Someone asked me for my “girl and boy crushes” at the Fashion Group International Rising Star Awards lunch last month. You know you’re at a fashion event and not the Council on Foreign Relations when you’re asked that question. The query is practically mandatory among the stylish set now: “What do you do?” and “Who do you know here?” come first, then “Who are your crushes?” (Further proof of the popularity of this question is in the New York Times today.)
Fashion conscious Lady Gaga would have appealed to me at any point in my life. But during and after my college years, when I was very politically correct, I would have loathed Eminem. A homophobic (Marshall Mathers, you protest too much!) misogynist whose murderous alter ego rapped about being a mother raper* would have been Public Enemy No. 1 in my mind. I probably would have written a passionate class paper about him, like the one I wrote for a literature class positing that Moll Flanders was an uber-feminist. I got an A on that one. I also remember a paper I wrote for a post-college film class that explored the way two 1987 movies treated career women: I wasn’t happy with Fatal Attraction but approved of Broadcast News. That paper was “meh.” I might have gotten a B. I think the topic would work a lot better as a video, like this Buffy vs. Twilight mashup.
A decade after I graduated, when Eminem came on the scene, books and music and movies got somewhat less of a rise out of me. I thought, “Of course, I hate Eminem! I just like this one song. And this song. And this other song. And this one too. But those are the exceptions that prove the rule that I hate him and anyone like him.”
Another ten years down the line, I find I’m much pickier about my battles.While I still get agitated by real-life sexist bullshizz, including the memory of the bullshizz I endured at some of my jobs, I am far less likely to be upset by artistic expression. As I wrote in December, I feel I have more power over words than they have over me. Maybe that’s because having my own business has given me more confidence. Maybe that’s because I’m such a contrarian that I’ll even oppose my own past. Maybe that’s because I’ve learned that famous entertainers are easily beaten in the offensiveness race every single day by the ordinary online commenter. (And I don’t blame rappers for coarsening dialogue. Human nature has always been nasty. The anonymity of the internet merely invites the ugliness to come into the open.) For sure, I’m less judgmental of and more amused by professional provocateurs than I used to be — as you can tell from my idolatry of Coco and my Wear What You Want™ policy.
Whatever the reason, Elton John and I have grown to love Eminem, so I hope Em and Gaga win big at the Grammys tonight. I’d be glued to the TV except that my designing friend Zang Toi is having his runway show at the same time. Designing bros come before celebrity hoes, so I’ll be at Lincoln Center in Zang’s audience, wearing the outfit he told me to wear.
If you see me at Zang’s show and don’t know what to say, feel free to ask me the crush question again. I’m polyamorous so you might get a different answer. In fact, right after I gave my Gaga-and-Eminem answer, I realized I had a fierce girl crush on Nicki Minaj and a boy crush on the guy who plays Mayhem in the Allstate commercials.
Now that I think of it, Mayhem is a little like Eminem, what with the unnecessary hostility (lots of people liked the Chrysler Super Bowl commercial with Eminem but I also adored the belligerent Claymation Eminem in that ice tea commercial) and habit of driving cars off the road. Maybe I’m like the freaks who got off on car accidents in the 1996 David Cronenberg movie Crash.
Maybe that’s it. I’ve turned into a perv!
Who are your crushes?
“Group W’s where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me!”
The traditional radio broadcasts of that song at Thanksgiving are my favorite thing about that holiday. See? Perv!
UPDATED TO ADD: Em was robbed!