When I was a little girl, daddies wielding Super 8’s were the official hagiographers of their family life. Artistically ahead of their time, these independent filmmakers invented the shaky cam, the very same camera work that years later would be heralded as a breathtaking innovation in The Blair Witch Project and countless other slice-and-dicers.
Dads and their Kodaks recorded everything: kids going mental over their Christmas swag; mom looking frazzled as she pulled the Thanksgiving turkey out of the oven; kids going mental as they OD’d on their Halloween haul; grandma and grandpa looking uneasy at the undercooked July 4 burgers; kids going mental trying to wrap their pie holes around giant chocolate Easter eggs. Camera shy himself, daddy rarely made into any of these innocent family tableaux, a cinematic foreshadowing of the upstaging that was to come.
Flash forward to today, more years later than I’ll admit. Instead of a few hapless close friends stoically nursing their scotch-rocks while enduring cinema verite en famille, in the here-and-now you, me—all of us—are subject, 24/7, to a barrage of family secrets, none of which is too private or too intimate or too uninteresting to share with, well, everybody. Dads and their cameras are history. Welcome to the world of the “mommy blogger.”
Mommy bloggers are relentlessly, conspicuously, self-consciously and self-righteously dedicated to their muse, the hapless babies over whom they have dominion. While mommy may have suckled them, the children who call mommy bloggers “mommy” are their maters’ meal tickets to fame and possible fortune. Think of the mommy blogger as the internet equivalent to the woman who pimps out her three-year-old for the Little Miss Citrus, Little Miss Perfect, Little Miss Glitz, Little Miss Princess, or Little Miss Sunburst crown.
The mommy bloggers I know would recoil in horror at the comparison. After they stopped sputtering, they would condescending explain that, unlike Little Miss Typhanee’s mom, they do not exploit their children. They would ask how I could be so insensitive as to not see the difference between the art of the blogger and the artifice of the stage-mother. How could I possibly not understand the courage it takes to share a searingly honest, gut-wrenching, soul-searching, illustrated discussion of suckling one’s five-year-old at Starbucks? To which I would reply, “nope”: the only difference I see is that the stage mom keeps her clothes on in public and the audience for her misguided views about child-rearing and her tarted-up tot blessedly small.
Not so the mommy bloggers. Like Mama Rose, they are ruthless in stripping their daughters and sons bare of any lingering shred of dignity or self-determination they may have once possessed. Take, for example, “Sarah,” aka “Cop’s Wife,” who earned her fifteen minutes back in October when she told the world the sorry story of her five-year-old son’s Halloween costume. It seems the kid is a big Scooby Doo fan, and wanted to dress up like one of the gang—Daphne, the androgynous “brainy” member of the quintet. Mom sees no problem with this and sends the little boy to school in drag. What happens next is as sad as it is predictable:
Then as we got closer to the actual day, he stared (sic) to hem and haw about [his choice of the Daphne costume.] After some discussion it comes out that he is afraid people will laugh at him. I pointed out that some people will because it is a cute and clever costume. He insists their laughter would be of the ‘making fun’ kind. I blow it off. Seriously, who would make fun of a child in costume?
And then the big day arrives. [He] doesn’t want to get out of the car. He’s afraid of what people will say and do to him. I convince him to go inside….We walk down the hall to where his classroom is.
And that’s where things went wrong. Two mothers went wide-eyed and made faces as if they smelled decomp. And I realize that my son is seeing the same thing I am. So I say, “Doesn’t he look great?” And Mom A says in disgust, “Did he ask to be that?!” I say that he sure did as Halloween is the time of year that you can be whatever it is that you want to be. They continue with their nosy, probing questions as to how that was an option and didn’t I try to talk him out of it. Mom B mostly just stood there in shock and dismay.
“Sarah” interprets this moment as one of her possibly gay son’s introduction to the scourge of homophobia. She forgets what she wrote but a few paragraphs before: “I was hesitant to [buy the costume], not because it was a cross gendered situation, but because 5 year olds have a tendency to change their minds.” It evidently does not occur to her that the kid might have indeed changed his mind. She forgets that as a mother and an adult her job is to draw on her experience of the world in order to protect her child from people who would do him harm, intentionally or otherwise. Instead, she “convinces” her son to subject himself to the ridicule he has figured out will come his way so that she’ll have something to write in the vanity press that is her blog. For of course mommy is the star of this story:
It is obvious that I neither abuse nor neglect my children. They are not perfect, but they are learning how to navigate this big, and sometimes cruel, world. I hate that my son had to learn this lesson while standing in front of allegedly Christian women. I hate that those women thought those thoughts, and worse felt comfortable saying them out loud. I hate that ‘pink’ is still called a girl color and that my baby has to be so brave if he wants to be Daphne for Halloween.
Leaving aside that it’s not at all “obvious” that this woman is not abusing her children mentally if not emotionally, let’s take a closer look Sarah’s hypocrisy. She says that she hates that her son had to learn that people can be cruel “while standing in front of allegedly Christian women”; she says she hates that “that those women thought those thoughts, and worse felt comfortable saying them out loud.” In her venomous attack on moms whose child rearing practices differ from her own, she seems not to realize that the mothers were not criticizing her son—they were talking about her and her questionable judgment.
But that’s the mommy blogger for you: the kid is just the conceit that permits her to address her real subject: me, Me, ME!
But if “Sarah” is blindly self-centered, Katie Granju—beloved by her legion of fans as “mamapundit”—is downright disturbed in her narcissism. Katie, or Mama P, writes about the joys of motherhood in a very popular blog. When a terrible tragedy befell her, she spared her readers no detail. Day after day her teenage son suffered in a hospital bed, struggling to recover from a beating he received in a drug deal gone bad, while Mama P sat at his bedside, tapping away on her laptop.
Readers learn of her child’s increasingly poor prognosis as she bravely types through her tears. As her firstborn lay dying, Katie keeps us all posted. She denies her son the last gifts she can give him, her undivided attention and a death with dignity. Instead, she satisfies her readers’ lust for snuff porn with every last detail of her troubled boy’s final moments.
All of that happened back in May; incredibly, the mommy blogger “community” turned out in droves to “support” Mama P’s “courage.”
And now, as Yuletide approaches, we come full circle. Today’s post on mamapundit is a photographic trip down memory lane that would make dear old dad and his Super 8 proud: age-sequenced pictures of the dead boy, Katie’s gift to the ghoulish readers who cannot get enough of the senseless death of a young person. Once more we get to revisit a very private tragedy made all the more horrific by the very public travesty of its living on as fodder for a blog.