Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Bananarama

I don’t totally blame Kate Hudson, but I kind of blame Kate Hudson.

There’s been a steady drumbeat in my head that I should be less weird, more in tune with the wide, well-lit highway we like to call pop culture. I watched every episode of “The Wire” but I've never seen a single “American Idol.” This is not because I’m a culture snob but because drug policy in an embattled urban landscape makes me less nervous than people being mean to other people who sing off-key. See? Weird. I have never seen “The Bachelor,” “Lost,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” or any show starring Heidi or Spencer. Again, not a snob; it’s just that there are so many documentaries about unfortunate medical conditions on cable and we freaks have to prioritize.

But as the book inches forward, I have been encouraged to try to write for other mediums beside this blog. Other places aren’t nearly as patient as you all are about hearing about Lupac, my short-term memory issues and random small plastic dealies. Magazines care about what their readers care about, and readers care about things I have never actually experienced. Magazine readers don’t care about documentaries about cane toads or typefaces, mystifying as that is to me. So, I’ve been trying to catch up to the rest of the world. But it’s hard to cram a decade’s worth of People magazine-information into one's brain in a week. Do you know that “Lost” makes no sense? Are you aware that Amy Adams and Isla Fisher are, in fact, the same person? How do the Gosselins have so many children when it appears they hate one another? And I’m still not certain what I’m supposed to do with Elizabeth Hasselbeck. Please do not think I am placing myself above anyone who takes pleasure in these shows. I’m no better or smarter than the mainstream viewer. I’m weird. For the most part, I live with my weirdness the way I would live with a supernumerary ear; it causes me no pain and it only makes me marginally more unsightly.

Which leads me to the gym, where I am frequently unsightly. Sometimes I am very organized and bring something obscure to read as I walk to nowhere. Mostly, I listen to Planet Money podcasts so I can play the at-home version of the economic collapse. Yesterday, I was all caught up on our upcoming depression and had forgotten to bring my biography of Emily Post (See: weird, Quinn), so I grabbed a copy of Elle from the pile of magazines at the gym. Kate Hudson was on the cover glaring at me, but I didn’t take it personally. I started climbing to nowhere and skipped through the magazine. Ponytails are back, check. It seems that MC Hammer pants are back as well, check (with a derisive snort on my part.) And then, in a golden glow of youth and wealth, was Kate Hudson. Kate lolling. Kate pouting. Kate bending. And then the article, which was ostensibly about her (then) upcoming movie in which she not only starred but also produced.

Mostly though, this writer and Kate’s publicist were very concerned that we understand Kate Hudson is a much better person than you, the reader. Kate adores her parents. Kate gets along fabulously with her ex-husband. Kate gained sixty pounds while pregnant and not only lost it all, she lost it in all the right places. If you, the reader, have any unfinished business with parents, or exes, or are still carrying baby-weight and the baby is taking his driver’s test, well you’re just not Kate Hudson, are you? And then, because someone out there wasn’t feeling her inadequacies deeply enough, they got a quote from her friend Jen Meyer. Jen recounted how she’ll go over to Kate’s house and Kate will be looking perfect in a bikini, and then Kate will tell her son sweetly to get ready to go for a bike ride -- just as soon as the banana soufflé Kate has made without a recipe is out of the oven.

I climbed. And I brooded. I know the point of any celebrity’s public persona is to create the best possible image. This article would be known as a “Puff piece,” and expecting depth in here is no more productive than expecting to hear Nine Inch Nails at a Gymboree class. But this puff piece got stuck in my throat. It was that damn banana soufflé. You can either know how to make a banana soufflé or you can fit attractively into a bikini, but you can’t do both. Even if Kate said to herself, “I shall have no more than a bite of soufflé and then I will take extra stripper-aerobics classes to atone for that bite,” she’s still got a soufflé sitting around the house. What, she just ignores it? Next week I’ll be found unconscious in a pile of Girl Scout cookie-crumbs and Kate Hudson can deny herself warm banana soufflé? And don’t think I didn’t get that "without a recipe” dig; some of us aren’t too proud to admit they need to check The Joy of Cooking before baking a potato. The way I read it, I am supposed to understand that Kate Hudson succeeds at being both a traditional woman and a modern woman. Kate Hudson, like many people in pop-culture, is successful, smart, talented, kind and capable of wearing booties with miniskirts without looking stupid. I succeed at being her fat, off-putting friend who falls up stairs.

This is all too discouraging; I’m going back to being unapologetically weird. Heidi and Spencer will have to watch themselves.

27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I should know who Amy Adams and Isla Fisher (full disclosure I had to scroll back to find their names)? Uh oh.
Chris in NY

1:05 PM  
Blogger Poppy Buxom said...

