Artwork by Lena Redford

The Antifesto

Writer Elizabeth Burch-Hudson's immodest proposal.

I don’t wanna read any more about the nepo baby endemic, how Bella Thorne never messaged you back on R***, how disturbed we all are that things are happening in this sun-scorched place exactly as they always have and how The Simpsons predicted, just with less lube and more ass play, now the hets are finally eating it. Don’t take me to another bar lit with red neon and make me sit through the teenage twenty, about to turn thirty, -somethings and their breathy autofiction recitations as they make googly eyes at the wrinkliest man there, hoping he’s the friction with dirt under his nails, that thing that will finally make them interesting enough to feel alive, to get that Black Dahlia kinda fame they’re hankering for. God knows they need that, not another book deal. 

I don’t wanna learn about your glittery drinking problem, the boy who broke your heart, how it hurt when he popped your cherry when you were half a Catholic school virgin, why he’s a hater you’ll thank in your acceptance speech — I only wanna annotate the sixty ways you’d hang and quarter him on a live Japanese game show and what gluten-free courses you would serve alongside him to your in-laws. Does he still haunt your sex nightmares? Do you let him? I want you to scare me — with something real, something homegrown as heroin.

I don’t wanna scroll through another two-bit piece on the LA vs. NY industrial complex — as we fight over what city is happier when we’re only as good as our Adderall supply and everyone knows LA’s as dry as the river, but that’s okay because NY’s still as ugly as its most criminally insane celeb, no matter how dope his drip is. 

I don’t want another Instagram ad for a microceleb with afterpaid lips and a new transgressive zine published in Dimes Square Chinese strip mall that writes about how the city of angels just doesn’t get it, how their wings melt in the toxic sunlight, how the only time they shine is when you’re at a party in the hills with the grungy elite and the good kind of K and everything starts to sparkle, just the way Mommy Lana always promised it would.

I don’t wanna hear about how bad at head bulimics are, how good the anorexics are because they just pass out with it deep in their throat, how @gigihadid’s dresses are stained with green juice and laxatives and original sin, how the ugly 40-year-old always gets the girl. I’ve been that girl, she’s full of rot. Not to be trusted, but always for your consideration.

Don’t invite me to your art show, your opening, your awards ceremony, unless you let me come up there with you because the heating in my apartment doesn’t work, and I need some artificial lighting to soak my bones in. 

Don’t tell me anything interesting. No more exhaustive hot takes. No introverted extroverts. No more personality tests. No more sublabels, categories, or excuses. Dull me with your true self, none of that self-actualized nonsense. Strip that shit down to your hairiest asshole, your most shadow self, give her the mic. Everyone wants to be canceled so badly these days, well you gotta earn it, baby. I want survival of the least fit. Be a coward—now that’s an honest living. Stand still and be boring, for just a serotonin-gutted second. I can’t take any more careful curation, indie sleaze, on your schoolgirl knees to fellate the masses, but only the ones who look like raccoons—black-eyed and ravenous, waiting to feast on your failed flesh, who’ll flay you alive as long as you’re live.

Be pathetic, I beg you. Be self-righteous. Be the kid who never got invited, the one who broke in two, the one who held a grudge, who let it consume him, calcify his heart, and followed it down the dirtiest alleyways where no one cares what happens to the folks who care too much. Nihilism isn’t chic, it’s a privilege. 

Where are your store-bought stigmata? Or did your parents never get you one for Christmas, shiny with the bows still on? Show me the scars on your thighs that you squirreled away, your guiltiest pleasures of mainstream divine, corny lyrics written about a boy who never kissed you with the same lips he drank bleach with. Read me the captions of your Tumblr reblogs written with shaking, snotty fingers when you thought assault at a farm party was as close to death as you could get. Choke me with the ribbon you wear now, so high on your head, that gnawing, off-brand sigil of the child you mourn, stitched from wanton whispers, Weight Watchers points, and wrong choices that paid a pre-pubescent price.

I wanna hear about the time you got mono because you went swimming in sewer water because there were no beaches in your town and you thought it might be a nice day as any to kill yourself, since all the cool kids were doing it, since oblivion’s embrace would surely be more forgiving. Is your drowned god listening now? Will he get me published? 

I wanna know who you identify more with in the myth of Icarus — Daedalus or the sun? When you pray, do you confess your sins, like the time you Googled “video of man getting fucked by horse”? Do you seek absolution with withered wrung hands and fear no one is listening—that no one ever listened and will never hear what you have to say? If they dropped all the bombs, or if everyone turned into mushroom zombies, or if, God forbid, your wifi went out and your IG was hacked by Russian scammer bots, never again to be restored, Thursdays never again thrown back, candids with ambiguous captions not vaguely filtered, selfies not pristinely pouted, would you finally feel free? I’ll say it again, who are you afraid of—if not yourself? What knots and knits your organs, shortening your lifespan breath by idiotic breath? Let me fear it too, you can borrow my inhaler.

