There is a land, not far from here, that is ruled by an emperor — a title used to describe someone who is rich, powerful, emulated, and idolized solely because he was born to famous parents, kind of like the Brant brothers. The emperor, like so many of us, spent most of his day at work online shopping; the guy loved clothes, but he did not buy off the rack. He liked to own the most lavish, cutting-edge, head-turning couture. He fancied it the pride of his empire. So like Pompeii with his elephants, the emperor often called his subjects forth to celebrate his newest outfit. In fairness, these were the dark days before Grindr came to his kingdom.
One day, a motley but twee group of self-proclaimed artists came to the emperor’s court and told him they were weavers who could create the finest fabric that ever existed, a textile so luxurious and stunning it would be the envy of all who saw it. This cloth, they claimed, had magical properties; the unintelligent, and more importantly, unhip among his subjects would not be able to see their extraordinary creation. The emperor commissioned the con artists to make him a bespoke suit from their magic cloth, to inspire his subjects, of course, but also to cull from his advisers the people who actually preferred Lady Gaga’s early works, before she went full Madonna.
The emperor gave the swindlers bags of money to create his enchanting new outfit. They set up looms in the east wing of the palace and asked for silk and jewels and gold to create the phenomenal fabric. Word is, they spent days lounging around their quarters, eating cupcakes, tweeting, and listening to well-curated but unadventurous music, but they barred the doors to any of the Emperor’s court. After a few weeks, the Emperor was curious about their progress, so he sent his most trusted adviser to check up on the weavers. The adviser was a wise and weathered diplomat whose storied career was a rare source of imperial pride not related to the emperor’s own appearance. He entered the workshop where the swindlers spun their deception and saw their empty looms. He was incredulous. How could he not be intelligent enough to see the fabric? While he stood there, dumbfounded, one of the weavers — a young, unshapely woman, asked him, “Do you like our beautiful fabric?” The adviser hesitated, fighting a self-doubt not experienced since his youth. Before he could speak, the woman said, “Do you want me to try it on for you?” Before he could answer, she began taking off her clothes. Once she was completely naked, she mimed draping the fabric from the loom over her naked body. “Now what do you think?” she asked. She started eating a cupcake with gold-flake-flecked frosting. “It’s breath-taking,” said the advisor, acquiescing, “You’re so brave.” “Tell the Emperor,” said the naked woman, “And tell him we’re going to need more gold.”
The emperor sent several other people whose opinions he respected to view the cloth and they all gave it rave reviews. One of them actually gouged out his own eyes because, he claimed he never wanted to see anything else again after the weaver tried on the beautiful garment for him. The swindlers brought in a whole host of friends, relatives, and Hollywood executives to help create the fabricated look. Soon word began to spread throughout the land about the astounding and magical get-up, and before long, people who’d never even seen the cloth, who’d only heard about it third-hand, were telling their friends how breath-taking and magnificent they knew it was. The emperor planned a grand procession to show off his new clothes to his subjects.
On the day of the unveiling, the Emperor waited nervously in his dressing room while the weavers approached him with their much anticipated creation in a black garment bag. A dumpy, naked woman unzipped the bag and pulled out several empty hangers. As she pulled each one out, the advisers gasped, they nodded and smiled, murmuring praise to whomever was listening. The Emperor’s eyes were wide. “Put them on!” The naked woman urged him, holding out an empty hanger in fingers smudged with pink frosting. The Emperor took it from her. “Even though it looks heavy, the fabric’s very light, isn’t it?” He nodded as he slowly undressed so his valets could pretend to dress him in the imaginary outfit. He surveyed himself in the mirror, arrayed in the fraudulent fashion piece. His eyes swept from his fine, shapely calves to his washboard abs he spent hours sculpting with the royal personal trainers, up to his face, glowing with admiration. “Gorgeous,” he said. “Absolutely stunning.”
As he made his grand entrance to the procession, the Emperor looked back over his shoulder to make sure his footmen stooped low to pick up the imaginary train and hold it off the grimy streets. He walked through the center of an electrified crowd, a scrum of craning necks and searching eyes. There was a pause, a beat, before people started shouting, “Bravo!” “It’s wonderful!” “These weavers are the voice of their generation!” “This is high art!” “It’s so brave!” The weavers walked behind him, basking in praise, their hands outstretched for tokens of gratitude from their new fans.
A few people in the crowd, however, were a bit perplexed. One said it was “revolting,” and called the naked weaver a “pathological exhibitionist,” but then inexplicably awarded the outfit three stars. John Cook just walked around singing bits of old rock songs to himself and shaking his head, before suffering a total mental breakdown and banishing himself from the kingdom. Asawin Suebsaeng lost his faith, and in a fit of profound angst, looked skyward and asked, “Why, HBO? WHY?”
We exchanged a frustrated glance, before one of us said, “Ew, put your clothes on, Lena Dunham.” The other agreed, “Seriously, no one wants to see that.”
Unfortunately, it continues and she’s everywhere, often naked, publishing her food diaries, tweeting every uninspired thought that comes into her head, instagramming her cupcakes, brag-journaling every undeserved thing that happens in her privileged, storied life, and getting paid millions for it.
It’s infuriating. We want it to stop.