(Let me preface this by saying since I don’t know Cat Marnell at all, this is clearly more of a letter to the IDEA and MYTH of Cat Marnell, which is all anyone who is talking about her on the internet is acquainted with anyway).
So this week I, like many of my friends and much of the internet, fell down a Cat Marnell K-hole of sorts (pun intended). I read all the articles about your departure from xojane.com (a site we here at Cultist love as evidenced by the fact that is the second post this week relating to it), including your very candid interview with New York Magazine. Then I went back and re-read a lot of your past writing, your refreshing, wonderful, smart writing, and thought about it all for a while, trying to decide how I feel about you and this whole situation. I’m not presuming you care (mostly because you don’t know who the fuck I am but also partially because you’re an addict and probably don’t care about much besides being skinny and being at cool parties), but after some consideration, here is how I feel:
Fuck you, Cat Marnell.
Let me get this straight: Your (awesome, highly-coveted) job at xojane involved writing four posts a week. FOUR. POSTS. Four posts in which you got to write about what you wanted in the manner you wanted. I work a full-time job, freelance on the side, and stay up late and wake up early to write for and edit this site, because I love it and because my dream is to be paid to write in my own voice about the things I’m interested in. You had that, you had an editor and a mentor that millions of girls my age grew up reading and who shaped our idea of what we could write about and how, and you threw it away for speed and angel dust? You threw it away because you wanted to be “a little skinnier” and because you didn’t want to stop partying with LES “artists”? Fuck you.
Look, I get that you are an addict, and that sucks and probably informs 100% of your decisions, but this is not about that. I don’t care if you do drugs, a lot of people and writers and almost everybody in our generation (including most of the Cultist contributors) does drugs. I care that your whole I’m-a-beautiful-mess-but-it’s-okay-because-I’m-HONEST-about-it is fucking lame. It makes a mockery of young women everywhere who aspire to have careers like yours, who aspire to write like you, and worst of all, who probably still aspire to BE like you.
You think the drugs make you interesting? They don’t. What makes you interesting is your intelligence, your rawness, and your talent. The drugs make you typical at best, and a cautionary tale at worst. The drugs make you sad. You think that you are “a little more special than other people” because you’re on speed? You think you’re doing okay because you have a book deal and a potential reality show? Congratulations, now you can stop being a writer and just be a narcissist for a living. I hope it has health insurance that is good enough for you to maintain your scripts, because once you lose those, you stop being the Little Drug Addict Who Could. You’ll just be a washed-up (albeit super thin and heavily made-up) loser who didn’t live up to her potential.
The worst part of all of this is probably not even you (sorry, Cat Marnell’s ego!). The worst part is the overarching media sand castle that has been built around your story, all of the ridiculous quotes and sensationalist editorials that are racking up tons of traffic (something you don’t care about, as you made clear in your interview with Mish for VICE), most of it making you a caricature of a human when really you are just a girl with a lot of problems, an intelligent, beautiful girl who is dancing on the edge of losing everything but unable to see it, because no amount of black out curtains can block that blinding media spotlight.
So fuck you Cat, but also, thank you. Thank you for inspiring me to work harder and write more and be more honest. You are a better writer than I am, that’s for sure, and your writing will always be some of the best I have read. I wish you luck on your memoir, but more than that, I hope you know that you can’t really write a memoir until your story is over, and unfortunately, the end of your story will probably be much sadder than you want it to be.