A few weeks ago we sent an email announcing our summer contest winners that contained a pretty mediocre joke about pumpkin spice lattes and the phrase “basic bitches.” This upset some people. We’ve been regretting the joke mostly because it wasn’t a good one. As Mallory Ortberg points out in her interview with Sandra Allen (who was responsible for the aforementioned email containing the pretty mediocre joke) in this issue, “Mostly, I think that all of the pumpkin spice latte jokes that can be made have been made and there are none left. They are like the Entwives; they have vanished from our shores.”
One email we received read: “I cannot believe you would actually send something so offensive and sexist to your subscribers. What were you thinking?! I then Googled ‘Wag's Revue’ and one of the first results was a poem entitled ‘Gwyneth Paltrow’ from ‘Crap Bitches and Other Poems.’ I don't think I have ever been so offended by something that dares to call itself poetry.”
Attempting perhaps inelegantly to momentarily sidestep the whole basicness-and-bitchiness conversation, we would like to talk about offensiveness, a topic that is central to our mission. As a little magazine, ours is a low stakes game. One benefit of being small is we can and should support writers and artists who are pushing boundaries and who, in so doing, will potentially offend.
And we’ve potentially offended a lot over the last nearly six years. For starters, there’s this featured artwork — and this and this and this — as well as 38 pages on Louis C.K. and fucktons of profanity. Our interviewees have laughed at panic attacks, praised Azealia Banks, championed sluttery, and used the n-word. And our writers have written on or referenced potentially offensive/ displeasing themes including — but certainly not limited to — Rebecca Black, global warming, genital mutilation, copyright infringement, Old School, over-age breastfeeding, animal abuse, Williamsburg, The Daily Show, palm reading, “graphic images of Japanese soldiers’ brains leaking into the Pacific,” Abu Ghraib,