Updated: Jun 16
Someone recently criticised me and my blog - she said writing about other people is a “petty” thing to do. This pissed me off so I decided to write about her. I actually mentioned it in another blog (see blog 9 for an extensive explanation of why neither I, nor this blog, can be accurately or fairly described as “petty”).
She quoted the oft instagrammed quote "great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people". I'm not sure who the quote was originally attributed to (presumably Cara Delevingne), but intriguingly the quote itself discusses different types of people - so I guess I would tend to agree with her.
Something else I didn't mention on the previous blog she featured in, was that after calling me “petty”, she went on to bring up a podcast I had previously criticised (in another earlier blog, she’s a long time reader!) and asked:
“What makes you so perfect that you can criticise other people in long personal essays? Who do you think you are? Hannah Baker???”
Thanks so much for asking, and welcome to your tape.
Personally, when I think of things that I would describe as “petty” - I don’t think of people who are doing their best to create funny but balanced pieces of writing where they have honest conversations about their experiences in this world. When I think “petty” I think of things like reality TV shows or that song “Free Fallin’”.
I hate reality TV. I am sick and tired of seeing bad behaviour glamourised and unrealistic standards promoted in reality shows such as ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ - I particularly draw issue with a central element of their show - that nothing matters more than family. Even though typing “Kardashian family values” into google will probably result in prompting google to ask “did you mean: Kardashian net worth”, I fundamentally disagree with one of the so-called cornerstones of their show - the idea that family matters above all else.
It doesn’t to me. My brother and my parents are the best three people on the planet, but that is just a coincidence, and a rather convenient one for me. They are my best pals and I love them because of the people that they are, but I feel absolutely no loyalty to them simply on the basis of genetics.
I work in comedy but my Mum is, without a doubt, the funniest person I have ever met. The funniest person on this planet is most certainly not a comedian. Firstly, because comedians, like the one who inspired this post, are often fucking weirdos. Secondly, and because, as I already said, you need to keep up - it’s my Mum. She is quick witted and sharp. She is the life of every party, and the coolest person I know. Everyone says I take after my Dad.
My Dad is a softly spoken man, incredibly kind, wiser than anyone I’ve ever met, and more thoughtful than anyone you could think of - so I am happy to accept the comparison. He is always right - but this is not because he is a genius or a know-it-all. He is far from the latter - whilst he is intelligent (and actually might meet the definition for “genius”), perhaps it would be more accurate to describe him as “never wrong”, rather than “always right”. My Dad is never wrong because if there is even a chance he might be, he wouldn’t dream of adding his voice to the conversation. He always does his research. He hates David Cameron, but he read all 752 pages of the world’s worst autobiography to be crystal clear as to why. He went on to read every other autobiography to confirm it’s ranking. For the record, if you’ve not read Cameron’s book, content wise it is comparable to the ‘Kama Sutra’ - except it is about how to fuck an entire country.
My brother is also a cool guy.
I would be proud to become just half the person that either of my parents are but I like to believe that half of me came from each of them. I like to believe I have the attributes that I admire in each of them - I think that growing up around my Mum is the reason I know how to write a good joke, and growing up around my Dad is why I always bide my time before choosing to say it. My Mum gave me the skills to be able to write a book. My Dad taught me to do my research - to only speak up if I know exactly what I am talking about - and to keep quiet and read a damn book if I don’t.
My Dad taught me the importance of being informed. He is the smartest person in every room, but always the quietest. Growing up, I watched arrogant, confident people talk over him - people who didn’t know shit about the topics they had decided to talk with great hubris about, and I admired my Dad for always smiling and nodding, and waiting til we got in the car to tell me what an utter moron they were. My Dad is also a very modest man - I don’t share this attribute, so I am willing to say that I am my father’s daughter, and I am damn proud of it.
I have always admired this trait in him and it’s why I am the way that I am - I have worked to be this way. I don’t talk about anything unless I know I have the right to. Everything you have read so far on this blog, and every criticism I have made on it, has come from an informed place. Needing to be informed is why I write about things like Taylor Swift and my own damn life - because when it comes to these topics, I know my shit.
