Did you know that there's stuff on Twitter that does not pertain to Scott Baio melting down? For instance: a former model and stay-at-home mom named Kelly Oxford, who makes about 22,000 people, some of whom are famous, laugh.
Television writer Jill Soloway profiled Oxford for the Daily Beast today. Being that she is a writer for television who did not model and did not gain prominence through Roger Ebert's largesse, Soloway turns any insecurity she might harbor into schtick:
As a lady writer, part of our deal is that, sure, we know there are hotter chicks out there, but they're not FUNNY. You gotta have acne scars and a mean dad in your past, not a portfolio and European runway memories. This trend started last year when Diablo Cody and her glorious fempire-appeared, starring the impossibly gamine Lorene Scafaria. Recently, Tina Fey raised some collective girl ire by bathing in the soft light and corset costumes of her beauty magazine covers. It's hard enough to be a lady writer. Doubly hard to be a funny lady writer. It's official: now it seems we have to be smart, funny AND hot. FUCK.
This is slightly hyperbolic by design, but it is perhaps key to note that Oxford's Twitter fan base, including writer Jonathan Ames and Diablo Cody, has yet to net her any actual revenue, although she is writing a screenplay with a Will And Grace writer's mentorship, "loosely based on her fam." So Soloway, who writes for shows like The United States Of Tara, may want to put away the razor.
Maybe it's instructive to compare this profile with that of another homegrown Twitter wisecracker, @PourMeCoffee, who happens to be my personal favorite. No one knew anything about who was behind the dry, political-insider quips of PourMeCoffee — his life remained behind the curtain, although somehow it was always clear to me that it was a he. This was confirmed by Marc Ambinder's profile of him this on The Atlantic's website earlier this week, aptly titled, "Twitter's Funniest Man." Ambinder didn't divulge much; just that PourMeCoffee is a 45-year-old man who works in recruiting and doesn't want to be named for fear of losing clients. (His tweets lean left.)
Somebody once wrote, and I hotly disputed, that "girls" are good at Twitter because they allegedly use it for wistful diary entries (maybe Michael Wolff and Debbie Stoller should hang out). Maybe that's why I make the comparison between these two heralded Tweeters. Half of this Kelly Oxford story is about how hot she is, or her family life, or her kids. Meanwhile, the most we know about PourMeCoffee, by his own choice, is that he "works on a contract basis." As difficult as it is for a feminist to say it, looking back at her feed and her blog, it's hard to imagine Oxford being nearly as celebrated if her backstory wasn't as, well, attractive as it is. Or if she didn't readily prompt questions such as, "From your tweets it seems like you're sexually available but you also have a loving relationship with your husband." (Her answer: "I always feel like if you say you aren't sexually available, you're baiting rapists. So I'm going to have to say both are true.")
I'm not saying that personal narrative or telegraphing sexual availability is inherently less valuable than cracking jokes about senators. I just wish the former weren't always the province of conventionally pretty girls writing screenplays, and the latter all about guys whose looks we neither know, nor care, about.
Earlier: Girl Talk: How Men Dominate Twitter