I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Julia Allison has a point (sort of)

06Mar08

Gawker loves (to hate) Julia Allison. I didn’t know who in the hell this person was until I started reading their hilarious near-daily potshots at her. Through the prism of those posts, I glimpsed a “personality” that seemed pretty damn deserving of Gawker’s entertaining derision.

But just this morning I went and read her Tumblr, which, darnit, made me glimpse the PERSON. Who feels pain from Gawker’s posts, and has had to figure out how to deal with it for two years with no end in sight. (Great–what a buzzkill.)

Her point: “internet famous” people (as opposed to “real” celebrities) don’t necessarily have the experience or thick skin to handle being incessantly hounded/needled by the gossip media. And they probably don’t deserve it in the first place.

I think I agree with her. Except…not in HER particular case. Here’s why.

Celebrity gossip (a la US Weekly, Perez Hilton) is generally seen as “harmless” because most celebrities are “asking for it”– they wanted to be famous, to give up being a person in favor of becoming a personality. Treating a person like an object is bad, but a celebrity personality IS an object– an artificially fabricated, marketed product for our consumption. Did anyone feel morally fraught when Transformers, Coke II, or the Ford Edsel were viciously and publicly mocked? Neither do we about Tomkat, La Lohan or Sanjaya.

Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg, Jimmy Wales, and other people “celebritized” by Gawker and Valleywag arguably didn’t ask for it. Because Zuckerberg’s product is Facebook, not himself. He’s just out there workin’, man.

Per that logic, Julia Allison would like you to believe she’s like the Zuck, and not like Sanjaya, so lay off please. Unfortunately that just doesn’t wash.

Compare this to this, and then tell me–honestly– what Ms. Allison’s real product is. Which page looks like an afterthought, and which page looks like a finely-honed, granularly-detailed sales pitch?

Julia Allison isn’t a journalist in the media business, she’s in the entertainment business, hawking a product called Julia Allison. If Nick Denton wants to call that product a “talking bosom” and get rich doing so, more power to him. That’s entertainment, baby.

I do feel her pain, though, and wouldn’t want to be in her shoes. If it’s genuinely making her life difficult, or doesn’t seem worth it to her, there’s an simple fix– find something else of value to sell/do. Her little bro’s got the right idea.



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