September 30, 2011
I’ve taken a long hiatus from writing because I’ve been, interestingly enough, caught up in all my “working for free” this past summer. Sure, a component of my graduate program involved a semester-long internship. But this summer was not my first intern experience; I’ve held 3 positions before this.
So I spent a busy summer maintaining a full-time internship, while working a paying job and maintaining ties with two volunteer organizations (one publishing related, and the other, gasp, for pure enjoyment and social relief) — and this guy makes it sound like we’re stealing all the writing gigs from him (see: this article).
I consider myself a writer. Yes, yes, hence the blog. But unfortunately for me I’ve also undergone a Masters in Publishing (and a little thing called “the job hunt”) which has taught me about sweeping generalizations. We’ve heard it before: “If the content is good, people will read it.” And while I am so glad that 15 year old fashion-blogging sensation & all around anomaly Tavi Gevinson is optimistic, let’s face it. That sentiment in and of itself is subjective.
What is good content? Lately it seems to be anything that a celebrity name is affiliated with. Does that mean it’s not awesome? Maybe it is. But does it make it good literature? Who is to say?
The internet! It’s changing everything! No one knows whats going to happen! The Amazon Kindle Fire! Google is a country!
The way that we communicate is changing.
But the way we live isn’t. People still need to make money to survive. Certain occupations pay, others do not. It does not mean that, to refer back to Russell Smith, an “entire generation of intelligent people” are simply not “play[ing] along in the work-for-pay convention.”
If that really is a convention, I’d love to take part. But in a world where the production company that put forth the movie Black Swan (with a worldwide gross total of $329 million – google it, fellow 21st century citizens) had unpaid “interns” who are now receiving internet flak because they are bringing the matter of ‘wanting to learn from unpaid work’ to court, it’s hard to visualize this world that Smith writes about.
Truth is, Smith is mistaken in his generalization that we have grown up in an era of instant gratification and that this is why we are willing to work for free. I am 24 years old. When I was a teenager, nobody I knew had a cell phone and Facebook did not exist. I don’t derive any perverse pleasure from divulging my deepest secrets on social networking sites (it, in fact, embarrasses me when others do) and I loathe the idea that a human being is a brand.
I’d kill to write “a dozen numbing profiles on local hair-salon owners” and I certainly wonder what makes anyone’s commentary on gender roles inadequate to a man who runs a men’s blog with the internship opportunity that is advertised as follows:
“1. A #Winning Internship
You don’t get to be as crazy/awesome as Charlie Sheen all by yourself – you need help. And in the world of social media, that means interns.
Social media internships are nothing new, but you can guarantee few involve working alongside this many porn stars and deranged celebrities. So, if you’re a “hard-working, self-motivated, creative, resourceful and social media savvy individual” who doesn’t mind their employer banging seven gram rocks, apply now!”
I love communications because I love communicating. There is nothing more important than the dissemination of ideas (yes, even if I disagree with them). Maybe people my age are starting to realize that if they don’t do it for free, sometimes, they won’t have a voice.
I’m interested in working in an industry that disseminates important information. I’m interested in being part of a larger societal discussion. I certainly don’t have a definitive answer to where publishing is going, but I have faith that it is going to people. Regular people. With important stories. Whether they be “news-worthy” or personal, I think and I pray that the stories that serve as the catalysts for our conversations be authentic and have depth.
If it takes some “free work” to get there, I’m there.
The creative people are not selling out. And that’s a problem how?
April 16, 2011
April 1, 2011
“The sad thing about my car was that my dad had saved a lot of money to buy it for me as a Christmas present. Only three years after seeing it parked in my driveway with a big red bow on it, I couldn’t even be bothered to get it out of impound.”
Two things usually I avoid: blatant self-help literature and books penned by MTV stars. And by all accounts the quote above, from If You Have to Cry, Go Outside, makes it sound like we better buckle up for the adventure of some Super Sweet 16 brat who will get not one, but two cars before she can legally drive them.
But Kelly Cutrone is not a sweet sixteener. In fact, she’s not really an MTV star. Cutrone is the unrelenting fashion publicist behind PR company, People’s Revolution. MTV came much later.
If You Have to Cry, Go Outside is equal parts advice and autobiography. And while the not-born-into-privilege narrative is not enough to carry a celebrity novel, Cutrone’s life is actually surprisingly shocking. Maybe it’s just her brutal honesty that shocks the most. But honesty has always been her business credo and it has served her well. From her early days as a PR novice, to the big-time clients she boasts today, her “tell it like it is” attitude has rendered her — if not always successful — at least charming.
Cutrone takes us through her career ups and downs, all the while doling out her wisdom. And fashion-wannabes will be thrilled as her focus, while sometimes general, is mainly on the biz. From finding “your tribe” to differentiating between nice and right, her advice is sound.
