alex: Hahahahha Norm is the new weird tho
Weird as we know it is the new norm and it’s kinda tired
Like being OUT THERE AND WEIRD
Hahahah sears

Me: Yeah. Doesn’t it seem like society is tricking itself into believing homogeneity is a style choice when actually we are probably just giving in to the pointlessness of asserting individualism in the digital age

We might as well all turn into iPhones. That’d be phat

Alex: Cyborgs is the next thing

Me: Borgcore

Alex: It is pointless I’ve been saying it for years what’s next? Bc if you try to assert your individuality and everyone is trying to because that’s the norm, it’s impossible so the movement, it like collapses on itself
That’s why I think fashion will die eventually

Me: People just revert to indulging in the simple commercial pleasures of life

Alex: No one believes me

Me: Eventually our generation will give in and assimilate
People just get tired

Alex: We’re all going to wear government controlled silver jumpsuits

Me: Yeah but even without government control

Alex: That help us live in a harsh world where it’s too hot or too cold cuz we fucked everything up

Me: I have a theory that people will basically control themselves

Alex: Yeah I guess

Me: And trick themselves into thinking it’s individual expression

Alex: Government matters less than corporations

Me: Like social media, everyone was all worried back in the day the government was going to be spying on us, then we just willingly started putting every detail of our lives out in public. I agree with you, individuality is played out.

Alex: Hmmmmm
You just have to have fun with whatever you can
While you can

Me: In fact the millennial infatuation and ultimate disappointment with individuality may be the beginning of its death

Alex: Ugh on the plus side my apartment is nice

Me: Aw yay

Alex: Yeah let’s capitalize on the death of individuality

Me: A monopoly on identity If you can’t beat em join em. I’m sure that’s what Orwell was trying to say.

—-

IMG_8393

Life is plastic, it’s fantastic

We complain about being out of touch with reality as though there is any reality to speak of, and we know that’s not true. In June’s mercury retrograde I attempted to do a bit of soul searching, some personal and some societal, I guess. Whether intentional or not, I live on the line between high and low culture, shallow and meaningful, absorbed in such trivialities as my Internet stats while failing to ignore my yearn for meaning in my actual life. Just like everyone else, I can’t really decide what is “real” or what is “meaningful.” I’ll watch KUWTK in the suburbs with my boyfriend and enjoy it. I’ll go to an exhibition of artworks praising Kim Kardashian as a deity and agree with it. I’ll read an article about the OJ trial and the connection between the Kardashian family and other reality show stars, in which they are dubbed the murderers of popular culture, and I’ll agree with that too. I exist in two worlds; one is where instagram likes are currency, where Heidi Montag is a genius and looking good is the equivalent of reaching nirvana. In the other world, holy cow, I actually want to emotionally invest in substantial things.

IMG_8369Open bar selfie at art party called The Passion of Kim Kardashian

We are living in a world where the art, the consumption, the media, the criticism, the satire and the daily fucking struggle are so simultaneous that writing about this, even caring about it, feels redundant. It can sometimes feel like we have only three options. Lower our expectations and settle down, go to grad school so at least the conversations we have about relevant things will be somewhat intelligent, or act like a child forever. Who even has time to be a good person? Who has time to make themselves happy, or the world a better in a real way? If the struggle for substance and meaning is Sisyphean, then why even bother to stress? Might as well drink kool-aid with the Church of Kim K. If I’m ever nostalgic for the nineties it’s because the nineties were the time I had to do the least. While my social anxiety was at an all-time high, I was actually unironically enjoying the pleasures of suburbia and consumerism without asking any questions. Slip-n-slides and trampolines were making me happy, just like they were supposed to. I wasn’t disappointed, I wasn’t looking for beauty in truth, I just assumed this was the truth. I was privileged, and I may not have known it, but I wasn’t deluded into thinking I didn’t want to be. Reality TV is totally bullshit but nobody really cares, so maybe life can be like that. After all, whatever we accept as true becomes the reality. You might as well put on the costume. You might as well pretend. And at the end of the day, you might as well participate in the scam. It’s almost the same thing as having hope. Right? What’s so great about the truth anyway? When it comes to my future, I don’t want to know the odds. I’ll keep my blinders on for now, and when things get too rough, I’ll visit someone’s neighborhood pool. IMG_8462

Fab With A Conscience


When I was in college at UNC Chapel Hill I was lucky enough to make friends with some of the most intelligent and fabulous people that walk this earth. We called ourselves Team Big Things, among other monikers that were bestowed upon us (Fruity Rebels, Benetton Club, etc). These names derived from a few simple facts; that we are all highly ambitious, flamboyant individuals of varying races and backgrounds. Many of us identify as queer,  and all of us make up an educated, socially-minded group looking to better the world through art and/or service, and to look & feel good while doing it.

