Aaron R. Davis
Like many people, I spend a good deal of my day indoors on the Internet looking at news and things that are gossip pretending to be news. I saw this week that Kate Upton and P. Diddy were all over each other at something or other, and they’re dating kinda or not really but sorta and it was really weird that the first thing I thought to myself was “Huh, that’s going to hurt her brand.”
I could not even believe the words forming in my head. “That’s going to hurt her brand”? In what universe does some ordinary guy reading a headline about two celebrities dating immediately and — this is the important bit — reflexively analyze the potential public relations outcome of such a coupling? In other words: why the hell did I even think about that?
Is this really how the Internet has trained me to think? Am I really now looking at things that happen to people I don’t even know and which will never affect me and thinking of it in terms of media relations? I guess I am. Dear god, how do I stop doing that?
It’s really weird to me that I should know any of this. It’s weird to me that I should know, without having to read it somewhere, that this isn’t a good career move for Kate Upton. Because Kate Upton, as a model, resonates with the Maxim generation of 30-something wannabe wish-they-had-been frat guys, the Girls Gone Wild watchers who are in love with her because she hangs out with nerds and is nice to losers and is lovable and adorable and doesn’t seem phony and has a sense of humor about her boobs and makes out with hamburgers in classic cars in Carl’s, Jr. commercials and dances the cat daddy and all of those things that are kind of rooted in sexism but which guys think is too cute and fun to really be sexism because it’s about cute hijinks or something.
And those same guys think they could maybe get Kate Upton if they had the chance, so they think Kate Upton should go out with someone that they aspire to be, some cool James Bond type, or a football player who isn’t a total meathead or something like that. Someone who they can’t stand losing a Kate Upton to.
And instead, she’s with P. Diddy, the guy who ruined Jennifer Lopez for us? That fatuous old ass? The kind of guys who secretly imagine themselves as Bradley Cooper aren’t really jealous of P. Diddy. They can’t imagine themselves as that guy, so they don’t think he’s entitled to someone as perfect as Kate Upton, so they’re beside themselves with anger and think Kate Upton is cheapening herself, and now they won’t like her as much and there goes the brand. They don’t want to see her with P. Diddy. I actually saw someone comment online that she might as well be dating Charlie Sheen for how seriously he can take her after making out with P. Diddy.
Isn’t it weird that we all have thoughts and opinions on the personal lives and dating choices of people we’ve never met and will most likely never meet and will almost certainly never become friends with? We feel betrayed by them when they make bad choices, simply because we like them in movies and they seem funny in interviews. We feel like it’s okay to make comments on who they date or marry because we don’t actually know them, but we feel let down when we discover they might make contrary choices to our fantasies of them.
But we all do that, really. I mean, I hate having to look at Robert Pattinson in half the pictures I ever see of Kristen Stewart, but she’s a person with her own life just doing what we all do: trying to find ways to make ourselves happy. You’d feel angry and betrayed if a close friend commented negatively on your significant other, so just think how you’d feel if a total stranger decided to chime in with his two cents. So, what, I’m supposed to feel entitled to comment on Kristen Stewart’s love life because I really dug The Runaways? Kristen Stewart can tell me to go fuck myself. I’d deserve it.
But what really takes things up to a new level of sexism is that I’ve been somehow trained by the rampant media presence in America to look at Kate Upton’s dating choices and immediately know the potential it has to hurt her with her audience of bros. It feels like regular sexism trying to pretend that it’s something else; something less sexist and more analytical and statistical. Something about … I don’t know, metrics or something? And if me being mad at Kristen Stewart for dating Robert Pattinson would just be sexist, how is me thinking that Kate Upton should rethink her dating choices in order to protect her brand somehow more noble or scientific?
Answer: it isn’t. It’s still trying to impose punishments on a woman for not dating the person I’d choose for her (or, I guess, myself). And it’s really, really bizarre and troubling that that was the first thing I thought of.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.