Discover more from Amy Explains
I live for you, I long for you Olivia
Gatekeep, gaslight, girlboss
Realistically, prepare for a chaotic/unpredictable publishing schedule in the coming future, but better late than never, no?
Fine, I will discuss the Mulaney drama
*deeply disappointed sigh*
Alright, it is time. Here’s the Amy Explains take on the John Mulaney drama.
Here’s a very abridged timeline recap:
Beloved comedian John Mulaney married longtime girlfriend Anna Marie Tendler in summer of 2014.
In his various stand up specials, Mulaney several times does bits about how much he loves his wife and how much they don’t want to have kids.
December 2020, Mulaney announces that he’s going to rehab to handle an ongoing cocaine addiction/alcoholism problem.
May 2021, Mulaney is officially done with rehab treatment. Within one week it’s announced that he is divorcing Tendler. Based on her statement about the split, it’s implied that this was entirely Mulaney’s choice.
Maybe a week after that, rumors start swirling that Mulaney is dating actress Olivia Munn. Late June, photos of the two on a date publish in People magazine. (To me, they look highly staged, but eh whatever)
Early September, Olivia Munn steps out, looking pretty pregnant. And a few weeks later Mulaney confirms the news on “Late Night with Seth Meyer,” saying that Munn and the baby “saved him.”
Yeah, it’s a lot. But, why does this all matter? Why has this medium-niche, pasty comedian dominated both the pop culture and entertainment spheres? Let’s examine a few different elements.
John Mulaney’s stand up
As I mentioned briefly above, John Mulaney is a standup comedian. And not once, but several times, has he centered his bits around how much he loved his wife, and generally explored the nature of their relationship. Was he a wife guy? Eh, a little.
So to abruptly split from his wife of seven years, immediately get into a new relationship and be expecting a child is just uh, quite the 180. Not to be implying that every joke a comedian makes is indicative of what he really believes, nor that we, the public, know anything about Mulaney’s personal life, but the abrupt change was jarring, no?
John Mulaney has built his persona on being a drama-free, chill dude. So for all this to happen, wow!!! It’s thrilling. I imagine if this happened to a more drama-prone celebrity, like say, a Kardashian, this would have gotten way less speculation. But, it has a ring of novelty to it because of the image he has created.
The parasocial relationship
Boy, do I really not want to get into this. If you want a real discussion of this topic, read this story from Vox.
But the gist is, parasocial relationships form between two people (often normal people and celebrities) when Party A feels like they know Party B on a personal level, versus Party B, who doesn’t even know the existence of Party A. This is not inherently a bad thing, and really is inevitable in any sort of media consumption process. When it does get bad, is when Party A feels the need to inject themselves into the life of Party B, passing judgment in an uncalled for capacity.
John Mulaney always presented himself as a sort of “friendly” comedian. He was fairly up front about his drug problems and general asshole-tendencies, but in the grand scheme of comedy, definitely seemed more approachable. And thus, he cultivated a highly invested fandom that sort of treated him as a friend.
So when shit has hit the fan in the last few months, it’s left a lot of people questioning if they really knew him in the first place. Which they didn’t. Because he is a celebrity. And everyone else is a normal person. Again, not this is everyone’s fault, but it definitely shattered a lot of people’s perceptions of Mulaney.
The drama of it all
Building off of the parasocial dynamic, this has left a lot of high-horse internet cowboys to say, “wHy dO YoU cArE so MuCh aBouT SomEonE YoU Don’T EveN KnoW,” to which I say, “F Off!!!!” Look, we as human beings, love drama. And a man going in to rehab, maybe cheating on his wife, having a baby just a few years after publicly announcing he does not want a baby, is incredibly dramatic!
You could replace John Mulaney, Anna Marie Tendler, and Olivia Munn with any random three people in the world and this would still be highly intriguing! It’s just a lot going on, and who doesn’t love to hear about the salacious lives of others.
I’m tired of starting off every conversation about this with, “I know I don’t actually know John Mulaney, but” or “I know this doesn’t really matter, but,” or “I know I could be doing better things with my time, but,” look, we all love to gossip. We will gossip about this without shame. I’m not getting all up in Mulaney, Tendler, or Munn’s Twitter @’s or IG comments, so whatever. It’s fine.
Alright so, what’s left up in the air?
Does John Mulaney want this baby? Now, this requires a lot of speculation, which I don’t really want to do. All of those jokes about him not wanting kids: Maybe those really were just jokes and didn’t mean anything. Maybe Anna was the one that didn’t want kids, and just persuaded him to feel the same. Maybe Olivia Munn is holding this dude hostage. Who’s really to say?
Is Olivia Munn a terrible person? Videos have been circulating around TikTok unearthing some passages from Olivia Munn’s biography she wrote in 2010. And I won’t lie… it’s bad. It’s fatphobic. It’s misogynist. It’s a little racist. Eleven years later, is she still that person? I don’t know. But I’m skeptical.
