patty duke has died…

hey. it’s me. (hey-o, is matchbox twenty’s “long day” in your head now too?? [and did you remember rob thomas rocking the double-hoops?!? which OF COURSE sends me down memory lane right back to david silver’s lady earring…

img_1658 img_2544 img_4962

can it be that david silver was really on trend? or, THE HORROR, ahead of the curve?!?]).

i feel like patty duke- whom this post is actually about- would really appreciate that digression.

(Ryan Miller/Invision/AP)

(Ryan Miller/Invision/AP)

you know what i think she would not appreciate? the guardian‘s obituary. let’s take a look…

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“in lieu of flowers…”: obituaries, 2016

2016, ya’ll. i’m in paris at the moment and wanted to cobble together a parallel to p.t. barnum so i just googled him and was reminded that he was “un entrepreneur de spectacles américain.” which sounds about right for our current times. DE SPECTACLES AMERICAIN!

anyhoo, a funny thing has been happening with obituaries this election season. have you heard/seen?

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NYT obituary smackdown: lauren bacall vs. lorin maazel edition


if celebrities play out our societal anxieties, hopes, dreams, blah blah blah on a conveniently more manageable, individualized scale then obituaries do the same for biography.

it’s all here, gang. i’ve said this before and i’ll say it again: we write women’s lives differently than we write the lives of men. EVERYWHERE. even obits. (btw, this inequality isn’t gender limited, obvi. it extends to race, class, region, etc. but i write about life writing and gender so this is about life writing and gender.)

exhibit A: bacall.

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NYT obituary smack-down: joan fontaine v. peter o’toole edition

Olivia de Havilland & Joan Fontaine

the thing about sexism is that it’s so often subversive, so woven into the culture that you can just be all like ‘oh no, that’s not sexism, it’s just a difference in talents/skills/blahblahblah/whatev, and that’s why that person is written about that way.’ 

so one way of looking at the vast difference between the obituaries of joan fontaine and peter o’toole, both of whom died this weekend, is to say that peter o’toole’s was the more important career. which, were i more familiar with the films of either, i would try to make a convincing case for at this point, because i’d prefer not to have to confront how deeply messed up are the ways that we write about women’s lives within american culture, but alas… NAW. so let’s take a look. Continue reading