By now you’ve read every take on the slap heard around the world, from the sensible to the totally batshit. The moment came as a shock to everyone who was watching the awards/scrolling through Twitter on Sunday. But for me, and for other avid listeners of the Celebrity Memoir Bookclub podcast, it was slightly less shocking.
For those unacquainted, Celebrity Memoir Bookclub is a niche podcast for those of us who are intrigued by the lives of celebrities but don’t want to spend the time reading their ghostwritten books. Unless it’s by an Obama or Mindy Kaling, I don’t believe I’ve ever finished a memoir from a high-profile star, since most of them fail to deliver the unabashed honesty that’ll keep me turning the page, merely tiptoeing around whatever juicy thing they should be delving into. But perhaps even more importantly, once I start reading about the life of a well-known personality, I start to hate that person. They say don’t meet your heroes — I say don’t read their memoirs, either.
Take Leandra Medine’s memoir, Man Repeller: Seeking Love. Finding Overalls. I bought Medine’s book when I was a sophomore in college, around the time when her personal fashion blog-turned-lifestyle website Man Repeller was being hailed for its unconventional approach to fashion and beauty writing. And as a 19-year-old woman who had recently moved to New York City to attend school for writing, I was obsessed with Medine and the personal essay style of fashion writing Man Repeller popularized. However, I got through about two chapters of her mindless memoir before never returning to it again. The thing reeked of unchecked privilege from a wealthy Upper East-sider, and I suppose, as a broke college student at the time, I did not care to hear about how financially destitute Medine felt compared to her richer peers while she simultaneously went on her yearly family vacation to Greece. It’s why I wasn’t completely surprised to hear Medine tell designer Recho Omondi on an episode of The Cutting Room Floor podcast last year that she always thought she was poor growing up (it is still, however, one of the craziest things I have ever listened to.)
I finally discovered what happens at the end of Medine’s memoir (spoiler, she switches underwear with her mother on Medine’s wedding day… gross), and felt quite vindicated for my initial disdain towards the memoir all those years ago after listening to Celebrity Memoir Bookclub’s episode on it, where hosts Claire Parker and Ashley Hamilton shared similar sentiments about Medine upon their readings of her book.
Parker and Hamilton are first and foremost comedians and will remind you of that fact before every episode of Celebrity Memoir Bookclub. Because while Parker and Hamilton do offer valid criticism and literary analysis in their reviews, they also make quite a lot of jokes. Basically, if you don’t want to hear quips, commentary or biased opinions then you’ll have to pick up the book and read it yourself. But between the laughs, you do get some insight into the lives of celebrities you may have thought you knew. Which brings us back to Will.
As a Philadelphia native I, naturally, had always liked Will Smith and considered him to be a funny, laidback dude until I listened to CMB’s breakdown of his recent memoir titled “Will,” which paints Smith as a perfectionist obsessed with being the biggest movie star in the world.
The memoir is riddled with shocking stories, including how Smith once broke the window of his ex-girlfriend’s home after discovering she had cheated on him. Smith also recounts a pretty cruel prank he played on Jada in which he showed his grandmother a sex scene starring Jada from the film Jason’s Lyric right as she walked in to meet his grandmother for the first time (he notes Jada thought it was super fucked up). Oh, and he hired a Monopoly coach so he could get better at playing Monopoly (and subsequently, beat his family at the game on Christmas). In short, Smith isn’t the goofy guy the media often portrays. Instead, he’s kind of an egotistical asshole who takes himself very seriously. As writer Soraya Nadia McDonald notes, “Smith’s public persona, crafted over decades, has been one built on embracing the role of hero, protector and good cop.”
Anyway, I wouldn’t have known any of this if it wasn’t for Parker and Hamilton’s smart, funny analysis on Celebrity Memoir Bookclub, a podcast that should definitely be on your radar if you want to be prepared the next time a celebrity smacks someone (or if you’re just looking for an easygoing, yet captivating, podcast to pass the time). While I haven’t listened to every episode (yet) here are a few of my favorites you might want to start with on Apple Music or Spotify:
- Will Smith Has Will
- Leandra Medine is a Man Repeller
- Gucci Mane Wrote the Autobiography
- Katie Couric Is Going There
- Betty White’s Like Here We Go Again
- Lena Dunham Is Not That Kind of Girl (And Caroline Calloway’s rebuttal)
- Tiffany Haddish is the Last Black Unicorn
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