Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A smattering of the usual

-Parental overshare at its most face-value creepy: Your child's having an age-appropriate tantrum? Publish a photo of your kid in tears, with a caption that implies your own kid is a brat. (And if so, whose fault would that be?)

-Tim Kreider on writing and illustrating for "exposure." It's not that I don't share the complaint - as a naive recent college grad, I wrote this Gothamist post, irony of ironies, for $0 - but it isn't really all that mysterious why someone would think to ask for free writing, but not free dental services. As comes up in the NYT comments, the fault may lie not with trust funds, but day jobs. As in, freelance writing, at least, is something you can do in your spare time, without special training or equipment, and that, unlike, say, accounting, you might enjoy doing regardless of what it pays. It's no coincidence that not one but two (if not more!) freelance writers without another source of income matter-of-factly describe themselves as unemployed. It's work, and it can pay something, but that something may be best thought of as supplemental. But it's not like an unpaid internship, where you're presumably going into some office during hours you might otherwise be at a job that pays, and doing tasks you yourself wouldn't have chosen. The more pressing issue might be that many of the positions that used to be day jobs for writers are now unpaid internships.

-According to Jezebel, Lena Dunham has written something "tinged with privilege." I can't possibly be the only one who's come to the conclusion that coming-across-as-privilege is Dunham's... not gimmick, exactly, but what? Niche? Career-defining motif? Whatever we're calling it, if I were Dunham, I'd keep it up.

14 comments:

K said...

I'm with you on a lot of the parental overshare stuff, but this one not so much. No names for the kids, only a last initial for the submitters- it's not going to come up in a year 2035 job interview web search, or a 2014 one for that matter, so what's the line being crossed here?

(I also don't think the point is that the kids are being especially bratty- nor is the kind of meltdown being documented here about who's at "fault", at least not most of the time. Children's brains aren't cooked. They're illogical and horrible at handling emotions. Knowing it's age-appropriate does not save you from the consequences of these facts. Not earth-shattering revelations, of course, but I mention them because for me condemning the sentiment behind this is like saying that first responders shouldn't use dark humor to deal with the trying situations they find themselves in. There's probably some HIPAA overshare material in there but I'm just going to leave the comparison hanging in the wind.)

Phoebe said...

K,

You're right - this isn't full-on parental overshare. Unless we enter a world of ubiquitous facial-recognition software, the kids are anonymous, which means, as you say, no future-employer (or future friend, future partner) concerns. (And yes, whether I want to think so or not, I can see that it's funny. It doesn't take being a parent to get that having a child at the crying-constantly age would be exhausting, and that solidarity with other parents would be appreciated.)

But it does fit one important aspect of parental overshare, which is the potential to sour the relationship between parent and child. If you, at 14, 24, etc. found that your parents had published a photo of you mid-tantrum, I think it would be difficult to just laugh it off, even though that's really your only option. While I've said all along, when bringing up this topic, that I think it's right for parents to vent with one another, the line, I think, is crossed when the venting publicly humiliates the child. Also when the child is exploited in some way that makes the kid look bad and the parent like a saint. The tantrum-photos thing seems to me to meet that definition.

caryatis said...

" It's entirely possible for your best friend or spouse to be X, and for you to be intensely bigoted against that group. "

Do you understand why? I don't...maybe she doesn't particularly like her husband.

Petey said...

"According to Jezebel, Lena Dunham has written something "tinged with privilege." I can't possibly be the only one who's come to the conclusion that coming-across-as-privilege is Dunham's... not gimmick, exactly, but what? Niche? Career-defining motif? Whatever we're calling it, if I were Dunham, I'd keep it up."

And the thing is, it's actually sorta anti-privilege.

Privilege is eating out at restaurants. Anti-privilege is ordering delivery, thus saving on transport, tips for the waitstaff, and ultra-high-margin beverages. I mean, sure, this is all middle-class living, but still, it's cheaper.

And let's not forget that the original motto of The Big Island, (faithfully translated into English from the original Lenape and retained), is Land of a Thousand Delivery Restaurants.

Phoebe said...

Caryatis,

For the other post?