Even though we’ve experienced a diaspora since graduating–we’ve got members in NYC, LA, NC, DC, and one member is even in China right now–I still keep in close contact with these guys through a private facebook group called TBT. We share funny gifs, stories about almost pooping in our pants at Trader Joe’s, and links to articles. Sometimes it’s “Best Golden Girls Quotes” on Buzzfeed. Other times they surround more socially charged topics which we then debate and discuss with each other. This week we talked about Britney, Miley, and the relationship between fashion, music, gender, queerness and race. I felt the conversations that followed were beyond relevant.

It began with this image, Mykki Blanco’s Twitter response to the new Britney single, “Work Bitch,” which aside from being another god awful piece of EDM garbage, borrows from the lexicon of ballroom culture (and thus from queer people of color) in a way that has upset some people.

Moe: Thank you

Kat: I’m curious though, haven’t female pop singers always had a large gay fan base? Cher, Whitney, Madonna, Katy Perry, Gaga, Britney. I can separate an artist’s sincere relationship with their queer fan base from the more contrived relationships just by the way it feels. “Work Bitch” is clearly a tactic. But what is the dividing line? What actually separates something like Gaga’s songs, often hailed as gay anthems, from being under this same scrutiny? Is it the artist’s actual involvement with the LGBTQ community? Personally I was irritated with Katy Perry when she came out with “I Kissed a Girl” because I thought it fetishized bisexuality but I’ve since changed my perspective on it and thought of it as like, pro bi-curious. Basically I’m just on the train and rambling and would love to hear more of what y’all think of straight females as queer icons in the media.

Hannah: I agree with you. But I do also think that since the LGBTQ community has become more openly accepted into mainstream culture, pop stars take it as an opportunity to “reach out to/support” them and therefore get a wider spread fan base. Clearly there are some icons (such as Cher) who I think more properly helps represent the gay community because she supported them before it was fetishized like it is today.

Kat: Not to mention the whole “playing bi” tactic that young straight pop stars (Christina, Britney, Miley, Katy) use to break out of their pristine Disney/Christian image. And don’t even get me started on Macklemore.

Hannah: IDK if Macklemore can fall under the female pop star category… but he might as well considering what a little bitch he is.

Kat: I think about this a lot as a white woman who wants to have a strong voice in the media as a writer. Although I identify as queer and a feminist I still heavily scrutinize the validity of my voice in relationship to many of my characters who are queer people of color (aka: y’all). This is sort of off the subject of pop music but not really at all. The reason Orange is the New Black was given so much praise for it’s portrayal of QPOC is because it gave agency to those characters outside of the white narrative. It is unethical to use the experiences and cultures of another to further your career. It does nothing but reinforce the status quo to try sum up the lived experience of an other in your own voice, to tell someone else’s story in order to spice up your own. Ultimately we need more queer voices telling their own stories, taking center stage for their own lived experience and being their own icons. Not treated by the industry as a market for culture consumption. And as a white, straight artist, if you can’t get down with that, then you are not an “ally”. Thus Mykki’s outrage.

Austin: Everything Kat said p much.

Jamila: Kat, yes. All of it. That being said, I’m also thankful for these white women who advocate for “the others” because when others do it, nobody gives a goddamn

Austin: Yeah ^ there is a way to use one’s privilege in a good way and that is it.

The next topic was one that has been beaten to death over the past few weeks, Miley’s appropriation of black “ratchet” fashion to enhance her fun new image. If you’ve been on the Internet (and not been completely clueless) any time in the last two months you’ve heard more Miley arguments than you can mentally process; those condemning her and those in her defense. This time we wanted to talk about the stylist behind Miley’s fashion choices at the VMAs and in her controversial video for “We Can’t Stop.”

Ratchet is Dead: Inside the Mind of a Miley Cyrus Stylist

The article introduces Lisa Katnic, Miley’s stylist and a host of the Vfiles webshow LisaTV, which is basically a docu-series about different fashion communities. In the article Katnic is quoted as follows:

“Somebody said that it was racist for a white girl to have three black girls as props onstage to benefit herself. It’s misinformed because [those dancers, the] L.A. Bakers are in the [“We Can’t Stop”] video. At this point, Miley and the L.A. Bakers are friends, and Amazon Ashley? They’re friends in real life. They go out to lunch. That’s so demeaning to [the dancers] for somebody to say that. Here they are doing something that’s awesome and fun, and [people] shit on it.”

