I’m not going to court! #blessed
January 14, 2019 1:44 PM   Subscribe

"Why should you care about this person you’ve most certainly never heard of before? Why are we wasting our time talking about yet another internet celebrity and yet another scam? Well, that’s a lot of questions and the answers will require time, but throughout this post, I hope to paint a portrait of the new age of the ‘influencer economy’, the insidious nature of Instagram’s faux aspirational agenda, and the one woman who exemplifies the trend at its most inept. Caroline Calloway’s scam may not be the biggest on the internet or the most upsetting but it certainly best represents the truth that lies beneath the well-filtered veil." The Empty Mason Jar of the Influencer Economy: The Case of Caroline Calloway and Her Creativity Workshop Tour
posted by everybody had matching towels (127 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wouldn't normally be drawn to a pile-on. But considering the heartbreak I personally am experiencing over one small, beloved novel manuscript, whereas this woman just blonded her way into a book deal and gave it up when it turned out that work was at some point involved . . . Well. I would like to say it makes me furious, but it doesn't. That part of me gave out long ago. I suppose I will just always be impressed at how little it takes to fool people.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:13 PM on January 14 [41 favorites]


Wow, what a grifter. The funny thing is, the part of the story about the botched book deal in 2017 almost exactly mirrors a story arc in the second season of the TV show Younger -- which aired in 2016! Calloway is a con artist but she's not even a particularly original or innovative con artist.
posted by rogerroger at 2:19 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


I really feel like I missed my life calling, I would have been an excellent con artist.
posted by jeather at 2:25 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Why yes I do love Leverage, why do you ask?
posted by jeather at 2:26 PM on January 14 [26 favorites]


If only I could be as talented a Hardison.

Or Chaos, let's be real.
posted by anem0ne at 2:28 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


The funny thing is society always had charismatic snake oil salesmen who profited off of image and authenticity, Instagram is just a newer medium with a much farther reach. Although in this case, this woman just seemed to luck into a role she couldn’t actually or didn’t want to work to maintain, as noted. Not sure if she was later driven by greed to keep up her delusions or was just that fucking egotistical.
posted by Young Kullervo at 2:28 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


jeather, it's never too late to join my Best Friends Gang with Kelsey Grammer. (Sadly I could not find the 30 Rock clip)
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:28 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


I don't know, normally I am very harsh on consumer frauds but it seems to me that this lady is selling her useless empty self to people and the people are buying it because, for some reason, they value it. What is it they are being cheated of, except, you know, contact with anything resembling an actual human being rather than a bot trained on a bunch of self-improvement websites?

(The publisher, of course, has a separate grievance.)
posted by praemunire at 2:28 PM on January 14 [14 favorites]


She told Broadly her influences were ‘Sloane Crosley, David Sedaris, Lena Dunham, and David Foster Wallace’.

Well, that sounds like an extremely bearable combination.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 2:31 PM on January 14 [94 favorites]


What is it they are being cheated of

Chairs, to start with.

A place to sit during the workshop would be nice. Also a venue in the promised cities and not only in NYC would help, but let's start small.

She couldn't have rented a ball pit for folks?
posted by rewil at 2:35 PM on January 14 [34 favorites]


Although to be fair I see people on x platform, who genuinely enjoyed using it to fuel their hobbies, that are now making money I cannot fathom and are literally in the ranks of worldwide celebrities. They have actual agents and actual professional staff to arrange their events...could she simply not afford to hire similar staff or was she maximizing profits by using her amateur fans? Was her wealth as an influencer a lie?
posted by Young Kullervo at 2:36 PM on January 14


From TFA: Plenty of people have been quick to tell me they don’t think she’s a real scammer, just an incompetent dolt who got in way over her head.

Yeah, this is kinda my read on it too. I also don't get why anyone would be a big fan of hers. Because she's popular on Insta with people who want to be popular on Insta? Seems like an ouroboros of idiots who want popularity without doing anything and achieving it with a group of idiots who want popularity without doing anything.
posted by GuyZero at 2:36 PM on January 14 [21 favorites]


ould she simply not afford to hire similar staff or was she maximizing profits by using her amateur fans?

She's cheap and disorganized and doesn't do any actual planning of anything.

"maximizing profits" implies she actually ran the numbers.
posted by GuyZero at 2:37 PM on January 14 [5 favorites]


What would it be like if the frantic person I feel like some days inside my head were actually who I were outside my head? It would be like this, and it would be awful. But I'm not actually that person, and I do ship and deliver real things. But just reading her excerpted posts makes me feel that same anxiety as when I fear I won't deliver, 'cause she clearly has no plan and seems to be making it up as she goes along, and lying too.


Calloway’s main problem is that she doesn’t want to be an artist or a storyteller or a writer: she wants to have made art, to have told stories, to have been a writer, to have taught, and so on. But that requires work, research, planning, sacrifice, and an acute understanding that not everything you do will be successful or worthy of celebration

I mean, yeah. I certainly have days when I wish the things I want to do didn't require so much hard work. But I try to do that old thing, underpromise and overdeliver. I try to hold myself accountable for actually delivering on my promises, to myself and to others. I have created and edited books, and I collaborate with a group of organizers who put on events every month. It's too bad that even with 829,000 followers, she hasn't been able to create an actual organizational structure around her personal brand. But then who am I to say what it's like to be able to "influence" that many?

Reading her frantic, panicked missives actually gave me a similar feeling to this paragraph from the millennial burnout article:

None of these tasks were that hard: getting knives sharpened, taking boots to the cobbler, registering my dog for a new license, sending someone a signed copy of my book, scheduling an appointment with the dermatologist, donating books to the library, vacuuming my car. A handful of emails — one from a dear friend, one from a former student asking how my life was going — festered in my personal inbox, which I use as a sort of alternative to-do list, to the point that I started calling it the “inbox of shame.”

This article was hard to read for that reason, just like that one, which I couldn't finish. It's hard to watch someone flailing like this, squandering the opportunities they have. And it's so easy to imagine how it could happen. Failure is fascinating, but also awful.
posted by limeonaire at 2:41 PM on January 14 [38 favorites]


I'm also in the "incompetent dolt" camp but at the same time I'm not sure it's a useful distinction. She's obviously committed to the idea of living easily off her Instagram following, but has no idea how much work that actually entails. You have to hustle if you want to find advertisers willing to sponsor you. You have to plan carefully if you want to pull off a successful tour. You have to actually write a book if you get a book deal. She doesn't actually want to do anything, she just wants something that takes Instagram followers on one end and spits out cash on the other.

So no, she's not a con artist per se, because to be a con artist you actually have to put effort into your art.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:43 PM on January 14 [23 favorites]


Five. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars.


For a book deal to write your opinions about stuff, and things.


Thrown away.


>:-|
posted by darkstar at 2:46 PM on January 14 [55 favorites]


to be a con artist you actually have to put effort into your art.

Con artists in the movies always seem pretty hard working tbh. Costumes, planning, scheduling... it really seems like a lot of work.
posted by GuyZero at 2:46 PM on January 14 [12 favorites]


GuyZero, I suppose my question was a non-way of asking if she really ever had sponsors or any sort of actual budget to begin with or was she planning on using ticket revenue to fund everything? And if that’s the case, it makes me wonder if she is making any money at all as an influencer.

Maybe I’m out of touch with what an influencer entails but I just assumed it meant one had some sway on how people spend their money thus why companies pay to be associated with them.
posted by Young Kullervo at 2:47 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


So, what? She got internet famous for long, poorly-written captions on unremarkable photos that had been naively edited? I have trouble seeing the allure here. I guess, just, a peak at an upper-class lifestyle was interesting to people?
Kids these days.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 2:51 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Bumbling is a part of every con.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 2:55 PM on January 14 [5 favorites]


Halfway through this all started to sound like someone trying to follow the path laid out in The KLF's guide to getting a number one hit and failing.

