By: Sady Doyle
I admit I love Hollywood and I’m fascinated separately by the way the media portrays women period, not just famous women. Also by the way fandoms react to certain characters as opposed to male characters (relevant but the book only concerns real women.) So I really enjoyed Trainwreck.
The tagline says “the women we love to hate, mock and fear… and why,” and includes lots about Britney Spears highly publicized breakdown, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and others as well as several women throughout history including Sylvia Plath, Mary Wollstencraft and Billie Holliday.
The book left me with a lot to think about. I do believe there’s a double standard in a lot of ways. Why was Courtney Love a monster for a lot of the same behaviors that her late husband Kurt Cobain exhibited?
What in the world did Anne Hathaway do to inspire that kind of hate? Wanted an Oscar? There’s lots of stories about people (of both sexes) campaigning a lot harder than she did.
An of course there is a whole section on the press and the stories about Hillary vs. Donald- or at least people’s tendency to believe the woman sold children into sex slavery with no evidence yet pass everything that was thrown against good old Donald off as the mean press. And politics aside I do think the press in my fair country has a whole shit load of problems. One particularly maddening story was about the publishing of Britney Spears engaging in a sex act with her (now) ex-husband a video that was probably illegally shot that was published everywhere while the writers bemoaned the constant news stories about Britney and why do we have to deal with her all the time.
You know what? You could leave her alone. Apparently not an option.
I did have two issues with this book and one I think is probably just semantics. But I can see calling the events around certain people’s lives a trainwreck but I can’t really put Hillary Clinton or Kim Kardashian in that category. I think the press treatment of them is interesting as is the hatred. But they’re incredibly polarizing and divisive figures for whatever reason yet I can’t really put them in the same category as the others. I don’t think people hated Britney or Whitney when all that was going on.
I do think there is inherent sexism in the coverage (and seriously the up skirt shots, the sex tapes and the writing about how they look and how they are shot is really interesting and doesn’t just hold true for this kind of thing) and at times in the aftermath. But I don’t think the reason we watch is entirely sexist.
I also think there are real issues with how mental health and addiction is covered in the media. The level of shame that plays a part and what that might say to people who are dealing with the same issues is heartbreaking. If you go with the argument the media and we as a society were shaming them because you can’t talk about some of the women in this book without talking about those two issues as well.
And what message does that send? Not a good one.
I think one it’s boredom/dehumanization/entertainment. Social media in this day and age tends to dehumanize everyone men and women- it’s just that for some reason it goes quicker with the women (Gamer gate is also discussed in Trainwreck- I never knew that began with some ass publishing a screed against his ex.) While social media has brought celebrities down to earth and closer to us I think it makes it even harder for a lot of people to draw the lines between what’s entertainment and what’s not.
I also think in some cases it’s a sense of, “See, they can’t make their lives work either.” Taylor is beautiful and rich and can do and have anything she wants but she can’t keep a man so it’s not just me. Look at the talent Whitney had and she fell apart to. I think it’s almost comfort on some strange level.
Regardless for me it’s an interesting topic despite my issues with the book. And it was a fast and easy read as well. Plus I learned some thing about women in history that I didn’t know about and a couple that I thought I did. So bonus!
Recommend: Yes. But I imagine it would help to have an interest in these topics in the first place.