Did you ever break into someone’s home when you were just a kid, staring down the barrel of fifteen, and what did the town bisexual say when you let him know you couldn’t hang out because you were in the wrong person’s unlocked basement? What do you tell your sister when she says you’ve “made it pretty clear where you stand on having kids” but that that’s not why we’re bad Southern children? Do you slouch when your uncle widens his eyes after you describe an earthquake as “Biblical,” or do you smirk and remember his face the first time you depersonalized in his log cabin? Did the Canadian who slipped in through the sliding door to touch your friend under the covers cry when you threatened to call the Mexican police? Did he sob as he said, “I’m sorry…”

I wanna read about the shitty stretch limo that never took you to prom but drove around town when the sun went down, offering free rides to strange preteens on the bankroll of the only strip club in miles — if your family dates back to plantations, if they’re planning on reparations, if they talk about that kind of stuff the way white people do when the sun is up but you catch them grimacing at Ziwe when they think you’re not looking and they pick a fight about whether or not Julia Fox is dumb, which is dumb, because she’s obviously a genius. There are rules — no one who was that poor gets to be that famous.

Give me something to read about the WeHo DJs forced to play the White Lotus season two theme on Christmas Eve at The Chapel at The Abbey, if they’ll unionize alongside the UC grad students. Or maybe a think piece on the Brittney Griner Russian spy exchange, written by the psycho who runs the Tenants of the Trees Instagram account. Or what might hold my dopamine divided attention is a case study on the yassification of borderline personality disorder written by my mom’s cousin’s dead mother who had a lobotomy in the sixties in a female mental institution, edited by Alexander Chee in drag and the ghost of my father’s dead gay uncle who washed up on a beach in Galveston one starry Texas morning. 

It’s likely I’d read a piece on attachment theory in a post-nudes-on-Tumblr era and its effect on Y2K resurgence of Jenna Marbles nostalgia and Ted Cruz’s favorite Twitter porn, written by that bitch who emotionally abused me in high school. I wouldn’t read anything by my mother about Amy Schumer being replaced by Margot Robbie in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie satire or the new Harry and Meghan show in correlation with the reclamation of the F slur, because honestly, it might come across a little TERFy and I’m not ready to give up my iron throne of familial disappointment quite yet.

I don’t wanna hear the word “disassociation” for the next decade and I think celebrity journalism should be outlawed because I’m sick of adjectives and the color green and velvet couches and citrus and hope — but I would lap up an interview between the two girls from “Two Girls, One Cup,” mediated by the cup and Fran Lebowitz. 

I’d watch an episode of Cocks I Love with Brett Michaels or an episode of Love Island where I play all of the contestants — even the bitchy one, even the toxically masculine player who learns to let his walls down, even the gay one who will kill herself next year when her parents find out she’s not just a nurse, but a bisexual one. I’d read something by the twenty-year-old teen that sorts my clothes at the Crossroads on Griffith Park Ave — maybe even see her one woman show — or the twenty-year-old teen that sorts my clothes at the Crossroads on Sunset — maybe I’d even watch the two kiss once they’re old enough to do that sort of thing. I’d book a therapy session with my Pornhub search history, but I’d doubt she’d take my insurance.

I’d read 10 Quick Steps To Get Ready For A Date At The Earth’s Frozen Core, 362 Minute Beginner Workout For Stupid Sluts Looking To Shred Their Hymen, and In Just 1,200 Days I Used This Amazon App To Triple My Income And Accrue Hundreds of Dollars In Emotional Debt To The Sea Witch Who Lives In My Septic Tank.

Death to buzzwords and curse words and crosswords and swords. Death to Rikers and the scientific method and my ex. Embrace mediocrity, mundanity, mutiny, the Shrek font, Hinge profiles looking for the Pam to their Jim, the code of Hammurabi, and shutting the fuck up. Remain neutral, silent, yearning, sloppy. Drink so much you piss yourself, then drive. Freeze instead of fight. Punch babies — nepo and otherwise. Enable. Cheat. Lie, especially to your whore girlfriend. Beg, borrow, but never steal, then stay up past your bedtime. Shit in the hand that feeds you. Kill the fucking vibe. Murder it with its own bedsheets if you have to. But no matter what you do — never ever ever make a decision. This is my immodest proposal.