Transcribe your podcast

Because my only framework for understanding the 90s is like Mulan and Moulana case and see.


I do vocal warm ups, the Leith police dismiss us welcome here, wrong about where we tell the tragic stories of the pop star as you thought you envied and then thought you hated and then realized you loved.


Oh, that's good. That's like a three part tackling with a twist.


Oh, thank you. Yeah, it's good for the tag line itself to have a twist on it. Right. It's like a tiny James Bond movie at the start of James Bond movies.


I am Michael Hobbs. I'm a reporter for the Huffington Post.


I am Sarah Marshall. I'm working on a book about the Satanic Panic.


And we're on Patreon and lots of other places where you can find and support us or you can not do that and just stay chill in quarantine doing dishes. Listen to us tell you about pop stars.


That's our that's the public service. We want to offer our pitch. Yeah.


And today we are talking again about Jessica Simpson, part two.


Yes, I'm very excited. We left the last episode on a cliffhanger.


It was extremely manipulative, as I recall. Yeah, I'm over it. Boring, so.


Yeah. Do you want to bring us up to speed on where where Jessica is right now, where we left her?


Oh, boy. OK, so we have talked so far about the start of Jessica Simpson's memoir and kind of her frame narrative, her starting to tell us about her childhood, which is her friends doing an intervention on her. And then she takes us back in time to the early days of Jessica Simpson when she was a struggling preacher's daughter in Texas and experiencing sexual abuse from the child of friends of her parents and then entering singing contests and eventually getting all the way to the Mickey Mouse Club auditions and then getting freaked out, I guess, and then the second guessing herself and having a really bad audition and going through the experience of the Mickey Mouse Club, being like we were going to take eight out of these eleven kids.


But because you did such a bad job, were taking seven.


Yeah, yeah. You have a very good memory for details. Oh, I guess listen to it again because I enjoyed it. Oh yeah. I just like hearing you tell me about Jessica Simpson. So get ready for the next four hours.


This is it. We have a lot to get through. I need absolute silence, please.


Well, I guess you're so. Yeah.


I mean, first of all, do you have any other reflections on the story that you want to share before we get going?


Well, you know what? I think it's like it's like that thing where you're like, I'm trying to start exercising regularly. I'm trying to train myself to know in a Pavlovian way that, like, if I exercise, I feel better. And I feel like as a society, my hope is that we are learning that for revisiting the legacies of people who we have previously walked all over and that we got this meaningful and really positive experience and that it feels good for us.


Yeah, we're able to accept the humility that comes with admitting that, like maybe we went along with a hasty societal judgment and we have the process of being like, I was wrong. I listen to the wrong people and it is meaningful to me. And it feels good to witness this person's humanity and to feel a connection between myself and them and, you know, just feeling a deeper connection to humanity, feeling within yourself, the realization that all humanity is connected.


I realize that's a lot of pressure to put on a biography of Jessica Simpson. It's like a really good biography.


Moral endorphins. I like that. Yeah, moral endorphins. That's what it is. Thank you. I feel good.


This is some good clean up hitting my leg. I like this big degressive. Who knows where it's going kind of a thing and be like, yeah, I'm all endorphins like there it is.


So as we continue morally and orphaning, we are going to do a little thing this episode where I'm going to show you a music video from 2001.




And then we're going to do a sort of like freeze frame record scratch. I guess you're wondering how I got into this situation thing.


So I am sending you a video called Irresistable that came out in 2001. It is one of Jessica's biggest hits.


All right. I'm clicking on this. OK, three to one go.


Oh, I'm getting like Blade Runner vibes from this. Oh, OK. So we're panning through a city and Jessica is on all these big screens.


And she said, oh, I remember this video. Do you?


Yeah, it makes me sad. OK, so Jessica is wearing I cannot believe what they have put her in. She's wearing extremely low cut, like leather or leather looking pants and like a little leather jacket with, like, flared sleeves.


But it's the Hammon's like way above her belly button. And now it's that very twisted. One of like as much uninterrupted torso I know as you can get, her torso was like 80 percent of her body. She's like a porpoise.


It's such a weird fashion trend for adolescents because the torso is not a problem free area when you're at that age.


Here we have our first costume change. She's yeah, she's got another midriff outfit now.


She's wearing white to suggest that there's some some story happening.


Yeah. Those pants are so low cut that I'm like, how is she dancing in those? Like, what's holding them up. I know. Like our girls supposed to be hobbled by the continual anxiety that they're going to, like, accidentally flash some pubes at any second and is just like another corset type situation. Yeah.


So there's not a lot of story here. She's like dancing around and sort of a mildly futuristic environment. There's some cat burglars or something.


It's very confusing. There's not explosions going glass breaking and kind of roof and all these ninjas. But they took off their hoods and their girl and her back backup dancers, pretty boy, boy and girl. No pointing cause. Do you find her convincing?


I think she is really committing to what she's doing. Yeah. Like if you told me, like, this was her idea and she was like, I want to be on the ceiling with with ninjas and I want to wear those pants, like I believe that you cause all these things for yourself.


Like like she does not look like she is having any aspect of it. However, I do not think that necessarily means that she's happy about this. And I feel like you've given me some foreshadowing.


Yes, I'm giving you context clues. OK, yeah, you are. That was very fun to watch.


Let me before we move on and we rewind, let me just read you some of these lyrics. So in the book she talks about how the way that they were trying to market her was sexy virgin.


Why was this such a thing at the time? Like what was wrong with.


I know the time when we were adolescents, like when she said that I thought, like, they meant it sort of metaphorically or like something that they said behind the scenes.


But that's like that's literally this song. Like this song. Let me read you the lyrics. I know that I'm supposed to make him wait.


Let him think I like the chase, but I can't stop fanning the fire.


I know I meant to say no, but he's irresistible.


No, no, it's so gross, dude. It's written by two Swedish Jews.


It's something so fascinating to me, like the extent to which this is very obviously written as just a pure male fantasy.


Oh my God. I know like I'm innocent and I've never done this before, and yet I can't resist you. And so I'll make an exception for you. It's like there's so much weird shit going on in this.


It's like what your middle producer, how do you like singing to him?


It's it feels like such a oh, I will get into this more. But like that video, everything about that video is a creation of the men in her life.


I'm so shocked. So that is 2001. That is sort of where she ends up at the end of the episode. And now we're going to rewind to 1993.


Is this the structure of her memoir or is this the structure that you're doing? This is I really like this. This is I'm very intrigued. I'm like, oh, no, what happened?


That's because I'm manipulating your emotions. So we're going back to fall of 1993. She is thirteen years old. One thing I really appreciate about Jessica Simpson is that she was born in 1980, so it's always very clear what age she is by the area.


So she has recently been turned down by the Mickey Mouse Club.


