A Loving Farewell Celebration to Courtney Enlow On Her Last Day at Pajiba
By Pajiba Staff | Celebrity | February 28, 2017 |
Seven years ago, I got an email from someone who had been an occasional commenter on the site, who had also written for an outlet called HoboTrashcan, asking if she might be able to contribute to the site. As is almost always the case, we were fully staffed and didn’t have the budget for a new writer, but I checked out a couple of her posts on Hobotrashcan anyway. I remember one was about Saved by the Bell. To be honest, I wasn’t really interested in articles about Saved by the Bell, but I’d read no more than two paragraphs of the piece and I could hear her voice — it was one of the most charged, distinctive writing voices I’d ever read. It had a certain Klosterman quality about it: She was approaching “low art” from an intelligent vantage point. I was blown away by it, so I said, “Sure! Maybe we can find some space for one post a week.”
But one post quickly turned to two posts a week, and before long, the entire tenor of the site changed. Courtney was the kind of voice you build a franchise around, so to speak, and she kind of changed us all. Suddenly, the site was writing about celebrity gossip on the regular, and it was good, because it wasn’t just, “Ha ha ha! Look at Tom Hiddleston wearing an “I Heart Taylor Swift” t-shirt. She deconstructed celebrity gossip. She wrote about it from a really smart PR angle. There was this piece she wrote early on, “Harvey’s Girls,” about actresses who seemed to find sudden fame despite any discernible talent that just blew me away.
Pieces like this became a thing. Suddenly, we weren’t just a movie review site anymore. Thanks to Courtney (and Joanna Robinson), we’d evolved into something more than “scathing reviews for bitchy people,” we were tackling celebrity culture, and that eventually led to social politics, and in that regard, Courtney led the way. We weren’t always a “feminist hugbox,”; Courtney had a lot to do with that evolution.
Through Courtney’s personal writing, she put a face on depression, anxiety, and co-dependence, and no matter how sad the subject, Courtney always seemed to approach it with a distinctive, unmistakable sense of humor. We have had a lot of writers in 13 years, and while most adapt to the site’s voice, we adapted to hers. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Pajiba probably would not exist today were it not for Courtney — we may never have been able to compete without the necessary evolution she helped usher in.
Aside from her contributions to the site, Courtney has also become like a family member. She got married, and she had two beautiful children during her time writing for the site, and we all got to be a part of it, through both her writing and behind the scenes, we got to experience the ups and downs of her life. It’s honestly been a roller coaster, but one that I wouldn’t hesitate to ride over and over again. Court’s a Pajiba lifer, whether she’s writing here or not — she doesn’t really have a choice, because we stole a bit of her soul, which keeps the place humming. — Dustin Rowles
Well, this is bullshit. I mean, it’s the right kind of bullshit — one of our most gifted writers, leaving for very good reasons. But it’s still fucking bullshit. I feel like I’m losing a damn limb. Here’s how important Court is to Pajiba: Half the shit she writes about? I don’t give a third of a rat-fuck about, but I read it anyway. That’s how goddamn good she is. You think I care about Fuller House? Taylor Swift? Britney Ever After? I do not. I really, truly do not. And yet, if Courtney Enlow writes it, I read it. Because she’s goddamn brilliant. And she can take something that I would never have considered reading and make it fascinating, and funny, and interesting and worth talking about. She has a gift for it, and I respect the hell out of that gift.