You would think a $500k book deal would be motivation for her to hire a ghost writer or something, I worked my ass off to finish my Tarot deck for a mere $2k advance when I got a publishing deal for it, but w/e.

Anyone wanna lay long bets on whether or not we see this lady drumpfing her way into politics in a decade?
posted by egypturnash at 2:57 PM on January 14 [29 favorites]


Instagram basically took the American dream, turned it into an algorithm, and is making a fortune off of it. I’ve seen several artists flounder similarly when they quit their ‘real’ jobs and found the reality of being a celebrity on a platform, where they have hundreds of thousands of devoted followers, is overshadowed by the fact that they are still broke (maybe moreso than before). Yet they still have to keep up the illusion, spend all of their time cranking out content and shipping orders only to fall behind thus angering their fans. It seems Instagram “stars” sometimes operate as though they have the staff people with actual wealth can afford. It is a bizarre phenomenon to behold.
posted by Young Kullervo at 3:03 PM on January 14 [21 favorites]


I kind of feel sorry for her, in the same way I feel sorry for any young person that hasn't been protected from the worst impulses of their generation. She's like a crap Gatsby.

She is screwing up, but probably doesn't deserve the enormous pile of public humiliation which is inevitably coming her way.
posted by Jellybean_Slybun at 3:04 PM on January 14 [26 favorites]


This is why when my kids tell me they want to be Youtube stars I strongly encourage them to pick a more realistic aspiration, like "Pro sports player." At least playing in the NFL actually compensates you well for the work you put in, unlike being an "influencer."
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:07 PM on January 14 [10 favorites]


She is screwing up, but probably doesn't deserve the enormous pile of public humiliation which is inevitably coming her way.

She deserves exactly what she's working for - nothing at all.
posted by GuyZero at 3:10 PM on January 14 [7 favorites]


The fairytale image of Cambridge and Great Britain by extension that she played with — endless balls, stunning architecture, ivy-covered buildings, and a romance with a well-connected society boyfriend — will be familiar to many.

I lived in Cambridge for a while - and I was a pretty enthusiastic amateur photographer at the time. I had no idea I could have parlayed this into Instagram-fame: stunning architecture (except for most of the buildings because Cambridge is actually kind of enh due to the poor local stone and they tore down half the medieval city in the 60s), 1000s of photographs of 17th century documents, nerdy graduate students chatting over tea late into the night, watching the view out the archive window instead of taking notes, more photographs of documents and books to look at later, learning how to play (and be crushed at) Settlers of Catan. (Not having much money and hanging out only with graduate students may have given me a bit of a different perspective ...)

I did take some great landscape and long-exposure photographs.
posted by jb at 3:19 PM on January 14 [7 favorites]


Blowing the $500k is what boggles my mind. She's clearly an idiot, but the publisher knew they were paying her $500k for more of her dumb stuff and she couldn't even do that.
posted by Mavri at 3:21 PM on January 14 [24 favorites]


Bumbling is a part of every con.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 2:55 PM on January 14 [+] [!]


I dunno - the overall impression I get is less "malicious, manipulative con woman" and more "reasonably okay writer with absolutely no time management or organizational skills, and zero understanding of her responsibility to others".
posted by tantrumthecat at 3:26 PM on January 14 [9 favorites]


Later, Calloway began selling the book proposal on Etsy. […] The first seven chapters (no longer available on Etsy) sold for £4.86 each. [...] When a fan asked her why she was charging so much money for so few pages, Calloway responded thusly:

"The whole thing is 14 Chapters, 103 pages, and going to sell in total for $50.60 – Ten thousand percent off from what publishers paid."
By Grabthar's Hammer...what a savings.

[publisher] THAT'S NOT HOW RIGHTS ACQUISITION WORKS. THAT'S NOT HOW ANY OF THIS WORKS. [/publisher]
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 3:38 PM on January 14 [56 favorites]


She is screwing up, but probably doesn't deserve the enormous pile of public humiliation which is inevitably coming her way.

Eh, it'll likely all be forgotten about soon enough. She's not the only person to have pulled something similar.

I'm just baffled as how there is a market for this shit at all. Are our standards for what constitute a celebrity/guru really so low?
posted by Brain Sturgeon at 3:52 PM on January 14 [14 favorites]


I would love to talk to someone wiling to pay 165 US dollars to hear her ramble about 'creativity', to understand what it is about her that they value. It sounds a bit like Kardashian (very) Light, which I guess is a glimpse into wealth and celebrity, and being able to imagine that you have a connection to people who are famous and seem glamorous. My life right now is a bit dull, but nothing about that appeals to me. I'd pay to watch the Algonquin Round Table if there is a modern version. Instead, I sometimes watch lectures on youtube.

I really am a geezer because I don't get how young people can bemoan their lack of income and ability to pay off college debt, and find money for this, then I realize the tickets didn't sell.
posted by theora55 at 3:54 PM on January 14 [5 favorites]


I hate writing and don't have a book in me, but for $500,000 I would write the damn book. Hell, I'd write two.

The only other thing I have to say about her is that she's a bad swearer. Now, I love swearing. I swear a lot and I'm very amused and delighted by other people effectively and deliciously swearing, and I don't think I've ever said this in my life, but this young lady does not actually know how to swear. She does it, but does it wrong. Every time she uses the word fucking, it's just cringey and like somehow she put it in just the wrong place in the sentence.

I deeply resent having been exposed to that.
posted by Squeak Attack at 4:01 PM on January 14 [81 favorites]


An LAcousin of mine appears to be doing some influencing work, based on the number of professionally-photographed salads in her social media. I read her feed sort of avidly because I’m weirdly fascinated by her life, which is so very different from mine. But the thing is, even though the content she posts is shallowish lifestyle/fitness stuff, there’s clearly a whole lot of hard fucking work behind it. She’s strong and healthy and in really good shape, and she trains a whole roster of A-listers. And training is not even her only gig.
posted by the_blizz at 4:03 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


I hate writing and don't have a book in me, but for $500,000 I would write the damn book. Hell, I'd write two.

She could have found someone to ghost-write the damn thing for like a third of that and pocketed the rest for nothing.
posted by octothorpe at 4:17 PM on January 14 [27 favorites]


Ghost writer, ghost writer, ghost writer. You think Donald Trump became a bankrupt billionaire writing his own books?

Anyway, it's the lying that differentiates between "overwhelmed by anxiety" and "overwhelmed by anxiety and also a grifter".
posted by clawsoon at 4:19 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


I would love to talk to someone wiling to pay 165 US dollars to hear her ramble about 'creativity', to understand what it is about her that they value. It sounds a bit like Kardashian (very) Light, which I guess is a glimpse into wealth and celebrity, and being able to imagine that you have a connection to people who are famous and seem glamorous.

I think even the wealth part is much less than what people think it is. A substantial part of the people who paid to go to these events, I think, were buying the same thing that people buy when they pay for entry into private Discord servers and the like on Patreon, or Twitch subscriber streams. They're buying the fantasy that they're going to not just see this person from a slightly closer seat than would warrant nosebleeds, but that this person who has the spark of fame will look at them and see something in them that is the same. People seem to be very strongly tempted by the idea that they could be friends with an internet celebrity.

And honestly, this isn't my thing, but if you told me I could pay $165 to do some kind of workshop in vague proximity to any of a number of my favorite podcast hosts or Youtubers, I'd be super tempted for the same reason, even though rationally I know better. I boggle that this girl seems to have gotten even this well-known for as little as she seems to have actually done, but now that she occupies that space, I'm not surprised that there's some people willing to do this.