And this like sort of next little montage is very interesting because it's the last glimpse of her as a normal kid. We're like, she's going to school, she's eating in the cafeteria. She's trying to become a cheerleader.


It's like normal stuff.


And then the rest of the book very shortly is just like her in the music industry. So the first thing that happens, she opens Chapter four talking about her boobs.


She's apparently walking to school, to middle school, and a boy comes up to her and it's like, you know, you'll make a lot of friends if you jump up and down, like people like it when you jump up and down.


And because she's like super super Christian and, like, kind of insecure about her body, she just is like, OK, I'll jump.


Like, it's like these boys seem nice. Some of them are kind of cute.


She's like, yeah, I'll jump up and down. And then they're kind of giggling.


And another girl sees this walking by and it's like, hey, they're only doing that because they want to see your boobs bounce up and down.


And Jessica, who's like not aware of like basically how big her boobs are and like how much boys like her big boobs. She's really insecure about them. Yeah.


And she I mean, she is a dick cup at the end of eighth grade. Oh my gosh.


Because she's developed so much earlier than all the other kids, she's doing that thing of like, you know, holding her books in front of her chest as she walks. She's wearing super baggy clothes. She. Like always pulling her shirt, she says, because she doesn't want people noticing, because she thinks there's a sign that she's getting fat. Oh, like she's already insecure about her weight. And so all she sees them as is extra fat on her body.


So she's not like, well, of course I'm hot. And these boys want me to jump up and down. She's like, I'm I have a really embarrassing body.


And like, why would anybody look at me, like, lustfully?


But so she's bouncing up and down. This girl sees her and then the boys are kind of giggling in. The boys kind of go away. And Jessica's like, oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know.


That's why they were telling me to jump up or down. And the other girl is like, you know, like, you fucking you.


Come on. Oh, come on. It's such a perfect example of, like, how the patriarchy, like, turns women against each other, right. Where it's like these boys are rodent's like these two women should be teaming up against these boys. But instead it's like, oh, no, you have big boobs. You know it.


You love getting this kind of attention from boys. And so I think this is also like just such a rich text. One of the things she says at the end of this anecdote is she says, honestly, I'd come to trust the intentions of boys over girls after the way some girls had treated me.


I had a group of girlfriends who I loved, but they were all from youth group at church. If boys were nicer to me because of my breasts. Well, at least they were nice to me.


Oh, and it's just like, oh, don't be mean to each other. Like fight the real enemy, the rodent boys.


Yeah, it's terrible. It's like the just the horror of adolescence and you know, and one of its many nutshells.


There's also a lot of these like vignettes of this time where, you know, she's singing in more churches, she's getting to bigger audiences, she's singing to audiences of like 20000 people now with these massive mega churches.


Wow. But another thing that starts happening at this time is when she's singing at churches, the pastors at the churches will start yelling at her for dressing too sexy.


Oh, my God. Not because, like, she's actually dressing too sexy.


But what keeps happening is her boobs are really big, her clothes don't fit super well, and they can see her nipples through her shirt, which happens.


Yes. Can't you women can't control what their nipples are doing. Yes. If I teach you nothing else, let it be this.


Not you, Mike, but like other people and it's like people keep yelling at her for that sort of like this, like how dare you turn off the air conditioner, you get hit.


I feel like being an adolescent is like you just wake up one day and you're a werewolf, you know, and you need someone to take you to the werewolf supply store. Yeah. And talk to the clerks for you and get like your brushes for your new fur and like some cream for like your weird werewolf saliva. Right. You don't know any of that. And if you don't have people to help you through it, then people just are like, look at that werewolf.


And so in that same vein, we get when she enters high school, we get another story sort of along the same lines where she's making friends.


She joins the cheerleader squad. It seems like she's relatively popular, but she's also kind of like a weird Christian girl or like that's how they see her.


And she likes Sandy and Greece. Yeah, I think they're like, how are things down under Jessica?


And she's like, oh, great, thanks.


And so she makes this friend, they start getting closer. They're at a sleepover.


And this friend tells her about like a moral dilemma where she's like, well, I think one of my friends is being molested and I know about it. And I don't know, like, should I tell adults?


And so Jessica says, well, I was abused by another girl and I think you should come forward about it.


Like, he can be really damaging. I think you should do everything you can to prevent this.


And so she goes to school two days later and that girl has told everybody that she's a lesbian.


Oh, right. Oh, my God.


And so apparently she she goes back on the field to do, like, cheerleading stuff. And the the crowd starts chanting lesbian lesbian people.


Right. Die bitch on her house and shoe polish.


I think to me, the most tragic thing about calling someone a lesbian as an insult is like that. It reflects that the world view of the name caller is so horrifically stunted that they don't really have the, like, insulting someone by calling them a socialist. Right.


Where is the insult? It's like calling someone left handed or something like, OK, well, yeah, I guess.


OK, but that's so horrible though, because, I mean, it sucks because it feels like what we're seeing now is this pattern of her attempting to reach out and do the brave thing. Yeah. And also this form of abuse that like isn't as culturally recognized as other kinds of something that's traumatizing and that like she's trying to reach out and now like two times and he's gone like neutral to bad. Yeah.


Basically this is my whole beef with the whole like the stranger danger obsession that we have as far as child abuse goes is because when you come forward with forms of abuse that aren't in that perfect little stereotypical narrative, people don't know how to fucking process it.


Yeah, we can't process the fact that you were abused by first. Of all, another girl and second of all, a girl who was only one year older than you. That's a thing that's a story that we haven't heard in American life. And so not to defend this girl for fucking ratting her out, but it's like we just don't know these stories. Like we don't understand the way that this really is abuse. Right. Like, they can't process it in any way other than, oh, she's a lesbian.


Right. Like they are reviewing a story of abuse as a story of like sexual preference. Yeah.


I mean, she talks about how, you know, they have to bring in school counselors. There's like assemblies that are done. Apparently, it's a huge deal in her school and they don't her parents don't pull her out of school.


But it does seem like she just sort of checks out like school is a place of hostility for her. And like the church is a place of acceptance generally.


And so she basically decides, like, I'm never going to trust anybody with the secret again, obviously. And I'm just going to kind of like mentally check out of high school. And like, all of my life is going to be in the church and like this kind of budding singing career of mine.


Oh, my God. And then I day she just feels like so vulnerable going into this next phase. I picture this like big eyed creature of the forest, you know, who just, like, needs someone to help her learn how to manage her boobs. And instead she's going to be making this video years. So I don't feel like that's going to happen.


The last thing we get, the last glimpse in this montage that we get is her high school boyfriend.


His name is Jason. The only sort of noteworthy thing about their courtship is the fucking weird way that her parents micromanage her sex life. So he, like she meets him through the church.


So it's like a very churchy relationship. They meet when she's 14, maybe it's 13, but like very young. He's also very young. And so her parents are like intimately involved in this relationship.


