[image caption: More Jane? No, thank you, I’ve had quite enough!]
I’m over Jane Pratt.
I adored Sassy magazine, dutifully read Jane magazine (and gave it the benefit of the doubt while still privately holding the opinion that it Left Something To Be Desired when compared with Sassy*), and I’ve been a regular reader of Jane’s latest editorial undertaking, xoJane.com. Mostly I enjoy xoJane, but my enjoyment is based on the considerable talent of a handful of contributors, namely:
Of course, there are also regular contributors to the site who I don’t enjoy reading, and whose articles I tend to skip over in order to promote a positive state of mind for myself (the same reason I try not to read comments sections on major news/headline sites).
At first, I was excited to get glimpses into Jane’s world and thoughts, but since the debut of xoJane that interest in Jane herself has been gradually waning. She really came close to losing me when she spend a week blogging & tweeting from Courtney Love’s house, but I chose to overlook that because they are (apparently) avowed besties. However, about a month ago, the first nails in my Jane Pratt Appreciation Coffin were driven in by this media kerfuffle involving the aforementioned Courtney Love:
Love’s apology comes after she ranted on her private Twitter account, telling her followers that she’d heard from her daughter’s roommate and from a driver that former Nirvana drummer and current Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl had hit on and possibly slept with Frances.
This is abominable. This is the behavior of a mentally ill woman. (Frances Cobain’s and Dave Grohl’s respective responses? To wit: “Gross, Courtney; quit it.”) And this passed without any comment from bestie Jane Pratt, who has her own daughter and should be able to see what a horrendous and destructive thing her friend just perpetrated. And if that were the ONLY thing about Jane I objected to, I’d probably just let that go. But that’s not it.
There’s also the matter of Cat Marnell. A lot has been said about Cat; I’m not going to rehash that here. What I find most upsetting about Cat’s presence at xoJane.com is how the EIC herself behaves toward and about Cat. Jane seems to think Cat (an admitted addict who makes regular explicit references to drug use, both at the office and on her own time) is very entertaining. She has written publicly that she’s giving Cat a “voice” and a platform to be heard, and that she supports Cat in getting help for her addictions whenever Cat is ready/willing, but I find her willingness to publish Cat’s exploits virtually without comment to belie her real motive: Cat = pageviews. And the longer it goes on, the more it looks like Jane is exploiting a person who isn’t well, and trading on the “edginess” of drug use/addiction (see this post & the accompanying photo, titled “Pill-Popping in the Office,” which is really showing multivitamins and supplements. SEE WHAT SHE DID THERE? You thought it was going to be about getting high, so you clicked, and it was just Jane and her dudefriend taking their multis. Ugh). When viewed alongside her friendship/starfuckery with Courtney Love, it starts to look like maybe Jane gets a thrill out of observing/being around unstable individuals.
OH BUT THERE’S ONE MORE THING. This was the thing that really got me thinking, and, ultimately, ended my tolerance for Jane Pratt. Today, an article was posted in It Happened To Me with the headline, “I Went To College With HBO’s New It Girl Lena Dunham, And I’m Seething With Jealousy,” by Ella West. The author relates her feelings of jealousy regarding Lena’s success and sudden fame. Ella’s feelings, IMO, are totally normal, and she even admits understanding that jealousy is irrational and unproductive and that really she needs to redirect that energy into figuring out why she feels inadequate in comparison to Dunham & what she can do to address that in her own life. It’s a very relatable, very reasonable article, and I enjoyed reading it very much… except for one part. Jane felt the need to insert two very high-handed & patronizing comments, chastising Ella for even having feelings of jealousy in the first place. The first comment:
"Thank you for this honest piece. Let’s just look at why your response wasn’t, ‘That’s so great that Lena is on that billboard!" - Jane
And the second comment (even worse):
This may sound lecturey and I’m sorry for that. It is important to me though that we keep in mind that someone else’s gain is not your loss. Especially among women where a gain for another girl is a gain for us all. Let’s all root each other on and pull each other up. Feel free to rag on me as a pollyanna or whatever you like in the comments, everyone. - Jane
In case you’re not familiar with the style on xoJane, these editorial comments are quite rare, and usually reserved for only the *very* controversial topics. I believe one of Cat’s columns had interjections like this, and there was maybe one other that I’ve read that had them, which may have been about some kind of sexually related topic (I can’t quite remember). Even Lesley and Marianne’s body-pos, FA, and fatshion posts are spared these Words From The Editor, and considering the number of “cleanses” the staff of xoJane have publicly participated in, I’d think FA would be far more controversial/threatening to them than jealousy. But, no. Jealousy is, apparently, just as dangerous as narcotics use.
Uh huh. Sure.
Here’s my take on it, for what it’s worth: I think the article hit way too close to home for Jane Pratt. For those of you too young to remember, Sassy magazine was a breakout hit in the late 80s/early 90s, perfectly capturing the zeitgeist and acting as a rallying point for young women. It was smart, political, and feminist-positive. It was a GREAT publication. And the founding editor, Jane Pratt, was only 24 years old when she created Sassy (arguably her best work… just sayin). I imagine she felt the green-eyed looks from her own peer group when Sassy hit store shelves, and I wonder if she wasn’t hurt by that kind of reaction. I think this IHTM described Jane herself a little too accurately for her own comfort, and she felt the need to interject with these backhanded, faux-positive, “We should all support one another!” -type comments to convince herself that the writer’s jealousy is unwarranted, unnecessary, and in fact, wrong. Well, Jane, feelings aren’t wrong. And your treatment of Ella’s perfectly normal reaction to her peer’s success as “incorrect” was an act of dismissal and invalidation. That is NOT how women “support” one another, and it pains me to say that you showed your own true colors with those comments better than any cutesy “updates from your phone” have ever done.
So, in conclusion, I’m over Jane Pratt. I’m over her constant celeb name-dropping (which reads a lot like desperate starfucking, IMO) and her apparent fascination with consorting with (and, it could be argued, exploiting) mentally ill people. Oddly, however, it was Jane’s casual dismissal of Ella West’s perfectly normal feelings (which speaks to Jane’s blindness to her own privilege, which I haven’t fully addressed here) that drove the final nail in. I’m over you, Jane Pratt. Your best work was Sassy, and you’ve shown over and over again since then that you’re basically an entitled Mean Girl who’d rather be able to say she’s friends with Courtney Cox and Michael Stipe and Drew Barrymore (oh, I could go on, and you love that, don’t you?) than to actually continue in the vein Sassy started. It’s disappointing, because you have some extraordinarily good writers and thinkers contributing to xoJane.com - people who were shaped in part by Sassy (Lesley, I’m thinking of you), and I feel like they’re carrying on in its spirit in spite of you, its creator.
* I believe I was a little too young to fully grasp how hypocritical and pandering Jane magazine was. All I remember is wishing desperately for something as cool and relevant as Sassy, and feeling an emptiness when I read the magazine. I wasn’t prepared at that time to place the blame on the editors & writers - I chalked it up to my complete lack of hipness and savvy. I thought the lower quality of the publication was somehow MY FAULT for not being cool enough. AND WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU? It was just another ladymag, helping to cultivate my feelings of worthlessness at the altar of readership numbers and advertising dollars. Were I to read Jane magazine afresh today, I’d toss it in the trash in a fit of pique. It’s much harder to encourage me to feel worthless these days.