Here's to hoping that stereotyping and hyperbole won't ever be completely stamped out of proper citizenship. Stereotypes are particularly useful in bringing order to a complicated world, and there's something deeply satisfying about taking out road rage, for example, on the stereotype of choice, particularly if you're alone. (My political correctness goes out the window when someone is driving stupidly nearby.)
Similarly, it's impossible to tell a really good story without some hyperbole -- the suspense is heightened, the funny parts funnier, the payoff much more satisfying. My partner wishes I'd cure myself of the need to simplify and exaggerate so emphatically, but I know my audience. And I aim to please.
However. In a May 2 column in the New York Observer, Simon Doonan sets out to tell the fashionista world that rather than get fussy over the plain dressing style of Cynthia Nixon's new girlfriend, Christine Marinoni -- apparently it's "freaking out" over her "startling disregard for the accepted norms of celebrity dressing" --the critics should leave her alone. He writes:
"Based on my extensive knowledge of the lesbian community, I can state categorically that a Marinoni makeover would be a complete disaster. A radical style change would upset the delicate balance of lesbo dynamics that have brought these two lovebirds together." He goes on with a series of "facts" that are quite funny, for a while, and then mildly offensive, then absurd. A sampling:
· Most gay women “suffer from an overwhelming desire” to resemble men
· Most of the lesbians in Park Slope (Park Slope lesbians are his stand-ins for the lesbian community, it appears) are wondering “why Christine --a gal who could have any women she wanted -- settled for a skinny, pretty Hollywood flibbertigibbet like Cynthia”
· “Fanny packs are the Blahniks of Park Slope"; while this may be true – though I doubt it – the implication is that fanny packs are the fashionable accessory of choice for the rest of us.
Ms. Marinoni aside -- though I imagine, or anyway hope, she would have had a few laughs at his tortured assumptions, whatever her fashion strategy -- his “facts” describe a community that I simply don't know. Of course I’m familiar with the stereotype, it just doesn’t reflect my experience in the lesbian community. (I respect anyone’s right to a fanny pack, I just don’t happen to know anyone who owns one.) But if someone does want to dress like Johnny Cash, power to her, and her whole band.
I’m not sure, though, that the gender-reversal fashion crowd appreciates Doonan’s condescension, masked as sympathetic, credentialed insider (his sister is gay, runs with the London fanny pack crowd, so he should know) any more than I do.
By the way, Cynthia Nixon? Total babe.
Follow Stephanie Sandberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/smsandberg