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Ann Friedman makes the case for Martha Stewart.
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Gee, “be a narcissistic creep who sets an excellent table and profit!” looks about the gist there. Not being likable is one thing, remembering there are other people in the world who think and live differently than you, that’s another. Seems MS can’t do either.
She’s a role model, alright. For the ’90s.
Thank you for neatly summarizing why I really dislike that woman. Really not a fan of that article, either; I’d paraphrase one of the commentators to call it “femin[ine] hagiography.”
What’s masculine hagiography, then?
That would be The Unmarked Case.
“Hagiography” assumes that it tries to eliminates someone’s faults. “Martha Stewart is awful, but you should respect her anyway”… I don’t know what that is.
“Not necessarily, Martha is awful,” but parts of Martha are. And yet there is stuff to admire.
And I have to admit I do admire the perfectionism and teaching. I watched a marathon of Martha teaching cooking, and came away with a better way to make soup. Not one of a possible myriad of alternate ways, but a clearly better way than I had been cooking it, with a clear explanation of why.
She is neither perfect nor likeable, but what she does in creating products is good, which is why people buy them, watch her shows, and read her books and magazines. Lots of high-performing people are in fact a pain in the ass (even people who aspire to goodness, like Tolstoy,who expounded Christian virtues while treating his family like dirt), but female people seem to be punished heavily for it.
“Zero. Fucks. Given.” A phrase that also expresses my attitude toward Martha Stewart.
Think Honey Badger with impeccable taste in linens.
Your posting in this thread would seem to prove otherwise.
The reverse of this is that most of Stewart’s fans (of which I admit to being one) don’t give a shit either that Stewart is what she is. They like the product she puts out. She makes gracious living accessible and understandable to ordinary people.
There’s a strong dose of sexism in many men’s perceptions of Stewart. Too many men who profess admiration or at least respect for the accomplishments of successful men who are major league assholes seem to think that there’s something wrong about women admiring successful women who are major league assholes.
Also I think Friedman misses the mark when she says that Stewart emerged from prison an even more sympathetic figure. No one is all that sympathetic towards Stewart. But a lot of women felt — perhaps rightly, in given the utter lack of prosecutions of bankers and traders who did far worse things than Stewart — that she was convicted of doing something the good old boys do all the time, and get away with, or manage to bargain down to a fine. That post-prison “sympathy” was more a vote of “fuck you, prosecutor — we’re not going to let you take her down.”
It was a bullsh*t prosecution.
IIRC, she was offered the typical white collar slap-on-the-wrist-plus-probation plea deal, and turned it down, insisting on a trial. The prosecuter obliged, the jury convicted, and she spent 5 months in gaol – hardly a railroad job.
Lots of other people involved in ImClone served time, too. The founder got more than 7 years.
I believe you are right, but I was referring to the perception, not necessarily the reality.
The fact that she showed up to answer the SEC prosecutors with a batch of freshly-made cookies suggests that Martha was out of her element when it came to the trouble she was in.
Also, in one of her interviews, she revealed that she figured how to take off her locator bracelet she had to wear when she was under house arrest for the latter part of her sentence without setting it off.
I prefer to think of it as high (performance) art. Stewart’s really good at that, normally.
When life give you lemons, make them into lemon curd?
This !!!! I am convinced that almost all make reactions to Martha, Lemieux’s included, stem from their dislike of “girly” stuff. Stewart is no worse a CEO than the men she competes with, but she deals in the traditionally feminine, which is of course a complete waste of time and utterly frivolous.
Bullfeathers. I dislike Bijan and Martha Stewart equally, except that Bijan’s dead so maybe I’ll cut him some slack.
I presume you meant the OTHER Bijan!
I know for a fact that Dr. Lemieux likes a good theme party as much as anyone.
It’s not exactly a double standard to dislike Martha Stewart. She makes herself the brand. It’s “Martha Stewart Living,” her picture is all over everything, and she personally demonstrates the recipes. If you don’t like her persona, you’re not going to like the brand and vice versa.
She resembles Oprah Winfrey in that regard.
“She makes gracious living accessible and understandable to ordinary people.”
another way of putting it, she’s raised vapidness to the level of an art form. nothing inherently wrong with that, but please don’t try to make it anything more than what it is.