So for Valentine's Day, he goes over to her house for Valentine's Day.


So already it's like he has a family dinner with her family for Valentine's Day and then her parents at like seven thirty PM or something.


Her friends like, oh, well, we better go to bed and leave these kids, like, very sort of theatrical.


And so they, you know, retire upstairs or whatever. And then he, of course, like perfect little gentleman.


He's like, I'd like to kiss you. And she's like, that's fine. And then they kiss. She's ecstatic.


Days later, she finds out that he asked her father for permission to kiss her and her father gave permission to kiss her once.


So it's like, OK, yes, you can kiss her on Valentine's Day, but like any further kissing, you're going to have to, like, make an application again.


And then we're going to have to talk about things again, which is just like, I don't know, maybe so it's I'm imagining her boyfriend going into like her dad's chambers, you know, and her dad, like, pouring them some scotch.


And her boyfriend's like, I know I can offer you two kisses on Valentine's night. And that's when I prepared to go. Yeah, it's it's a weird way to know that you're being talked about by the men in your life.


I mean, it's the same thing that's going on in that song, right? It's this weird virginity thing. It's like it's this weird obsession with women's purity. Yes. Boys are not required to remain morally pure in any sort of measurable sense.


Again, it's like you can see how, like in a very rigid world view, it can be the only possible expression of paternal love that seems available. Yeah, it's just based on the idea that, like, the girl has no agency at all in the situation. Yeah, exactly. And as a girl, you can be like, well, that's a way of being valued. So that's not nothing. But am I crazy for wanting something else?




I mean, these kids are thirteen, fourteen years old. So like, of course their parents are going to have some role in their social life at that age.


Right. Yeah, but it reminds me of like the kids I knew when, like I was a preacher's kid and like growing up in the church, they're like some kids were like very sheltered.


It was very difficult to separate what the parent wanted for the kid from what the kid themselves wanted.


Yeah. And then the joke's on their parents, because if you miss and I know this from personal experience, if you don't rebel enough and teenagers, I mean, you just got real weird, like sometime later in life, like there will come a time when you go through like an uncomfortable rush and growth period and you cannot skip it. It's happening. So sorry.


Jason actually seems like an OK guy. They end up dating until she's 17 or maybe 18 and like it sounds like they just kind of drift away from each other.


And the only sort of reason she gives for why they're drifting apart is that, like, he comes and visits her at some family lake house, something, something and he like would rather go jet skiing than hang out with her. It could be a lot worse.


And it will be. So it's like, oh, Jason, Jason, go with God. Apparently he's a preacher now.


I also bet I'm sure that, like Jason is like one of those many people who had like a weird celebrity relationship. But like when they have like a new couple over for dinner, his wife is like serving the potato salad. And he's like, has Jason told you about when he dated them? Sent him there? Like, what? And he's like, I guess, but all it.


And so that's kind of the last glimpse of sort of like what any of us would consider like a quote unquote normal. Childhood, like the rest of the book, is all about her becoming a massive pop star and her parents becoming like superduper showbiz parents, by the way, I keep watching, watching this video on Silent as we were talking.


Oh, my God.


And it gets worse every time, like I keep saying, more bad choices anyway.


And so after the Mickey Mouse Club audition goes badly, her parents kind of like go in like they hire a voice coach, they hire her dad, starts talking to like millionaires.


He gets like investors. One guy invests two hundred seventy five thousand dollars in her career on like points on the back end. Like if she becomes a pop star, he gets like whatever percentage of her first record deal or something.


He's selling stock.


And Jessica, it's weird, man, inlike like it's. Yeah, it's I don't know what else to say about it other than it's weird. It's fucking weird though.


And they, they start flying her to like auditioning things like all over the country. Her dad pays for her to have a gospel album produced like there's like a 20 piece gospel choir that's singing with her and this random guy named Buster who like produces her first album, but like I think he, like, go bankrupt later or something. It's just like there's a weird network of people who are, like, preying on showbiz parents.


Oh, gosh, yeah. Because that's a very lucrative industry. Yeah. Like showbiz parents and cancer sufferers and anyone who is willing to believe that, like they are the one in a million person are pretty easy prey.


So this all sort of culminates in you know, she's done these like little demos. She's kind of getting on to people's radar. She has a couple scouts from various record companies. Come and see her at these singing competitions. She's getting a couple little bites.


So her mom and her dad organize for her to do like a tour in New York to, like, go to all of the record companies and like meet all of the top level executives.


And first she goes to Jive Records and she sings, I will always love you.


And they say, like, wow, you're not going to park. You're amazing.


But unfortunately, we just signed somebody like last week who's like she's also blonde. She's also from the south.


Her name's Britney Spears. You know, it's like foiled again, like the end of a Scooby Doo episode.


And then they go to Columbia Records, where they meet with Tommy Mottola. Are you familiar with him?


I know that name. He he did bad things to Mariah Carey. That's what I know. Yes.


So Tommy Mottola is one of these guys who's just a monster of the music industry. He discovered Shakira and the Dixie Chicks, and he's just sort of everywhere in the history of music.


He's also the guy who married Mariah Carey when she was 23 and he was 44. Wow. And according to her, was just an absolutely terrifying presence in her life and sort of kind of locked her into their home.


She used to refer to their home in Sing Sing because of all of the control that he kept over her.


And isn't the Mariah Carey story that he, like, gave some of her samples, like to Jennifer Lopez? Yes. Then like use them and something she was cutting. And then that's where the like I don't know her. The famous I don't know her comes from. Yeah. That was passed off as like Mariah Carey being like Nene and Patti. And predictably, the real story behind it is about the fact that like she had been screwed over behind the scenes by a man who like, gave her to Jennifer Lopez.


And so the story is not like Mariah Carey attacking Jennifer Lopez, but this man like pitting them against each other.


It's like a little it's like a little you're wrong about within it. You're wrong about like a little. You're wrong about turducken. Yeah. It's like a little like a mini peanut butter cup inside a scoop of Ben and Jerry's.


But it's but it's made out of sadness and but so Jessica meets with this Tommy Mottola guy who's like super high and he's like, hi, I'm very powerful.


I suck.


And so the way that she describes it is he asks her, what do you want to do in life? And she says, I knew the answer because I had written it in my journal the night before.


Pay attention, because this is like Anton Chekhov, like super duper foreshadowing.


She says, I want to be an example to girls all over the world that you don't have to compromise your values to be successful.


It's very clear why, like Jessica Simpson put that in this book, like this phrase is what encapsulates the rest of her music career is just the slow erosion of her values.


She's not an idiot. She was just marketed as one. And so after this foreshadowing, she decides to sign with Columbia Records. And so this is how she describes it. My whole family flew back to New York to sign the Columbia contract and Tommy Mottola office at Sony. Right after we took a picture, Tommy looked me up and down, OK, you got to lose fifteen pounds. Tommy told me.


