November 8, 2011 § 6 Comments
America, I have a confession. I am obsessed with Courtney Alexis Stodden. I am obsessed with Courtney Alexis Stodden and have been since MSNBC first texted me with the heartwarming news that 51 year-old Doug Hutchison, aka Tooms from the X-Files, married the 16 year-old “aspiring singer” (“aspiring” being one of the bitchiest adjectives in the media lexicon) in a private (save for the photo-ops) Los Vegas (of course it was) ceremony. Who is this glorious angel, I asked myself. And how can it possibly be 16?
My fascination grew as the lovebirds started making the daytime talk show rounds, proclaiming to all who would listen that their love was a gift from God, and that Courtney was indeed that innocent (before officially tying the knot anyway), and that their first night as a married couple was as passionate and erotic as everyone in the studio audience was desperately trying not to imagine, yeesh. Here, enjoy some highlights.
It only got weirder from there. Courtney began tweeting her erotic and sensual sexual awakening; she and Doug were kicked out of a Pumpkin Patch for being “too provocative” in front of the children; Courtney was repeatedly banned from Facebook for uploading semi-nude pictures of herself, which she blamed on “jealous women” who reported her page out of spite and insecurity — all of which culminated in a lucrative TV deal. Because of course it did. He was on the X-Files, she is an X-File. What’s not to love? And/or market, which in some circles is the same difference.
Unlike most fake celebrities, for example the Kardashians –who apparently inspire at least some good-faith fan engagement– or even Paris Hilton back when Paris Hilton was the latest made-up thing, reactions to Stodden have been pretty universal.
Initially, this was also my reaction. Because…seriously?? But after The Great Pumpkin Defilement of 2011 I began to change my tune. Courtney Stodden + Doug Hutchison does not = what the fuck. Courtney Stodden + Doug Hutchison = ART. Art because she’s doing everything right. Art because Courtney Stodden is a Web 2.0 success story, from hell.
Think about it. She hits the most exploitable trollbaits in the history of internet motherfuckery — the troops, Jesus, underage b& (seriously why don’t you have a seat), unabashed camwhoredom, “jealous bitches,” the list goes on. More importantly (and impressively), she’s found a way to establish and market her own highly recognizable brand, primarily via social networking but also mainstream media outlets, who almost always refer back to her online presence, thus providing further scaffolding for prolonged visibility. In other words, she’s an absolute genius at cross-platform transmedia storytelling, the focus of which remains trained on an “authentic” –read: comically solipsistic– online identity even Zuck would be forced to applaud (if he wasn’t too busy kicking her off Facebook). Say what you will about her (apparently real!) tits or corpse makeup or whatever, she’s better at internet than some people whose job is internet.
Which of course begs the question– is this just a happy accident, or is Mrs. Courtney Hutchison trolling America? I have no idea. I’d like to think she is, since that would make her an evil genius. But ultimately I don’t think it matters, in the same ways that ultimately I don’t think it matters if trolls “really mean” the things they say and do. What matters is that they say and do these things, and in so saying and doing hold a funhouse mirror to our most cherished ideals and assumptions. Whether or not Stodden is doing it on purpose, she forces us to look at how celebrity in this country actually works. And for that, she is my hero.