08/10/2012 10:53 am ET

Watching a Spectacular Public Meltdown With Just a Hint of Jealousy

A few days after Whitney Houston died, a friend sent me a link to a story by Cat Marnell. "What do you think of this writer?" she asked.

I'd heard of Marnell, the bad-girl beauty director at xoJane, a Web site for women run by Jane Pratt, the founding editor of Sassy and Jane magazines. Mostly I knew of Marnell because I'd heard people complain about her. She was the blogosphere's version of a reality-TV villain, an unapologetic abuser of both drugs and all-caps. With her online persona, she proudly situated herself in a tradition of female train wrecks that runs from Edie Sedgwick to Lindsay Lohan to Courtney Love.

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