“There’s a strong dose of sexism in many men’s perceptions of Stewart.”
agreed. i respect her for taking vapidness, and making a brand (and lots of money) out of it. some of her products are pretty solid, and reasonably priced.
she was a “name” prosecution, nothing more, and i thought it a waste of gov’t resources. she should have gotten hit with a fine, not ended up as a “pelt”, on someone’s way up the prosecutorial career ladder.
several years ago, two guys put out a parody of her magazine, called Is Martha Stewart Living?. in interviews, they talked about how, during the course of putting it together, they both developed a tremendous respect for her, and her insistance that every little detail be perfect, in everything. you can probably find it on amazon.
Why are attractive things and tasty food vapid? They increase our enjoyment of life.
Because they are things generally associated with women. Anything domestic is automatically riddled with cooties.
Another take from 1997.
As you watch Stewart needlessly complicate every job she undertakes, apparently without ever having asked herself its purpose, it dawns on you that this must be a parable of sorts. But about what? In this case, I suspect, class struggle–which in this country almost invariably means the struggle to get into one, not usurp it. Yet it’s also a parable of alienation, since most American strivers are deeply puzzled over why the blue-chip version of the good life that’s held up to them seems to involve so much poppycock. Like the latter-day Calvinist she is, Martha promises her viewers that they can achieve gentility if they only work hard enough at the silly but fraught tasks she sets–a conundrum of sorts, since the definition of gentility is not having to work at it. Unless she’s dumber than I think, she herself must wake up every morning fully aware that Westport’s bluebloods will go to their graves still thinking of her as that Polack chippy with the trowel. Since her value system doesn’t permit her to hate them back, she takes out her raging aggressions instead on helpless plants and foodstuffs–wow, the very tools of her trade, and talk about displacement. Marx would understand this, even if Martha doesn’t.
Translation: Real Men eat crap and live in filth. Anyone who makes any kind of effort to improve themselves is a Class Traitor. Whoever wrote that clip would be perfectly at home at a Tea Party rally.
They hate her at least partly because she shows clearly that all the skills of gracious living are learnable and teachable and not the innate properties of the quality (or their servants).
Exactly. Civilized living is a skill that can be mastered by anyone willing to make an effort. Lazy people find this offensive.
I think that part of the confusion is what constitutes “civilized living” and what is mere pink-salt-and-Bechamel-sauce-machine cargo cultism.
“Civilized living” being defined as the manners and ways of upper-class coastal whites. Can’t you see how classist that phrase is? “Gracious living”? Christ.
I say this as someone who has enjoyed Martha Stewart’s show and used her recipes. I have no problem with her. I have a problem with the idea that the lifestyle she demonstrates is superior.
I rather think you’re getting much closer to the nub of things by referring to it as “civilized living” myself.
“Translation: Real Men eat crap and live in filth. Anyone who makes any kind of effort to improve themselves is a Class Traitor. Whoever wrote that clip would be perfectly at home at a Tea Party rally.”
i see ms. stewart has pegged your insecurities. don’t feel too badly, you’re apparently in good and copious company. i think that review pretty much nailed ms. stewart. so much of what she does is trivial, bordering on obsessive-compulsive. there’s no real harm in it, and some of it may actually be fun, as well as adding a little something to the old homestead. most of it, for most normal people, results in a big “gee, why would anyone waste time on that?” reaction. the worst part is, she doesn’t really seem to be even enjoying it. unlike julia child or rachel ray, who truly seem to like what they’re doing, with ms. stewart, it all comes across as “something that must be done”. geez, who wants to spend their life that way?
Ms. Ms ms ms ms ms ms ms. Ms.
What is this, the Ms Dispatch?
There is nothing “insecure” about wanting nice stuff around you. You can take or leave as much about Martha as you want–she freely admits that planting 1000s of spring bulbs is something done with a crew of landscapers, but her tips on how I can plant a lot–and create an impact that pleases me this spring–in fact adds a lot of pleasure to my life.
I don’t literally buy her brand of stuff, but I can dip into her knowledge base and enjoy as much as I want, and leave the rest. The real Martha-obsessives are the ones who hate her so much. Seriously, it’s like porn–if you don’t like it, change the channel
There is nothing “insecure” about wanting nice stuff around you.