Anything else I have chosen to comment on, I have done my homework. I did my homework before I commented on the podcast in my first blog entry. I have briefly talked about this in another blog, but if you didn’t read it - the cliff notes version of the worst thing that has ever been done to me, is that I was dropped by my agent, in the most callous way (over the phone, in a manner that would shock even a 19 year old Joe Jonas).
I didn’t love what they did to me. I didn’t think it was particularly nice. And it did feel like they were rubbing salt in the wound when I watched them immediately sign two guys who have a somewhat infamous right wing leaning (or at the very least, platforming) podcast. However, I knew what I was feeling was an emotional response, and I’m not a big fan of having emotions or acting on them. Unfortunately I have to have them, but acting on them is not something I do. Ever.
What I do do - is wait. I let myself feel things, but I say nothing. When bad shit happens in my life, I bite my tongue and I walk away. I think about what has happened, and then, once I have done my thinking, and more importantly, my research - at this point, if I still have something to say, then I am going to say it.
In my first blog entry, I gave my opinion on why I think this podcast is damaging - I believe that it is made by two very intelligent men who know exactly what they are doing. I think they know there is a market for right wing opinions, and while they might not subscribe to these ideologies themselves, they are happy to platform them in order to profit in an area where there is a gap in the market and a lot of angry people who want it filled. They might not agree with the opinions they platform, but they do platform them and each podcast includes a tag line which is always the most inflammatory click-bait statement made throughout the episode. I think it’s a clever business model, they curate a certain audience but can simultaneously claim not to be a part of it. It’s a great business model to have on your books, if you only care about profit and nothing else, like my ex agency.
Luckily, I’m another angry person with time to listen to a podcast. I wanted to discuss my opinion about why I thought my agency was wrong to drop me and sign them, especially in the way they did, but I could not, in good conscious, give my opinion unless I was fully informed. I thought, if I want to put my opinion out into the world, about two other human beings, who, regardless of what I think about their politics, are people with feelings, then I should listen to all the episodes. So I did. All 264 of them. I am truly willing to suffer for my art.
I listened to approximately 8 working weeks worth of episodes and kept a spreadsheet. I tallied up things like “amount of jokes made on a podcast hosted by comedians who claim that comedians don’t tell jokes anymore” and found some particularly revealing findings. Now, that is what gives me the right to criticise other people in my long personal essays. I hope that answers part of your question.
The opinion I gave was informed. You are welcome to disagree with it - after all, it is an opinion not fact, and two people can draw different opinions from the same facts. However, every time I have criticised something or someone - it has come from an informed position. I am willing to subject myself to things I do not enjoy, because I think it is wrong to speak out of turn. I never speak out of turn. I don’t speak about anything unless I know what I am talking about and have thought it through completely because I think the words that we choose to say matter.
I think words are so important. I love words and I love books because they have lots of words. I grew up watching loads of TV and when Rory Gilmore gave her graduation speech and described “growing up in a world of books”, I thought that sounded pretty cool so I decided I would learn to read. Much like Rory, I have never lived up to my full potential and have spent most of my adulthood wondering where it all went so terribly wrong. But unlike Rory, I didn’t grow up in a fantasy world - I had quite the penchant for non fiction. My favourite book when I was a child was Anne Frank's Diary. I hoped one day my Dad would also help me get a book published.
I think books are amazing. I love the words that are in them. I don’t even have the vocabulary to describe how great I think words are. Words matter to me. I think words are the best thing in the world, because they are so powerful. Words can bring so much joy and can create whole worlds, and words can also bring a lot of pain - if you know what you’re doing.