But more importantly, Courtney is part of the (blech) heart and soul of Pajiba. She’s a part of our compass, helping us find direction in some of our most difficult times. I do not exaggerate when I say that Court has helped change the way I think and the way I see the world. I am, quite literally, a better person for having known her. Shit, this is starting to sound like a eulogy, instead of what it should be: a celebration. So let’s celebrate. Let’s raise a glass to one of the finest people I know and wish her the goddamn best, because she deserves it. And this one time - ONE FUCKING TIME ONLY - I will honor her the best way I know how: through shitty 90’s alternative music. — TK
Courtney, you know how I feel about you and your immense talent with words and stuff. You also know that I’m right there with you in the fight against your own brain being a dick weasel. You probably also know that I’m still saving a seat for you at the Pajiba lunch table (the one on the third level of the Murdertank, just past the fancy boxed wine wall). If you ever want to real time review something drunkenly with me again or write something on the sly, you can use the name Dourtney Balls.Lots of smooches and loves to your face. — Jodi
When I first got to Pajiba, it was a very different place than the feminist hug box you’ve come to know and love. There were a few other women writing—hi Genny!—but the *regular* female voices on the site were so rare that in those early days the readers would often confuse Courtney and Joanna. (Leading to this: still one of my favorite posts of all time.) I have never been more flattered in my entire life. But I have to question whether those readers were paying even the *barest* attention because there is no voice on the entire internet that can come even close to Courtney’s in distinctive style and instant recognizability. I love her, but I’m also green to the gills with envy over her talent every time I read her. It’s like your brightest, wittiest friend making sense of the world for you and it doesn’t matter the subject matter—Kardashians or Clintons—Court’s is the point of view you want to hear.
And so she’s leaving us (for now) and I’ve been thinking a lot, of course, about the parallels between our ALL-CAPS Courtney and the subject of her most viral post. The would-be-first-female president understandably retreated from the public eye (though she, or her staff, still give good Twitter) in order to lick her wounds in the woods. Our Court is stepping back for the most strong, feminist reasons of all: self-care and care of the people who depend on her. Selfishly I’m sad to lose her voice, but ultimately I’m proud of her for taking care of what *truly* matters. Our true leaders never leave—they’re still there, giving good Twitter, and waiting their turn to lead us once again. — Joanna Robinson
Courtney is a warrior. She slings words at power and has taught me bit by bit most everything I understand about feminism, about the hidden structures in our world that privilege renders so seamlessly invisible. Baring her soul over and over on the pixels of this website, she has cut artery deep to paint pictures of addiction and depression. So staggeringly vivid and touching are those pieces that she put names to demons I had fought with for years, never realizing that they weren’t mine own alone. The world is better for what she has written here, and I’m a better person for having read her words. But as she bows out for a time - and only a time, for I cannot countenance a future in which Courtney doesn’t pick up the pen as her sword once more - she should remember: everything I know about the Kardashians is her fault. Because hers remains the only byline that could make me read about reality television. — Steven
Today is Courtney’s last day at Pajiba. And soon we will mourn her passing onto day jobs, and baby snuggles. But for now, let me say — Without hope or agenda — Just because it’s Courtney’s Last Day - And at Courtney’s Last Day you tell the truth - there is a very good chance Courtney and I could have hated each other.
Which is a very weird way of starting an admiration post. But let me explain. Pajiba is a family. In families, there are people you kind of hate even when you love each other. It’s ok. If you’re both reasonable adults, you just move past it, and enjoy the familial bond. On paper, Court and I could have been those family members. She’s as emotionally open as I am stoic. She was an ardent Hillary supporter while I was a dead-set Bernie woman. She staked her claim on impressively analyzing all things pop culture and celebrity rumor while I toiled in sarcastic, semi-coherent, political take downs. We should have been at odds.
But the truth is Courtney spoke more truth to power in a Kardashian post than most people could in a year’s worth of policy diatribes. She taps into her own understanding and passion in order to reveal both the heart of the issue, and the universality of her experience. She writes her emotion on football field sized canvases so we don’t have to. Because she puts out there what the rest of us intellectualize.
