Monday, November 13, 2006

When did "Bad" become "Cool"?

I didn't write this, but I wish I had. Article on "The Escalation of Cool", and how "bad" moms are suddenly the coolest ones out there.

Suddenly, at least when it comes to what publishers are thinking about what makes books and newspapers sell, if you aren't a bored mother, a depressed mother, an I-could-care-less mother, a mother who drinks, you are not a mother who is having an authentic experience.

Let's take a look at some of the current memoir out there right now. Some of these authors are friends of mine or writers I know, and some of these books are fantastic, despite the marketing angle taken by their publishers. So my intent is not to slam anyone, but I want to look at these titles.

Confessions of a Slacker Mom
Confessions of a Naughty Mommy
The Three-Martini Playdate
Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay
Mommies Who Drink (and, lest we be accused of leaving out fathers, Daddy Needs a Drink
Peanut Butter, Playdates, and Prozac

Notice a trend?

Moms have always been "bored" or "scared" or "messed-up"; they just didn't go online and blog about it all day long.


Memoir is all about transparency. But motherhood is about non-transparency. Memoir, like all writing, is about drama and conflict and plot and character. Motherhood is about consistency and keeping your cool -- it is all character and no plot. (Or rather, the same old plot with different characters.)

Being cool -- being "out" about being bored, about wishing you could be doing coke with your friends, about preferring to be drunk at a playdate -- is almost a way out of this dilemma. You're not being a bad mother, you're just cool. You're not being a good mother, you're just cool. It's just how you roll. But cool as an avoidance technique seems to be yet another thing that not only divides us against each other but also separates us from our fundamental role in this mother-child relationship.

Now it seems to be a "good" mother (in the pop-culture sense), you have to be a "bad" mother. First it was shocking to admit even so much as a crack in the facade. Now being on crack *is* the facade. This is also something that comes from the luxury of privilege. Desperate people don't have time for posturing. People actually on crack -- or facing PPD or dealing with addiction -- do not have the ability to sit around and muse about this stuff. Making these things the starting point for what's acceptable as an au courant mother denigrates the actual experience of those things, and then the authenticity of the entire experience is drawn into question.

Read the rest here. Great stuff.

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