Hey, I have that biography of Emily Post. That's totally normal.

But when I go on a walk to nowhere, I listen to audiobooks. Right now it's Alexandre Dumas' Twenty Years After, as read by Frederick Davidson.

Planet Money? Now that's weird.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Michaéle said...

The last, and I do mean last, issue of People magazine that I bought on a whim while waiting in an agonizingly slow grocery store line had so many "celebrities" in it that I had never heard of I wondered if by some chance I had been living on another planet lately and didn't know it. Hmph.

And don't even get me started on Kate Gosselin....the last, and I do mean, last episode of "Jon and Kate Plus 8" that I watched, I just could not garner enough sympathy for her when she went on about "This lady comes and does my ironing for me each week," and "That lady comes and folds my laundry for me each week." Hey! You got 8 kids! I'm pretty sure they could learn to fold laundry! That just bugged me. If having a lot of children and being a "good mom" meant we all deserved maid service, sign me up.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kate Hudson in a bikini just to shame us all. Yep, it's going to be a cruel, cruel summer....

1:43 PM  
Blogger Leta said...

I've never seen "American Idol," "Lost," or "Heroes" but I'll cop to loving some fairly lightweight sit-coms ("The Big Bang Theory").

And I've gotten use to having lots of extra space around at the gym because I tend to laugh becuase I'm listening to a "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" podcast.

Weird is fun. Let's all embrace the weird.

2:14 PM  
Blogger CDP said...

Oh my gosh, if you're weird, then I'm practically an extraterrestrial. Although I do love American Idol (but only at the end...I can't bear to sit through the weeks of auditions and weeding-out). You said it perfectly when you described Kate Hudson as the perfect combination of modern and traditional womanhood...that is now what's expected of all of us.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous kim said...

Love Planet Money! I have been lurking for awhile, you have me in hysterics. I could honestly not own a tv. If more of the Heidi & Spencer types, perhaps did something radical........such as.....say read Emily Post....what would People have to print?

3:54 PM  
OpenID travellersyarn said...

I like your posts about weird topics. I do like American Idol as a very guilty pleasure, but find Emily Post fascinating.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Oh! I thought I was the only one who fell upstairs! (Well, at least that's what my husband told me.)

I love pop culture. I watch "American Dance Crew" because I am enthralled by Lil Mama's jargon. I know. I am shallow. Too bad I don't look in a bikini--then I could be a Star.

5:09 PM  
Blogger preppyplayer said...

Instead of lurking, I thought I would post. It's funny when I read that piece I kept thinking,"How does Kate Hudson have time to be the perfect mother, sister, daughter, friend, girlfriend to many, loving, ex-wife, successful actress, beautiful person?"
Impossible! So I took it for the fiction it was :)
Now Lost.. and Heros? They are so real. In my world.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Planet Money is AWESOME. They even got a shout-out on C-SPAN today: http://tinyurl.com/cdlmr3 just after the 2hr 23min mark.

FYI, you can follow them on Twitter, too.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Char said...

I watch random television shows from time to time until I'm bored (usually that happens fairly quickly). Kate Hudson does not even relate to me as a real person.

8:43 PM  
Blogger marthaberry said...

Who is Kate Hudson?

Although I have heard of her, I really have no idea who she is or why I ought to know about her. If the truth be known, I don't care who she is or isn't.

I never thought to read about Emily Post, but right now, I am reading about Joseph Smith, in a book written by his mother. It is one book in a string of two dozen I have read lately about the history of the Mormon movement. Why am I reading all these books? Out of a fascination borne of watching Big Love, my one prime time tv indulgence.

Next week, it might be a cane toad, who knows. But one thing it will not be, is Idol, or Biggest Loser, or whatever Kate Hudson has or hasn't been in. Unless she is in Big Love.

I like weird. I think its why I like your blog so much. I figure I would also like you if I ever had the pleasure of meeting you.

5:44 AM  
OpenID DelightfullyHealthy said...

Who are Heidi and Spencer?

8:47 AM  
Blogger Pamela said...

I wonder what "really" happened at Kate's house. I don't mean to be mean but I wonder if everything was as it seemed? I guess we'll never know.

Quinn, I like your blog because you say it like it is and I don't think you BS (you don't seem like the type).

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it's any consolation, David Sedaris is wildly successful (at least in my mind) AND gloriously weird. If he can write for the "New Yorker," then so can you.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

Not to worry, Quinn, many of us do not know what we're supposed to do with Elizabeth Hasselbeck.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous meadow said...

I don't know who anyone in this piece is. I do know who David Sedaris is along with Ira Glass. It must stem from not having TV. If you are a celebrity and I know your name, you are either HUGE or were on TV the last time we had it around 1994. George Clooney comes to mind. I know who he is. Is he still on TV?