So of course I can’t hate her. Because even when we butt heads she’s doing it in a way that’s more honest and truthful than most of us can hope to reach. And she’s doing it because she’s somehow fit love for all us into what is legitimately a very short body. Thank you, Court, for always being the snarky yin to my bitchy yang. You’ll always be my favorite firer. — Emily
Happy things, happy things. Don’t think about the gut-wrenching loss to each of us personally, to the site itself, to the community at large. Deep breath…. Look. There’s literally nothing I can say about Courtney that all of you don’t know. She’s smart and funny and strong and brave. There are few writers who share the depths of personal everything that she does, and fewer still who do it so rawly, yet with such a level of grace and humor. The biggest compliment I think I can pay Courtney is that I don’t give a rat’s fart about most of the celebrity nonsense she covers, but I adore her writing so much that I have happily read almost every single one of those things and now know far too much about Taylor Swift, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s relationship, and Gwyneth’s Paltrow’s ridiculousness. But more importantly, I also know more about anxiety and depression, intelligent feminist discourse, and the countless other important things Courtney brought her unique perspective and wit to. And, of course, Love Actually.
When Court made her public announcement that she was leaving us and breaking our hearts, she said that this place is in her bones. Well that’s a two way street, and she’s in this site’s DNA. Courtney - we love you, we miss you already, and you’ll always have a home here. — Seth
Courtney’s pieces frequently went to a more personal and vulnerable place, I think that that bravery on her part has helped shift both the tone of the site and what it means to people in a significant way. Our community has reached out to us and to each other in ways that I hadn’t seen before, offered support to her and to others struggling, and it’s inspired the rest of us in innumerable ways. Pajiba has been a community for a long time, but Courtney’s part in shaping that community is impossible to quantify. It’s become more honest, more open, and I think most of us writers have responded to that. We haven’t all been able to be as vulnerable, but for me I’ve been able to write a bit more personally and less generally. As she takes the next steps on her journey, I hope that she knows that all of us are behind her. — Genevieve
Courtney, you beautiful tropical fish. You are all that is lovely in this world. You have been a constant inspiration to me and to so many these past several years, alternately bearing your soul and making us cry in laughter. Of course this place won’t be the same without you, but it’s certainly better because you were here. I can’t wait to see what great things you achieve. And don’t worry — while you’re away, I’ll handle the repeated firing of Emily for not appreciating Hamilton. You hear that, Emily? Fired! — Sarah
When I heard the news it didn’t really make sense.
‘Courtney is leaving Pajiba.’ I understood all of the words in that sentence, but arranged together in that order they seemed to form something garbled, nonsensical. A Zen kōan designed to tear down the pillars of logical thought.
‘Courtney is leaving Pajiba.’ But how does one exist without the other? Could gravity leave Earth?
I’ve been reading Pajiba most of my proper adult life. I’ve been writing for it for something over a year. I’m not being cute when I say that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for it. This amorphous, mercurial constellation in the virtual firmament has been—through its warmth, intelligence, wit, honesty, humanity, humility, and just plain goddamn humbling skill with words—a warm and glowing presence in mine and a multitude of others’ lives. Courtney’s words have embodied all those of traits, completely and utterly, and they have been a nexus of our constellation for so long, that I’m not quite sure how we are gonna keep spinning without her.
It would be remiss of me to not highlight here one other thing about Courtney and her writing: the courage. Because Christ on a bendy bus, the balls on that woman! Listen here: Writing on the internet is a scary fucking endeavour. Just sat here now, writing just this little thing while huddled over a computer on a rainy island across the Atlantic I keep the curtains drawn and a baseball bat propped upright by the window. Because when you put your words out there on the internet, you’ve put yourself out there. You become ultra-vulnerable. I still find it near-impossible to broach anything properly personal in writing. But Courtney? Courtney has once-more-unto-the-breach-ed more times than I can count. She has put herself out there time and time again, and the internet—not just Pajiba—is gonna be a poorer place for her not doing so. — Petr
You know the taste of chocolate when it touches your tongue. You know the smell of the first warm wind of spring when it hits your nose. And you know a Courtney Enlow piece of writing the second your eyes dance over her words. The corners of your mouth turning up as you hear her voice in your head, and there’s a whimsy to it. Even when there’s pain. Because you can’t fake honesty and you can’t deny the bravery it takes not just to tackle everything she’s tackled over the years, but to share it openly. She writes to you like a friend: like a friend who lays it all on the line because goddamnit, she trusts you. She believes in a better world that’s always a little bit out of reach, and she wants you to hang there with her. She wants everyone to hang there with her. And sometimes, sometimes…in the middle of a piece, you’re spirited there. And for a minute, in that place, it’s like you can breathe a little deeper, laugh a little louder, and not take yourself so seriously. And yeah, sometimes you’ll cry your heart out. But it’s safe.
