Posts Tagged: lady inspiration

Lady Inspiration: John Waters

life is nothing if youre not obsessed

I’m well aware that John Waters is not a lady, but ladies can find inspiration all over the place and I find him extremely inspirational. This is probably the closest thing to a motto that I have. Why even bother with anything if you’re not going to fall head over heels for it?

PS: Role Models is a perfect book, and if you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? I may have mentioned this before, but listening to it on audiobook is a delightful experience.

Image via Lisa Congdon

That Time I Saw Miranda July

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Last week, Miranda July visited Columbus. Honestly, I was surprised that she was in Ohio, but she was speaking at an art school so it sort of made sense. I was a little nervous because it was billed as an artist’s talk that had “interactive elements,” and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s audience participation. I’m old enough to admit that, right? Like, I’m in an audience because I want to sit back and enjoy myself, not because I want to be part of the show. But MJ sort of addressed my concerns in an interview with Columbus Alive, so I felt comfortable in assuming that this wasn’t going to be like Cats and she wasn’t going to crawl into the audience or anything.

My friends Carrie, Mindy and I showed up a little early, and the auditorium was already packed with art school kids. So much faded blue hair! So many pairs of unconventional tights! It was like a different world for me. No one was wearing business casual. I realized later that the girls and I spent our pre-show minutes talking about the most stereotypical adult things ever: home renovations, hosting holiday dinners, and weddings. I’m sure there were some 19 year olds making gagging motions behind us or something. I will never be hip.

Anyway, when MJ came out, after a crying 1.5 year old was escorted out of the auditorium (sidenote: Who brings a 1.5 year old to an artist’s talk? It’s cool that you want to expose your kid to culture or whatever, but 1.5 year olds are KNOWN for their disinterest in performance art and experimental videos), I was immediately entranced. Her work is so earnest and out there that it’s easy to forget how funny she is, but she very easily made the entire crowd laugh all the time. It’s so strange to me that she has a reputation for being “twee” (ugh, I’m sorry) or precious when, in my opinion, she’s anything but. She has an extremely strong presence on stage and everything she said felt extremely confident.

She showed some of her early short films and talked about the origins of her career. It was so interesting to hear about how her smaller works informed and transformed into her larger works. Short films and her real life became Me and You and Everyone We Know, and a play became The Future. One of the most fascinating things she showed us was the audition she made her moving guy do for what became Hamish Linklater’s role in The Future. Coming from some people, showing a random dude’s audition would’ve seemed mean or like she was poking fun at him (and, judging by the loud groans of the girl behind me, some people took it that way anyway). But I didn’t see it that way, and that’s what I love about her work so much. She’s not passing judgment on the people she shows us; she just presenting them. And you know what? People are weird. Like, 95% of the time people are really, really strange and funny and creepy, and she never shies away from that.

She read an excerpt from her not-yet-out novel, which I loved. It was extraordinarily sexually explicit and extraordinarily funny. And that’s another thing I love about her! Her writing is extremely sexual, but it’s never used for shock value. She’s so good at highlighting the most vulnerable, tender parts of people, and showcasing their weird or unusual fantasies is one of the ways she often does it. This is another reason why I think that anyone who’s actually watched her films or read her writing would never dismiss her as precious. Some people really do dislike her, and I think it all comes down to the lack of irony in her work. She’s always unflinchingly, uncomfortably direct about the pure needy emotions of her characters. There’s no escaping that earnestness when you experience her work. She doesn’t hide behind sarcasm.

Are you guys tired of hearing me go on and on about how much I love her? Well, I can’t help it. She’s a huge inspiration and influence for me (even though I don’t write at all like her). Unsurprisingly, there are lots of other people who love her just as much as I do, and many of them asked her weird, uncomfortable questions during the Q&A period.