Since we’re all major Vfiles fans, and many of us have adorned ourselves with the gold chains, mesh and Air Forces of the “ratchet” look for long before Miley jumped on the bandwagon, I thought this woman’s work was worth discussing.

Kat: Some people are saying that this person is responsible for the whole Miley Debacle and I can see why they are offended by her quotes dismissing the issue….is it wrong that i think she’s fucking fab, style wise? Her Vfiles show is funnnnn.

Brad: IDK IDK IDK IDK how to feel. I do like her style tho lol

Bill: I think it’s great she has a voice in all of this. To each her own.

Brad: I meannnnn IDK if “to each her own” is the right approach to this. I still think this chick is blinded by her privilege.

Kat: I don’t think she’s as blinded as Miley is tho, and I think her relationship to the trends and lifestyles she uses to express herself is more authentic and more informed. I’m kinda here for her.

Bill: It’s interesting because she comes form the world of style which has ALWAYS appropriated looks from culture and society.

Kat: Yeah, not that that’s necessarily okay, but if we call that into question I think we have to maybe put ourselves on the cross a lil bit too lol

Bill: Exactly.

Brad: I agree that she’s def not as blind as Miley but in the end she’s still perpetuating this appropriation for a paycheck.

Kat: I feel like if Miley came up to me on a night when I was wearing my weave and my jersey and a ton of gold chains and said “I want you to style my video” I’d be like “sweet.” The term “weave” used loosely, as always. God I can’t help it I’m just culturally appropriatin’ all the time. But I still think Miley’s weak, prolly cause it’s obvious to everyone that she’s full o shit.

Brad: lmao. No I mean I feel u cuz same prolly. Ugh this is why /we/ should be famous cuz we’d do this shit da right way.

Bill: It seems hard for me to believe that anything in our culture isn’t appropriated. We live in the country that has appropriated pretty much everything but American Apparel from other places and peoples around the world.

Brad: IS THERE EVEN A RIGHT WAY THO IDK *SIGH.*

Austin: Not here for her and I think a lot of her explanations whitesplain away the problematic nature of wearing blackness as a costume. Also I think conversations about appropriation (and race in general) center white people’s feelings and ideas too much. I honestly don’t care if Miley shares a few laughs with these poor black women on set. WOOHOO RACISM SOLVED. How do black women feel about it? What happens to actual “ratchet” people when the term/trend are done? It’s all so absurd and we can localize this to Miley if we want, but there’s a looooong history of white folks putting on black “cool”/folk culture to advance their own careers, while white culture at large systemically shits on black folks/culture. IDK y’all. I think Bill is missing the distinction between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation. It’s a thin line but there is one.

Bill: Austin, does that apply to fashion and style- is that exchange or appropriation? Is there a way to share these things at all? The nose ring was originally a Sikh tradition… it has now been removed from that cultural identity to be a part of style. Help me flesh this out.

Austin: Bill, I think conversations about cultural appropriation are hard because they center a PoC narrative instead of a white one. Sometimes it’s not /about/ individual white persons relating to something but how WHITENESS relates to something, ie: how are Desi women treated/seen for wearing bindi? How are black folks seen/treated for speaking vernacular English? How are artists of color viewed in the canon of art history? How many people of color get to use their cultural output in the mainstream? It’s a hard conversation because it doesn’t necessarily center whiteness or white feelings, and I think a lot of people don’t realize how often we do center whiteness in our convos about race. How many people of color get to control the use of their culture in the mainstream? Like, we can’t blame Justin Timberlake for being inspired by black music, for instance. But we can talk about how society/media values his work over the myriad black artists who have done the same thing.

Bill: The White Systemic Oppression of All That Isn’t White. It makes sense- but you and I aren’t Desi women so does that mean we cannot talk about it at all? Yes these issues are ‘hard’ to discuss but CAN we discuss them outside of that paradigm of whiteness?

Austin: We can’t speak directly from a position that isn’t ours, but we can speak about oppression/privilege sure. We’re all oppressed and privileged to varying degrees. INTERSECTIONALITY. Try to think how your oppressed parts feel in relation to the mainstream and be EMPATHETIC to the experiences of others. Bill, as a white man, you certainly have something to add to race conversations, but you have to decentralize whiteness before you can get to the empathy/understanding part.

Kat: It would also be a different thing if Miley was using her status as a wealthy white girl to give more of a voice to the the women of color she’s borrowing from. I don’t see that. I always draw up a comparison between Brooke Candy and Miley in my head when I think about this. If you’re a white woman entrenched in and promoting the culture you are inspired by I don’t think it’s criminal to borrow from it….but maybe I’m just defending myself here.

