A few days ago, Martha Stewart made a face-plam inducing remark on Bloomburg TV, mostly aimed at food bloggers, but generally at the community of us maker/bloggers in general.
Here’s the quote, and if you are curious enough to watch the few minutes of video for context, you’ll realize that she delivers it with every bit of dismissive, entitled bitchyness that you’d expect from Ms. Martha.“Who are these bloggers? They’re not trained editors at Vogue magazine. There are bloggers writing recipes that aren’t tested that aren’t necessarily very good, or are copies of what really good editors have created and done. Bloggers create a kind of a popularity but they are not the experts. We have to understand that.”
And all of a sudden, a quarter of the female creative blogging community got all up in arms about Martha’s insensitive remarks.
But you know what? That is just fine. It doesn’t matter what Martha thinks of me, or any of the rest of us bloggers out there. Most likely, she doesn’t have any idea who I am, and if she did, it would mean I’m running a pretty successful popsicle stand over here.
I’m not particularly bothered by her comments… It is almost like being surprised when Kayne West makes an ass of himself of George Bush says “nuke-ya-ler” instead of “nuclear.” In essence, Martha is just being Martha. Am I shocked? Not one bit.
More than anything, her comments make me shake my head, put my hands over my eyes and think “Oh, Martha, Martha…. C’mon, gurrl… You are totally alienating your core demographic. ” Lots of us non-”expert” bloggers are out there snarfing up her line of craft supplies or buying her magazines or cooking her recipes. You know that Martha has an army of people “expert”-ing for her… It isn’t like she is out there toiling away in her test kitchen or wielding a hot glue gun in a room designated only for wrapping gifts in one of her many New England estates. She’s got someone to do all that for her. And she has for some time. Who knows if Martha is still personally at the top of her creative game. Maybe she can’t even craft her way out of a paper bag; she might be a little out of practice at this point.
What she is a master at (or has a team of masters for) is marketing. Are her paints better than anyone elses? Are her line of specialty scissors sharper than any others? What about her sheets at Macy’s? Are they the softest sheets in the market? Probably not. But they are pretty. And come in beautiful packaging. They are marketed better than most, that’s for sure.
Martha Stewart has always seemed to be at odds with herself. It’s as though there is the person who Martha really is; the highfalutin’, snobby, ex-model, connoisseur-of-all-things-wonderfully-representative-of-high-new-england-society, very successful ex-con who has made her share of unsavory life decisions (insider trading; I’m looking at you), and then there is the Martha she wants you to think she is; genuine, funny and down to earth. When that Martha comes out, it results are awkward and tense… But when she is being herself – like the time she made mashed potatoes with Snoop Dog, it is actually pretty entertaining. (Making brownies with him was exceptionally hysterical.) But when she tries to present herself as one us regular folks… Yeah, I’m not buying it.
But one thing we all have in common; every one us human beings, is that we all struggle with (in varying degrees) is reconciling who we really are, and who we want everyone to think we are. Martha is the same way.
The only part about Martha’s remarks that gets my goat is how she writes us all off; none of us are “experts” and therefore we shouldn’t be taken seriously. But what is an expert, really? Someone who has a degree in their field? Someone who is naturally talented? Someone who spent 10,000 hours honing their craft?
I can’t help feeling that Martha thinks if it isn’t perfect - just absolutely perfect – it isn’t worth putting out into the world. I understand that feeling; I deal with it every time I hit “publish” on a post. So far, no matter how imperfect a project is, or how many typos I missed, I’ve never regretted doing any of it. I learn from my mistakes (there have been oh, so, so, SO many). So, should I stop doing what I love to do, just because Martha Stewart doesn’t think much of it? Hell no, and none of you should, either. Or be upset if some cranky lady thinks less of something she’s never seen, tasted or touched? Nope.
Take Martha’s comments for what they are; her opinion. She’s very successful, has discerning style for sure, but also isn’t the only person who dictates what good taste is. Good taste is subjective; I certainly didn’t care for her recipe for curry chicken, but I don’t write her off completely because of it. While lots of her stuff is fantastic, even she and her team of experts can’t hit it out of the park every time. (Like all that head-to-toe denim she used to wear in the early 90s).
The sentiment of all the bloggers in a huff about her remarks is that she owes us all an apology. I certainly don’t feel like I need one. It is her opinion, and I don’t feel the need to do an about-face and apologize for my views every time they don’t coincide with popular opinion. Sometimes I do need to apologize for opening my big mouth and vocalizing that opinion, though. In the end, maybe her views will be her ultimate undoing – if you can’t connect with your audience, you’re doomed.
Maybe Martha’s team of experts will help her out of this mess. Or not. I’m not going to rethink purchasing those cool fringe scissors just because I think the lady whose picture’s on the packaging is a bitch. She’s entitled to her own opinion, and as long as she isn’t hurting anyone, it really doesn’t bother me. If Martha thinks that my forays in the kitchen are sub-par; fine. I think they are pretty stellar, and that’s all that really matters.
What is ironic (to me, anyway), is that if Martha Stewart was around my age, you bet your sweet pippy she’d have a blog and be one of those popular non-experts, too. Everyone has to start somewhere. For most of us, this is just a hobby. For a select few, it is a modest living. Why does someone super-successful feel the need to shit on other people’s livelihood? Could it be we’re stealing some of her thunder? Martha is a big fish, but she isn’t the only one in the Pinterest Sea. The market she had cornered a decade ago isn’t what it used to be. The game has changed.
And if Martha were my age, there would be some other bitchy, old lady complaining about her blog and lack of experience, too. It is the nature of things.
It is true that most of us bloggers and crafty folks have Martha Stewart’s driven, take-no-prisoners, perfectionist drive to thank for easy access to the perfect shade of micro glitter. We might not be able to afford pillow shams in the perfect shade of robin’s egg blue without her (now available at Macy’s, people!!). But I’m not going to let her lack of compassion for us little people make me feel invalidated as a blogger. The blogging community doesn’t need her seal of approval to be successful. For pure argument’s sake, even if she was the seed of everything creative in the world (she’s not), the blogosphere goes right along ticking with or without her. When I start Another Big Bite Omnimedia, maybe I’ll take heed to MS’s words of wisdom.
I do have this one tidbit of advice for Ms. Stewart, though. We are totally okay with you being a complete snob, Martha! Just embrace yourself! But try not to drag anyone else down while you are doing it, even if they are encroaching on your slice of the pie.