Have you ever attended a Q&A that wasn’t incredibly awkward? I haven’t. Why are they so universally awful? Shouldn’t someone normal stumble onto an appropriate question once in awhile? It never seems to happen. Someone traded her a box of something for a high five, someone made her wear novelty glasses while she answered their question, someone told her about how they postponed a surgery so they could be there, someone told her that her work wasn’t “normal,” and someone informed her that people in the IMDB comments thought the characters in The Future were unlikable. Oh, you precious, marvelous question askers. Why are you so reliably strange?

MJ was great, and if you ever get the chance to see her (which you probably do reasonably often if you live in a larger city!) you should definitely go. She was funny and smart and even nice to the people who asked her rude questions. She’s a class act.

Lady Inspiration: Carrie Brownstein

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“In Olympia, Washington, ambition was like a dirty word for a long time. I think in very idyllic and idealistic communities, people want everything to be very even and democratic. And that’s wonderful for supporting one another, but I don’t think it’s antithetical to being a supportive member of a community to aspire to do well, and to feel proud about things. I think it’s OK to have wants and needs that might be at odds with what your friends’ bands are doing, or what the community’s doing. You don’t want to undermine yourself, and to feel like for every step forward you have to justify why you want to do it. If you want success, especially for girls and women, there’s this overly apologetic sensibility, like you have to justify or overexplain why you’re going for it. That shouldn’t exist. But yeah, I definitely came from that.

Miranda July and I have known each other since we were 19, and we both came from Olympia, so we’ve talked about this a lot. We both really wanted things for ourselves. We wanted people to hear our music, and she wanted people to see her performance art and see her films—and that’s not a betrayal, I think. That’s the trick—not feeling like you’re betraying other people. If you have friends who are making you feel that way, that’s not the right community for you. It’s good to find people that are encouraging you, not undermining your efforts or making them seem shallow. Because I think for most people it’s actually not about being rich or famous; it’s about being able to support yourself doing what you love. And I think if you can support yourself doing what you love, no one should criticize that.”
-Carrie Brownstein in an interview with Rookie last year

Lady Inspiration: Octavia Butler

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“I didn’t like seeing her go through back doors. If my mother hadn’t put up with all those humiliations, I wouldn’t have eaten very well or lived very comfortably. So I wanted to write a novel that would make others feel the history: the pain and fear that black people have had to live through in order to endure.”–Octavia Butler on Kindred and her mother’s job as a maid. If you haven’t read Kindred, please, drop everything and go read it right away. It’s about time travel and race, and it’s so compelling that you won’t be able to put it down.

Lady Inspiration: Rebel Wilson

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Have you guys read Vulture’s profile of Rebel Wilson? There’s so much great stuff in there, but here were a few of my favorite quotes:

On contracting malaria:“She was in intensive care for two weeks, and while she was under heavy medication, she had a vision. ‘I hallucinated that I was an actress,’ Wilson recalled now, ‘and that I was at the Academy Awards and I won. I got up and did an acceptance rap rather than a speech, and the crowd loved it. The image was so vivid and strong that when I came out of the illness, I saw it as a sign: I knew I had to become an actress.’”

On her mission statement for Super Fun Night: “‘So one day, I sat down and wrote a Post-it and put it in my Hello Kitty notebook, which I take everywhere. Whenever I feel down, I read the Post-it and remember why I’m doing the show.’
Her Post-it is a kind of mission statement: ‘The bigger purpose in all of this,’ Wilson wrote, ‘is to inspire girls who don’t think they’re socially all that—who don’t think they’re pretty and popular. To let them know they can have fun and exciting lives.’

On her clothes in Super Fun Night: “‘In the pilot, I was deliberately wearing a very tight white dress with horrible crisscross black stripes that is way too short, and I’m holding a clutch purse that is so tiny that it accentuates my size,’ Wilson told me later. ‘The women from wardrobe are lovely, but they don’t get that I want to dress as Kimmie, and Kimmie does not have the best taste. The girls in the show are at the bottom of the social pole, and it’s hard to communicate that to the network. It’s important they understand that comedy is not about looking good.’”

Rebel Wilson is amazing, you guys.