"With a tone as sharp and amusing as Ms. Willis’ writing, Ms. Aronowitz suggested that the ongoing appeal of Ms. Willis’ work is its playful ‘liberationist spirit,’ like the 1980s satire of a ‘National Family Security Act,’ which she offered up as the first reader at the party. Further interest lies in the incisiveness of her mother’s ideals: ‘Her writing was really [a] part of this larger value system that she had.’"
The “Essential Ellen Willis” party was written up in the Observer!
Liberal politics is in trouble. In the few years since Occupy Wall Street came and went, attracting plenty of news coverage but effecting little lasting change, a commitment to liberal politics feels increasingly futile — not to mention dreary as fuck.
This is a necessarily oversimplified version of the problem Ellen Willis identified in her final, most ambitious, and tragically unfinished work. A book project with the working title “The Cultural Unconscious in American Politics,” it promised to use psychoanalysis to rescue the nation’s political imagination from the conservative hell into which it descended after the radical ’60s.
Razor-sharp piece on Mom’s ideas about the cultural unconscious by Judy Berman!
Courtney is such a site of feminist polarity. She just told Pitchfork: “All women are dichotomies, with a beautiful, sensual, passive side, and a monster, sexual, aggressive side.” She’s always lived that truism; she auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club by reciting Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy.”
Mom liked her stars raw and outrageous, not polished and regimented. I have a feeling that she would have brushed off Beyoncé and J.Lo as “conventional,” which was her worst insult. I mean, “Put a Ring on It?” No. Even Bey’s last album, with the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie clip, would have probably only been seen as lip service to revolutionary ideas. Although, I realize this may be because Mom didn’t have the greatest race analysis when it came to female pop stars. There are all kinds of reasons why black and Latina singers don’t feel they can be as envelope-pushing or outrageous as their white counterparts. And in some ways, when it comes to the modern black family, Bey is breaking with convention. Still, I think Mom’s allegiance was to tough bitches: She was much more into female rappers, like Lil’ Kim or Lauryn Hill.
I spoke to Sarah Nicole Prickett at Buzzfeed about my mom (and sooooo many other core ladiez, from Courtney to Sontag).