Austin: I think that’s interesting Kat. Like I think about Terry [our good friend from home, a white man], and he’s IN poor communities of color. Like, I don’t think he’s appropriating simply because it’s not a costume for him. He’s not approaching it ironically or thinking that he has a “proper” culture to return to.

Kat: What about using it as a way to reject the so-called “proper” culture you are from? I would argue that’s what Miley’s doing, and while it’s fucked that she’s able to do that in a way that people of color will never be able to (and then returning at the end of the day to the california king sized bed in her mansion), it makes sense that she’d use it to reject a lot of the bullshit ways the patriarchy says she SHOULD exist as a young white woman (pure/responsible/desexualized). I actually kind of identify with that. The problem arises when we define the antithesis of “pure” with black female bodies…….ruh roh.

Bill: I mean we’ve had this conversation fueled by a seemingly never-ending cocaine high several times over. I just like coming from an anthropological standpoint- I am just thinking that we need to get out of the whole oppressor-oppressed dualism in order to do anything about it… like stop giving it power somehow. I have been learning how to decentralize whiteness without dismissing my own inheritance of the concept. Where do I reconcile the attitudes of white men who shaped the conversations that we are having right now?

Kat: I don’t know that anyone can take an objective standpoint on any issue. No one can shed their privilege or the perspective that it gives them. The important thing is to call attention to it and accept responsibility for it. The opposite of whitesplaining is not objectivity but awareness.

Austin: Yes, Kit! I hope no one feels attacked. One can’t convey tone via Facebook. But I also hate the fact that I feel the need to say that (centering white feelings).

Kat: I don’t think anyone feels attacked. I think we’re all here to learn and understand how the work we produce as artists affects the world, and what responsibility we have as people of our respective privileges.

Austin: Back to the original question, you shouldn’t feel bad for liking her style. She’s fly. Anyone who consumes media consume problematic media. The key is recognizing that, and hopefully making something better.

Kat: Exactly! If any of these artists had a response other than “no, no way I disagree” to any of the accusations and maybe listened and contributed to a productive dialogue… think of how things would be different. At that point I think it becomes messy because of how much money is involved.

Austin: I should find that article about like 90+% of media being produced by white folks. I think we all “know” what systemic means, but don’t really /know/ what systemic means.
Bill: That’s why I love folklore- the stories coming from the people the stories are actually about. I really want to say “FUBU” right now.

Austin: Lmaooooooo ^^^ I mean sometimes that’s necessary. That brand was actually a response to designers who made a shit ton of money off of black folks saying that their clothes weren’t really “for” black people so…..

Kat: Wow

Danielle: I’ve had a similar conversation with my close friend Aila when we talk about what it’s like to be a PoC in the theatre community. Which of us is at an advantage when it comes to getting consistent work and which of us is at an advantage in life. As a multiracial actress (white dad, Indian/Desi mom) she’s able to shift between different “shades” of brown people with ease- at this point she’s played Iranian, Puerto Rican and now a French Joan of Arc. Yet she’s begun to envy my privilege as a black/Jamaican/”thick” woman since there seems to more work for actors who fit that description. She explained that regardless of how many roles she’s offered she is still not seen as Indian because of her hazel eyes, light skin and European features. I wanted to be upset with her since her dad’s an oil man and her mother’s parents are a bureaucrat and a choreographer… she’s had a trust fund since the day she was born… she’s lived all over the world… and society calls her exotic and beautiful and dudes buy her mad drinks when she goes out to bars. So why would she want to look like me? The answer was crazy: her lack of community. She always feels alone because she’s seen as too exotic to be considered white, and too white to be considered truly Indian. She’s just labeled as pretty. Another part to her argument was the people who are closest to her also happen to be black so why couldn’t she be a part of the group? As much as I want to punch her lights out for wearing oversized hoop earrings and answering my phone calls with “where you at, grr,” I can’t come up with a reason why she shouldn’t be able to. After all, she’ll shut down folks who try to randomly touch my hair. Do I want to be the one that denies the basic human need for belongingness? Doesn’t that make me into another kind of oppressor?

Kat: This also brings up the concept of appearance versus race and how each affects lived experience. I’m a white girl with white parents of European descent (people are often surprised when they find out my mom is blonde for some reason?) but I have dark hair and tan skin which sometimes leads people to label me “ethnically ambiguous.” I think I kind of get to experience the benefits of exoticism without any of the negative treatment of being racially othered. On the one hand, the unfairness of that makes me uncomfortable. On the other hand, I like to be as tan and curvaceous as possible and play up that ambiguity to benefit from some of the hypersexualized stigmas people have of brown women.