It wouldn't have to be a McElroy brother, is all I'm saying. I know this about myself. Deep down, a part of me is really, really sure that I could be somebody's BFF if the rest of my brain would just let me dump a lot more money into Patreon. That's how the internet works, now. Access, or perceived access, is a lot of how people raise money. Her problem is less that than not being willing to put the work in to actually earn it.
posted by Sequence at 4:24 PM on January 14 [23 favorites]


I think that this quote from Shonda Rhimes (illustrated by Zen Pencils) is an interesting clue into what happened here. At least it's what I thought of after reading this article.

Calloway’s main problem is that she doesn’t want to be an artist or a storyteller or a writer: she wants to have made art, to have told stories, to have been a writer, to have taught, and so on. But that requires work, research, planning, sacrifice, and an acute understanding that not everything you do will be successful or worthy of celebration.

This is absolutely true. But there is a very, very big market in pushing the "dream" side of it - "dream big! Imagine your way to your goals! Positive thinking! Listen to your inner voice!" That blue-sky "imagine your best life" side, where you sort of manifest something into being just by thinking about it, seems tailor-made for the Instagram world and audience - it's all surface, it's all focused on how that life looks when you're done with it. The work to get you there looks nothing like it and is not fun, and sometimes it's scary - so it's easy to retreat back to "imagine!" because that's less work and is more of an instant-gratification reward.

Her dreams were attention-getting enough that someone thought "okay, we'll take you up on your ideas." But when just thinking about them didn't manifest them into being, she froze in panic and it all fell apart - but she simply had to move on to the next dream and imagine that. She's doing something for her future, right? She's picturing it and imagining it! That's what everyone says she has to do, dream big and achieve it!

Instagram is not the source of that thinking, either. There were these kinds of airy-nonsense seminars and lectures and stuff well before Instagram.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:34 PM on January 14 [48 favorites]


>Are our standards for what constitute a celebrity/guru really so low?<

Oh, not at all (quite a bit LOWER actually).
posted by twidget at 4:57 PM on January 14


not gonna lie, about halfway through the article I was thinking "We're going to get to the end and she's going to pull off a mask and it's that Threatin guy who started that fake metal band"
posted by 23skidoo at 5:43 PM on January 14 [9 favorites]


Not sure exactly why but this reminded me of the story of the Fyre Festival.
posted by sundrop at 6:33 PM on January 14 [27 favorites]


if you told me I could pay $165 to do some kind of workshop in vague proximity to any of a number of my favorite podcast hosts or Youtubers...

I'd pay more than $165/session for some serious instruction from the Clickspring guy, that's for damn sure. This Old Tony too. Both at once? Large dollars.
posted by aramaic at 6:44 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


We can't discount how insidious Instagram is in all this. The Algorithm (Hallowed be Thy Name) has decided what people Like and therefore will only show what people Like. So you end up with a closed loop of people liking posts that they see because people like them. It takes a lot of work to break into that loop and once you do, you're riding the tiger and can't look back or let go. I suspect Calloway got on that tiger and ended up announcing tour dates in order to stay on that tiger.

The fact that one of her Instas of architecture in Cambridge with some MS Paint starry night action going on has more likes than I have followers is so fucking frustrating I can scream. My art is my side hustle and Instagram, for good or ill, is a big venue. The 'big posts' I do, when I show off the first print of a carve that took 20 or so hours to finish, if it can get say 300 likes, I consider that a win. That's 20 hours of work for 300 engagements vs 20 minutes of picts and tags and captions. I'm almost okay with that - it's the hand I'm dealt and I have to play along - except that recently the Algorithm has stepped up the game. Now, if you want your post shared on hashtags, you have to comment on other people's posts, reply to all comments on yours, and engage engage engage.

So basically, we all have to be influencers now. You can join my workshop at the pub down the street for the price of a beer and a hanky to wipe away my salty tears.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:02 PM on January 14 [34 favorites]


I would love to talk to someone wiling to pay 165 US dollars to hear her ramble about 'creativity', to understand what it is about her that they value.

In my experience, it's often people that think that a session with someone who is successful will help them emulate that same success (for whatever definition of success they might be operating under).
posted by Candleman at 7:06 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


"We're going to get to the end and she's going to pull off a mask and it's that Threatin guy who started that fake metal band"

Mock all you want, but that guy could at least play an instrument. He’s way higher in my estimation.
posted by greermahoney at 7:13 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]


very time she uses the word fucking, it's just cringey and like somehow she put it in just the wrong place in the sentence.

Fucking I totally noticed that too.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:15 PM on January 14 [26 favorites]


He’s way higher in my estimation.

I wasn't just comparing them based on the difference between what they promised and what they delivered, to me it was more about the way they were able to keep stringing certain people along by repeatedly changing their stories and coming up with excuses why things weren't going as planned.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:34 PM on January 14


If you can fake authenticity, you've got it made.

Calloway (and honestly that name is so apt it's suspicious) seems to be very good at projecting something that can be easily mistaken for authenticity, which is not the same thing as honesty or self-reflection.

I have moments where I think it'd be nice to be an influencer and have people interested in what I have to say, but it reminds me that you have to a) be lucky and b) work real hard at something you're seeing as a means to an end, which is not really the way to go about it.
posted by Merus at 7:40 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Here I was enjoying all the delicious schadenfreude following the article author's thread on Twitter, but when I got to the tweet pointing out that she didn't even have a venue yet for the Boston meeting next week, it suddenly turned into pure nightmare fuel.

I mean yeah you like laughing at the character that was annoying in the first act, but then you're still on the edge of your seat when the monster is looming over their head.
posted by straight at 7:50 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


sundrop: ...reminded me of the story of the Fyre Festival

wait what if this is Dunning-Kruger Pontypool unfolding
posted by salt grass at 8:20 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]


I had to stop and marvel at this alleged example of her "QUALITY FUCKING CREATIVITY AND VULNERABILITY AND QUIRKY GENIUS":
“But like seriously,” I said. “I’m going to need you to lie in my bed and maybe pat my hair, but only because I have anxiety problems.” I looked at him with an expression between ‘hopeful’ and ‘crazy eyes.’ “REAL ANXIETY PROBLEMS. If you try to make a move I will burst into tears and it will be super fucking unsexy.”
The appeal, one might say, escapes me.

I also have to praise this bit from Countess Elena: "this woman just blonded her way into a book deal and gave it up when it turned out that work was at some point involved . . . Well." Quality verbing, CE!
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:53 PM on January 14 [13 favorites]


Not sure exactly why but this reminded me of the story of the Fyre Festival.

It reminded me of Charlie Sheen's "tour", where he clearly thought he could just vamp for an hour or so in front of a crowd of people who had self-selected as fans, and they would lap it all up. Plus ça change...
posted by Etrigan at 8:56 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


She's not the only person to have pulled something similar.

I asked my wife about the girl who tricked a bunch of people into going to her fake convention (she is tapped into this scene because she is an amateur part-time influencer coach to some friends somehow) and the reply was: which one? It took a few clarifying questions, but eventually she figured out which of the many I was talking about ("is this the one with the orchid lei's?")

Anyway, this is happening a bunch because right now if you have the right look/feel (mostly thin, young, white girls with kids toddler age or younger) and you know how to apply filters to your Instagram posts, all you need to do is get 500 followers somehow and companies will just spam the shit out of you with "can we collab?" comments. Get into the mid-four figures and Kroger will pretty much just buy all your grocers indefinitely if you post about their curbside pickup. Half your kid's Christmas presents will be taken care of (the new thing these days is painting your kid in as a character in an illustrated book, our friend's kid one year old has 2 of them), Longboard will even send you a case of beer for a "finally he's down for nap, time for a break with my hubby!" post.