Not necessarily, but being unable to recognize it as a hobby, not a morally superior way of life, reeks of insecurity. (And it’s hard not to see Karen’s suggestion that not sharing this particular hobby is the equivalent of “living in filth” as, well, either very insecure or very classist).
I can’t help but think of her as a bit of a martyr. She went to the slam on charges that a lot of men get away with as a matter of routine, essentially because the US Attorney new it would be easy to make her out a witch. Good for her for refusing to buy into the idea that her best path to regaining her business was to keep on keeping on.
What’s weird is that I’ve always found Martha Stewart super-likable. I mean, I think a lot of the stuff she does is anal and goofy and there’s no fucking way in hell I’m doing it…but I can’t deny the woman knows how to make a beautiful home (and beautiful crafts) and I admire that. Martha Stewart is funny ‘cuz you think she’s an aloof snob, but she’ll mix it up with someone like Snoop Dogg. I mean, you almost have to work to dislike her IMO.
I also think a lot of her recipes are terrific, especially for home cooks trying to eat healthy.
fwiw I agree fully with this, except the implication that snoop dogg is anything but an arse
He’s known as Snoop Lion now. Yeah, I know.
I get a kick out of him.
You may be interested in a local weirdo’s interviews with Snoop.
I would say “this means war,” but on reflection I have to admit that he hasn’t had a mostly-good album in at least 15 years.
She drank a 40 on Conan O’Brien. C’mon.
I would probably thoroughly despise working for her; I mean, clearly, she’s no sister. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy her products. And I agree with others: she totally got the prison shaft cuz she’s a woman and needed to be “taught a lesson” (that clearly the latest frauds don’t “need” to learn).
I learn at least one new thing when I read her mags, and some of my favorite recipes that I’ve used for years are hers. The styling in the photos is quite lovely. In a job where I have to deal with sometimes very cranky people who really don’t want to do what I tell them, reading a Living in a hot bath with a glass of wine is quite a solace. Though, now that I’m looking forward to Furlough Fridays, mag reading will go by the wayside.
one thing that i wonder if it had anything to do with the (unwarranted, in my opinion) prosecution of ms. stewart: when her company went public, it was, at the time, the largest IPO in history. pretty damn impressive, for a company that’s based on knick-knacks, crafts, recipes and stuff designed to just take up all your free time, for no appreciably good reason. i always wondered if that pissed off the “boys on wall street”?
From the article: “Martha’s attitude provides a refreshingly clear path to success: work hard, know your value, and have enough confidence in your work and value to keep pressing forward whether or not people seem to like you.”
Sound like the Alpha Male formula for success, and nobody ever questions the validity of that.
Didn’t we just suffer through months of hagiography about another OCD overachiever obsessed with design? What was his name? Steve Jobs?
Also difficult to work with, kind of an asshole, started from nothing and built a huge company, came back from big mistakes and and is yet worshiped by millions the world over as some kind of guru?
Martha Stewart is sort of like the funhouse mirror of Donald Trump. She similarly epitomizes a certain type of ostentatious achievement, except for women. And the big difference, of course, is that Martha Stewart actually does things. Her recipes can be made into food. You can make whatever ridiculous centerpiece it is she’s demonstrating. It’s still a reactionary vision of female achievement, but that’s still better than what Trump sells.
And, of course, Stewart is a better person than Trump. That’s not hard. Trump is a vulgar monster.
And, honestly, I really appreciate that in the context of a heartless capitalist society, women might appreciate an example of a woman who has the whip hand. There’s Oprah, sure, but she buries her calculation in a mess of glurgy sentiment. Stewart, despite the homey material she sells, has always been transparently a shark. And America loves sharks, and why the hell can’t a woman be a shark this time around?
I don’t really see why Martha Stewart’s success is any more reactionary than an assumption that no one who watches/likes Martha Stewart could actually enjoy doing crafts, cooking, picking out linens, etc.
I always imagined that this aspect of Martha Stewart is her inner Polish peasant manifesting itself.
It’s heartening to see such expressions of solidarity from someone else with an Eastern European background.
Yep. She’s like every other Polish ciocia I know, only on steroids–obsessed with keeping house and cooking food just so.
I’m not sure we need laudatory pieces about capitalists from progressive writers.
How ’bout if the capitalists are recently deceased white male pop stars? Will that do?
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