Bill: I’ve recently been brought to the light by dear Austin that I was possibly commenting in a way that was defending my own privilege, earlier. I haven’t caught up on the comments since I went to class earlier but I apologize if I offended anyone. I see this space as a comfortable place to discuss these kinds of things. Earlier I was playing more of a devil’s advocate role because I wanted to mirror the perspective that this white society that we live in has… And I know it is implicit in me because I am white- but if you were personally offended know that I don’t believe all the things I wrote. My intention was to provoke conversation and further the dialogue. Apologies… I am not trying to feign my responsibility and I was not annoyed by anyone in this group calling out white privilege. I love y’all. I was never trying to defend whiteness. I agree with the black feminists’ opinions about this subject. It probably wasn’t my place to do this at all, but I think that having a conversation where everyone agrees and is reinforcing their own opinions is just a rant (definitely has power to it though) and I was trying to provoke the conversation for my own desire to hear a great academic study/conversation about race.

Kat: I think sometimes it’s important to ask questions that you feel like you already know the answer to so that you can know /why/ you feel that way. I take a lot of stances on issues I feel strongly about, but I don’t always know exactly why that is. Sometimes asking a “devil’s advocate” question can help you better understand a topic.

Austin: I get that. I also, first of all Bill, I appreciate you being receptive to hearing that you might have approached a race conversation wrong. As a white person (or really any person in a privileged position) it’s SUPER important to listen to folks who don’t share your privilege. Kudos on that. Anyway, I get the idea of offering a different perspective. It’s like a mini checks and balances system I guess. But I also think that everyone who contributed /did/ offer a different perspective. We can build consciousness and raise awareness towards a similar end, while filling in blanks for each other and fleshing out ideas. I love that this group of friends can joke and party and ~look rly cute~ but also talk about and do Things That Matter.

Bill: I see how it is confusing for a white person to play devil’s advocate about whiteness in a race conversation.

Kat: Totally. But yes, I think a checks and balances system is really important, especially in liberal communities where sometimes we take for granted certain truths. It’s important to rediscuss and redefine what we know to be true sometimes. For some people, simply saying America Appropriates Everything is a great way to blow off this entire argument. Being given the opportunity to say “yes, BUT” is really helpful in convincing others who are perhaps further to the right than we are.

Bill: I was merely looking for a way OUT of whiteness and the systemic oppression of a white world.

Kat: I often feel like I want to find a way out of the white world also. I’m deeply ashamed of white culture because I don’t feel it represents ME and what I believe. But I /am/ white, so I am allotted certain privileges that even I believe are unfair simply due to that fact. And as much as we’d love to completely restructure society, it won’t happen in our lifetime. So we just have to make sure to remain aware of its problematic nature and use dialogues like these to take realistic baby steps to improving the world. You guys rule.

Austin: Whiteness and white people are two different concepts. Don’t confuse the two. No need for white guilt or shame, but you can try to side step whiteness. READ THE WHITE PRIVILEGE KNAPSACK. It’s one internet page long and an easy google away. It’s a great refresher/starting point, and written by a white woman.

Kim: I’ve been thinking a lot about race issues here too [as an Asian-American in Shanghai]. It’s such a difficult thing sometimes I don’t know how to feel. The foreigners here in Shanghai disgust me sometimes at how imperialistic their attitude is. There is this feeling of camaraderie over their ‘superiority’ that they feel entitled to as (mainly) white people among Asians. Instead of feeling a sense of inferiority as a minority the way many Asians in America do, it somehow has turned out the opposite. And what’s most confusing is how I identify with them often! I feel so ashamed when I have this attitude, but I can’t help it. Like many of you have pointed out, I can’t escape my background and how it’s shaped me. Lately I’ve been trying to take race out of the picture and just look at them as human. Because it gets so fucking annoying when all you are is where you’re from.

Austin: Yeah that makes so much sense. I was talking to Bill last night about ways to stay racially aware/conscious without letting all the negative aspects of racism bog you down emotionally and spiritually. It can be really hard to navigate.

I know I usually regale my readers with stories of hilarious missteps on the road to Glam Life, but I’m thinking about including more posts like these. I hope you gained something from it and if you’d like to join the conversation I encourage you to comment or email me using the contact form in my About section. I’ll be back with a Disaster Story next week.