Oh, my God. What? I said, not really understanding.


I was five foot three and weighed 180 pounds and I was seventeen, maybe ten, he said. Because that's the image you want to have, that's what it'll take to be Jessica Simpson. Tommy, I looked at my parents, they said nothing. I immediately went on extremely strict diet and started taking diet pills, which I would do for the next 20 years.


This is the Judy Garland story. This is just like I feel like Judy Garland's ghost is just sitting here watching all this smoking and crying.


And so she basically, like immediately her parents pull her out of high school. She eventually gets her GED, but they all move together to L.A. to work on her album and like join her music career.


So essentially, the whole family is putting all of their chips into Jessica becoming a pop star.


Yeah. So I'm sure that she needed even more stress. So that's nice. They're not making that much money.


And her mom is doing this thing where she's redecorating houses. So what they'll do is they'll move into a house while her mom stages it for buyers and move into a different house.


So it's like Arrested Development. Yeah, it's basically they're like living in these model homes. That's very cute and bleak.


Yeah, there's an image.


And so things are actually going really well at first that she's building buzz. She gets one of her songs called Did You Ever Love Somebody onto Dawson's Creek?


Oh, yeah. Dawson's Creek was huge for a while there.


I looked up the song on YouTube and the number one comment just said, Andy and Pacey, because apparently, apparently this was important to that courtship.


But so what's interesting is even as she's starting to build buzz, basically they start already trying to repackage her either as an imitation of Britney Spears or as counterprogramming to Britney Spears.


So when Britney Spears album comes out, they decide to basically scrap all of the work they've already done.


Oh, no. And be like, no, no, no. Like sort of young sex pot virgins are hot right now.


So, like, we need to repackage you, right, as a sex pot virgin.


And so she talks about how she got signed as sort of like a voice person, kind of sort of like Adele ish, like I'm going to do like classically good songs, just like as a really skilled singer.


Yeah. I mean, if you're auditioning with Whitney Houston songs, then like.


Yeah, but then once Britney Spears is songs come out and videos come out, importantly, they start saying like, well, how are your dance moves?


So they start sort of pushing her into, well, you're really good at dancing and you're really good at doing choreography and stuff. Right.


And she's like, I guess this is how it works, OK? Because this is literally her first time at the rodeo. Yes.


And so she's like, none of these things are giving her red flags. It's just like, I guess I have to lose weight and, like, learn to dance. And so in the midst of this buzz, her dad is still like auditioning like random characters to be her manager.


They go to some like, I guess, a parade in L.A. and she's looking for this manager guy. And apparently it's the concert of some boy band that he's managing.


She says just behind him was the most adorable guy I'd ever laid eyes on.


It was the smallest moment, two people locking eyes at 18. My usual move was to be coy and look away. But I didn't.


He came over walking in a more casual version of the onstage boy band Saunter. I'd seen him do time and again, but still purposeful.


Hi, I'm Nick. He said hello my life.


I thought.


Oh, so this is Nick Laschet who is a member of the band 98 Degrees. Is this how she describes him? She immediately after meeting and they like whatever, make small talk for five minutes. They meet his manager and then immediately she goes home and starts like Googling him, asking Jeeves about him.


Yes. And she finds she says, I learned Nick was a Scorpio love the Bangles home team of his adopted hometown of Cincinnati. And he liked dogs.


Oh, he was twenty five, seven years older than me and had the look of a bad boy. So we will get into, like in detail the ways in which Nick Lachey is problematic.


I do want to say right off the bat that one thing that actually stuck out to me was, you know, boy bands of the 90s were all like they were completely formulaic.


Right. Like they'd have these high positions and like there's like the bad boy and like the boy next door.


And they they would cast boys and the guy who's a little too old to be here. Yeah. Yeah. And so I always assumed that 98 degrees was like one of those whatever central casting like they put together this Boivin.


But apparently Nick Lachey and his brother like started a boy band and like came up as like an organic thing, which like I mean by the standards of boy bands like kind of actually makes me like and respect him somewhat like, OK, he's like someone who actually like sort of became famous and like a normal way. Yeah.


I feel like in the late 90s, most highly successful pop groups had been created in a lab. Yeah. You know, but I think I appreciated it then the way I appreciate like where I am now, where it's like I know that these guys don't all normally live in a big house together, but I appreciate them pretending for me that they do.


I don't know, you can see how this endears him to her as well, that, like he's not like a showbiz kid, he's like a normal person from Ohio and like he's very driven and very ambitious. And it's like he wanted to become a pop star. And like he did, apparently, he made like a five year plan for success, like he's in his very deliberate and knows exactly what he wants. And like, she's someone who's just kind of being thrown around on these tides of the music industry and her parents wishes.


And so it's kind of appealing that he's like this rock and that he's an adult.


Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Like, I think part of the appeal of like dating an adult, if you're a teenager is if you like, need adults in your life. And that's a way to get one. Like, sometimes that's the only way. Yeah.


And so the next time she sees him, this indicates like what her life is at this point. She says the next time we saw each other, it was at 18 people party for a cosmetics conference in Boca Raton.


That's a very late 90s sentence. Right.


This is like what she does now and she says when she meets in there, this is speaking of late 90s A. She says he was wearing red overalls with the left strap off and a cream turtleneck.


Oh, wow. That sounds like he's on a Norwegian children's show.


So, like, it's clear that he's attracted to her. It's clear that she's attracted to him. They end up sort of calling each other.


He invites her over to his hotel room. She's like, I don't know, I wanna, like, hang out in your hotel room for hours.


But, like, they go up on the roof and they essentially just, like, talk for hours on the rooftop.


So how famous is she at this point? Does she have an album out or is it just he's already established.


So for the early stages of their career, he is wildly more financially successful than her and wildly more famous than her, like her career at this point, like she's literally had one single on the Dawson's Creek soundtrack.


At this point, she's still like both show level. Yeah. Yeah. So this is one this is a very interesting passage to me. See if you can spot the sentence that I'm going to fixate on. We talked about our families and how his parents divorced when he was young, but his dad never lived more than two miles away from wherever he lived.


It made him grow up fast, becoming the kind of kid who did his own laundry. At eight years old.


I may have been the breadwinner of our family, but I couldn't work a washing machine to save my life.


What do you think? Yeah, well, I can hear you saying the phrase I may have been the breadwinner of my family.


I may have I have preview.


That was not difficult. I'm sorry.


OK, this is why it would be bad lekker.


But yeah, she just throws it in there and I imagine that maybe she hasn't been explicit about this before. Yeah. Yeah. She's like anyway I was supporting my family, but the point is that I didn't know how to do laundry. Yeah.


And it's also the juxtaposition is also fascinating to me where it's like she has all the responsibility for the family's finances.


