Well, this has been an interesting day. This morning I got a Tweet giving me the head’s up that the Vanity Fair article I was in had been posted. I was running out the door, but clicked and saw the GORGEOUS image by Michael Halsband: (including @digitalroyalty @AdventureGirl @JuliaRoy @PRSarahEvans @Pop17) and got very excited and posted a link without reading the article. Well, bad idea.
When I was first approached to do the shoot, I was very excited. The photography in the magazine has always been the best in the business, and the fact that they were interested in doing a piece about Twitter and New Media gave me hope that a magazine firmly in the “establishment” was interested in exploring the subject in a new light. And then during breakfast I saw some weird Twitter comments go by…and then I read the article…and oh, gosh. Really?!
I can’t tell you how many hours I had to resist rage Tweeting about this subject. The use of inane Twitter lingo like “Twilebrity”, “Tweeple” and “Twitformation Superhighway” (Oh God please stop) just signaled that the writer obviously wasn’t well-researched about the service, or the internet in general, really. And her condescending jibes like, “…somehow this fascinates millions of readers.” Well, whatever. We’re all used to snarkville.
But what really ENRAGED me what the general tone, which artfully made intelligent, articulate women sound vapid and superficial. Check this part:
For tweeple, e-mail messages are sonnets, Facebook is practically Tolstoy. “Facebook is just way too slow,” says Stefanie Michaels…“I can’t deal with that kind of deep engagement.”
“Sometimes,” says Julia Roy, a 26-year-old New York social strategist turned twilebrity, scrunching her face, “when you’re Twittering all the time, you even start to think in 140 characters.”
“Scrunching her face?!” Oh gosh, thinking is hard!
Well, despite the overwhelming insinuation, these women ALL of them are self-made, business entrepreneurs. They aren’t skating by on their good looks, they have businesses. In some of their cases, with professional sports teams and major brands, they help steer the online presence of empires. They are a new kind of savvy business person, cutting the middle man out. Carving and creating new professions. Most importantly, in this celebrity culture of “Jersey Shore” fame, they aren’t just “famous” for being “famous” as the article implies. They have influence in an emerging and important arena. I guess that just wasn’t an interesting angle? I mean, we’re practically naked in trench coats, who needs MORE zing?!
I am especially sad that in the same issue, Vanity Fair featured 7 very young emerging actresses (most of whom are tied to large corporations like Disney and Nickelodeon) and treated them with much more respect than they gave us. I feel like an opportunity was missed to celebrate a new kind of independent and liberated woman. Yes, I’m pretty naive, haha.
Luckily, there are many smart women on the internet whose hackles got raised as much or MORE than mine did. In blog entries at CNET, Geek Week, Mediaite.com, smaller blogs like Geek Girl Diva, and many many comments through Twitter and Facebook, everyone picked up on the condescending tone of the article. (Too bad VF doesn’t have comments enabled on the article, I’d love to see that thread!) Perhaps this will spur more dialogue about old media’s perception of the internet, and the role of women in new media vs. old? I can only hope.
Thus ends my “glamorous” experience. For a few hours during the photo shoot it was like a dream come true. But their business is about to be gutted by the tablet revolution anyway, so I guess I’ll cut them some slack.
UPDATE (1-10): @digitalroyalty, far right in the photo, has a blog entry up on the situation as well, check out her social media perspective.