FASHION (turn to the left)

fam gang

Damn, y’all! It’s certainly been a crazy couple of weeks. Last time we spoke I had just begun my most recent job, the hours (10 am-8 pm five days a week) I am just now getting used to. Of course, now that I’ve gotten the routine down pat the gig is drawing to close, as such is the nature of freelancing. And with the additional drawback of inconsistent pay, I’ve just barely made enough in the meantime to pay off my August debts with a little leftover for that other thing. Survival. It’s been so long since I’ve eaten anything not on my Trader Joe’s Budget Friendly Shopping List that when I went to buy toilet paper from my local bodega just now, the owner asked me if I’d moved. More than once I’ve seriously considered the “ride n ditch” method of drunken taxi transport. I’ve gotten more overdraft notices in the mail in the last month than I have birthday cards (which is to say, ONLY ONE. Don’t worry, family. You’ve still got a full two days before I disown you completely.)

I have managed, though, as I usually do, to indulge myself with some top-notch extracurriculars. Most notably, I’ve hit a major milestone in my top-secret entertainment project with OMGAlex, who btw finally has a blog of his own (thank god). It’s really quite perfect if you’re into that whole “sardonic account of psuedo-bougie urban gayness” thing, which let’s face it, you are.

Someone told me recently that I am “obsessed with living in Bushwick.” This is in fact true. One of the main reasons for my allegiance, right below “semi-affordable housing if you get lucky enough on craigslist” and “large population of friendly stray cats” is that there are always parties worth attending within walking distance of my apartment (this of course is due to the other great reason for living here, that it’s where everyone worth seeing resides). One example of this is the Dizzyland party, which had its one year anniversary, Dizzy /World/, two weekends ago. The circus was hosted by pretty much all your favorite Bushwick supercelebs (Trey Latrash, Ms Fitz, Allison Wwonderland, Brian Whateverer, Genevieve Belleveau & Juliana Huxtable to name a few) and included performances by Pictureplane, Lil Internet, and House of Ladosha ~~and many more~~ so it was a basically one of those can’t-miss things. Hannah and I, getting a late start to our day, arrived around 2 in our best attempt at anime-inspired self-infantilization. I even wore two pink bows from my early 90s days.

IMG_1665I only wish I had been there for longer (although I generally find that no party /really/ gets going until 2 am). We could have gone to the Spectrum for after hours, but being the old farts that we are, we opted to walk home at 4:30. Here I am holding my shoes on the way back, looking as real as ever:
IMG_1399

You can find more (better) pixx from the night on PAPERMAG.

The following week was hellishly busy, as the job I’d been working on was set to take place at Lincoln Center during the shit show that is MERCEDES BENZ FASHION WEEK. I had never been to fashion week before and part of me was excited to see it up close. In high school I used to willfully lap up allll that industry bullshit. It seemed like such a fantasy land compared to my bored suburban life.  There was GLAMOR and CELEBRITY and LUXURY at fashion week. I had bedroom walls covered in pictures of Gemma Ward and Jessica Stam and a casual eating disorder.  Of course, any grown New York woman with two eyes and an awareness of culture consumption and class struggle in this city would be a little disconcerted by the whole thing. One popular picture from last year comes to mind.
I spent most of the day on location last Saturday guzzling free Doubleshots and storming around for 13 hours with a walkie talkie on my hip. I think the most fun I had all day was eating two giant plates of chinese food amongst a parade of cigarette-nursing models. At most I have a post-ironic relationship with fashion, and always try to have a sense of humor about it. That being said–

Later that evening, despite not getting any decent sleep in days,  I decided to attend the Alexander Wang after party, hosted by SHADE in the abandoned Pier 17 mall. By this time I’d been working since 6 am, had been drinking caffeine since, and wasn’t going to stop any time soon. After plotting 12 murders and a suicide on the L Train Shuttle I ultimately decided all I needed was a very large pick-me-up in the form of a few champagne and red bull cocktails and a lot of hair and make up. Around 11 I rode into the city with the New Bushwick Fam, over caffeinated and plenty drunk (though neither perceptible by me.) The party was a gigantic, crowded mix of ~club kidz & celebz~,  a thrilling mishmash of fame and anti-fashion that culminated with a bizarre surprise performance by Nicki Minaj. It pleased everyone. By this point the open vodka red bull bar had burned a sizable hole in my brain. I stepped out to make an exasperated and ill-advised phone call to my ex before silently weeping into my hair extensions as I rode down the mall escalator.  Outside on the pier I sat in a corner and took a quick one-hour cat nap, then spent $30 on a cab ride home. The next morning I had the worst hangover I’d had in 2013. It wasn’t the best night ever, but I didn’t really care. At least I had shown up and looked good.

The other night at Body Actualized Center, Brian was taking instagrams of people in his Whatever 21 line (which btw is now available on Vfiles). After asking him to redo my shot more than once, I laughed and took a selfie instead.