But she's also profoundly, like, unworldly in a lot of ways, like she is this very sheltered Christian kid who, like, is not allowed to watch MTV at home and she can't work a washing machine.


Oh, and by the way, I'm also, like, completely responsible for my family's financial well-being. Right?


Yeah. I like that combination of being so childlike in some key ways and then having such an adult responsibility. Yeah.


And so what she says later, this is like two chapters later, but it's the same dynamic. She says, I was still very much a child. I didn't know how to write a check, but somehow I was paying for everything. I knew that I was making money, but I didn't think of myself as the family breadwinner. I just thought my money was there. Money. Oh, sweetie, I know.


And then it gets even worse. Honestly, what I knew for sure was that it stopped my family from having as many fights. So I felt lucky I could be the one to help keep the peace.


Oh, this is very Paula Barbieri. I'm hearing a lot of Paula. Barbara, as you grow up as fast as you can and the ways that allow you to, like, improve things for your parents.


And the main thing they thought about for her whole life is money. And now they don't have to fight about money anymore because they have money.


So she has to just keep doing incredibly stupid music videos, saving her family, acting out these terrible middle man ideas.


And so she and Nick are on the roof.


Apparently at the end of the night, he sort of like makes a move, like he puts his hand on hers and she immediately kind of recoils and she's like, look, I need to let you know something right away.


I'm a virgin and I don't want to have sex until I'm married.


Does she talk about when she decided this or was it just always because from the beginning, it's something it's again, it's one of those things where, like, did she ever decide it, right?


Or did she just not imagine that there was an alternative?


I mean, I think about this constantly about like, when did I decide to go to college? Right. Like, it was always just like, well, after you go to high school, you go to college. And I kind of feel or at least the way that she it in this book is just like that's what people are virgins until they're married, like that's what people do.


Right. And again, all of her close friends are also Christian. All of the family she hangs out with are also Christian. And if everyone, you know, like owns a Nintendo, you think it's normal to own a Nintendo and so to his credit, he's like super chill about it. He's like, you know what? Thank you for telling me. I respect it. It's fine.


It's not clear, like when they're sort of officially dating, but like she basically notes the beginning of their relationship at this conversation.


Yeah. Which makes sense because she's like, I have terms. Yes. And he's like, OK, yeah. So I put on a ninety eight degrees video on Silent to get a sense of like what we're working with here. And yeah, I see it.


And the cliche looks like the best looking guy who works at a particular mall on Long Island. Right, exactly. A big mall like it's a deep field. He's very good looking, but he also looks like he works in a mall. Yes.


Yeah, I got it. I got it. I just really get it. Yeah.


And also, she really likes the fact that he's kind of domineering, like they end up doing a song together because the the record companies like this is actually really good marketing that like two of our stars are dating each other.


So she talks about how like in the studio, he's like, no, those drums should be louder and like, bring down the vocal on this and like, let's up the tempo.


And she's like, oh, you can do that. I didn't know I could, like, take control like that.


And you can totally see how being a woman and entertainment, you were great because like, she probably is looking at that and not being like, oh, I can also do that when I got a single or whatever, like I can be like, no, no less trouble. Yeah. But if you can, like, attach yourself to a man who is allowed to tell other men how to do things, he can be your proxy. Yes.


And so she actually goes on tour.


She opens for 98 degrees and she talks about one of the weirdest things is that his female fans will boo her because they know that she's his girlfriend.


Yeah. There's also just in the category of, like, clingy shit that her parents do. First of all, it's like this massive culture clash backstage of all of these concerts because he's like a 27 year old man who's like not a Christian.


So there's this controversy backstage where he gets caught, quote unquote, drinking a beer.


He's twenty seven. I know, but they're Baptist Baptists don't like drinking, right?


No, they're extremely anti drinking. And so her, like dance teacher or like one of these kind of people who works for her friend is like, I can't believe you're drinking beer back here.


This is really disrespectful to her family.


And so at this stage of the story, he's much more likable and he becomes leader.


And so he goes to her parents hotel room and apologizes. Oh. And he's like, I just want to let you guys know I drink beer backstage. It's disrespectful to your faith. I'm really sorry.


I love that he was able to take it on the chin and not make it into a power struggle. And not as I probably would be like, that's ridiculous. Right? And just like eat crow and be like, I'm so sorry I drank that beer. Yeah. Especially because it's not his value like that does show. Yeah, he respects her.


It's like the opposite of like the abusive men that we've talked about so many times on this podcast. One of the things it's it's not that much to ask. Yeah. And it's like I'm just going to do this thing for you because I love you and I respect you.


Yes. And also how the small things like show us the substance of our relationship, like how you don't mind it when we call each other to start recording, I have to cry for twenty minutes. Oh my gosh. I'm not saying that's been going on. So she's thing about how like the relationship is advancing.


She's of course telling her mom everything, like their you know, her parents are still very much involved in her love life.


And so she says he stayed patient. And how the relationship progressed physically was always up to me. He was the first guy who ever touched my breasts.


And it was such a big deal that I made my mom take me bra shopping for the occasion.


So I spent an hour in a Victoria's Secret before I settled on a purple one.


This is great.


First boob touch, I said, handing the bra to the girl at the checkout. Tonight's the night three. Oh, I love that.


That's OK. That makes me really happy. So cute. I love this.


She's like, I've thought about it and I've made peace with myself and my God. And I'm going to let Nick touch my boobs. Yeah, I'm, I'm excited. And this is good news and I'm going to tell people about it like it's beautiful.


It feels like she's really feeling in charge of her sexuality totally.


And it makes her feel good, like she's she's happy to be taking this next step. And he hasn't pressured her. She's like, this is something I'm comfortable doing.


Affirmative consent is a very sexy thing. And if we don't realize that culturally, it's only because we don't see it very often from women.


And so one of things I love about this book is the surreal time capsule of the late 1990s.


Music industry, like the radio used to be like the main thing. There were not other ways for people to be introduced to new music. If you wanted to break through like you had to be on the radio and the radio was controlled by a very small number of people.


And so, like this is Jessica's job is basically she goes around the country to these like radio showcases where. It's basically like one by one, you have to convince these program managers that, like, you are worth adding to the rotation.


Mm hmm. And so it's basically starts working. She releases a song called I Want to Love You Forever, which is still her most successful song.


It's a ballad. They specifically choose a ballad because Christina and Britney are both putting out like Up-Tempo pop songs.


And so they're like, well, you have to be counterprogramming.


So we're going to put out like a soft yearning Baladi thing.


And so at the same time, the label is telling her that she needs to show more skin.


So when she shows the video to Tommy Mottola, he says it's great, but you can do better immediately.


I went over a mental checklist of possible flaws. Did I look awkward singing had I just not sold it? I want a six pack for the next video. He said Janet Jackson abs. What?


