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Presentation Matters: Olivia Munn's Misguided Attack of GoFugYourself

By The Pajiba Staff | Celebrity | April 25, 2019 |

By The Pajiba Staff | Celebrity | April 25, 2019 |


Hi! Good morning. Olivia Munn has gone after The Fug Girls. We wish she wouldn’t have. Take a look.

OK! Did you read it? Did you see what she said? She makes some decent points and some not so decent points. But also, most of this doesn’t apply to The Fug Girls.

We don’t want to speak for the Fug Girls. They are plenty capable of doing that for themselves (or not doing so, if that is their choice). As people who are not experts in fashion (much of what we know about fashion comes from reading Go Fug Yourself for 15 years), we are also not in a position to comment on outfits. Nor are the dudes among us in any position to speak to the genuine pain that celebrities (mostly female) may feel about being judged for what they wear. Just because you’re wealthy and famous doesn’t mean you don’t feel self-conscious about your attire, or get upset with how others are judging you for your fashion choices.

But as anyone who puts their work into the public sphere, part of our job is subjecting ourselves to both criticism and praise. Munn’s essay misses the point of what GFY usually does. It isn’t about what Munn wears when she runs out to get coffee. It’s the outfits that are curated and crafted by professional stylists for public events. Part of being in the public eye is also accepting criticism about the public persona you present. If Munn wants to say that looks and fashion shouldn’t be part of the public aspect of fame, that’s OK. But she can’t say “this is a part of my job, and I don’t want you to talk about it,” just as we can’t say, “Grammar and punctuation are part of our job, but please don’t criticize us for it.”

When we deliver a lousy take or even forget to close the italics on our HTML, we get yelled at about it. It’s not OK to call us fat ugly pigs or attack our loved ones if we spell “rediculous” wrong, but we expect to be judged on presentation. (It’s also not OK to say we are worse than Jay Leno and that we should die in a fire (not that we’d remember a comment made seven years, eight months, and six days ago)). However, those readers who can criticize us with a sense of humor are a goddamn joy. We’re going to make mistakes, but those who playfully mock us without any personal animus are the best kind of readers. They are the Heather and Jessica of readers.

Munn seems to misunderstand what part of the contract of being a public persona at that level is. There are plenty of actors and actresses working every day who don’t have professional stylists and never show up on these fashion sites, who are working in regional theaters or even touring Broadway productions or appearing in small art house films. They have pretty normal lives. Once you ascend to that stratospheric level of fame that comes with huge paychecks, this all becomes part of the job. There’s an industry built around it, and people who rely on it for their livelihoods. GFY is part of that greater ecosystem, and if you’re going to suggest that these people shouldn’t write about your outfits, then should photographers also not exist? What about publicists? Stylists? The very magazines Munn and other celebrities use to promote their films? It may not be the nicest part of the job, but it’s still part of it. This seems to be a case where Olivia Munn is hating the player instead of the game AND hating the player who’s actually pretty nice and critiques unfair aspects of the game and does that head nod thing when you actually do well.

And for God’s sake, being famous does not ONLY mean you get praised, blindly, for whatever you do.

Does Oliva Munn not understand that she is part of the fashion market and what she wears is art, worthy of criticism but also a market deserving of scrutiny? Is she saying that fashion doesn’t deserve to be treated as an art form? That’s what feels weirdly sexist about Munn’s essay. Fashion designers are critiqued on their newest lines. Would Munn be cool with it if only the stylists were criticized?

Indeed, Munn seems to be doing what Taylor Swift did when she got called out by Tina and Amy, which was to say something like, “Women should only support other women.” It almost feels like she has more of an issue with Jessica and Heather being women than, say, Tom and Lorenzo. If your idea of feminism is “no woman can criticize me for any reason,” you are Feministing wrong.

But putting all that aside, we can speak to the character of Go Fug Yourself as longtime readers and fans of the site, who we have come up with over the years (Pajiba and GFY launched in the same summer of 2004). You can cherry pick here and there to make a case against Go Fug Yourself (as Olivia Munn has done above), but that doesn’t at all capture the overall spirit of what Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks do every single day. Do they make fun of celebrity outfits? Yes, they do! And they do it well. But the site is a celebration of fashion. They don’t body shame. Critiquing what someone is wearing is not actually critiquing their looks (lest you forget the obvious point made by The Devil Wears Prada). They make jokes about outfits, but they do not make mean-spirited character assessments of celebrities based on those outfits. Wearing an ugly dress does not make one an ugly person. Go Fug Yourself is, at its heart, a genuine place that celebrates not just good fashion, but celebrity culture, and unlike a lot of other celebrity-driven outlets, it’s good-natured and uplifting. The fashion critiques come from a good place, and you can sense in their writing what thoughtful and caring people Heather and Jessica are. Even still, if they deliver a bad insult or misuse an Oxford comma, you can bet your ass that their readers will let them hear about it. Presentation matters.

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