How is Anna Marie Tendler feeling? This woman has been posting cryptic artsy Instagram posts since Mulaney went to rehab and to that I say, “LET’S FUCKING GOOOO"!” All signs point to that he cheated, and that she knew, but hm, really time will tell.
A prelude on GirlBosses
Again, I’m not gonna get too deep into this, so if you don’t know much about the GirlBoss lore, read this Atlantic article.
To sum things up:
The GirlBoss concept originated in the early 2010s, during the very cheugy era of capitalism in which it was cool to capitalize off of personal identity.
Think Hillary Clinton, RBG, Anna Wintour, Sheryl Sandberg: Women who held high power and weren’t afraid to lean into their female identities.
Around the time of the Trump administration, and when intersectionalism became a mainstream concept, people started to really question what it meant to be a woman in power.
Often times these GirlBoss women were white, upper class, and quite frankly, treated their employees like shit. If you’re a woman in power enabling racist policies, or enforcing misogynist standards (*cough* the Kardashian-Jenner clan *cough*) or like responsible for nuking entire countries, you are not upholding any sort of feminist agenda. You’re just doing the same garbage men do, but under the guise that somehow morally superior because you’re a woman. Newsflash, you aren’t.
Also recommended reading, an explainer on the phrase, “Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlboss.”
The Final GirlBoss
So speaking of GirlBosses, may I introduce perhaps the final GirlBoss, Elizabeth Holmes.
If you didn’t know, Holmes founded the biotech company Theranos, which billed itself as creating a technology that would allow them to test for dozens of illnesses/cancers/general medical ires with just a single drop of blood.
The only problem was that the technology doesn’t exist, and Holmes lied to both the public and investors about its abilities. She’s currently on trial for said problems.
What she did was highly illegal and had the potential to harm a lot of people. Yet somehow, she’s turned into somewhat of a GirlBoss legend.
I think everyone agrees that what she did was objectively terrible. But I also think there were three things that she did that were honestly hilarious, to the point where it’s kind of launched her to the ironic standom stratosphere.
The first was that she idolized Steve Jobs. To the point that she literally only wore black turtlenecks and would replicate some of his neurotic tendencies.
The second was that she deliberately spoke in a lower register.
When you listen to her, it seems so obvious that it’s not her natural voice, it’s a strain on how she speaks. There’s a lot of speculation as to why she did this: maybe it was another Steve Jobs emulation, maybe it’s playing into society’s general misogyny and tendency to only take men seriously. Regardless… it’s funny?
The third is that every explanation of Theranos’ technology she gave was laughably opaque. In the above TED Talk (the full video which has been taken down) she often refers to the phrase “actionable health information” and literally at one point says “we perform a science on the drop of blood,” which sounds a lot like someone who has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.
Holmes put A LOT of effort into maintaining a public facing charade. And in doing so, she put herself amongst the rafters of all time greatest grifters. And who doesn’t love a grift?
Anyways, during her current trial, she has amassed a sizable following of both ironic and unironic fans. Again, I don’t condone the things she’s done, but she is… entertaining.
No, absolutely not
CBS has a new reality competition show in the works and well… Good god…
This is actually grotesque. This is Hunger Games-esque. Pitting activists against each other to essentially death match for a crumb of attention and money. JESUS CHRIST.
Not to mention that Julianne Hough did literal Blackface in 2013, or that Priyanka Chopra infamously told a Pakistani activist accusing her of “encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan” not to “yell” at her.
Hm here is a thought CBS, instead of spending god knows how much money producing/advertising for this show that pits various world-threatening causes against each other, you could actually put that money towards stopping said problems??
“Homeboy’s gonna like… get it”
Welcome back to the recurring segment, “Old internet things that I think about at least once a month.”
Today I’m thinking about Bella Hadid on Complex’s sneaker shopping segment, but specifically this moment.
I screamed the first time I watched this. Bella Hadid comes off like a goddamn undercover cop. She speaks like a bot that scraped all of Twitter and mashed together a handful of sentences in less than a second. She sounds like she visited an “urban” neighborhood for one hour and changed her speaking patterns for the rest of her life. She says the word “dope” like it’s physically painful to her.
“If homeboy’s coming through with these, it’s quiet,” I’m actually dying.
Speaking of appropriating language:
I could write about this every week truly, because of what an evergreen topic this is, but I highly recommend reading this story from Sydnee Thompson.
So much of modern slang, so much of pop and internet culture in general, is directly ripped from Black communities and AAVE without any credit or acknowledgment. Phrases like “on fleek,” “woke,” “spill the tea” and more are passed around without really any understanding of where they come from. And yet, Black people are disproportionately penalized for speaking in AAVE or slang in academic and professional settings, before their phrases are deemed “cool” and “acceptable” by the mainstream. So I’d highly advise reading the above story and just keeping that in mind when you pick up new phrases.