Yeah, it's just amazing to me, you know, and it shows to me how sort of like penny wise and pound foolish the whole thing is. And also penny wise, I really where it's like we're going to force you to go through severe physical changes really quickly in a way that will negatively affect you physically and psychologically, maybe to a devastating degree. If we do that over and over again for a couple of years like that doesn't matter. There's always someone younger and hungrier than you coming downstairs behind you as they sat in Showgirls.


I'm sending you the video now.


We're going to watch it. I'm excited. And it is maybe her worst video.


It's it's not her fault, but like, it's not good.


I played it for my boyfriend last night and he was like, is this thirteen minutes long? I was like, it just feels thirteen and it's OK.


Three to one go.


OK, old school plane, aviation theme, this is promising they've got her in white pants yet again.


It's like she's on a Tampax commercial and like they're doing the thing that they did a lot in the late 90s where they'll show, like, quote unquote, backstage footage to create the illusion of authenticity. Exactly.


It's like, look how real she is. Like, all of this is fake, but she's so real, right.


Are like, look how real we are.


And we're offering you, like a glimpse behind the scenes, although it's they never show the wind machine, which is interesting because it's on the entire video.


It's weird that she's standing in front of a plane. And I guess there, just like in this reality, Jessica's having a plane and now sunflower themed photo shoot. But they don't say why. It's because the theme is that she is being photographed.


This is the flight going to thickener is, I guess, more of this. I could see it going either way.


This is literally it. We can stop at any time. Oh, no, I want to see the whole thing.


She also does that thing where she looks at the camera like it always makes you feel so uncomfortable when pop stars look at the camera, especially like, wow, lip synching.


Well, it must be so hard for you to watch anything from the late 90s then, because all anyone did was stare at the camera. OK, now she's in front of a desert theme. Yeah, but yeah, it's just her singing and having her picture taken and then little backstage shots of her and she's got overalls on. She's having fun letting loose all the while she's singing.


Watch what she does with her hands. OK, she is really working that denim jacket. I have to say I'm selling it. I'm considering it.


She's got her hands here. She what she's doing with her hand there. Yeah. She's touching her stomach and kind of. Yeah. Putting her hand over her abdomen.


Yeah. She she's trying to cover it up.


She talks about how she becomes so uncomfortable with her stomach at this time that when she sings she'll put her hand over her midriff and sort of shake her hand, like when she has to hit a big note so that she covers it up.


Oh, that's terrible. Because we saw in that other video, like by that point, her entire job was like showing as much blank so as possible. The why can't why can't people wear clothes while singing a song? Why not all the time? I just some of the time.


But it's what comes around so much is like imagine being really self-conscious about a particular part of your body and then like your boss's boss's boss being like, I need to see that more. Yeah. Lift up your shirt a little more. See, she's doing it again.


Yeah, she is. I see it now. It's really dark. There she is again. Yeah. Uh, Jessica, Jessica.


And obviously she looks great, but it's like, why can't she just be in clothes that she's comfortable wearing. Yeah. There is so much like smoldering staring at the camera happening here and it's just.


Yeah, it's weird. That's over. Thank God I feel so long. Yeah.


It just I mean like I've been thinking about this a lot for the last couple of weeks and I think it's like the initial thing when you watch this video is you're like it's insane. Total fucking nineteen year old Jessica Simpson to lose weight. Yes.


You know, I consider that wildly immoral. Yes.


But I also just want to be like very clear that like it's wildly moral to tell anyone to lose weight at any weight.




The reason why it's shitty to tell Jessica Simpson at nineteen to lose weight is not because she's skinny. It's because you should not tell 19 year old girls to lose weight like they are. Like however they look is fine. Like this is what like I don't know.


What do you think? Keep going. You're getting there. That was it was all I had it just bad. OK, right.


But yes, exactly.


And I think also maybe having industries where women have to be at a very specific size in order to be considered saleable and not just in media, but like I mean, they used to when they had gymnasts go out and compete at the Olympics, they would put their weight on the screen.


So. Oh, yeah. And so it's just it's everywhere. And we have a cultural obsession with women staying as small as possible. And I truly, personally think that has to do with women being just less threatening if they're small. And so that like literally if you're hungry all the time, then, like you're less dangerous now. You have less energy for planning and plotting. Yeah. And so having a culture that is like Jessica Simpson needs to be as tiny as possible is like one very visible way of reinforcing that.


And also that like certain areas will like pick a certain body type that they like and I like. Great. Everyone do that. Yeah. Yeah.


I mean, she talks about how like this is when she goes on like super crash diets. I bet this is what she says off the diet. I obsessed over how I look 24/7 on the diet. I was also hyper focused on food.


It made me nervous because her parents financial success is dependent on her abdomen now. My anxiety had something to hold onto, and instead of examining my emotions, I could just block them out by focusing on carb counts and waist sizes. If I focused on controlling my outward appearance, I could avoid thinking about my emotions and fears like that's an eating disorder.


That's like all the diagnostic criteria, huh?


And it's also a very relatable experience because like some degree of disordered eating is like a very common hallmark of sort of the American experience. Girlhood. Yeah.


And this is also I mean, the sort of sub narrative of this entire story to me is the gradual corruption of her parents by the late 90s music industry.


I mean, these are her parents are conservative Christians, right?


These are people that are not comfortable with her showing off her body. Like, these are people that were putting her in like sweaters to go sing in church choirs.


And now both of her parents start participating in this.


Like going to hike up your shirt in the next video. So, you know, you got to drop a couple more pounds.


And so this is what she says. My mother, sometimes with the best of intentions, fit into it.


Her aerobics teacher pass would kick in, seeing a problem to fix and giving a solution she thought would help when she urged me to exercise or told me she was going for a long walk and maybe I should come along. I knew what that meant.


Oh, please cultivate an eating disorder for us. Yes, we we also get a guest appearance by Satan. Would you like to hear it?


Oh, thank heavens. Yeah. It's been too long without we've got like so many episodes by which I mean one without a single appearance by Satan will stay with us.


She says. I started to hear voices when I was alone at night waiting for the sleeping pill to kick in half asleep.


I would examine myself for flaws in the mirror and a mental chorus would weigh in. They were intrusive and so mean that I was convinced Satan was behind them.


Oh yeah. Oh, I get that. Know my inner voice of anxiety. If I believed in Satan, I would compare it to that.


It is like, you know, the devil on your shoulder kind of thing. Like it is a sort of evil voice in your head all the time.


Like you're not good enough, not skinny enough. And it's the voice that tries to tempt you. Yeah. Into bad decisions based on your own fear of your lack of your lack of worth.


So one thing or one of her little acts of rebellion at this time, which I really like, if she starts faking her abs also at concerts, because, of course, they're making her wear midriff baring shirts all the time.


