If you can trust the internet to reliably do anything, you can trust it to tell you that some bullshit is inspiring when some bullshit generally is not. A quick survey of certain prominent websites’ use of the word proves very inauspicious: one offender, for example, labels the following as inspirational—body positive videos, assorted moments, short hairdos, “fall quotes” (?), and literary tattoos.
The surfeit of woman-centered false inspiration within our milieu leads us at Jezebel to a typically dark place. We have been inspired this year by two state reps who got kicked out of office for having an affair, who are simultaneously trying to get reelected; we have been inspired by a dog with a crippling food addiction; we have been inspired by this rowboat that capsized in the East River right after a man proposed to his girlfriend on it.
In other words, we are inspired by that which is relatable, and now, at the end of 2015, we are scrubbing down the refrigerators that are our hearts and crediting the people that have made us say “Babe: neither of us r the same.” These women, men and llamas are relatable and inspirational—our heroines, in a loose sense of the word.
For creating Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, one of the best shows on TV right now and for having no patience for bullshit. In an interview last week she told people offended by the show’s title to “take the stick out of your ass… Yeah, I guess my advice to them, on a medical level is to go to the hospital and get the stick removed from their ass because if you leave a stick in your ass for too long it will, I don’t know, it will probably get infected and you’ll have to have your ass taken out.” An American hero.
Jon Hendren (a.k.a @fart)
For pulling the ultimate troll. This September, Hendren was probably accidentally invited onto HLN to discuss Edward Snowden (there is a journalist named John Hendren). Instead, he chose to defend another Edward, Edward Scissorhands. “We got scared when he poked a hole in a waterbed with his scissor fingers,” Hendren said, “and that was unreasonable of us.” That interview made me think a lot about myself, and my eagerness to cast people who might be a little quirky out of society.
Saba has some good ideas, some bad ideas, and a hard time hiding it on her face when she’s tired of listening to your dumb ass.
Ronald Dillon and Marie Wilcox
This year I was also inspired by Ronald Dillon, modern-day Bartleby/overqualified NYC help desk employee who refused to stop answering the phone like a robot, as well as Marie Wilcox, the 81-year-old Native American woman who is the last fluent speaker of her language and fuckin learned to use a computer so she could make a dictionary for it.
I am sometimes too pragmatic, and I appreciate the lesson that Marie and Ronald teach us—that the deeply unpractical route can also be the noble one. In very different ways, they evince two majestic options for the solitary person who wishes to resist the passage and patterns of time.
In a perennially retrograde comic climate during which even The Enchantress was envisioned as wearing substantially less in her film manifestation, there are still too few superheroine depictions who don’t fall in with the fanboy stereotype of sexed-up costumes painted on unnatural anatomies. Agent Carter, Supergirl, and the women of Agents of SHIELD were some who made it to TV, but it was Kristyn Ritter’s Jessica Jones that was a revelation—and not just cause her style direction was ripped jeans, some kind of scummy t-shirt and a leather jacket. Ritter brought a boozy, jaded complexity to a role that was at heart about being a survivor (of rape, of abuse), her physical super-strength useful in defeating her perpetrator but not so powerful that she could use it to transcend her emotional scars. Some called her character “unlikeable”; I call it real, and maybe the most relatable manifestation of a superhero currently out.
-Julianne Escobedo Shepherd
Caroline Stanbury, Ladies of London
In the world of reality television, there have been many women who looked like Caroline Stanbury, but none who have risen to her level. A villain, a mean girl, a party girl, a woman with four children she barely appears to care for and a husband she rarely sees, the owner of a ridiculous and now failed business, a not-quite-royal lady born into wealth but desperately insistent she will never merely sit at home and do nothing—Caroline is a walking enigma. Age? Visually undeterminable; every photo tells a different story, thanks to her constant sidekick/make-up artist/gay man she bosses around named Luke. Motive? Truth-telling, no matter the price—and what’s the most astounding is that she always gets away with it. While other women in the Bravo universe pride themselves on their “honesty,” no one is as honest as Caroline, and yet no one has managed to keep as many friends as she’s verbally taken down with one fell swoop. Fear her—never! Caroline is the one to align yourself with and never stray from.
Lincoln Chafee and Steve Backshall
Both failed democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee and this naturalist freaking out underwater about sea lions are honorary heroines who weren’t afraid to let us see their hearts this year, and although neither are women, I identify with both on an achingly deep level. Lincoln Chafee—birdlike, vulnerable, crying out with hopeless eyes and a wobbly smile for America to please embrace his average ideas and above-average center part. Steve Backshall—an excitable Brit swimming through a pod of sea lions like he just discovered Eden, screaming through his scuba mask about the “TRULY UN-BELIEVABLE SPECTACLE” of nature. My heart is full.