Seriously, it's ridiculous. I'm an old guard tech bro, and it really reminds me of about 2000, when all you had to do was say "......ON THE INTERNET!" out loud and VCs would just airdrop money.

Anyway, lots of stupid money is all over the place. While it sucks about the people who paid $165 for the conference, I have no tears for the companies pretty much setting fire to their marketing budgets. Just like us old hands figured out impressions were worthless, and the next group figured out Facebook likes were worthless, this current cohort of marketing peeps will figure out that "influencers" are also worthless.
posted by sideshow at 9:46 PM on January 14 [29 favorites]


Have read the Reddit thread as well as the article. I think I'd feel more comfortable with the criticisms were the focus more on understanding influencing as a thing. It does feel like a pile-on a youngish woman who has some degree of anxiety. The people on the Reddit thread who attended the workshop seem to have had a good time, though both say it was over-priced. I'm not hugely comfortable with "blonded" as a gendered insult though I do see CC is coming from a place of privilege that is infuriating in many ways.
posted by paduasoy at 1:14 AM on January 15 [16 favorites]


I do like, in the interview linked from Reddit, "I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I was constantly underlining things in books ... ".
posted by paduasoy at 1:17 AM on January 15 [10 favorites]


the new thing these days is painting your kid in as a character in an illustrated book

It takes a lot to horrify me, honestly, I'm virtually a sociopath, certainly by modern moral standards. I think it's worth mentioning that that did. I mean, literally, spontaneously jaw-dropping. I've seen it done before from the late 70s or early 80s (though that was just uncomfortably swapping in the child's name to the text). But the child looking into a book and seeing themself grinning back...

I always think people will become tired of endless narcissism, and then realise that that's like becoming tired of endless heroin.

( I do agree with the assessment of Oxbridge as endless balls, but that's just a cocktail of growing up around Oxford and a deep well of bitterness speaking.)
posted by Grangousier at 1:21 AM on January 15 [7 favorites]


Oh, and the thing about wanting to be the thing (Artist, Writer, Musician, etc) rather than do the thing (draw, write, play) is very important - it all plays into the culture and religion of marketing: one is no longer what one can do, but rather what one can convince other people one is. I assume that will implode at some point, but I have no idea how. In the mean time, just keep doing what you like doing.
posted by Grangousier at 1:26 AM on January 15 [5 favorites]


So much of the seemingly endless supply of modern celebrity looks to me to be tied more to idea of "real" self presentation in an era where people feel themselves more constantly examined. It isn't about the quality things created as much as the wherewithal to put things out there to be looked at without balking at the thought or experience of people judging.

Whether it's Goop or Trump or any of the myriad of youtube/twitter/instagram stars giving their spiels on anything and everything, the thing that seems most notable is more that they simply do it than in what it is they are saying or selling. The very act of presenting oneself to public scrutiny is something many fear deeply but we're in an age where that "skill", regardless if acquired through lack of shame, ignorance, or strong sense of conviction, is more important than ever as public presentation makes up an ever increasing amount of our interactions with the world in ways that are considerably different than walking about in public or talking to friends one to one or in small groups as was the normal expectation before.

Some of it is surely the feeling or approachability of those we can see on social media, where they seem just like us, but somehow are better able to sell themselves to the rest of the world. Some is in the general abandonment of standards for quality in artistic/communicative effort, where what "I" like is the only measure of merit that counts. And some is certainly due to group behavior and the algorithms that exploit it.

With those measures, there isn't much wrong here other than Calloway disappointing some fans by not being able to continue to present the same seamless facade they expected. Liking her is the only value that mattered and spending their money on that liking is little different than all the other accepted ways people put their money towards ends with no tangible payoff and little old school merit involved.

Calloway's failure was that she faltered and let her presentation of self weaken and she comes across as just another member of the audience she found, where real celebrity keeps its place by never letting the facade drop. So much of the machinery of our era is devoted to cultivating crap that celebrity is won simply by those able to ingest it with a smile and tell the rest of us how good it tastes.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:35 AM on January 15 [8 favorites]


The 'Flow Philosopy' guy, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi , points out that 'autotelic personalities' find deep creative output 'flows' more easily in those with low-self-centeredness...

Calloway is a neat little data point in the opposite direction...self-centeredness probably makes creative output/flow state impossible.
posted by dongolier at 2:39 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]


Blowing the $500k is what boggles my mind. She's clearly an idiot, but the publisher knew they were paying her $500k for more of her dumb stuff and she couldn't even do that.

I know a lot of writers who struggle to get their work taken seriously by publishers, and this just kills me.

I also know people who work in publishing who try to advocate for some of the great original writers they've come across and are rebuffed by The Suits in favor of shit like... this. And I imagine this just kills them, too.
posted by duffell at 2:43 AM on January 15 [7 favorites]


Well... they see all those followers and they see dollar signs. This is, for various reasons, What The Readers Want. Instagram and those publishers are chasing demand, not creating it.

Where the demand comes from, on the other hand... that's mystifying to me.
posted by cage and aquarium at 3:10 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


I didn't like Cambridge or Oxford much either, but I didn't think it was endless balls!

An acquaintance recently wrote a well-received book that touched on their Oxford experience in a similar "look at this strange, magical land" way, which irritated me because anyone who spent a couple of years there – as these people have – would be well aware this is a deliberate misrepresentation of an ultimately mundane experience, punctuated by moments of incredible architecture and occasional balls.

You could say, well, who cares if they misrepresent it, it's not like they're writing a textbook. But I think this elevation of exclusive places and experiences like Oxbridge beyond all reality really does make people unhappy in the long run.
posted by adrianhon at 3:16 AM on January 15 [7 favorites]


>Blonded her way into...

As a blond, and a formerly young and cute one who struggled for recognition that my successes were due to my smarts and hard work rather than my young blond cuteness, I really dislike this. I really wish you would not.

As always, was just gonna grit my teeth and let it go, but when others started giving it thumbs up decided I better say something. It's not harmless.
posted by evilmomlady at 4:08 AM on January 15 [63 favorites]


Anyway, lots of stupid money is all over the place.

And it’s been removed from traditional media which had editors, etc. Which may or may not be a loss but to me it seems that’s where a lot of the grifting lies, convincing young adults to turn their lives into billboards for free stuff and occasionally a relatively small amount of cash. The American Dream, #sponsored
posted by warriorqueen at 4:24 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


I don't think her being young or pretty or whatever are themselves bad things in any fashion, but they are reflections of things that have worked out to being unearned advantages in this context. That itself doesn't mean she didn't work hard. It just means that when she didn't work hard, which seems well-documented, that was all she had, and that plus some unique opportunities plus a willingness to commit to things that she should have known she wasn't going to be able to accomplish got her disproportionate rewards for doing very little.

All that said, I'm not super concerned with her as an individual--more like this as representative of certain trends of the intersection of privilege and these kinds of changes in media. As a person, I think she's fucked a bunch of things up but I also made my own six-figure-debt mistakes when I was younger so I hope she gets herself sorted out okay.
posted by Sequence at 4:29 AM on January 15 [5 favorites]


The 'big posts' I do, when I show off the first print of a carve that took 20 or so hours to finish, if it can get say 300 likes, I consider that a win. That's 20 hours of work for 300 engagements vs 20 minutes of picts and tags and captions. I'm almost okay with that - it's the hand I'm dealt and I have to play along - except that recently the Algorithm has stepped up the game. Now, if you want your post shared on hashtags, you have to comment on other people's posts, reply to all comments on yours, and engage engage engage.

