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Two women fugging it up

Wednesday 3rd June 2015

If the website Go Fug Yourself was a person, it would be yelling at kids to get off its lawn.

In internet terms, the site is practically ancient, clocking its 11th birthday next month. So it’s maybe fitting – if not accurate – that its authors occasionally refer to themselves as crones. Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan are long-time friends. They’re also graduates of TV recapping, reality TV production, and the authors of three co-written books.

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Supplied

A glance back to 2004 reveals that while the cast has changed, the worries are the same: terrible hair, outfits better suited to the gym than the red carpet, and excessive public nudity. (In 2004, L’il Kim and Christina Aguilera were the culprits, so actually maybe not that much has changed.)

“You know, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me saying that I don’t want to see a world where it’s OK to walk around with no clothes on,” Heather says about Beyoncé’s Met Gala dress – the one with the strategically placed beaded flowers.

“If that makes me an old lady, then fine, I’ll be an old lady. I am completely fine with being a stick in the mud, if my stick is stuck in the particular mud that says ‘wear clothes’.”

“I just also think it’s kind of boring,” Jessica says. She cites another journalist saying ‘this isn’t clothes, it’s vajazzling’. “Technically to the Costume Institute gala, wear a costume! Wear clothes!”

While there are those who defend the sheer trend – human bodies are beautiful, and it’s artistic – neither Heather nor Jessica are buying it. “Beyoncé is somebody everyone treats as the queen of all media at this point – the Queen of the World,” Heather says. “You’d think someone with a platform that high would reach a little bit further…I think in three out of the last four years at the Met Ball she’s worn something sheer, where you can see her butt cheeks. Like, how is that interesting?”

“How many times are we going to see her butt cheeks,” Jessica asks. “You have a great butt we get it. This is not a news flash.”

Also displaying her assets at the Met Ball was Kim Kardashian West, about whom Heather once wrote: “The fact is, Kim Kardashian is an immovable force. We don’t have to like it, but she is what’s happening right now. It would be hypocritical of me to whine about it … People have asked us to stop paying attention to her, and while I completely understand the request — I personally choose not to give her shows nor her merchandise my time or money — it doesn’t make sense for us to do that, because the fact of the matter is, pretending she isn’t going out in krazy klothes won’t make her go away.”

You have a great butt we get it. This is not a news flash.

Also not going away any time soon is the British Royal Family – the subject of the ‘Fug Girls’ third book. The Royal We tells the story of American Rebecca Porter, who heads to England to study, and ends up embroiled in a relationship with Prince Nicholas, the future King. There’s the bitchy and snooty cast of upper-class Brits, Nick’s charming, and womanising, younger brother Freddie, dinners at Kensington Palace, and shenanigans aplenty. As wish fulfilment goes, for any girl (or boy) who dreamed of growing up to marry a Prince it’s charming, funny and clever. And, after putting it down, it’s hard to the images of the ‘real’ Royals out of one’s head.

“Kate and William have definitely become the celebrity royals du jour. They're famous internationally, they’re covered as slavishly as the Kardashians and their ilk,” says Heather.

“They have an interesting relationship history, and we’ve only seen one side, and trying to imagine what it must look like coming at it from the other direction. It just felt really fertile.”

“What are you giving up,” she continues. “I’d be curious if Kate herself has ever imagined who Kate Middleton would be if she hadn’t fallen in love with William…Would she be living in a country house in Berkshire wearing yoga pants to take her kid to music class.”

For more from the Fug Girls, including the red carpet, the economics of magazine covers and more fashion (including Taylor Swift), listen to the full interview.

 

One of the moments that demonstrates this is the presentation of the newly-born Princess Charlotte to the world – Just over 12 hours after giving birth, Kate and William emerged from the hospital to hundreds of photographers, helicopters and crowds of people.

Heather calls them the stillest waters, and describes it as an Oscar-worthy performance. “For you to have level of calm, it just feels like an epic acting job.”

“Maybe she was still on the drugs, we don’t know,” says Jessica. “Just give her a quick morphine drip before she goes outside, we don’t know.”

The book’s resemblance to Wills and Kate and Harry – who recently toured New Zealand – is obvious, down to the absent mother and seemingly cold father. “We really wanted people to get lost in the story,” says Jessica. “However, I totally understand, and I think it’s natural, if you got sucked up in the book, to associate them with their real-life counterparts.” That’s something Heather describes as the highest compliment.

Writing a novel exercises different muscles from the day-to-day work of having an opinion on yet another dress with sheer panels on the thighs. “Whether it’s taking a photo of Kim and Kanye and trying to write a dialogue, or trying to find a way to present this content that doesn’t feel like ‘ugh, this again?’ requires a certain flexing of your creative muscles, that is not that different from imagining a dialogue between your fictional characters” says Heather.

She says they often treat the celebrities as fictional characters anyway, because they are presenting an image anyway. But it can be easy to forget that celebrities are real people, especially when it comes to being critical – and that’s something that celebrity gossip like the E! channel often forgets.

It’s especially bad when it comes to women’s bodies. “Other people’s bodies are not my business,” says Jessica. “People weigh what they weigh and look how they look…You can’t necessarily control your DNA, but you can certainly control what you put on your body. I just find the constant weight policing of celebrities boring.”

For Heather it’s not about the size on her clothing, but finding something that’s going to make her look awesome. “Let’s focus on that art. That is an art, and a lot of these people hire stylists to help them achieve that high art…It’s part of their image, it’s part of their brand, we’re dissecting the presentation more than anything else.

It makes everybody happier anyway. I think people are glad to have a place they can go into and talk about stuff without it getting into Crazytown.

And ‘Fug Nation’ as they call their commenters, abide by that philosophy. Jessica calls them the best commenters on the internet. The theme of this year’s Met Gala was China: through the looking glass. That caused a lot of questions about where the line lies between appreciation and appropriation of a culture. At Go Fug Yourself, unlike many places on the internet, the site’s commenters were thoughtful and intelligent.

“We aren’t coming at our comments section like ‘ugh, time to go police the unruly children’,” says Heather. “They know that we’ve set the bar high and that we have a lot of respect for their knowledge and their humour and what they think.”

Jessica doesn’t really read the comments anywhere else. “It makes everybody happier anyway. I think people are glad to have a place they can go into and talk about stuff without it getting into Crazytown.”

As for the sheer dress trend, the girls think it is probably here to stay. “Somebody who is that famous [as Beyoncé] obviously doesn’t have to listen to a word I say,” says Heather. “And in a way I hope she doesn’t because that gives us lots of material. But you would think why not try for more, why not try for a new conversation.”



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Megan is a former senior producer for The Wireless. She has worked in Radio New Zealand News, Sport, and Radio New Zealand International, has an extensive library of animated gifs, and spends too much time on the internet.
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