#FearlessFriday for the Funnys

Why has it taken this long to satirize women’s magazines?

I don’t know about you, but every time I happen to pick up a so-called “women’s magazine,” or even while I’m hate-reading a Goop newsletter or xoJane testimonial, I feel dirty inside. Sure, it’s fun at first, but after a while, an overwhelming feeling of dread starts to seep in. You think to yourself: does anybody actually realize how sick and ridiculous this stuff is? Why does everyone apparently think this is normal?

Reductress creators/comedians Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo totally “get” how you feel, girlfriend. Reductress eerily skewers the “women’s mag” tone so well that you can simultaneously feel more superior (because you’re not actually reading Cosmo) and satisfy the sick pleasure you get from trolling yourself reading magazines aimed at women. And not even just the brainless stuff that you’ll find in a Cosmo, but Reductress also take the piss out of the “let’s never offend anyone” tone that even the more self-aware feminist sites like Jezebel can sometimes lean toward.

[Anna Graizbord] sat down with the women behind this “feminist Onion” to find out how in the world they pulled this off, how a comedic background was inherent in their understanding of interactive media and essential to their success, where they draw their own lines between ironic and sincere enjoyment, and also just to validate my own hate/love/hate relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow.

What was the biggest inspiration for Reductress? Was there any specific experience that set the whole idea off?

Beth: I was working with a lot of funny women on different sketch comedy projects and noticed how strongly they all reacted to each other’s jokes about women’s media and the advertising directed at women. When the idea came to me, I was kind of surprised something like this didn’t already exist. While women’s media has definitely been parodied, there wasn’t anything on this scale. Up until recently, most of us have been bouncing our comedic ideas off of rooms full of men, who can’t fully appreciate the experience of being a woman, regardless of their good intentions.

Sarah: For me, it was more of a lifetime’s worth of being fed the idea of “woman’s identity” through every medium Oprah could get her hands on. I’d see someone make interesting commentary about it here and there, but there was never an all-encompassing place where we could say, “hey, the way the media talks to women is absurd,” and illustrate exactly how it’s being done.

Do you guys consider yourselves feminists? Why/why not?

B: I do but please don’t print that anywhere. I’m not really “out” yet.

S: I actually don’t think I’m allowed to not be a feminist.


Aside from real and fake women’s magazines, what else do you guys like to read or consume pop culture-wise?

S: I’m reading Susan Sontag’s journals right now. I also got the New Yorker app, which means I actually read it now. Hopping on the TV bandwagon, I’m pretty excited about Amy Schumer’s show and am obsessed with Veep.

B: Veep is great. I also love Call the Midwife on PBS. I’ve been trying to get my friends to read Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy for a while, but no one’s taking the bait. It’s like a more interesting, adult version of Twilight — so basically nothing like Twilight, except that some of the characters are vampires. I haven’t read Twilight, though, so the comparison is unfair.

Read the full The Irony and the Ecstasy with Reductress founders Beth Newell & Sarah Pappalardo by Anna Graizbord on THESTARKLIFE.com

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