Yeah I gave up on the 'gram after I started paying for reach through advertising my 'products'. I felt disgusting. People I didn't even know started to demand things from me without even purchasing what I had created out of joy. My original intent to even share anything I created was to maybe meet similar people for inspiration and collaboration and such...maybe go to a few conventions and it worked to a certain extent. I don't like playing capitalist games and even less so when it seems my worth as a person is determined by whether or not I can take a passion and make as much money from it as I would a full time job. Sadly, that seems to be the true marker of authentic now (Which, hooray, companies managed to claim that as something to be bought and sold back to people after years of flailing). The algorithm was created from addiction psychology to manipulate you into wanting to participate even if you don't want to.

Just egh. I honestly don't miss it.
posted by Young Kullervo at 5:17 AM on January 15 [7 favorites]


I get followed on Instagram by some influencer types who I'm sure have no interest in my photography but are just want me to follow them back so that they increase their follower count. It's such a weird culture.
posted by octothorpe at 5:30 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]


the new thing these days is painting your kid in as a character in an illustrated book

This isn't new. Like Grangousier, I also remember in the 70s that there were services where you would provide your child's name and they would slot it into a picture book that they had and print that copy for you. I especially remember this being marketed during the holidays so you could give your child "a personalized storybook about them visiting Santa at the North Pole" or some similar twaddle.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:35 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


As a blond, and a formerly young and cute one who struggled for recognition that my successes were due to my smarts and hard work rather than my young blond cuteness, I really dislike this. I really wish you would not.

I hear you. I'm sorry. I used that term consciously because Calloway seems to have used her appearance, including a persona of "flakiness" (real or assumed), to lead the publishers to believe that whatever she was selling was what the Kids Today would like. And that is something that she could not have done without a large amount of whiteness and beauty of the kind considered fragile and ethereal.

Nonetheless, I understand that blonde working women, including professionals in the beauty and sex work industries, face prejudice about their abilities, and I did not mean to insult them because I did not consider Calloway to be "working." However, intent is not impact, and I'm sorry. I won't do it again.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:11 AM on January 15 [32 favorites]


I get followed on Instagram by some influencer types who I'm sure have no interest in my photography but are just want me to follow them back so that they increase their follower count. It's such a weird culture.

I get a lot of spamfollowers, many of whom are grifters trying to sell something; some are small businesses located far away, like, say, nail salons in Nebraska or somewhere; others just appear to aggregate attractive pictures from various sources (corgis and Scottish Fold cats are popular) and spam-follow lots of accounts with some kind of Underpants Gnome-esque mission of getting as many people to make their counts go up and, in some way, win. (Then there are the obvious “buy followers” scams.)

I suspect there are outfits in rented offices somewhere in Florida who, for your Instagram login and $49.95 or so, will run a Python script on an AWS server and auto-follow 10,000 random Instagram users for you, and some people who find this to be a worthwhile form of marketing themselves.

In any case, Instagram culture seems to be the ascendancy of Erich Fromm's Marketing Character, a culture based entirely on mendacious, desperately aggressive self-promotion.
posted by acb at 6:19 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


I don't think her being young or pretty or whatever are themselves bad things in any fashion, but they are reflections of things that have worked out to being unearned advantages in this context.

I think the problem is noting the advantages without noting the many considerable disadvantages, which is always what seems to happen in these cases. People will go to endless lengths to elucidate the "context" around men who are legitimate, actual monsters; women don't get the benefit of being seen as real people in this way even when their crimes (or "crimes," such as the case may be) are relatively minor. So when you cite the advantages of being a certain kind of woman as a way of utterly dismissing someone who fits that description it reinforces that pattern as a social norm. They aren't people, just Barbies. Disposable, and worthy of contempt, nothing more. That's how the world treats them. That's how this woman is being treated. And, crucially, has likely been treated her entire life.

And this particular woman might well be someone who is so hollow that she has no sense of self except what's reflected in her social media success (which, yes: no sense of self will make it quite difficult to write literally anything), but, like literally every other human being on the planet, she didn't get that way on her own, and she didn't get that way without the world doing some very not nice things to her. But because of what she looks like, no one cares.

I've been close to a few women who look this part. You could not pay me enough money to be one of them.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:28 AM on January 15 [9 favorites]


I get followed on Instagram by some influencer types who I'm sure have no interest in my photography but are just want me to follow them back so that they increase their follower count. It's such a weird culture.

I block them 100%. Unless their Instagrams are all about dogs, because that's fair based on my feed.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:43 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]


I suspect there are outfits in rented offices somewhere in Florida who, for your Instagram login and $49.95 or so, will run a Python script on an AWS server and auto-follow 10,000 random Instagram users for you, and some people who find this to be a worthwhile form of marketing themselves.

Hell, sometimes it's not even that. I'm currently trying to wrestle with the fallout of having used an app that would let me upload photos to Instagram from my computer; shortly after, I noticed my account was suddenly and inexplicably and without my knowledge suddenly following a couple hundred people I hadn't chosen to follow. And the only way I could get rid of them was to a) turn off my account for a few days, b) nuke the app from orbit, and c) painstakingly unfollow each of the people I had been drafted into following individually, only ten at a time, because if you do more than that Instagram apparently thinks that the unfollowing is itself a hack and will put them all back. and the people I was following were all random influencers and weightlifters and businesses and dudes from Dubai.

There are several other apps where if you use them, they will arbitrarily make your account follow other people - and that's a selling point for them. It SUUUUUUCKS. And too many people think it doesn't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:05 AM on January 15 [6 favorites]


On reflection, I'll walk back my appreciation of "blonded." Everyone who criticized it is right, it's not cool, and usually gendered and I apologize for reinforcing that. I think that what set me off was that bit that I quoted above; it reminds me of some people that I know IRL who weaponize vulnerability in the most blatantly manipulative way, and, infuriatingly, get away with it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:18 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]


Tangentally: is anybody else here on Pixelfed? It's modelled on Instagram's UX, though is open-source and federated (based on the ActivityPub protocol, as used by Mastodon). So far it doesn't have the spammy self-marketing influencer culture that Instagram is rife with.
posted by acb at 7:25 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


People's lives are so empty they'll pay money to be "influenced" by a semiliterate imbecile? Ugh, I just, uh, get off my lawn.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 7:25 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


it reminds me of some people that I know IRL who weaponize vulnerability in the most blatantly manipulative way, and, infuriatingly, get away with it

this is probably beyond the scope of this thread, but the trouble, for me, is that vulnerable people often learn to weaponize their vulnerability because it's the best, and sometimes only, way to defend themselves. and it's not usually a conscious choice, right? we're animals, we're easily conditioned. this is the way some people are conditioned to survive.

this stuff is really complex. it's really tempting to dismiss obvious idiots or whatever, but I think it's really, really telling who we (collectively) choose to decide is dismissable in this way, and who deserves consideration as a human being. And that part is super fucking gendered.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:25 AM on January 15 [18 favorites]


also, i'm not using "survived" lightly. that is sometimes a very, very literal thing.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:26 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


I get followed on Instagram by some influencer types who I'm sure have no interest in my photography but are just want me to follow them back so that they increase their follower count. It's such a weird culture.

This morning I posted a picture of one of my blockprints, a medieval woodcut style depiction of a Lovecraftian horror at Stonehenge. I used my usual smattering of hashtags and ended up with some of the usual 'maybe a bot' followers, which is to be expected, as well as a follow and a lot of likes from a used restaurant furniture supply warehouse, which was not expected. While the account is likely a bot, I still can't help but imagine a lone intern, trapped in a graveyard filled with dead restaurants' bones, descending into madness.

But yeah, this is Underpants Gnomes level thinking. Why would a restaurant furniture warehouse think that I would be interested in their product based on a woodcut? "That Dark Young is using a standing stone kind of like a stool, so maybe this guy needs stools?" What is the endgame here beyond continuing the game?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:39 AM on January 15 [8 favorites]


I wonder if people finding it harder to monetize Youtube is driving traffic to Instagram?
posted by thelonius at 7:52 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Disposable, and worthy of contempt, nothing more. That's how the world treats them. That's how this woman is being treated. And, crucially, has likely been treated her entire life.