She'll use like an eyebrow pencil or like contouring to make it look like she has a website that I feel like that just in that one anecdote unseated Kim Kardashian is like the mother of contouring makeup, right?


Yeah. It's a pretty good like it's a pretty good tactic.


What happened, Mike, in the late 90s and early on, that's where the American music industry and fashion and pop media and whatever were like women's torsos. I know the torso's of girls. That's what we need as many kids as possible. Like what? No, it's fine if you're comfortable with that look. But it's like it really plays up on, like, a lot of areas that tend to produce insecurities and adolescent girls. And I feel personally robbed by the fact that I went through high school at a time when low cut jeans were like the jeans.


Well, I mean, it's also to me, the sort of the central sadness of this is that she's someone who's, like, grown up in a really modest family, like she's someone who's like her faith is really important to her. And all of a sudden, all these people around her are telling her, like, you have to show more of your body and like she's never been comfortable with her body. Yeah.


And as I'm watching these, you know, these videos on Silent as we're talking, I'm like, yeah, she's really pretty. She's like really throwing herself in. So doing all these stupid things they're telling her to do. And she's clearly like a very gifted and hardworking performer and like, wouldn't it be nice if she was given work to do that, like, was pleasant for her? Right.


And so the final sort of insult of all of this is that, as she's being told constantly to like a lose weight, be show your stomach more, she starts getting these weird stomach cramps and like sort of a lump in her stomach, like her stomach is like sticking out.


And so she also starts getting these stomach aches, like stabbing pains in her stomach that are so bad she starts vomiting. It gets really bad.


And so she finally goes into the doctor and they are like, we need to take you into surgery immediately.


She has some, like, cyst I like on one of her fallopian tubes. And so they rush her into surgery. They pull out this cyst and they drain two liters of liquid out of it. What?


Yes, she's had like a giant fucking lump in her stomach for, like, months at this point.


That's so huge. And she's like dancing and singing around that. I yeah. Because, like, I know exactly how big that is, because it's like whenever you order from Domino's, they're like two liter of Pepsi. Yeah. No, that's way too much Pepsi.


And so she says as they're like rushing her into the surgery, the last thing she says before she goes under is like, make sure you don't give me a scar.


No. Because she's afraid of her tummy, like, you know, it just go like so deep itself. Yeah. And does that really suck? Yeah.


Oh, so we do get a little glimpse of brightness at the end of this that she's recovering in her hospital room.


A few days into my stay, I was alone watching Family Feud. The phone rings and I picked it up, assuming it was Nick or my mother who had gone to run errands. Hi, Jessica, said a chipper voice. There's someone who would like to speak to you. I thought it was Tommy Mottola firing me. OK, I said, turning off the TV as I try to sit up.


Then this bright, beautiful voice came on, one I recognized immediately trying to guess who it is.


A bright musical voice.


You, Amy Grant, you know it is Celine Dion. Oh. And so I love this that she hears this voice in like this lilting French accent, which I imagine is the same, is like the Virgin Mary that we talked about.


Yes, yes, yes, yes. That's perfect. I'm going to hear Celine Dion as Mama and Michelle remembers. And apparently she just hears this voice.


This is like Jessica, it's Celine Dion. And then she immediately is just like, I love you.


Oh, that's wonderful. That's wonderful. And then Celine Dion says, I hear you're not feeling well. She said in her French Canadian accent, I just wanted you to know how much I love I want to love you forever. And then just is like, that means so. And then Celine cuts her off and starts singing the song I want.


Like I find this lady on seems like a zany broad. Yeah, that's fun. She's fun. It's dope.


It's beautiful. And Celine Dion says you have so much ahead of you.


And I want you to remember one thing I've learned. The best competition is always our own selves.


She's wise. Do you think Celine Dion is like observing from her throne like makeup chair? And she's like, I sense you.


Yeah, I saw these two girls are being pitted against each other, names and words of wisdom to this gentle warrior.


And then she hangs up and apparently the nurse comes in and is like, is everything OK? And Jessica is like Celine Dion. She just called me. And the nurse is like, Right, OK, anyway, we got to look at your meds.


And so now the book cuts forward.


Two years. It's 1999.


So her album is not come out yet, but she's opening for Ricky Martin, apparently, as she's doing her performance.


She's doing some choreography, dancing something, something in her pants, split open and like basically like fall off of her as she's dance.


At some point that would happen. The pants are terribly constricted at this time.


And so this is really cute. She like she starts crying. She runs backstage there in the middle of the performance so they can't just stop.


So her mom is like, take my pair of jeans.


And so she just puts on literal mom jeans.


And so she goes back onto the stage. She says into the mic, I don't know who saw my booty, but I'm still going to sing it off. So here's my new song.


Oh, that's wonderful. That's great.


And she says, I got one of the biggest cheers of the tour. When people saw the real me, they wanted me to succeed. Oh, it was a fleeting thought. And I wish I had caught it and internalized it.


I still thought people expected perfection, Jessica.


And it's like, no, Jessica, people like it when you have something. Yeah, this is what cooking shows have taught us. And so her album comes out. It's called Sweet Kisses. She's you want to look up a picture of it?


Do you just Google Images, Jessica Simpson, sweet kisses. Yes.


Oh, yeah. Oh, I do know this cover is where she's looking directly at the camera. Yes. It's like a very tight closeup on her face and her clavicles. This reminds me of the aesthetics of the movie Gattaca.


Yeah. It's like a slightly soulless looking blonde girl staring directly at you like something robotic about it, isn't there? Yeah, she's doing what Chuck Norris said.


Yeah. Those crowds are not moving.


She also just looks so young and so skinny. Yeah. She's like a happy sort of sunny person like this.


Just doesn't look like her at all. It's weird how like the music industry will like find someone who clearly is very talented at doing kind of the thing that they're doing or could be developed in some interesting ways. But instead of respecting that being like, no, we have this specific thing we need to do. You're going to do it right now and you're going to do it over and over and over again. Right. It's like, what are we still make a lot of money if we just let people do what they were good at and felt moved to do.


I know. Yeah.


So her album comes out. It sells half as much as Britney and only sells 65000 copies the first week because the only person she's ever compared to is Britney. It's considered like a massive flop and the record company is mad at her. That's so terrible.


Now it also gets bad reviews. You want me to read you the review from Entertainment Weekly? Yeah. Jessica Simpson, a melodramatic nineteen chert cheeky Mariah Carey ism's en suite. KISS's a subpar portfolio, missing the soulful target almost every time.


Do you want to see the woman in me? Let me show you.


She lasciviously hisses in one laughable instance.


Thanks, but no thanks, kid. We've been there, done that. Mom's waiting for you outside in the station wagon. C minus. Yeah.