I don’t like it when people use their words incorrectly. Many of the worst perpetrators of this are from the Kardashian family. I don’t like them. I didn’t like what they did to Taylor, or how they bullied Chloë Grace Moretz and an innocent girl who just happened to look like her on twitter, I don’t like how they are responsible for establishing some of the most dangerous beauty standards we have ever seen, and I don’t like how they get to masquerade this utter bullshit as body positivity or empowerment. But more than this - I don’t like how fundamentally shite they are at basic grammar. I don’t like that they always say “I could care less” when they mean “I couldn’t care less”.
I’ll admit - I have said “I could care less” in the past. But I’ve done it on purpose - sometimes I’ll say “I could care less”, so people think I’m laid back and chill about whatever is happening, but I’m trying to subtly let them in on the fact that I am actually devastated.
I have a great appreciation for words and am careful with how I use mine. I wouldn’t want my words to be misconstrued or misunderstood. I occasionally lie, and anyone who says they don’t is a liar. I am not a liar, but I do lie - these are significantly different things.
I lie when I say things like “I’m fine” or “great set” or “I have to go, I have an early start tomorrow”. I never lie about anything that matters, and I would never lie to hurt someone, but I do lie to protect other people's feelings, or to get myself out of conversations I do not wish to have.
I choose my words very carefully. I don’t misuse phrases. In fact, I actually use them as best I can - I pick my words extremely carefully - for example after saying “great set”, someone might respond by telling me that they were actually very nervous, and I will reply “Really? I didn’t doubt you for a second”. A factually true statement, because, actually, I had no faith in them at all and doubted them for the entire time they were on stage.
I also like using known phrases in the way they were actually intended. As I said earlier, I don’t like people simply because they are related to me - I don’t like one of my Aunts (fyi: not you, to the one I know is reading this, you’re great - this is about the one who definitely doesn’t read my blog). However, the last time I saw her, she told me a story and clearly expected me to agree with her out of familiar obligation, so I said “blood is thicker than water” because I disagreed with her entirely and the concept of family means fuck all to me.
Just in case you didn’t know, the intended meaning of the phrase in its entirety is that the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. This phrase actually means quite the opposite of how it is colloquially used, as it will be used to emphasise the strength of family ties, when in reality it means quite the opposite - blood shed in battle bonds soldiers greater than genetics ever could. You probably already knew that, and if you did - well done! Great minds think alike!!! (but fools seldom differ, so we are both fucking morons).
I can’t get on board with the song “True Colours” - because I don’t like the way Cyndi Lauper uses her words. I think it’s weird to sing a song about seeing someone’s true self and loving them for that, whenever I’ve said that I’ve seen someone’s true colours, it’s because I have finally realised they are a total and utter piece of shit.
Sorry I went off on a tangent there, but back to your question. Let’s unpack the second part, shall we? You asked; “what makes me so perfect?”. Stop it you, you’re too kind, I’m blushing!!!
To actually answer your question - I would say, it’s a combination of genetics and being raised right.
Seriously, thank you for suggesting I am perfect. That’s very kind of you, but I am actually going to have to disagree with you on this point. I am not perfect, nor do I think I am. I know, like everyone else on this planet, I am a flawed person. I could provide you with a list of my flaws. The list is laminated, and this perhaps highlights one of my flaws - it perhaps suggests that I am stubborn or “unwilling to change or take criticism”. This might be partially true. But it also shows that I am self aware, and I am willing to accept and agree with criticism, as long as the criticism is accurate, and well informed.
One of my flaws is that I hardly ever say things when I should. Not saying anything in the moment means I can honestly say that I have never said anything I regret. However, it also means that there have been plenty of instances when I have regretted not saying things. A downside of always needing to be informed, is that when someone shows me their true colours - if they say something shitty to me, like insulting me and my work, I won’t say anything at the time, I will let them. I will go home, I will have a think, and I will wait, until… I don’t know… the following Friday.
I know I am stubborn, but I think if you come to a conclusion about something after 8 working weeks of doing your research - you’re allowed to be - definitely more so than the arrogant, confident person who hasn’t done theirs.
I hope that this long personal essay answers your question, and I hope you can answer mine; what makes you so perfect that you can criticise someone for choosing to write about their life?
the happiest family member since 93