When onetime XOJane.com beauty editor and Vice contributor (not to mention angel dust smoker on the roof of Le Bain) Cat Marnell is brought up in conversation among my people I know it's usually when someone is praising her for her frank and honest portrayal of drug addiction and talking about how much they can relate to her. I've spent a lot of time reading her "Amphetamine Logic" articles for Vice and can now definitively say she is not only a terrible writer, but truly the last person in the world I would want to publicly claim to relate to unless I was trying to seem really tortured and cool. In my reading of blog posts written by girls in the midwest defending Cat, followed by the pictures of the authors showing very average girls who have probably never done anything in their lives similar to Cat's, I realized that these are the people who claim to relate - the people who fantasize about having a life so interesting and so fucked up and so interestingly fucked up. Yeah, I can relate to Cat Marnell, she goes to Le Baron really high and doesn't give a fuck and maybe you prudes should stop judging her because I once chain smoked cigarettes and sipped Mike's Hard in a friend's basement so I pretty much know exactly what she's going through!
I'm just so bored of this narrative. During my teenage years, I read so many books about the popular girls who are secretly depressed and angsty in their personal lives, feeling the weight of loneliness despite seemingly having it all. Shows like Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl and even 90210 try to convince us how hard the pretty people have it, what with their parents on business trips and so many boys chasing after them, but can many of us actually relate? Was Gossip Girl such a success among the people that actually live a somewhat similar life, or was it more about girls in other places fantasizing about what it must be like? This is akin to my feelings about Sex and The City; the soccer moms who come to New York seeking the cupcake and Manolo filled world of Carrie Bradshaw must be sorely disappointed by the reality of stores they can't afford and the Applebee's in Times Square.
Similarly, I think that the girls who claim to be on the same wavelength with Cat are the same ones who buy into her clearly exaggerated stories where she gushes about her importance in New York nightlife and name-drops like any other girl teetering nervously in her platform shoes on the line to get into the Electric Room. She may be a drug addict, sure, but the faux self-awareness in her writing strikes me as real self-doubt, and the constant label-dropping to make her admittedly disgusting life seem glamorous reeks of insecurity. She can't write about her addictions without talking about sleeping under blankets made of her fur coats on her mattress on the floor, or her trust fund that she plowed through when she moved to New York, or her late nights spent at Le Baron and Le Bain, places it's considered a stretch to even try to get into after 1 AM.
The little flairs, the mentions of emptying pills out of the pockets of a Balenciaga bag and the pictures of her at Art Basel, are what make her seem like someone worth relating to or claiming to relate to. I just wish that people would see that behind all that, all the mentions of her fabulous life and not giving a fuck, is a scared little girl who cares so much about what other people think of her that she goes out of her way to justify it and enhance it. If I were reading her stories for an honest portrayal of addiction, I wouldn't care about that time she sat next to Lindsay Lohan or whatever long speech she thought of after the fact to give to some girls she considers the next generation of nightlife.
She offers advice to these girls like she understands how trivial her life is but it's clear she doesn't, since she still tries to sell us all on the idea that her addictions don't control her life but are just things she indulges in for fun. Amphetamine Logic isn't about taking an honest look about the way amphetamines make you think but is just a further example of the exact justifications that being on amphetamines allow you to give for your bad behavior.
She's clearly treating her ails with amphetamines and since getting off of them, taking away that superhuman feeling that they give you and the rush of pure power and possibility you get when they first kick in, would mean she has to deal with her real issues, she won't and she can't. It's the attention that I think she really loves more than anything, and being a fuck-up gets you a lot more attention than being a good girl. It's addictive, and it's why girls who are so insecure can be so easily pressured into posting pictures of their bodies online and doing things they know are not in their best interest. Cat knows that all this shit isn't in her best interest as a person, but would anyone read her stories if she was simply a narcissist?
Tucker Max tried the same trick. He wrote about being an asshole and everyone loved it, frat boys wanted to be him and women wanted to sleep with him. But after a while, the people who wanted to be him and said they related to him weren't the cool kids he so desperately yearned for the acceptance of anymore. He spent so much time trying to convince us all how cool he was that the real people who he wanted to impress started seeing through it. He was attracting the attention of those people in the midwest who desperately wanted to relate and the hot girls started going out to see him at his book signing because they didn't care about sleeping with a guy like him: he was the guy whose events were hosted at all the corniest frats, by the guys who fantasized about being him and fell for every one of his stories as being the undiluted truth. After all, he's an asshole and he admits it, so why would he lie? These people have yet to realize that in the minds of these kinds of narcissistic writers the worst thing you could be isn't an asshole, or an addict; it's being uncool and having no one paying attention to you.