Hell yes, "Go Fug Yourself" is funny
One of the many reasons I’m glad that I am a law professor rather than an actor or musician is that I don’t have to worry much about my hair, make-up or clothes; I’d be unemployed if I did. I grieve for the talented performers who spend inordinate time and money on dieting, plastic surgery, hair styling, and cosmetics applications, and still fall short of “the celebrity look” that must be portrayed before their acting or musical abilities will even be considered by their industries. The most I have to fear is “feedback” on my appearance by students who make observations about my legs, hair and sartorial selections in their course evaluations. Occasionally harsh and inappropriate, none has risen to the level of abject meanness and misogyny I perceive at “Go Fug Yourself,” although the goal of putting the dumb girl in her place is probably the same. I just don’t understand how anyone who identified as a feminist could endorse “Go Fug Yourself” even as a “guilty pleasure.” Maybe this is evidence of my own internalized biases and intolerance, I don’t know. Has my sense of humor atrophied?
Last month, I was walking down the street in Amsterdam with my American blogger buddies and our new Dutch friends. We were talking about whether there were any blogs with truly global appeal. Someone suggested "Go Fug Yourself." We laughed at first, but gradually it dawned on us that there was a lot of truth to that statement. Its appeal transcends age, gender, and sexual orientation. You don't have to follow high fashion or care about celebrity gossip.
Some GFY fans I know: a married Dutch socialist organizer, a Canadian geekboy and fashion agnostic, a bunch of jazz musicians, uber-trendy New York account executives, barely legal DC policy wonks, feminist bloggers from red and blue states, Williamsburg alt culture types, random Brooklyn subway riders ... Basically everyone I know. The fact that the site is popular doesn't mean it isn't misogynist. However, I think the diversity of the site's audience suggests that there's more going on that simple-minded anti-celebrity sniping. First off, the authors, Heather and Jessica are good writers with sharp eyes for absurd detail. They also have good taste in clothes. They don’t just criticize, they inform. They tend to focus on pictures of potentially trendy outfits turned monstrous because of miscalculations in color, cut, fit, or accessories.
Ultimately, I think the key to their widespread appeal is that they are bitchy without being truly mean spirited. They usually restrict their scathing comments about the clothes. If they mention a celebrity’s body type or features, it’s almost always complimentary (“She’s got great legs, but you’d never guess when she wears those ¾ length leggings and Ugg boots…”).
Ann thinks it’s unfair that GFY subjects celebrities to this level of scrutiny. I agree that unsolicited comments about a law professor’s wardrobe are presumptuous and offensive. It’s not the professor’s job to dress for the delectation of her audience. However, the fact is that for celebrities and socialites, looking good and being seen are part of their jobs. Most of the GFY photos are taken from PR events where celebrities are invited to pose for the camera.
I don’t think that GFY is misogynist at all. The majority of GFY's targets are women, but that’s probably because female celebreties are expected to dress more flamboyantly. GFY also makes fun of male celebrities daily.
There's nothing intrinsically anti-sex or anti-woman about GFY's commentary. Sometimes the authors make fun of excessively revealing outfits, but that’s because they think exposed breast tape and visible thongs are tacky and sloppy, not because they evince more turpitude.
Maybe the real secret of GFY’s appeal that the authors aren’t contemptuous of fashion or celebrity in general. If I wrote about celebrities, I’d just sound bitter because celebrity culture annoys me. Heather and Jessica take obvious delight in the fact that famous people dress up and parade around for our enjoyment. They just want people to do it right.
Some people would argue that feminists should ignore celebrities and fashion on general principle. Maybe by making fun of people's clothes, we're legitimizing unhealthy preoccupations with appearance and the personal lives of a handful pampered public figures. However, for me, Go Fug Yourself is a non-guilty pleasure because it mocks the excesses of this decadent culture with humor and insight. The celebrities take their own exhibitionism very seriously but GFY deflates their pretensions. So, it's not hard to see why feminists and other progressives might enjoy watching them skewer these self-appointed arbiters of taste.