What I wouldn’t recommend is copying Cutrone. While brutal honesty has afforded her the ability to share stories of lovers and ex-husbands with the world, she is a grownup and a celebrity with an established career. Young women should take the nuggets of wisdom embedded in the self-help portion, and not see this is a specific how-to guide like Lindsay Lohan and Sex & the City. The autobiography should serve as a cautionary tale. For most people, should they find themselves in the drug-riddled, couch surfing predicament Cutrone did, fame and riches will not be around the corner.
But if you’re wondering how you’re ever going to make it in the world, “You Are the Brand: Normal Gets You Nowhere” is one of the best chapters. It’s not an ode to contemporary PR buzzwords, or self-branding a la Paris Hilton. This chapter is a no-nonsense look at how Cutrone’s own skills were ever present (even if no one was encouraging them) and is a call-to-action for readers to consider which areas they are already naturally inclined toward.
That If You Have to Cry, Go Outside is a fun read with some meat on its bones — I devoured it within a couple of hours, never putting it down, reading it in bed and bringing it on the bus to school — you can be sure. It is an authentic mapping of one interesting person’s career and life. Take the autobiography for what it is — an excellent and honest story — and the gems of advice are worth paying attention to.
March 24, 2011
See the original Marie Claire article: here
The author discusses whether or not women are able and encouraged to speak their mind, and the repercussion this poses on dating. Luckily, being 2011 and all, the author says she does not shy away from the controversial ReligionPoliticsMoney topics on a first date. She sums it up well: why waste each others time?
But it is really the last paragraph that got me thinking:
“This got me wondering: Do you think Chait’s right? Does society encourage males to have more confidence in their opinions and to debate them intellectually — leaving the females in the cold? Are females more likely to concede points and back away from argument? Do you think this kind of thing impacts the realm of dating — so that opinionated women are a turn off for many men?”
The answer to this question is surely layered, but what happens to women when they express extreme opinions does seem striking:
Take this recent blog post by a mother who unwittingly sparked a “shitstorm.” Not that I agree with the blogger’s actions, but in (misguidedly) attempting to be honest and put herself out there, she incited utter internet chaos with comment after comment shaming her for her post. If she worried about being a bad mother before (which she very well may not be), the cyber peanut gallery made sure she knew where they stood.
Again, I am not condoning this woman. I just have to question the magnitude of the response; the glee with which an entire internet audience takes in cutting down a woman for an awful opinion, expressed sincerely in an attempt to reach out to others who may feel the same, guilt-ridden way.
Further, I will not condone my next pop culture reference: this brings me to Charlie Sheen. Certainly this “news” story has been exhausted, but how can a man with such a ripe history of battery against women (Hello! He shot his ex-fiance in the arm!) suddenly be #winning? With a tour of offensive opinions looming, this man is literally cashing in for spewing reckless thoughts without abandon.
Of course this comparison is not a comprehensive answer to the question of whether women are conditioned to withhold their opinions, but my gut tells me yes. Expressing my own opinions about feminism has shown me yes. And it is in these moments that I sometimes feel like (and, truth moment: have sometimes opted to) let my opinion drop.
Hopefully in today’s world women aren’t afraid to express who they are in the dating scene — how else will they find someone who is a compatible match? But what I really hope is that we can think about this question more deeply, independent of its dating implications, and really question who or what it is that might make us hold back.
March 9, 2011
February 23, 2011
Our group was assigned the task of creating an SIP (special interest publication) for local Vancouver literary magazine, Ricepaper. The parent magazine is focused on showcasing the work and stories of the South and Southeast Asian communities, and it was certainly not lost on us that no member of the group fell into either of those categories.
It was a challenge to come up with a concept that we felt could honour the parent magazine but also acknowledge that we do not have authority over these topics. Ultimately, we let the multicultural nature of Vancouver organically direct us.
Inspired largely by this video, and its message that ethnicities can become so interwoven, and so important to each other that we forget what is old and what has been created together, our publication became about community. Our SIP grew into a city guide of all of the biggest and best cultural events in Vancouver… with an Asian twist: The A List.
Of course we feature some of the most obvious events, Vancouver Asian Film Festival, Cherry Blossom Festival, but we also showcase the effect Vancouver’s Asian population has on cultural events that are not strictly ethnic, like the Dragons and Tigers portion of the Vancouver International Film Festival.
And because the A List is more than just a listings compilation, its presence is much stronger than its ephemeral competition. The A List is a beautiful publication composed of events, whip-smart editorial, and even some fun standing elements like “My A List,” where local celebrities give their own Vancouver A Lists (yup, we landed David Suzuki).
However, perhaps the best part about the publication is its inclusive nature: This is not a magazine for people of just one ethnic-descent, and it covers enough ground to peak the interest of many people from movie-lovers and foodies to ballet-coinnoisseurs and word nerds.
If you are interested in cultural and you live in Vancouver, this is the mag for you.
And we had to do our homework. From finding out if there was a market for a publication like this (there was) to determining how we would get it into readers’ hands (a lot of tabling, and using the support of the many volunteers who already tirelessly work to make Ricepaper a success), nothing about the A List was left to chance.