Anyway, as a scholarly expert in this strangest of topics... A couple of things can be going on. One - the most interesting - is an eroticization of hatred. In other cases, someone with the usual bigotries of their society has a relationship go bad with someone of a marginalized group, and uses that as a pretext for greater bigotry. Another is, in a happy relationship, the spouse (or friend) is treated as an exception - s/he's OK, it's every single other person from that group who's not.

Phoebe said...

Petey,

I don't think that interpretation would fly. It's entirely possible and normal to live in the city and rarely if ever order in. The alternative doesn't have to be dining out or complicated farm-to-table home cooking, it can just be pasta and tomato sauce at home. Point being, you do have to be kind of wealthy - or spending beyond your means - to order in all the time in New York.

Plus, one of the Jezebel commenters helpfully pointed out Dunham's urban privilege - said commenter grew up in the Midwest in a place where regardless of wealth, ordering in wasn't an option.

That said, it's still an interesting topic, because status in the city has changed. It may cost less to prepare a from-scratch mean from farmers-market ingredients than to order in, but it's become the higher-status option.

Petey said...

"Point being, you do have to be kind of wealthy - or spending beyond your means - to order in all the time in New York."

Well, no more wealthy than having a nanny, which is also in the Lena piece.

But if we reduce "all the time" to "often", then ordering in is, as stated, a middle-class issue on The Big Island. Especially if you have a rent-stabilized apartment, and given that you don't have to pay for a car and its assorted expenses.

Even back in the Lenape days, kitchens on The Big Island were generally pretty small, precisely because it was the Land of a Thousand Delivery Restaurants.

Plus, someone needs to pay a living wage to all the struggling working class deliverers who live in Queens and the Bronx.

Petey said...

"That said, it's still an interesting topic, because status in the city has changed. It may cost less to prepare a from-scratch mean from farmers-market ingredients than to order in, but it's become the higher-status option."

True. And that's due to the truly wealthy mass influx with suburban kitchens in their absurdly expensive apartments/condos.

(Though eating-in at high-end restaurants is just as / if not more high-status than farmers-market from-scratch...)

Petey said...

Finally, I thought Jezebel missed Dunham's central point: a passionate advocacy piece against the custom in certain unassimilatable hyphenate-American communities to practice ritual cannibalism.

Phoebe said...

Petey,

Jezebellian "privilege" isn't extreme wealth. It's assuming (upper-) middle-class comforts are normal. You can have a spare $15 a few nights a week for dinner without being in the One Percent, but you can also not have that much money and not qualify as poor. (See: being a funded grad student in the city. You can make pasta in a small kitchen. Plus many roommates tends to mean a larger kitchen than, say, a studio.) And I don't think the nanny detail was ignored.

Petey said...

"you can also not have that much money and not qualify as poor. (See: being a funded grad student in the city."

Aw. C'mon. Not poor? That puts you on economic par with a late-18th century English coal miner.

(Hence why I did my graduate work in a nice 'n' cheap Midwestern college town. I got to live middle-class on precious little money. And when the work got ultra-intense in the final year, I moved out of town and got a two-bedroom apartment to have a dedicated office out in the town's 'exurbs' for $185/month. That 11 minute door-to-door car commute was rough, though... (Actually, the real downside to that living situation was that it was the only time in my life I've had to suffer with the hell of an electric stove.))

Phoebe said...

OK, so we've digressed from the fact of takeout being a luxury. But re: grad school, if it's funded, you'll generally get paid more in NYC, at least that's my understanding. What you want to do is be funded with the assumption you live in NYC, while living elsewhere. If that elsewhere is a fancy suburb of NYC, between driving and, say, NJ Transit, you don't win, but there are other ways that it could work.

Petey said...

"re: grad school, if it's funded, you'll generally get paid more in NYC, at least that's my understanding."

Point taken. You were on economic par with a mid-19th century English coal miner. Better comparison?

"OK, so we've digressed from the fact of takeout being a luxury."

Not really. I was just making the point that, as an essentially unpaid intern, you had a different experience than the Big Island median consumer.

Land of a Thousand Delivery Restaurants is the core of the Big Island experience at the median.

Also, are we now asserting that Zadie Smith grew up in privilege?

Petey said...

Perhaps the problem here is that you grew up in a neighborhood zoned to be 99.9% residential, and thus you were situated in a 'food desert' isolated inside the Land of a Thousand Delivery Restaurants...