This woman, the one in the article? The one who went to an exclusive boarding school with a billion dollar endowment? The one who then went to Cambridge? The one who then got a half-million dollar book deal?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 7:58 AM on January 15 [21 favorites]


But yeah, this is Underpants Gnomes level thinking. Why would a restaurant furniture warehouse think that I would be interested in their product based on a woodcut? "That Dark Young is using a standing stone kind of like a stool, so maybe this guy needs stools?" What is the endgame here beyond continuing the game?

It's the economics of spam. Spamming people is asymptotically costless, so as long as there are no costs, and the chances of one of the millions of targets becoming a customer is greater than zero, it's worth it. And surely, among the millions of people out there, there'd be a few who'd politely follow back (thinking that it's rude not to), and the odds that one of those, some time later, would look at a post and think “hmmm, I could do with that chair” are not exactly zero. The fact that one annoyed millions of other people in doing so is irrelevant (and can be rationalised with “everybody does it”).

As long as spam is cost free (or close to cost free), everybody else suffers as public forums fill up with garbage. It's the Tragedy of the Commons all over again.
posted by acb at 8:07 AM on January 15 [6 favorites]


robocop is bleeding
hey I follow you on instagram and love your work :) I'll happily buy you a beer or a meal next time I am n your neighborhood. I'll happily take a workshop or class too. but I know it would be about an actual real skill and craft that I know you are talented at :)
posted by thefool at 8:44 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]


This woman, the one in the article? The one who went to an exclusive boarding school with a billion dollar endowment? The one who then went to Cambridge? The one who then got a half-million dollar book deal?

Yeah, this is what I'm saying. I've known a number of those women over the last 20+ years because of where I went to school and then random social stuff later-- wealthy, privileged, beautiful -- many, many of whom had been abused since early childhood, and all of whom had experienced regular sexual assault, with the sexual abuse in particular continuing into those privileged places. When you look like that it is literally almost every interaction with a man that is terrible to some degree -- sometimes it's just objectification, sometimes it's rage, sometimes it's assault, sometimes all of them at once. Because you are a prize, or a representation of what they cannot have, or whatever. Anything but a person. Interactions with women are often shockingly awful, too; you'd be surprised how many women are outright hostile to women they think "have it all." Like, insanely, insanely mean. So basically every interaction is embattled, and half of them involve physical risk and fear (and those are also the only people who are superficially "nice" to you). You would be fucking shocked to see what even women in pretty cages can be conditioned to see as normal. What has been most striking to me, in getting close to these women, is how universal this is. That's why it's "normal." For real, even the ones who were aware they were traumatized accepted what I would consider to be something I needed to talk about in therapy as "normal," and perhaps more insidiously, as "ok." Not because those things were ok -- like, if you had a conversation about why it wasn't, they'd acknowledge all that stuff as true and correct, if sadly -- but because there was no other choice. It was just the best they could hope for.

And my point about early childhood is, perhaps predictably, being overlooked -- every single one of these women displayed some signs of developmental trauma, which include having no real sense of self. Like, it doesn't develop, because it can't under those circumstances. And there's all the other ways consistent, complex trauma from an early age fucks you up. Which isn't even counting all the assaults and bullying over the years into adulthood. Being treated like desirable prey your whole life actually isn't great. There's a lot of literature on this.

But you're kind of willfully not seeing the intersection of different identities, here, and it's hard not to take note of which one you're determined not to see. It's really common, which was sort of my point, but it's something that it's not super healthy for me to argue about at length. Suffice to say it is possible for this woman to be both privileged and oppressed, to be both exploited and exploitive, as is true for everyone else on the planet.

It is, again, quite telling which one people are willing to see for women.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:47 AM on January 15 [27 favorites]


And, I suppose caveats: this is obviously anecdata. But it's a lot of anecdata. And more than enough, like I said, to know that I would never in a million years want to be one of these women. The world is a much uglier and more dangerous place for them than it is for me, even if some of them still think that's normal.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:53 AM on January 15


I think I agree about the possibility of her having a lack of self due to childhood trauma.

At the same time, I think she's also just one expression of a society that rewards narcissism and short-term thinking...if you end up wealthy or successful. If you don't, then you lack grit. I mean look at Theranos or how many CEOs/COOs/CFOs who are like 'I DON'T CARE, THE DEADLINE IS SET, LET'S JUST SKIP TESTING."

I mean this person basically skipped the business analysis, market testing, and implementation phase of her workshop project and...I have been on teams with major bucks where ego-ridden executives made the same decisions and are still employed for a lot of money and praised for their visionary work, too bad the worker bees just don't get it.

Of course it is kind of notable that in both examples above I mentioned female-led efforts. I think this is because a picture of a beautiful woman failing is both more rare and less fraught than a picture of someone tapped into the Old Boys' Club that will pooch someone's publishing career.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:59 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]


Has she said she has a background of abuse and assault or we are assuming? I'm quite weary of, and nonplussed, by the internet habit of writing backstories for people in the public eye, based on our own filters.

I see these made-up backstories that become fact a lot recently in the comments section of other sites I enjoy, like Ask a Manager, and it always makes me uncomfortable when it goes from "possible suggestion" to "I'm assuming this is a fact, and therefore now I can take a rigid stance based on the assumption I have made into fact." Maybe she's an opioid addict and we should assume a lot about her based on that fact I just made up instead?

I think the most recent Captain Awkward column (#1168 and #1169) has some good points about the problems with associating bad behavior with neurodivergences or mental illness. In an effort to be more understanding, we can instead just reinforce the stigmas.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:40 AM on January 15 [34 favorites]


Of course it is kind of notable that in both examples above I mentioned female-led efforts. I think this is because a picture of a beautiful woman failing is both more rare and less fraught than a picture of someone tapped into the Old Boys' Club that will pooch someone's publishing career.

Yeah, that's part of the difficulty I'm having in the reaction to the piece. I'm not comfortable with a lot of the ways the article and responses are parsing the situation. There's both the condemnation over the perceived lack of value in the things she created/taught and that she didn't further monetize her efforts by turning down a 500k offer to publish. That doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Her work, while I don't care for it, found an appreciative audience. That is, I've been led to believe, the measure of value for such things. If it isn't and there is a question of objective quality involved, then there is a shitload of popular culture that needs condemnation, but somehow it's easier to go after this woman and her privilege first since obviously the people who liked her are all fools unlike the rest of us with good taste.

At the same time she is mocked for not going accepting the money and publishing a book, or hiring a ghost writer to write one for her. As if that wouldn't be a grift, or that grift would be acceptable because money, or that being published proves worth or something. Assumptions about why she did what she did and/or how she got to the place she ended up skip over the entirely plausible scenario that she started out thinking she could do more than she later realized she was able to and tried to back out without excess shame later on.

In that world, turning down the money is a more admirable act and potentially realizing she had less to give than she thought or that more was being asked from her than she could comfortably give is not a shameful thing to learn. People like to cast themselves as beneficiaries of other peoples perceived good fortune, but don't as often try to imagine the downsides that might accompany that notoriety. I'm not willing to assert any intentionality to Calloway or say what she should or shouldn't have done in a time where this sort of internet celebrity is so new and so demanded.

The kind of notice Calloway found can come without much plan or preparation in the instagram age and there isn't much to guide the person who finds themselves its recipient. Some people can handle the attention, some abuse it, and some find they want to get away from it. Celebrity sounds cool from a distance, but it may not be all that you dream of up close, especially for women.

