Last week, Deputy Editor Jennifer Wright wrote a piece on why she irrationally hates Paz de la Huerta. Well, Jen, I see your Paz de la Huerta, and I raise you Alexa Chung, who was conveniently profiled in the New York Times‘ this past Sunday and boy, was it ever annoying.
First off, the tone is relentlessly gushy. Let me just summarize all two pages for you, because unless you really love Alexa Chung, it’s going to be irritating:
Alexa Chung is… (long pause) Alexa Chung!
She… wears clothes. She’s Alexa Chung. Trust us, she’s a huge deal in England, where she can reasonably be called a model and a… fashion fixture! Alexa Chung is a great alternative to people like the Kardashians, who are are famous primarily for showing up on red carpets, have no discernible talent and attach their names to big box clothing lines in order that they may be referred to nebulously as “designers.” Here are some things Alexa Chung says that make her sound entitled. Alexa Chung is hip! You have heard of her!
So that’s the gist of it: Alexa Chung is Alexa Chung and they’re profiling her Alexa Chung-ness.
What’s weird is that the piece keeps insisting that she’s interesting but the author never really endeavors to explain why. Oh, and she’ll soon have a show on PBS entitled Thrift America, in which she rummages and finds remarkable vintage pieces in bargain bins across the country. This makes a lot of sense, because if I were to watch a PBS show on thrift shopping in America, I’d want it to be hosted by a wealthy British person. [Ed. Note: we've followed up with this]
The Times profile does at least touch on the fact that Chung hasn’t really managed to establish herself in America. My guess is because she hasn’t done anything except host a “variety show” on MTV and “collaborate” with Madewell. As for that variety show–It’s On with Alexa Chung–it lasted two seasons before it was canceled. True to the overall gushy tone of the piece, we’re to believe that this is perhaps because Chung is so cool and authentic and above all that Hollywood bullshit.
This is the central problem with Alexa Chung. You cannot style yourself as an “alt” celebrity or some kind of counter culture style icon if you’re just (mildly) famous for afternoon chats with the cast of High School Musical on MTV. And having really long legs.
A bit of full disclosure before we go further, though, as I’ve kind of had it in for Chung ever since her first Madewell collaboration was announced and she issued this gem of stunning obliviousness to the press:
“I was being offered so many collaborations for a long time, but I held off. I thought it would be quite a ‘sellout’ thing to do,” Chung told WWD. “But Madewell had a more organic approach. They seemed really interested in my ideas and it’s a brand that I really admire. Hopefully, the authenticity of this collaboration will be obvious.” [The Cut]
Sellout? SELLOUT? …Girl, you’re a Veejay. “Sellout” would imply you’re sacrificing your credibility or artistic integrity for monetary gain, like bands who sell songs to insurance companies. You aren’t giving anything up. You’re starting from the most vapid kind of commercial success, namely: introducing music videos in babydoll dresses. You are famous for being leggy and wearing clothes people gave you because you look good in them (in all fairness, you do look good in them).
Going back to the Times piece, though, we arrive at Chung herself, who contributes self-congratulatory boasts throughout. When I finally compiled the full list of things she said that annoyed me, I started looking at them together and they made me a little more than annoyed. Here to comment on Chung’s chestnuts, is my Id (represented in caps):
“All of my beauty icons are men,” she said in her throaty alto. “It’s all about effortlessness. It’s all about looking underdone.” YOU WERE A MODEL. MOST PEOPLE PUT IN EFFORT BECAUSE THEY CANNOT MAKE A LIVING OFF THEIR NATURAL GOOD LOOKS.
“I said, ‘I’m going to America and they’re going to try and make my hair shiny and I don’t want it. I want to look like Kurt Cobain.’” YOU ARE COMING TO AMERICA TO HOST A TV SHOW AND BE PAID LOADS OF MONEY TO DO SO, YOU ARE NOT PRESERVING SOME KIND OF DEEP INNER-SWELL OF CREDIBILITY BECAUSE YOUR HAIR IS TWO-TONED.
“I mean I can do it,” she said returning to herself, “but that poise, that A-list Hollywood glamour thing is ugh. It makes me sick.” HOWEVER DO YOU SURVIVE ALL THOSE EVENTS YOU MUST ATTEND? DID THEY CHASE YOU ONTO THE MET GALA RED CARPET WITH BASEBALL BATS? BASEBALL BATS WITH NAILS STICKING OUT OF THEM?
“My style of presenting is, I suppose, a lot different to a lot of female presenters who are usually a prop for the man.” GOD HOW DID YOU GET SO GREAT AT STUFF? YOUR SUCCESS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR MODEL-LOOKS AND ABILITY TO WEAR CLOTHES APPEALINGLY.
“A lot of my friends dress like this, and so I feel somewhat bad about how I’ve made a career out of it.” ACTUALLY THIS IS THE FIRST REASONABLE THING YOU’VE SAID.
“And I’m dressing for my body. [But really] it’s just making the most of what personally suits me, which is that I’ve got a long skinny leg and no boobs. So I dress to accommodate that.” WHAT YOU ARE SAYING IS YOU ARE “ACCOMMODATING” YOUR RUNWAY MODEL BODY. I AM GOING TO PUNCH A WINDOW.
Okay, I’m chaining my Id back up to the radiator where it belongs.
Look, I’ll give the woman some benefit of the doubt because practically anyone–not just celebrities–would come off as obnoxious when tasked to talk about herself at length. Unfortunately for Chung, though, a fluffy piece on how great she is (without any solid evidence of great shit she’s done) showcasing her apparent impression that she represents some kind of alt culture does not make her more likeable or interesting.
If anything, Chung is just another example of how beautiful women can become famous for being beautiful combined with the sheer will of their publicists.
Or, in Chung’s case, not really famous at all.
[Photo of Chung by Robert Wright via the Times]
[Also of note: The Fug Girls filed a semi-scathing report on Chung--or at least her handlers'--uppity attitude some time ago that still rankles people, justly]