Blogger Cat Marnell’s heavily drug-addled life, a circumstance she blames on being prescribed Adderall at the age of 12, was the subject of much scrutiny first at at Conde Nast and then in her position at Jane Pratt’s property xojane.com, but Marnell traded in security and pay for a party lifestyle after Pratt demanded she get clean.
Few people could turn such a situation into a new job, but Marnell has landed on her feet — scoring a gig at Vice Magazine writing about what she knows best, vice. Two weeks after her high-profile departure from xojane, Marnell was offered the opportunity to pen the column “Amphetamine Logic” over at Vice, managing to make being a mostly-functioning drug addict part and parcel of her writing career. Impressive.
Marnell comes off as equally compelling and annoyingly entitled — when she left xojane, her explanation of turning down a gig most female bloggers and Sassy fans would die for was:
“I couldn’t spend another summer meeting deadlines behind a computer at night when I could be on the rooftop of Le Bain looking for shooting stars and smoking angel dust with my friends.”
But while the rest of the blogosphere who counts blogging as a way to pay the light bill isn’t often bold enough to make such a choice — a choice that has, for the time being, paid off for Marnell. Rocco Castoro of Vice says, however, that the publication doesn’t seek to exploit Marnell’s lifestyle, merely that she can serve as a font of knowledge for readers:
“If she told us tomorrow she wanted to stop taking drugs, we would help her do that … She’s writing about her life, and it’s brave. The reality is, she would continue to do drugs without having an outlet to write about it. She’s an important writer who should have an outlet. We don’t glorify it; we’re just honest about it. Anyone who knows someone who uses drugs knows: You can’t tell them to stop. From the beginning, I told her, ‘I’m not going to be your parent.’”
Marnell is circumspect about the risks of her lifestyle and work, saying:
“I don’t want to die and I’m not a heroin addict. I’ve done it, but it’s not my drug. I don’t even drink that much. I can write about drugs and do them at the same time because I’m on uppers. And I have my limits. I would never do meth, just for vain reasons. I’m wildly interested in it, but I won’t do it now. I’ve done it when I was younger; I’ve done everything.”
Do you think writers like Cat Marnell normalize behaviors that are too risky, or is the self-destructive writer a trope as old as Hemingway?