I’m going to miss you taking us there, Courtney. It’s a wonderful place. — Lord Castleton
The following GIF/Picture combination is the only way Lainey knew how to say goodbye:
A lovely and kind-hearted person. An amazingly talented writer. A person whose appreciation of all gossip items about Taylor Swift was second to none. I count myself as someone who is incredibly fortunate to know Courtney and to have worked with her, and her presence and talent will be greatly missed at Pajiba every hour of every day. — Brian Richards
I was going to make a stupid high school yearbook remark under a mock high school superlative picture of Courtney. I hope this is better.
“What would Courtney do?”
It’s a question that I have found that I ask myself daily. Is it trite? Maybe, but it’s not without reason. You see, still being relatively new to Pajiba at this capacity, and even writing on the internet, is still something I can’t quite wrap my head around. It’s in the times of self doubt and of second guessing that I use that question as my guide. As a commenter, I have admired Courtney for giving us access to her struggles, her whims, her thoughts, her courage, her joys and her frustrations. It’s what has always impressed me about her: her relentlessness in sharing herself with us completely unencumbered and unapologetically. Now that I know how the sausage is made, I can say unequivocally that she is a personal hero of mine. She has taught me that no voice is too soft, too quaky, too unsure, is undeserving of being heard. She serves as a constant reminder that as a writer, you don’t have to overthink it, you just have to write. So, while we won’t be able to have a group pow wow over bananapants crazy celebrity conspiracy theories, Stone/Garfield news, all things Taylor Swift, and a myriad of women’s issues, there is a sense of solace in knowing that she won’t be too far from Pajiba. In the meantime, to quote her sweet angel baby Jules, “Good for you, girl.” You are so loved. — Bekka
I can’t really imagine the site without Courtney. But even as she steps away, she won’t really be gone, because the courage, humanity and humor she injected into every celebrity speculation and ALL CAPS challenges us Overlords to rise up to meet her in authenticity, wit, and fervor. She’s fearless when it comes to baring her idiosyncrasies, insecurities, and infatuations. As a reader, it’s breathtaking, because you feel you really know her. As a writer, she encourages me to be braver, bolder in my work, and a just a better person, period. Through example, Courtney encourages us all to live by our convictions and love ourselves honestly, quirks and all.
She’s our sister. Wherever she goes, whatever she does, we carry her with us, and we have her back. — Kristy
Pajiba without Courtney doesn’t even make sense to me. I can’t imagine it. It is in the Berenstein Universe. The Shazam universe. Tomorrow, I’m going to wake up and go to Pajiba.com and it will all be advice on how to manage a hedge fund, and TK will be a friendly gem of a human being who loves a good cross-stitch pattern and never gets into it with commenters ever ever ever.
I’ve written for Pajiba for just over three years now, and in that time, I can honestly say one of my favorite parts of working for the site has been getting to know Courtney. (All the weird sex posts come in a close second.) Because here’s the thing about Courtney: She is brave as a motherfucker. In reading her hilarious, honest, insightful posts about dealing with her mental health issues, she makes me feel like I can be brave, too. And the ALL-CAPS post. Jesus, the ALL-CAPS post. Could you have dealt with the aftermath of that? People yelling at you on Twitter 24/7? Because I could not have. 100%. But Courtney did. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t easy, but she did it, because Courtney is one of the most resilient people I know. Courtney Enlow is Hard. Fucking. Core. And that’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of her.
Aside from her being an Andrew Garfield/Emma Stone truther. — Rebecca
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