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Quinn-
I've been reading you blog for a while now (love it!) and have never commented, but felt compelled to now. I wanted you to know that I have a 2.5 year old daughter named Quinn. Where did I get the idea? Well, a very long time ago I saw a movie, you guessed it, "The Goodbye Girl." I saw your name in the credits, and filed it away as "a really cool name I would like to use one day." Well, here I am now with my own little girl named Quinn, and we love her name and get compliments on it all the time. So thanks for the inspiration!

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Courtney said...

I blog instead of spending my time attempting to write for magazines because I would rather contemplate anything besides Amy Adams or The Hills. I have a tv, and I have cable, and it's all for the love of college basketball. That's it.
Keep blogging the weird, I say - it is my refuge from the rest of the world!

12:45 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

Right there with ya, sistah!

I *own* the complete box set of The Wire, loved Helvetica (I knew which movie you meant before clicking on the link). and don't watch any of those others shows you don't watch, either.

I must admit I've seen one or two episodes of Grey's Anatomy, since I live in Seattle. But I've already seen more than a lifetime's worth of bad auditions, and don't find shows like Idol entertaining. In. The. Least.

It may be weird, but neither of us is alone in our weirdness, which I find somewhat comforting.

And Kate Hudson can bugger off.

4:40 PM  
Blogger laura linger said...

I am thrilled to have found your blog. If you are quote weird unquote, well, come sit on down next to me. I like your writing so much, I am going to blogroll you (I still think that sounds vaguely tawdry, like something that would be said by a cigar-chomping boob-chain wearing hairpiece-sporting creep at the Playboy Mansion, circa 1978). I also can't wait for my readers to read your stuff. I think that they will really enjoy it...they're all a bunch of weirdos, too.

Peace :)

9:34 PM  
Blogger Lauri Hahn said...

I had a very educational & reasonably long working experience at Sony Music in NY. One thing I learned was that the Publicity Department's only job was to produce written air brushing.

Those articles are BASED on facts. Loosely, relatively & varying on perception.

Could be Kate had a banana hammock full of black, greasy bananas on the counter. Same thing as souffle.

6:56 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

That Helvetica documentary was awesome. Remember the guy who was like "Coke. Period. In Helvetica. Period. Any questions? Of course not!" - well, after watching that film, my partner bought a book by him, which was equally awesome and I highly recommend: http://www.amazon.com/Short-Essays-Design-Michael-Bierut/dp/1568986998

I have recommended the Helvetica movie to many people and I find that it's a great way of judging people (always handy!) by splitting them into groups. There are no middling responses, it's either "Wow, cool" or "What do you mean, a documentary about a typeface?" (Or worst, "What's Helvetica?" or "What's a typeface?")

Anyway, since your taste is clearly so fantastic, how about putting together a list of your favourite docs, or at least letting us know when you watch a noteworthy one?

2:56 PM  
Blogger Robin Raven said...

Good luck with the other writing. :) I look forward to reading it!

By the way, I saw you on A and E this morning! They talk about you and show adorable pics of you as a kid in a bio. I was excited. I was like, "Oh, that's Quinn." My friend asked if I knew you. hehehe

Something I learned the hard way: when interviewing celebrities, don't show them the article before publication. ;) That's probably common sense to most journalists, but it escaped me. haha However, you're a celebrity yourself so that could get tricky, hm?

I agree about those shows. I could NOT watch those reality shows. I just couldn't. I went to the Griddle when they were filming "The Hills," and I was completely oblivious. I almost accidentally walked right in front of the camera. I didn't even know the actors. My friend had to point them out. haha

11:39 AM  
Blogger Lene Andersen said...

There's a biography about Emily Post?? Tell me more!

p.s. I know an unfortunate amount about pop culture stuff, but seriously? Type faces? Emily Post? So much more interesting.

p.p.s. I didn't read the article about Kate Hudson, but I feel inadequate merely hearing about it. Who the hell knows how to make banana souffle???

8:00 PM  
Blogger joanne said...

i watched portions of the "Goodbye Girl" on TCM and realized i was looking at a little girl virtually the same age as myself... and even resembled me... it's fun to look into that kind of mirror ... and then of course turned to google to find out what you've been up to...

i am so glad to hear there is a gathering place here for those of us who find things confusing... like how Kate Hudson manages perfection to such perfection and what we are supposed to do with Elizabeth Hasselback and other pressing questions that so often make me feel like i'm the weird one who was dropped into this world from some alien place ... perhaps made more acute by having lived in so. cal. my whole life...

doesn't everyone fall upstairs? (with the exception of course of Kate Hudson?)

3:12 PM  

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