In Which We Defend the Honor of ‘Gossip Girl’

Lesley Blume

Hey Lesley, Paris Hilton called. She wants her
eyeballs back.Photo: Patrick McMullan

Over at the Huffington Post today, children’s author Lesley M. M. Blume takes on Gossip Girl. Like, she really goes after it. “Gossip Girl represents nothing less than the soft death of youth culture and rebellion and self-determinism,” she writes. Sorry, what? Are you watching the same mind-shatteringly brilliant show that we are? Every week we pore over each episode and analyze it for our readers, who immediately tear apart our reasoning with their press-on nails and braced incisors. So we’re excited to finally have the chance to examine someone else’s reading of the show! (Not to mention examine what Blume herself looks like. She’s trying to tell us someone who looks like that doesn’t watch the show? She could practically star on it!) Let’s look at her argument, piece by piece.

• “Gossip Girl supposedly exposes the seamy underbelly of Manhattan’s Upper East Side overclass.”—Again, is she watching the same show we’re watching? Gossip Girl isn’t meant to expose anything more than Star Trek was supposed to teach you what space is really like. It’s a high-camp fantasy. Does Lesley think skinny women writers with only one regular freelance gig really drink multiple fishbowl-size martinis a night at fancy clubs and never look broke or hung-over? Then she must have really loved how Sex and the City “exposed” real New York life.

• “I’m not quite sure when the Palace Hotel became a chic destination, but let’s suspend our disbelief for a few minutes, shall we?” —Okay, we’re with her on the Palace Hotel thing, but as for her “suspending disbelief” comment, it seems like she’s understanding and yet not understanding the premise of the show at the same time.

• “[When I was growing up] I had cult classic Heathers, and then Clueless. At least both of these films, which similarly profile the hilariously angst-ridden inner lives of popular, minted adolescents, were intelligently-conceived satires. The characters might have been nasty little beasts, but they were also witty as hell.” —Okay, this carbon-dates Lesley to have been a teenager in the late eighties and early nineties. When the popular shows among kids her age included, um … let’s see … Growing Pains? Who’s the Boss? Alf?? Wait, sorry, what were we just talking about? Oh, yeah — television has always been ridiculous, cheesy, and far-fetched. That’s why we love it — otherwise we’d just watch each other. Imagine what a nightmare that would be. Then “youth culture” would REALLY die.

• On what she’s learned from Clueless, Heathers and Gossip Girl: “All rich, spoiled teenage girls love to wear plaid, they love headbands, and they love white tights (even though all women over the age of ten, especially fashionistas, know that white tights make legs look fat).” —Okay, when she’s right, she’s right.

• “Modern life, at least in Hollywood and New York City, amounts to a youth-obsessed culture in which many people would do almost anything to turn back the clock. After all, it’s considered normal in some circles for women in their 20s to get botox these days. So why, then, are savvy screenwriters absolutely shoveling these teenage characters toward middle age? To me, that’s the most inappropriate thing about the whole series.” — Lesley’s point here is that they try to make Blair’s character on the show act way older than her age, which, duh, is totally correct. But Lesley goes on to allege that teenagers these days somehow want to be YOUNGER, rather than older. We know (from photo evidence) that she hasn’t been in her thirties long enough to actually forget that the whole point of high school (and anything else leading up to the age of 21, at which point everything irrevocably and nightmarishly reverses) is, was, and will always be about getting older as fast as possible.

• “What I recommend: when your daughters are done watching Gossip Girl tonight, have them watch The Graduate, which also showcases the booby-trap of hollow, disappointed adulthood. But at least that film’s young characters show that there’s a way out — and one of wild abandon, at that.” —Wait, wait, wait. This throws our carbon-dating all off. This woman must be at least 50, probably more like 60. The Graduate? Is that a joke? First of all, as the bus pulls away at the end of that movie, you can see that the rebellion was the whole point of the movie, and that both characters are about to be doomed to face What Happens Next. And second, you try to get a tweenage girl to sit down and watch The Graduate and you let us know how that goes. Good luck with the sex bits. Oh, yeah, and third, who says it’s just people’s young daughters watching Gossip Girl? We happen to know at least two very successful, mature adults who are big fans.

Wow, that felt good. No wonder you readers always send us e-mails after our Gossip Girl roundups. Speaking of which, expect one tomorrow morning — the Masquerade Ball is tonight, after all.

15 Going On 50: How Gossip Girl is Killing Youth Culture [HuffPo]

Earlier: Our obsessive ‘Gossip Girl’ Coverage

In Which We Defend the Honor of ‘Gossip Girl’