“I’m so vain!” I said to Rachel who had watched this all transpire.

“You are,” she replied. “But it’s part of your charm.”

#kanyeshrug
IMG_1519

reading the signs

I have officially been wearing the same clothes for two days and I smell like chicken noodle soup. I just got home, carrying hair products, birth control and a burrito in the same paper bag. I’m googling “sad diva” and looking at the images. I haven’t done much today and it hasn’t felt like much either, which is good. Sometimes nothing feels a lot like everything.

Last week I had big plans. That is, relatively. I was going to get my first massage on Monday, go to yoga on Tuesday and then to meet my new therapist. On Friday I’d have a job interview. Of course all the time in between I’d be at my current job, but I was excited for all of these new opportunities to relax and reflect. I’d been feeling more and more anxious lately which I thought might have been a symptom of PMS, or the general stress of not knowing what to do next with my life. Or, you know, both.

The massage was awkward. I had a man’s hands all over me. I hadn’t had sex in a month. The entire time I was horny and trying not to fart. How was I supposed to relax? I left with a stomach ache, my shoulders still sore.

On Tuesday I was so whacked out and paranoid during yoga I spent the whole meditation worried the class was running over and I was going to be late for therapy. The class ran over. I was 20 minutes late for the meeting with my new therapist where I was greeted with one of those “I’m disappointed in you” smiles you get from a parent when you fake sick, only it was especially awkward since we had never met. I had forgotten to print out the paperwork and bring it with me to the session. This was starting off on the wrong foot already. What if she thinks I’m crazy? What if I am crazy? Fuck, am I crazy? We talked about my “life” as much as we could in the 20 minutes we had. I found out later there is a problem with my insurance, so my copay for that session was $115. Afterwards I changed out of my yoga clothes and did my hair and makeup in the bathroom at work.

On Thursday I went out. Winston was djing at Cocktail Bodega where there was an open bar, so I had about 5 vodka grapefruits and we left. On the way home we found a cardboard box filled with no less than 1000 Lifestyles ultra lubricated condoms and some children’s books. I decided to carry it all home with me just in case.

The following afternoon I had my interview, which I’ve now overanalyzed it to the point that I have absolutely no idea if it went well or not. But the best thing that happened to me all week was when the founder of the company came over, stared at my resume with a lifeless expression and said, “It looks like you’re a writer.”

Saturday night I bought a $20 dress from Necessary Clothing and went out to Dizzyland by myself, piss drunk. Aside from the train ride to the Spectrum and taking shots of Wild Turkey all I have is the hazy memory of dancing with some guy and then making a run for it. And apparently taking this selfie on the street.
IMG_5694
I think I was going for “violently adorable.”

What happened after that remains unclear, so the next morning I looked for signs of what might have transpired. I woke up with wet hair. I was in my pajamas. Lars and the Real Girl was paused on my computer ten minutes in. There was an empty cereal bowl and a bag of chips in bed with me. On the floor, my new dress was wet from the waist down. A red electric blanket I didn’t recognize was laying next to my condom box. I suddenly had a few frames of memory. Something about shivering in an alley, my legs curled up in my dress, and looking up at the Montrose L station mere steps away and thinking “there’s no way I can make it there.” Something about a yellow cab. Something about a blanket. I don’t remember paying a cab driver. Maybe I didn’t.

I spent the day hungover and laughing it off.

That night was the moment some had been waiting for! And the one I had kind of forgotten about. The Oscars are never really a huge deal to me because I suck at seeing movies the year that they actually come out. The only movie I saw in theaters in 2012 was Pitch Perfect. Not that I’m proud of that, it’s just true.

“But why?” you ask. “For the price of a burrito and some chips you could go see a movie.”
to which I say, conversely, for the price of seeing a movie I could have a burrito. And some chips. 

Of course there is always illegally streaming which I looove to do. The only TV I have is this tiny 90s Panasonic that I use for N64, and cable is just so not in my budget right now. I was able to find a live stream of the Oscars just in time for the tail end of the red carpet. The Seth MacFarlane thing was somewhat painful but most of it was funny/chill and needed to be said, so I’m not mad at him. I suppose it is necessary for award shows to evolve like everything else to that level of extreme self reference.

My stream was abruptly taken down right before the good part and the only replacement I could find was a video mostly covered by ads. So I listened to the rest of the ceremony while imagining what Jennifer Lawrence’s butt looked like when she fell and what facial expressions complimented Ben Affleck’s shrieking falsetto.Since I was really high by that point, and since feeling sad is a sport, I decided at 12:30 to watch Silver Linings Playbook, a love story where crazy people do crazy things and sometimes it’s okay and sometimes it’s not but maybe we can all stop being crappy if we want and find love, or at least help each other, or at least not feel so stuck.