I'm not saying anyone should feel bad for her since she put herself in the situation and she isn't hurting for resources to fall back on it appears, but there's equally little reason to make a special point about her, other than perhaps for the same sort of clicks Calloway herself found fame with as the author of the piece can be followed on Twitter too. As I couldn't help but note as that link and some zergnet celebrity photo links were all I could see when the pajiba site stalled my computer for five minutes trying to load a datatracker on it.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:01 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]


Has she said she has a background of abuse and assault or we are assuming? I'm quite weary of, and nonplussed, by the internet habit of writing backstories for people in the public eye, based on our own filters.

Surely all it takes is the knowledge that some women like her have lives that are way more difficult than I can imagine to say, hey, maybe I should make sure I treat this woman like a human being and not a punchline or an avatar of Everything I Hate About Beautiful Rich People and The Culture That Sustains Them.
posted by straight at 10:06 AM on January 15 [6 favorites]


Just think of the thing you like to do. You post pictures of it on Instagram. People like it. Lots of people. They tell you that the thing you do makes them happy. There are hundreds of people who like what you do in Boston and hundreds of them in Atlanta and hundreds of them in Chicago. What if you could organize a meetup with those people who enjoy the thing you do? Wouldn't that be fun and amazing? What if they were actually willing to pay money to make it happen?

You don't know hardly anything about the logistics for making such a thing happen. In fact you have no idea how much you don't know about the logistics necessary. Oh no, the whole thing is a huge mess! What have you done?

Oh no, the entire internet suddenly noticed that you had no idea what you were doing. The number of people who think your thing sucks and is stupid--that YOU suck, and that YOU are stupid--is many orders of magnitude larger than that group of people who liked what you do.
posted by straight at 10:17 AM on January 15 [5 favorites]


I've been in a place where a lot of people on the internet felt like I sucked and talked about it and let me know. I admit, it didn't feel good.

I hope no one tried to defend me by saying that I obviously had a history of sexual assault from childhood and subsequent personality disorders, though. Because that's really gross, That would've made me feel much, much, much, much worse than the people who hated me for the work I put out and actually talked about my work. They didn't like my work and were shitty, but they didn't try to pathologize me to make people feel sorry for me.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:21 AM on January 15 [27 favorites]


I'm not convinced she got $500k for her book deal.

The book deal was definitely real -- this "WAXMAN LEAVELL LITERARY AGENCY RIGHTS LIST SPRING 2016" is probably the best proof of that -- but I'm not finding anything publicly accessible that confirms that she got $500k, instead of a much more reasonable deal. Her Wikipedia page only points to her own statements for the size of the deal.

Does anyone have access to "Publisher's Marketplace?" That might have some more information.
posted by crazy with stars at 10:39 AM on January 15


It's not a coincidence that she has the literary skills of a Nigerian scammer. They serve the purpose of winnowing out people with any ability in critical analysis.
posted by Jane the Brown at 10:46 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


[One comment deleted. This really escalated and needs to cool off pronto. Points made, that people have histories and it's good to be compassionate; and that it can be bad to impute a history to someone and end up excusing bad behavior. One way or another we need to be able discuss this without accusing each other of being awful.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:47 AM on January 15 [7 favorites]


I hope no one tried to defend me by saying that I obviously had a history of sexual assault from childhood and subsequent personality disorders, though. Because that's really gross

I guess I read schadenfrau's comments not as making specific claims about this person's life but more as a general, "Hey our culture treats beautiful women like shit, so maybe the fact that someone is beautiful and gets attention and stuff thrown at them isn't actually sufficient reason to decide they probably deserve their 20 minutes of internet hate."
posted by straight at 11:46 AM on January 15 [10 favorites]


gets attention and stuff thrown at them

When this happened more often, I used to feel really bad for people toiling quietly in obscurity on something who suddenly and randomly had the internet floodlight turned on them. Even if they had serious flaws, they didn't ask for the widespread attention, and the resulting criticism from all angles. They usually weren't even expecting it.

This woman is the polar opposite of that. Her entire existence is devoted to chasing attention so she can monetize it. Not even attention for some kind of work; attention just for blessing the planet with her existence and her "aesthetic" (in the vaguest possible sense). If you go to great lengths to merchandise useless, vapid product, then you should hardly be immune from critique. If that useless, vapid product happens to be yourself, well, maybe you should think about whether this is actually what you want to be doing with your few years on the planet. Most especially if you obviously come from a background of great material privilege and don't need to do it to eat.
posted by praemunire at 1:31 PM on January 15 [13 favorites]


Crazy with the stars - paduasoy links to an interview above where Calloway says that she was paid 30% of the $500k as an advance.
posted by (bra) at 2:09 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


(bra): "Crazy with the stars - paduasoy links to an interview above where Calloway says that she was paid 30% of the $500k as an advance."

Yeah, I know she has claimed that was the amount. But there are other amounts reported in various places (e.g. $100k at the New York Post), and I can't find an authoritative third party vouching for the actual amount of the deal.
posted by crazy with stars at 2:38 PM on January 15


young entrepreneur crashes and burns small business venture, film at 11

This isn't new. Like Grangousier, I also remember in the 70s that there were services where you would provide your child's name and they would slot it into a picture book that they had and print that copy for you. I especially remember this being marketed during the holidays so you could give your child "a personalized storybook about them visiting Santa at the North Pole" or some similar twaddle.


I had one of these and my toddler self found it to be a mild dissociative horror. The child in the book who was supposed to be me always had his head turned away so you couldn't see his face, Big Bird and Ernie kept expressing a solicitous familiarity with my avatar that felt entirely unearned, and most of all I damn well knew that I had never visited Sesame Street and that the events depicted in the book were lies.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:50 PM on January 15 [13 favorites]


I still have mine! It wasn't weird for me, though I didn't really imagine myself being part of the story or anything like that. I just thought it was neat and nice for my grandma to be able to get! And it was cool to have my name PRINTED, in a BOOK. This was obviously before the advent of the Personal Computer Era.
posted by rhizome at 5:44 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I loved mine. I don't remember it well but a major plot point was that a character had my name BUT SPELLED BACKWARDS oooooh.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:46 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


The Buzzfeed write-up has some other details. This woman appears to have zero talent or work ethic, and yet still I'm somehow more annoyed at the large number of women who feel that $165 is no big deal to spend on a flop of an event. How I wish for that kind of disposable income....
posted by TwoStride at 6:00 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, that BuzzFeed article and some the pieces linked from it claim that Calloway has never "monetized" her Instagram or Twitter - supposedly she supports herself with the income from subletting a Manhattan apartment. Which kinda confuses things; is she more likely a scammer because the income from her sub-renters is lower than she wants, or is she more likely well-meaning but living in a state of, "It's one banana, Michael. How much can it cost? Ten dollars?" privileged obliviousness.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:01 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Sooo, if you're curious about the salad like I was, this writeup from a woman who attended "ironically" has a picture of the salad.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:22 PM on January 15 [4 favorites]


Is... Is the header for Calloway's Twitter a mock-up cover of the book she's never gonna write??
posted by TwoStride at 7:41 PM on January 15


lol if some white girl tried to charge me $165 for that salad i would hunt her through the streets like the most dangerous game
posted by poffin boffin at 10:14 PM on January 15 [7 favorites]


acb: "Tangentally: is anybody else here on Pixelfed? It's modelled on Instagram's UX, though is open-source and federated (based on the ActivityPub protocol, as used by Mastodon). So far it doesn't have the spammy self-marketing influencer culture that Instagram is rife with."

