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Why are villanesses always hot?

Why Priyanka Chopra and Meghan Markle Are Designated Villainesses

For the diseased editorial landscape

We can all agree that the landscape of journalism is in dire straits, and we can conclude that social media has everything to do with this bleak state of affairs, that’s only going to get worse before it gets even worse.

The first time I was jolted by the reality of how traffic lights blind us to the dignity and passion of our profession was when I was engaged in a short-lived gig as associate editor of an industry trade. The digital team wasn’t invested in meaty articles that do the subject justice. I was encouraged to be more astute when it comes to composing tweets, since the click-bait culture warrants awareness to buzzwords, and the arrangement that captures immediate clicks. I was also spending an insane amount of time scheduling a mountain of overnight tweets that would entice insomniac users. We had to learn how to dutifully maximize the various tools that give digital content a bad name.

Needless to say, I found the exit after three months of creatively baiting clicks, retweets, and reposts; instead of focusing on the content without the strenuous adherence to matching images to related tweets.

Two years later, and the virus has spread even further and deeper into the functional layers of popular outlets that are now reverting back to what we swore would never be embraced, after surviving the foulness of the now defunct — xoJane.

Jane Pratt, the founding editor of nineties staples, Sassy and Jane magazine, made the transition to digital when she launched xoJane in 2011. But before then, my dream to join the editorial team of my favorite print magazine, was never quite realized; even though I came close with Honey — before it folded in 2003.

Back then, there wasn’t the ease of being discovered by roving editors, who readily click the link to your masterpiece or personal blog. Instead of composing a thread of tweets, you had to draft a ton of query letters that would be mailed to addresses that hopefully housed someone, who had all the time in the world to painstakingly go through piles of mostly rejects.

It was a humbling era that definitely prepared me for the miracle of what we’re now accommodating. But why didn’t we forecast how something so good could also breed an avalanche of bad shit?

The downfall of xoJane signaled the beginning of the end. The incredibly popular women’s site was off to a promising start with all the ingredients that wooed me to Jane. Forbes took notice and gave it the recognition of “Top 10 Lifestyle Websites for Women.”

But things disintegrated when the added verticals that deliver the spiciness of life, and how we are now able to publicly divulge unflattering private experiences, can initiate a toxic atmosphere that’s enhanced by the volatile relationship between writers and the readers who hate them.

Overnight, xoJane became the destination for controversial offerings that were stored under “It Happened To Me.” The detailed articles had to be graphically offensive, in order to sustain the epic traffic levels, which had to steadily increase at all costs.

As an explorative writer in the experimental phase, it was hard not to be fascinated by the explosive content on xoJane, and that motivated the deplorable essay I casually pitched, about being the shallow mistress of a wealthy older White guy. It was totally fabricated; and the expectation was that it would be an instant hit — based on how “the mistress” was willing to “sell her soul” for the comforts of being financially supported.

The comments were as unpleasant as I anticipated, and while it was mildly exhilarating to witness readers clamoring to internalize the words that were cunningly unleashed, there was also the disappointment of how my first-ever viral piece had to be a badly written, and distasteful work of fiction, that contained all the elements poisoning the rules of engagement.

The fitting end to xoJane in 2015, was instigated by the horrendous essay that was inexplicably published by harried editors, who obviously succumbed to the desperation of an out-of-control climate — that demanded the parade of our very worst instincts as humans.

The essay could’ve been fiction or it could’ve been as real as the dispiriting testimonial of the White girl in a mostly all-White yoga class, who felt awful for the over-weight Black girl, struggling to keep up. But in this scenario, the writer needed readers to know that she didn’t feel at all sorry about the tragic suicide of a mentally-ill friend, whose personal challenges proved to be invasively burdensome — making her death feel more like “a blessing.”

The backlash was severe, and the sigh of relief came from the reassurance that there are still lines that can’t ever be crossed without a riot. The other side of it revealed the instant fame, that was assigned to the heartless writer, who ended up with a publicist because that’s what happens when everyone knows your name.

The bad news is that the legacy of xoJane still haunts in an influential way even after being assimilated into the more temperate cycle of InStyle, in late 2016. The damage that was exacted by the potency of what it takes to dominate the traffic of clicks and the revenue that follows, swiftly permeated the editorial realm, and inevitably produced the staged chaos of hiring inexperienced editors, who edit with the assistance of trends and hashtags.

The Cut is still weathering the online uproar over the horrible piece about the extravagant wedding festivities of actress Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas of the famed Jonas Brothers. The ravishing bride is actually a “global scam artist,” who despite garnering attention for being the first lead actress of a primetime show on a major network, still needed to scheme her way into the heart of much younger heartthrob.

