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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

On Being a Role Model


posted by Silvana
Even though Sybil already posted about it, I still want to weigh in on the Jezebel Moe/Tracie interview that's kicking up a shitstorm. The obvious: they were way too drunk, and frankly, if you need to drink a shitload of alcohol in order to do a public appearance, then you shouldn't do a public appearance. But that's not really the point. Given that they did appear, and they were drunk, what are we to think about what they said? It seems to me that Lizz Winstead either went there with the intention of getting into a debate about their sex lives, or was so turned off by some of the things they said that she is now trying to make them look as bad as possible. Take, for example, a cited line from Moe, as to why she didn't report her rape: "Because it was a load of trouble and I had better things to do, like drinking more." To cite this as an example of her being flip about rape is just ridiculous; if you watch the clip it's clear that "like drinking more" is poking fun at herself for drinking a lot. Same with "If any of you guys use the pullout method, but you read you know, anything I wrote about Ben Bernanke, or you know, what ever, at least y'll go to the grave with your syphilis, slightly informed, that's all I care about." That's a joke, too. In fact, a lot of the stuff were jokes, but they're jokes that are marginally if at all funny, and--surprise!--jokes that would come off a lot better in a written piece. Which is not shocking given that, you know, they're writers.

But it's pretty clear that what's going on throughout the whole "rape" bit is some seriously defense-mechanism joking. I mean, what are you going to say? I didn't report the rape because I still kind of liked the guy or I didn't really know it was rape or I was traumatized or I was scared or I was anxious about it or I didn't want to deal with it? When you're drunk in front of a crowd of people you don't know, doing an interview which is supposed to be a comedy show? Come the fuck on. It's like suddenly Lizz Winstead wanted them to get all earnest talking about their sex lives and how they feel about rape, and they just weren't going for it. And it's clear that they're reacting against this notion that women are in perpetual danger of being raped, as you can see when Moe says "it's like you never know, and you have to be on guard at all times...it's like the war on terror." She kind of has a point.

Then, Winstead gives away her real reason for asking the question, which is that she thinks that by talking about their devil-may-care sex lives, they are encouraging women to do things that might be unsafe: "When a blanket message gets out in the world that it's okay to have this one kind of amazing lifestyle, because it's always going to be safe for everyone because you've been really fortunate enough not to experience "that guy," I just think there's some kind of middle ground to be had about how to be this really free sexual being and how to realize that we don't live in a world that makes it completely free to be that person." (2nd clip at 3:50).

That's bullshit. Moe and Tracie are not sending out a "message" about sex, and they're certainly not sending out a message that what they're doing is "safe for everyone." How the fuck would they even do that? It's like Winstead wishes that they would keep writing about their sex lives, but make those stories replete with caveats about how what they are doing could have been unsafe or it was dangerous or they have regrets or "don't try this at home."

I don't think such caveats are necessary. And I think regarding Moe and Tracie as "role models" for millions of young women is stupid. They're role models in that they manage to make a living writing about their opinions on the internet. Which is an awesome thing that I wish I could do. They're not role models because they drink a lot and have unsafe sex with people. To compare Moe and Tracie to football players who don't want to be role models is absurd; they're writers who happen to be "cool," not national figures in revered occupations, and I have seen no evidence of people desperately wanting to emulate them.

When all is said and done, I feel for Moe and Tracie. They were blindsided by a serious discussion when they were drunk and thought they were on a comedy show, and they acted defensively and made themselves look stupid and flip. And it was clear they didn't have much experience having serious discussions. The characters that they play on the internet are really not about giving earnest, heartfelt opinions, and they clearly don't have much experience being forced to articulately argue about serious issues on the spot. Would I have done better? Probably, but only because I've argued about these very same issues dozens of times before and I have my arguments honed. Give the chicks a break.

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