I just signed up but it's a pretty lonely place so far.
posted by octothorpe at 6:36 AM on January 16


> lol if some white girl tried to charge me $165 for that salad i would hunt her through the streets like the most dangerous game

But you also get an empty, lidless Mason jar AND second helpings of hummus.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:58 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


But you also get an empty, lidless Mason jar AND second helpings of hummus.

I find the semiotics of mason jars funny. These insta influencers use them as a fashion accessory to invoke hominess and a homemade quality, not as something that's littering up every single cabinet in my kitchen. I get the vibe that young, single women see them as kind of exotic, whereas I just buy them by the case every few years at OSH (well, I guess now I'll have to buy them at Safeway) because I have the odd hobby of making jam.

If you are a young, single woman who doesn't fetishize mason jars, sorry for the broad categorization here.
posted by GuyZero at 11:21 AM on January 16 [4 favorites]


I agree re Mason jars. I see recipes on-line that are all "serve salad... in a Mason jar!" as if that's significantly better than serving it in any other storage container. But tie a bit of twine around it and I bet it'll clean your toxins.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:10 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


My theory is that Mason jars became a bit of a thing when a bunch of young people got some when they cleaned out their grandparents' homes, and repurposed them since they weren't going to use them for their original purpose. It was briefly chic to serve drinks in them, until someone figured out that they weren't really very ergonomic drinking vessels, following which we got that oddest of beverage containers, the Mason jar with a handle.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:21 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


I think mason jars for drinking is a southern rural (i.e. poor) thing that got appropriated by people further up the socioeconomic scale. The quintessential Appalachian household did a lot of preserving and thus had a lot of mason jars around. A quart mason jar is a pretty great drinking vessel if you don't have a lot else around. It's hillbilly chic.
posted by GuyZero at 1:27 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


My theory is that mason jars emerged during one of the anti-plastic/anti BPA freakouts, but seemed more artsy/feminine than the metal drinking containers.
posted by TwoStride at 1:51 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Possibly in tandem with the ascendance of Anthropologie.
posted by rhizome at 2:20 PM on January 16


Mason jars make sturdy containers to carry soup / salad in if you wish to avoid plastic. Obviously, you'd want a solid lid (like the one that comes on the Mason jars used by spaghetti sauce brands), rather than the ring-style one used in preserving.

Lidless Mason jars have no conceivable purpose.
posted by jb at 2:37 PM on January 16


My wife makes pickles and jam and the other odd preserve and so we're really used to just having them around the house. But my perception as a Portland resident is there was, in town, twin phenomena one following not long after the other in the last ten years of a spike of canning-as-fad and then of hip bar mason jar cocktails. They're still the beverage receptacle of choice at the local beer porch foodcart pod and in that comparatively unpretentious context it just kinda makes sense, but even that has a bit of that faddish patina clinging to it, yeah.

I'm waiting for someone to really kickstart a chic trend of serving stuff in used plastic shopping bags.
posted by cortex at 3:10 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


I'm waiting for someone to really kickstart a chic trend of serving stuff in used plastic shopping bags.

China has you, fam.
posted by GuyZero at 3:48 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Eh, I really like drinking out of mason jars and so does my ladyfriend, so that's what we have. I'm sensitive about how things feel in my hand and mouth, and something about the rim of a mason jar just makes my mouth happy. We have a variety of sizes and I use them for storage and indeed it's nice to avoid BPA when I put hot soup or leftovers in them to freeze, so I like that this trend makes it easy to find mason jars for sale all over.

> cortex: Tiffany's will surely add that to their "Everyday Objects" collection at some point!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 3:54 PM on January 16


China has you, fam.

Okay, that's a start, though the US trend equivalent to that seems more like it'd be people getting a sack full of Bud Lite at the corner store. I want to see influencers talking up Sack Salad.
posted by cortex at 4:14 PM on January 16


She's apparently trying again, this time hiring caterers and adding more time to talk about resiliency and more time for photos? But you have to submit your social media details to apply for a spot.
posted by rewil at 1:17 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Waitaminnit - the "new" (is it new?) event is happening THIS SATURDAY? Like, day after tomorrow?

No, she hasn't learned anything.

If it was next Saturday I'd be down for a GoFundMe to send poffin boffin to it. As long as there's video of the carnage.
posted by soundguy99 at 1:25 PM on January 17 [5 favorites]




Waitaminnit - the "new" (is it new?) event is happening THIS SATURDAY? Like, day after tomorrow?

No, she hasn't learned anything.


Of course it's in a couple days, that's a fundamental factor in a successful hustle. It's even in the name!
posted by rhizome at 2:48 PM on January 17 [2 favorites]


I'm on the clueless dolt wagon.

I thought about setting up a conference in my city around a subject matter that isn't really covered much here. But then I realised ... I have no budget to fund it, I have no sponsors, I have never hosted a conference before, I can't afford staff or to book a venue. And I don't have time to grow 1200 masonite jar gardens.

I would never even consider trying to set all that up across multiple cities with no experience or funding.

The irony that she's now probably more famous than ever.
posted by Diag at 11:48 PM on January 18




So the writer of the Caroline Calloway expose, Kayleigh Donaldson, is now taking a mental health break from Twitter, apparently because Calloway is now, through the medium of merch, actively encouraging her fans to view her as the cause of her almost-downfall. If you missed it, Calloway, in addition to planning another questionable workshop and trying to emotionally manipulate people who came to the previous flop event into giving their refunds back (!), recently started selling a shirt reading "STOP HATE-FOLLOWING ME, KAYLEIGH" on Threadless, with the following caption:

We've all had people follow us just to judge us.
Whether publicly following us on social media or secretly following us in the literal sense of the word and checking in on us from time to time, there are people who like to laugh at other people behind their backs.
Well let's laugh at those people! Because we can't control how they live their lives. If they want to spend their time hate-following us, so be it.
When they go low, we go high. And we chuckle. In our Kayleigh Tee.


Before, I thought Calloway might simply be very thoughtless and incompetent, but I'm now convinced the woman is a full-blown scam artist and just a genuinely shitty person who preys on her foolish admirers, can only momentarily pretend to accept responsibility for her actions, and thinks people deserve to be harassed for accurately describing things she has done publicly, for money. She's planning to skate by on her every little privilege until she's utterly out of road.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:41 PM on January 19 [6 favorites]


According to this Tweet/screenshot a little further down the Kayleigh Donaldson thread, somebody reported the shirt for violating Threadless' terms (as harassment), and it's been removed. Hopefully it stays down.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:15 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


On the Mason Jars thing, they've been around me most of my life on the West Coast both in my family as storage and canning jars and my hippie/hipster friends who liked to carry them around as hot/cold food and beverage containers and even knit little pouches or coozies for them. I don't remember it as much in the mean, greedy consumerist 1980s but definitely from 1990s onward.

I have a bunch on my little rural kitchen shed counter. They're handy for holding tea, utensils and drinking out of. I almost was going to use a bunch of mason jars to bring soup to my friend but I ended up going with plastic so I could freeze it for transport.

I also live in a pretty utilitarian-hippie-rural kind of place so it's not at all uncommon to see people eating salads, soups or other food out of mason jars or carrying around tea or coffee in them.

Heck, even our local hardware store has the better part of an aisle dedicated to Mason jars of various sizes and lid styles, and considering how crammed this hardware store is it's some valuable shelf real estate to have that many Mason jars available.

You almost never, ever see Mason jars at the local thrift stores because no one gives them away and people hoard them.

Wait, I haven't even blown your mind yet. You know those mason jars with handles? My housemates have a complete set of Mason jars with handles... with stems. Like some kind of mutant wine goblet Mason jars with stems. They're amazing.

As for urban Instagram influencers putting crap in Mason jars I have no idea but whatever, I don't really care unless they know how to use a chainsaw or hack bramble with a machete or milk a goat.
posted by loquacious at 9:23 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


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