Even though the magazine is only hypothetical, it was easy to fall in love with the process of conceptualizing, branding, writing (sample hed and dek: Your House is My House / Author Joy Kogawa’s childhood home houses the writers of the future and the stories of the past.), designing, marketing and circulating a publication.
While the A List’s presence should not be ephemeral, magazine project was. I can’t wait to get working on the less hypothetical publications out there.
(note: we may or may not have handed out home-made fortune cookies, with tailor-made messages, to butter up our peers and panelists before presentation).
February 16, 2011
A favourite line:
“Meanwhile the wineglasses had flushed yellow and flushed crimson; had been emptied; had been filled… No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anyone but oneself.”
-Virginia Woolf (or “Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael or by any name you please”)
January 24, 2011
What is smart?
There was once a time when all smart meant was to simply care about a high school assignment and get a good grade on it. As we grow older, smart begins to mean many things. We recognize intelligence in areas outside of academics; we value concepts such as emotional intelligence.
Interestingly enough, people who may not have called themselves “smart” in high school will believe that they are intelligent adults. They very well may be. Since we do not (or should not) base our judgements on scholastic accreditation alone, what do we base it on?
Bill Gates sums it up quite well in a 1994 interview with Playboy Magazine (check out the Business Insider article, which features 15 interesting quotes and bang-on predictions to come out of Gates’ interview, here):
“It’s an elusive concept. There’s a certain sharpness, an ability to absorb new facts. To walk into a situation, have something explained to you and immediately say, “Well, what about this?” To ask an insightful question. To absorb it in real time. A capacity to remember. To relate to domains that may not seem connected at first. A certain creativity that allows people to be effective.”
What do you consider to be the mark of intelligence?
January 21, 2011
Go ahead, read this Vancouver Sun article about public breastfeeding by Shelley Fralic. If you agree with Fralic, go Youtube some cute kittens because you won’t like what I have to say.
The issue of public breastfeeding is undeniably controversial. I was willing to push past the insensitive and self-important title of this article, ‘Etiquette lesson for breastfeeding moms: Cover up,’ in the hope that there may be some kernel of intelligent insight on the matter — or heck, at least some original thought.
Instead, Fralic consistently frames her argument around tired and irrelevant claims:
“In a perfect world, public breastfeeding wouldn’t be an issue… Some people think bare-boobed public breastfeeding is vulgar or sexual or culturally inappropriate. Others, especially citizens of the older vintage who were born to a different era of decorum, are embarrassed by it.”
Oh, okay. So Fralic’s perfect world involves a lack of issue surrounding breastfeeding. However, instead of promoting different, more tolerant attitudes, she spends her time (and wastes her editorial voice) lecturing on the merits of continuing to shame women for breastfeeding. In fact, she unquestioningly accepts that some people may deem breastfeeding to be a vulgar, sexual and culturally inappropriate act.
There was a time, not too long ago, when the very act of breastfeeding was not the norm. Despite its benefits, ranging from pretty important things like higher average infant body weight to prevention of death, people were not comfortable with breastfeeding. By Fralic’s standards, we should never have moved toward normalizing it.
I am particularly troubled by Fralic’s insistence that society cater to the taste of older generations who may have different gut reactions to certain issues. I do not believe in perpetuating anyone’s inappropriate beliefs just because they find them more comfortable. There was also a time when blatant racism and sexism were perfectly comfortable elements of everyday life for some people.
That said, this article also assumes that all people of an older generation are going to be against breastfeeding in public. Fralic insinuates that the very generation of women who fought to change the daily landscape of life for women would most definitely be in agreement with her own anti-femenist conclusions.
This is to say nothing of the fact that Fralic’s insistence that her piece not be interpreted politically is delusional:
“This is not an issue about a breastfeeding mom’s rights, or society’s skewed view of boobs, or even whether or not a business owner has the legal right to ask a breastfeeding mom to cover up or move out of public view.”
I am left wondering how a legal issue — one that has been settled, no less — can be turned into an issue of propriety. But if I am to believe that this is a matter of an impolite Mother, then I am still puzzled as to why Fralic is the authority.
Oh right. She is a woman. She is a Mother. And quite frankly, she is a customer at the store in question. Wait? That is her proof that she is an impartial critic?
She should not be an impartial critic.
I find it appalling, and really, very sad, when women do not realize the implication that their own words have in perpetuating inequality in their own lives. By virtue of nature, breastfeeding is an act that men simply do not have to face. Sure, we live in a world of paternity leave and far more open and liberal attitudes toward parenting, but there isn’t anything that can be done about the fact that women’s bodies are designed to provide nutrients for infants and men’s aren’t.
And I’m not saying that all women are unhappy about taking on a primary care role for their children. But, when parents decide as a unit that the benefits of breastfeeding are important to them, it is the woman who has to fill that role. With that in mind, it is important to foster societal understanding; to promote the shared understanding that breastfeeding is not “vulgar,” “sexual,”or “culturally inappropriate.”
I cannot believe that a woman would promote the shaming of another woman when it comes to breastfeeding — no matter how offended the sensibilities of a couple of anonymous people were. And no matter how much she might like the store.