Well we went! I will tell you, up top, that the irony of talking behind their backs about a talk specifically focused on talking shit does not escape me, so I will send a link to this to both EGR and Coen. You guys are snarky jerks but not hateful assholes so I imagine this won't change your commenting much (nor will it change what I write), but I thought I'd make that clear.
I'm writing this on the train on the way to work so excuse the myriad of typos and any repetition. Yes, yes I need an editor. Off we go.
Pistach and I showed up a few minutes before starting time and the place was packed ("who are these people?" we wondered). We managed to snag seats in the back which was lucky because I hate standing. On our way in, we walked right by MoGlo and I immediately turned away to hide my face even though there is literally no way she could know who I was or what I looked like and I have nothing to be embarrassed about. Not my most adult moment.
Jolie Kerr and Tyler something introduced themselves and their opening line was:
the first rule of writing on the internet is never read the comments
To which, somebody please tell Denton. Please. Then they say
"and there is one commenter who said if we read her comments she'd die so sugarhill, if you're here...stay with us."
This got a huge laugh. Pistach was busy texting with some boy on her phone and didn't hear it, but she did give a decidedly indiscreet squeak when I pinched her arm to get her attention. She also frantically nodded her head in agreement to get me to shut up when I kept muttering "I didn't say that." BUT IT'S TRUE I DIDN'T SAY THAT. The idea of live tweeting my indignation died a painful death because there was shit reception.
Some very funny people read things, equally funny and disturbing. It was bizarre sitting in a room of people hysterically laughing when a dude reads an email someone sent very explicitly and graphically wishing he had died on the 100th floor of the WTC on September 11. Because...funny, but really not fucking funny. Actually what I was thinking about during that and a lot of the "die cunt die" style comments was that new law case regarding online threats. Curious what they all think about that. But let's talk about the three people you're most interested in.
Beejoli: She read the emails she received from the Parks and Recs guy. Nothing from Gawker. People weren't reading anything from Gawker, guys. It's like they didn't even CARE why Pistach and I were there. She also wanted us to know - twice - that her therapist doesn't think she's a sociopath. Having worked with several diagnosed sociopaths, I would be inclined to agree. She definitely does not have a future as a stand up comedian but seemed pleasant and made a rather pointed remark about Gawker not being journalism. The "long cold arm of Denton" was mentioned several times by several speakers. But my name came up first so take that GM overlord.
Then MoGlo gets up and she is wearing a lovely dress that I kind of want to buy and says*
I started out as a commenter so I have a kinship to the gakwer commenters and feel weird doing this so I'm not going to read any stuff from there. Don't worry, I get plenty on facebook."
So booooo right there from the beginning, but she reads some funny/disturbing stuff. Clearly a lot of aggressive vitriol being tossed her way which, teach you to write for a pseudo feminist website on the internet in the 21st century bitch**. She reads a mean letter she got in middle school (hilarious), reads a comment she wrote to future robot overlords (I was confused, too), talks about letting things go, and exits stage right, pursued by bear. I feel compelled to mention that she has outstanding posture.
Then "And our last speaker is the woman who ruined Jezebel, Jessica Coen." Funny intro right? I genuinely laughed. Coen, also wearing a nice dress, makes a few remarks about how she gets so much hate for ruining Jezebel and then she starts to read. Here's what's interesting. Everyone else read the kind of comments that should have been (and in one case were) forwarded to cops. The second letter Jessica read was more in the vein of "Jez was great and meant a lot to me. You ruined it. I'm really disappointed in you." Not hateful speech or die wench die. Just kind of a big sigh running through the whole thing. I could be completely misreading it (god help me if it was actually full of slurs and I blocked them out), but I was struck that a slightly more reasoned (albeit a little too emotionally invested in a website) email was highlighted by her rather than the clearly more aggressive things she got (which she said were a dime a dozen). Then she goes into the Courtney Love debacle and reads all those emails and actually says the line*
"She was writing somewhere else and said something negative about Jez and I thought 'didn't you want to write for us?' and so I went and published all of her emails in a post because that's what we do"
Which made me full out ugly laugh because that's exactly what she said to me.