The main themes highlighted all the reasons why Nick Jonas needs to jump ship before it’s too late, given the fact that his new bride only married him to indulge in the “PR machine” surrounding the opulent nuptials, which provided “expensive things” at her disposal. While Nick is the innocent naive prop, whose penchant for older women made him the easy target, who will eventually regret his ill-fated decision.

First off, the mere fact that editors at The Cut weren’t at all considerate of how offensive the article was, and how it would be catastrophic to host such a thing on their platform, illustrates the serious issues that are plaguing the industry-at-large.

So-called editors of so-called illustrious outlets aren’t hired to “edit” but rather to sift through pitches, and pick out the ones that stand out for all the wrong reasons. Think pieces have evolved into this off-putting practice of shaming notables, who have to suffer for the sin of being vulnerable to the treatment of being unfairly theorized.

Sometimes the reality check is warranted and often times it’s not.

Obviously it was appealing to produce something that deviates from all the other indistinguishable entries. Editors tend to demand the “unique spin” on overly assessed topics, that will ultimately prove to be the heavily trafficked stand out. But the problem with that request lies in the threat of taking things too far with the falsehood of how being “refreshingly blunt” will compensate for the gross negligence.

It didn’t take long for the embattled editors to remove the damning evidence and issue the standard apology, that still doesn’t adequately explain why the decision was made to publish an essay, that any seasoned and competent editor would vehemently reject with notes on why the curator shouldn’t be courted for future projects.

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The Cut must’ve gotten the memo from the Daily Mail, because another equally disgusting piece was published in the same week, about another actress of color who possesses the same abhorrent characteristics that are associated with “a ruthless social climber” — who was determined to use and discard “the little people” on her way to the top.

Our next villainess, who is also a long-time girlfriend of Priyanka, is none other than the Duchess of Sussex, the now pregnant and relatively new bride of Prince Harry. Piers Morgan, who is weirdly identified as a”journalist” despite a track record that refutes that description, recently wrote an unappetizingly offensive, whiny tirade, that was meant to validate the ongoing rumors about Meghan Markle.

The pathetically boring gist, might’ve been engrossing if it had be written by a gifted writer. Piers Morgan certainly isn’t “gifted,” and so he tried but failed to convince readers of how his “former friend” abruptly “ghosted him” after she advanced into England’s most revered institution.

According to the Brits’ celebrated version of our bloated man-baby in The White House, this “B-list actress” rudely used him to advance her career, and then unceremoniously dumped his ass once things got hot and heavy with Britain’s most eligible bachelor.

The vibrant reasons on display are comical at best, and in the end, we’re left with the irresistible urge to punch something that resembles the pie-faced clown, who royally clowned himself with a terrifically appalling essay, that perfectly showcases how White privilege causes the “privileged” to be stuck in the limbo of debilitating ignorance.

But it has to be said that the rumor mill has been swirling for quite some time, and the assault on Meghan began soon after the wedding in May, as the new bride began the adjustment process in unfamiliar territory. From her fashion and beauty choices to the possible baby bump that turned out to be the real thing — the former actress has been a fixture of a voraciously competitive landscape.

The issue with Meghan Markle’s viability is how it pits her against the beloved wife of her hubby’s older brother and heir to the throne, Prince William. Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge is now sharing the spotlight with the newest addition to the royal family, and we’re being given the deets on the contentious relationship between the two women.

Media outlets are roaring with headlines and testimonies from “sources” and even Kensington Palace had to drop protocol by releasing a statement to refute the published lies.

But regardless of whether we buy what’s being sold, we can’t escape the nagging proof of how Duchess Kate is presented as the angel who is being “bullied” by the inappropriately high-strong and overly-aggressive tendencies of Duchess Meghan — who happens to be a woman of color.

The comments section seem to indicate that most commenters are siding with Kate because of her affable presentation, and how she seamlessly fits into the White sovereignty of the monarchy, without the blemish of being annoyingly distracting — in the way the less-White and and somewhat mysterious Meghan tends to be.

And so we have to recognize how two famous and accomplished women of color who each had their fairytale love stories dramatized for the viewing pleasure of gawkers — unwillingly became demonized victims of our dreadfully frightful editorial process.

Priyanka Chopra didn’t deserve to be assessed in such a cruelly dismissive manner and Meghan Markle is gracefully navigating life-changing events on the world stage, and certainly doesn’t deserve to be trampled on by mean-spirited tabloid fodder.

White women are able to enjoy the envious praise of onlookers and fans when they snag the man who will be king, or finally marry the love that unhooks them from the Goop of “conscious uncoupling.”

But when women of color dare to indulge — their good fortune is promptly criminalized.

And their stripped dignity gets the green light from editors, who should know better, but cower to the pressure of an ailing system, that only has tolerance for headlines that fete the click-worthiness of designated villainesses who are brown enough to bear it.

Written by

Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say!

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