First I cried a little. Then I was OK.

Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned From Ke$ha

Poor Ke$ha. When people aren’t freaking out about Chris Brown and Rihanna doing a remix together or about how amazing/stupid/irrelevant Lady Gaga is, they spend an awful lot of time ragging on her for silly things like “lack of talent” and “being annoying.” We can agree to disagree on whether these things are actually important when it comes to pop music; I personally think viral melodies and a decent internet personality are reason enough to worship someone. But I am not here to sell Ke$ha singles or to convince the masses they need to honor the dollar sign in her name (which you should, really, but that’s fine). I am here to show that beneath the seizure-inducing vocal fry and the bedazzled-at-home body parts is a truly admirable person who has changed my life by bestowing the following wisdom.

How to brush my teeth. About six months ago I purchased my first electronic toothbrush as a lark. I realize I am about ten to twenty years late on this fad, and much like my 65-year-old father with regard to texting, I do not understand it nor see the point. Do I brush back and forth like I would with my Oral-B, or do I just slowly and awkwardly drag it across the surface of my teeth? It remains a mystery. Taking a cue from my mentor, I recently decided to chug a bottle of Jack Daniels before scrubbing the morning breath off my tongue each dawn. Instead of worrying about my brushing technique, I usually spend a good 45 minutes to an hour drooling over the sink before going back to bed. It seems to work fine.

How to spell. I used to think that most of the letters in the English language served a purpose, and that to articulate a point you should probably put the right ones in a particular order. But then Ke$ha started replacing S’s with dollar signs and tweeting words like “Ledgendary.” The fan-made video for “Sleazy” proudly displays the lyrics as “I don’t need you or your brand new Bendz/or your boojy friends.” Intentional or not, misspelling is a part of Ke$ha Culture. And Y so many letters, bro? U $huld wryte moAr lyke thi$, we R who we R.

How to rap. I think sometimes people forget that while Ke$ha may not “technically” be a singer, she can definitely spit a baller tuneless rhyme. “Hey, I got a question/Do you wanna have a slumber party in my basement,” she shrieks in “Your Love is My Drug.” That is solid gold. The other day someone challenged me to a freestyle battle (I get challenged to a lot of these because I’m a white girl and people always assume I have crazy rap skills), so I took 12 jello shots, improv’d a cheerleading routine and totally won that shit. Thanks, Ke$ha!

How to feel about “personal hygiene.” Ke$ha takes a lot of pride in the fact that she always looks like she is wearing something she stole from Forever 21 or found in a dumpster behind the studios for Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Her hair is usually in an amorphous net of dreadlocks, and she claims her daily makeup routine is as a simple as never washing her face.  As I write this I am struggling to remember the last time I actually showered. Most of my clothes actually are, admittedly, from Forever 21 or shredded crop-tops from the Salvation Army. I had a meeting this morning at 9 am, which naturally I was late for, so I put half a bottle of baby powder on my greasy bottle-blonde roots instead of actually cleaning myself. All of this is because I am both lazy and pretty hilariously poor. But I never have to feel like the trampy homeless person I so clearly embody. Instead I get to feel like a superstar with a catchy, relentlessly ubiquitous pop album. Do not ruin this for me.

How to stick to my guns. When we first heard The Ke$h whine the last line of “Your Love is My Drug” and sign off with a giggle and the super irrelevant, pseudo-quirky quip “I like your beard,” you all thought she was just trying to be cute. Oh don’t mind her, she’s just being a drunk bitch again. Well, you were wrong. Ke$ha actually loves beards IRL and has gone to great/predictable lengths to prove that she was serious. By that I mean, she made a Tumblr about it. Consider going to putyourbeardinmymouth.tumblr.com for low quality proof of Ke$ha’s facial hair fetish. She even takes submissions! This is obviously not some fad. It is nothing short of social activism.

How to get famous. Give head to Flo Rida. At least once.

How to not give a fuck, ever. Yeah, she comes off as slightly obnoxious. Sure, she’s been known to make ignorant graphic jokes on the internet amidst a sea of typos. She dons socially unconscious tribal apparel unapologetically. Nearly all of her songs are about the same typical party in the same brain-meltingly catchy tune. But how can you be mad at someone who is having that much fun? In the years since she’s been on the map, I’ve learned that you can’t let haters stop you from being yourself, whether that involves having dance parties on elephants or getting that Wingdings tattoo I always wanted. I have finally figured out how to liberate myself from self-consciousness, because that’s what Ke$ha, as an entity and a lifestyle, is all about.