When it's over, Pistach and I walk over and I say to MoGlo, "Hi. Slay said I should introduce myself" feeling incredibly uncomfortable because I didn't want to say "I'm sugarhill!" because that's stupid (also they had namechecked me to a crowd). She, of course, says "Oh, you're sugarhill!" and I shake her hand (I shake everyone's hand, it's a weird thing I do) and she grabs Coen and says "this is sugarhill."
THEN MO GLO SAYS "Slay gchatted me saying you were worried we were crazy" and everything is fuzzy for a second because I flat out went blind fantasizing about how to kill slaybelle. When I regained my sight, I gestured to Coen and said "I didn't ask if you were crazy, I asked if Jessica was a sociopath because I like to check these things before I meet strangers from the internet." We schmooze a little with MoGlo. In another life where I didn't disagree with her professional behavior, we could probably have been friends. Not bridesmaid friends but "sure, you can bring Erin along for a drink" friends. At no point during our interaction did she seem to feel the need to reassure me that I'm not an asshole, even when I bristled at being introduced as "a commenter who gives us a hard time."
Pistach, nothip and I go to grab a drink at the bar and while we're finishing up, Coen and Kerr come over and start to chat. Kerr is hilarious and pairs off with Pistach (she can fill you in. I was just glad that I got to personally thank her for helping me get paint out of my favorite coat) and I have a more rambling serious/joking conversation with Coen.
She brought our head butting up early on and said "I was rude, I apologize"* which threw me completely off guard, especially since she did genuinely seem to think it had been inappropriate. I shrugged and said something ungracious along the lines of "yeah, you were, but it happens, I accept your apology." I then, in turn, apologized if she thought I came on strong, making for the first but not last time a distinction between reasoned criticism and hateful name calling. Sadly she brought it up so quickly and I was so startled that I forgot to ask about the gif.
During this climactic music swelling moment, some dude with an accent comes over and starts complimenting her hair (which fuck you dude, I blow dried my hair yesterday too!) but we manage to successfully get him to bugger off.***
Science obviously came up and she astutely said "we're not science writers" which I said was clear and tried to get across the point that what they say is sometimes dangerously misleading and that's not OK and asking them to at least make changes in those articles based on the comments.
I think it's pretty clear that engaging with criticism is not going to be a big part of Jezebel. Period. Full stop. That sucks and I told her that. But it's their rodeo and all we can really do is say "that sucks." So check that box off guys! We covered a lot of ground ranging from the website to feminism in marriage to frequent flier miles. She was good natured about the whole thing actually. I'm not ashamed to admit I kind of expected her to be crankier, or at the very least chillier. I held my ground that I think some of their policies and actions are absurd and she obviously disagrees (or at least won't change them). She seems like a perfectly pleasant person I just disagree with how she does her job. There's worse things I could say about someone.
She has a cold and we ended the night talking about the color of her phlegm. Yes, I am apparently the kind of person who, upon finding out that someone is on antibiotics, will ask them the color of their phlegm. Luckily, she's the kind of person who answered that question in detail without looking at me like I have 3 heads.
It was on the whole a much more entertaining evening than what I was supposed to be doing, specifically learning how to extricate patients with spinal injuries from the site of a car accident. But, fair warning JC, if that comes back to bite me in the ass in the next week, I'm naming you as a co defendant in the law suit.
A big hearty thanks to Pistach who put up with my kind of flustering around during the whole process. I'm glad I didn't need your knife fighting skills, but I appreciated the offer. You're swell and I offer you a long distance hug.
*I wasn't audiorecording this, obviously, so all quotes are paraphrased.
**That's obviously a joke
***that's for you HegelsBegels
ETA: MoGlo has asked me to spread the word around that anyone banned from Jez should email her if they want back on the site. She said she's trying to be less reactionary and I think it's one of the 12 steps. Kudos to her for working on it. We could probably all stand to grow up a little.
She's at firstname.lastname@example.org .
ETA2: Also, Jessica said that the authors all write under their real names. I'm not sure where I got that information but it seems to be wrong.