Sasha and Malia Obama
I hope they continue to age with the finest grace, chill and shade. My brother is entering college at the same time as Malia, so I really NEED them to choose the same school and become friends. I’ve relayed this message to him several times.
As a meaningful, powerful voice for black women in film, she’s not afraid to turn down a franchise opportunity like Black Panther and actively tries to push forward dialogue about diversity. Whether it’s in interviews or on Twitter, I love that she injects her voice into conversations about Hollywood and makes sure that she’s seen.
Certain Facial Expressions Made by Jennifer Lawrence
JLaw is often written about as a role model for various things to which I cannot relate—representing Christian Dior and archery among them—but I find her most admirable for the fact that she makes some truly wack faces. I too have an acute incapability of concealing my emotions facially, which I often remember only after registering someone’s concerned look or seeing a troubling photo after the fact. You’d think that, upon turning 30, I’d get this situation under control, but it’s only getting worse—and JLaw puts me at peace with that. A few times that JLaw and I shared the kinship of Perilously Honest Face:
- Perplexity mixed with a dollop of “that’s fucking messed up.”
- Literally every time I do not get my way. My husband will corroborate.
- A similar facial “event” occurred while I was giving a reading, so that was cute.
- Take me to a zoo or to a nursery. My face will freeze this way.
- Shock/surprise, only with less facial symmetry and bling.
- This one comes in handy.
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THIS DUMB BITCH.
-Rachel Vorona Cote
The upside-down smile Emoji
Multifaceted and often extremely disquieting: this is the Emoji I didn’t know I needed in 2015. Thank you, upside-down smile Emoji.
Mia Mastroianni, Bar Rescue
Bar Rescue was my favorite surprise batshit show of 2015, and “Mixology Expert” Mia Mastroianni is the best person on the show. (Sorry, Taffer.) She’s an easy six feet tall (her Twitter handle, and nickname, is “Tall_Mia”) and she shakes her cocktails while grinning as if she’s never done anything more thrilling in her life. Half of the struggling bar owners on Bar Rescue are, surprise, degenerate dicks, and in the clip embedded above one idiot tells Taffer, “women can’t bartend.” Mia, chill as hell, destroys the dude in a drink-off (apparently a thing) and then coolly stares him down. “What do you wanna say to hotshot, Mia?” Taffer asks. “Nothing,” she responds. Thank you, Tall Mia, for being both tall and intimidatingly competent in a world full of bad men.
To be a child in the limelight and give zero fucks while being amazingly adorable. She whipped, she nae nae’d, she allowed her dad and the Warriors to win the 2015 NBA Championships, she disrupted those boring ass postgame pressers… literally, what is not to love about Riley Da Gawd Curry? She’s waaaay up, she feels blessed and so do I, so do I.
Same as Clover. If I could write half as interesting stuff in such a concise way…
-Hillary Crosley Coker
This lady from the audience of the Hollywood Reporter’s 2015 Women in Entertainment breakfast
The robot played by Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina. I do not want to spoil anything, just trust me. Also...
Princess Leia / Carrie Fisher
The release of The Force Awakens has given me a priceless opportunity to reacquaint myself with my preteen love of Princess Leia. I’d forgotten exactly why this character meant so much to me, and while watching Carrie Fisher make the promo rounds, I remembered: As incarnated by Fisher, she’s had it and she’s not taking anymore nonsense. I don’t care what they did to her character in Return of the Jedi or what happens in the sequels, she will always be the patron saint of nerdy women born in the 1980s who don’t have time for your goddamn bullshit.
Queen Elizabeth driving a luxury car through a park
Spending your working hours online sometimes feels like inhabiting a towering inferno of refuse, especially in the throes of an election season. When my nerves feel especially raw, I turn to my most beloved coping mechanism: Melodrama. For instance, Douglas Sirk’s 1955 classic All That Heaven Allows, starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson.
I cannot tell you how soothing I find this movie. This is ironic because the plotline is infuriating—you watch a beautiful young widow relentlessly pressured by her rude country-club friends and her own wretched children to dump the gardener for whom she’s fallen. But there’s something about all that lush, extreme, sweeping emotion that’s a balm for my anxious tendencies. (I’ve also been reading a lot of Harlequin Presents.)
Those viral llamas who escaped and rampaged through Arizona
When those two llamas went on the lam during a parole visit to a retirement community north of Phoenix, I was at the Conservative Political Action Conference, crammed in the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel with hundreds of people ready to Take Back America. I very much wanted to go outside, and I could not. But those llamas went way the hell outside, running down a major highway with nary a care in the world, flouting the laws of God, man, and the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division. I’m inspired by those llamas.
Top image via screengrabs