And once again, it's like the fact that the album is like badly produced maybe, or that the lyrics are bad or about the decisions that went into it are bad. All of that is taken out on her. And it's like she's not engineering any of this or manufacturing her. And I'm like, blame the people that are like molding her into this.


Well, what's really interesting about it is just how obvious it was to everyone that, like, this isn't you. You're trying to do this soulful RB stuff which like that's not a style of music that really moves Jessica Simpson. And this is how I view this irresistible video that we watched at the beginning.


Now that it's like they're very much pushing the sort of Britney sexpot torso porpoise thing on to her.


She was never like all that excited about doing that kind of music are like all that excited about like making a video like that.


You know what it's like? It's like if I were trying to like like say I was trying to write something about Michelle remembers and my agent or whoever was like, OK, well, a lot of people are buying American dirt, so, like, just make what you're doing. As much like that as possible, and that's the only way we'll publish you ever and I if I were a teenager and felt this is my only choice and so on, I'd be like, OK, I'm just going to do like a terrible imitation of something that I don't want to be doing.


Yeah. And maybe I disagree with morally and my heart will, like, very visibly not be in it. And then everyone will be surprised and blame me when it isn't successful. Right.


And so what happens after her album comes out, even though it's not reviewed all that well and doesn't sell all that well, is that she gets like massively more famous.


Her videos are on MTV now.


She's in the tabloids now with Nick Lachey.


And so this is the time when her virginity becomes like a big national deal. Boy. So this is what she says around the release of the single.


I did an interview with teen people where they asked me about being a virgin. I said I wanted to wait until I got married. I don't judge people who do have sex before marriage. I said and I'm not trying to make anyone think that I'm such a good girl or such a holy person.


I'm a regular girl and it's nice. It's in the middle of like a long interview. There's all this other context.


But of course, like, that's the headline. Like that's like the story, right? It's like I'm a virgin. I'm saving it for later.


She says, I didn't realize this statement was going to get so much attention, but the magazine got the most letters it had ever received about a story which I also didn't realize I'd handed every daytime show a news hook for having us on.


They asked Nick and me about my virginity at every appearance.


Oh my God, no. Oh, I know.


I was 19 and still sheltered. So it was kind of bizarre to me that people felt free to ask, how have you not had sex yet?


Imagine your virginity becoming news. I know. Oh, my God.


The interviewer would always start with me and then turned to Nick, who was 26 and a man. This situation did not compute for them.


Are you okay with this, Nick? They'd ask. Oh, my God. And to his credit, he's like, actually pretty nice about it. She talks about when he's on The View. This is what they asked him on The View, like, are you cool with not having sex with your girlfriend?


And apparently he says, I really respect everything she cares about and everything that's important to her. And she talked about this from the very beginning. And so I knew going in that it was an issue for her and it was cool with me.


So it's like he's being chill. And it's also imagine being in a cocktail party and being like, so, yeah, I heard just your girlfriend isn't having sex with you.


So, like, how is that? What's that like.


Like, what the fuck? I don't know. There's this weird thing where, like, we at some point started to conflate the goals of journalism, which allegedly are to trouble the comfortable and comfort the troubles or whatever, and have adapted that into like it is the right of the people to know everything. They might potentially vaguely want to know about someone who made a CD once.


Well, I mean, I think it also sets up this really bad dynamic where it's like she needs to be on TV because she needs to promote her album.


Yeah. And they're like, OK, Jessica, the virginity thing seems so popular. So get out there and talk about your sex life, champ.


And so this becomes like the reason why she can get on TV, but it also contributes to the sense of like, why is Jessica Simpson always bringing up the fact that she's a virgin?


Right. Every interview she's bringing out, like why she ramming it down our throats?


Well, that was what I felt about it as the tween was like. This seems to be her entire personality. And of course, I wasn't sophisticated enough to think through the fact that if this is what she's asked about in every interview and every TV appearance and then whatever she says becomes the focal point, and if she doesn't want to talk about it, then probably that becomes the focal point. Like, of course, that's how you're going to hear about her as the public.




Imagine every interview you did. I would ask you about something you're not doing will be right. If you're like Sarah, how do you feel about not going to target right now? And then you would like publish all these pieces about me and they would be like Sarah Marshall, urines for Target, like I do. Like I do want to go to her. Yeah, but I do have other things going on.


Isn't that fascinating to think about the amount of the money that has gone into these stories and that these stories have generated and the time and the cultural space they take up that are about the sexual history of a teen girl? It's like it's no, the society hasn't progressed. I mean, remember when we did the Marie Antoinette episode and like and Diana told us about like, they didn't do this for Marie Antoinette, but, you know, check the sheets the next morning after they put the two teens in bed together who had just gotten married, they were check the sheets to see if sex had happened.


And it's the same thing we had to move forward. Yeah.


Journalists have been on the himan beat for like 400 years.


It's also all about like this is so obvious, but it's all about like the male gaze, right? It's always about this obsession with like, I want to have sex with someone who's, like, never had sex before.


Well, and then, I mean, the whole rhetoric of abstinence. Right. My favorite abstinence only metaphor that I have encountered. But really. Is very distressing to me, is that if you have sex before marriage, then that's like opening up a Christmas present that's intended for someone else and like getting it all gross and ripping off the paper and then you tape it back on.


But like you can tell, you can tell it's been opened.


Yeah, I don't know. I don't know how to articulate exactly why that bothers me. But I guess it's the idea of that your sexuality is a present for someone else.


Well, it's like the wrong metaphor. Yes. I mean, I feel like a more apt metaphor would be like, well, do you want to play tennis with someone who's never played tennis before or do you play knows how to play tennis?


That's an equally convincing bit of art to me.


And he doesn't know how scoring works and doesn't know when to score some medicine and they don't know how to serve.


It would also be really fucking weird if you were like, hey, let's play tennis together. And the person was like, You've played tennis before.


What? No, I want to teach you how to play tennis.


I'm only interested in this if you don't know how to play or if you know, if O.J. Simpson was you like as far as I'm concerned, you've never played tennis with anyone. No.


I mean, that's kind of this is all bringing us back to the video that we started with, because that's basically the message that that video is trying to convey in it's like boneheaded, clunky Swedish male songwriter way is like I'm a virgin and I'm not supposed to do this, but I can't help myself.


Like, that's that's the central message of that video and the video. I mean, just to return to it. First of all, Jessica Simpson is 103 pounds by this point.


And she's so skinny and, like, miserable and hungry when she's filming that video. I don't like a rooftop when it's cold out. And so she's just, like, wrapped in a bathrobe. Yeah.


And like, she'll get up and do like three dance moves and then, like, sit back down and wrap herself in the bathrobe again. She is miserable filming this video for like ten different reasons.


She's still under pressure to lose weight. Her career is not going that well because her first album is out and it kind of flopped. Her second album is not out yet.


And so she says midway through the rooftop shoot, I almost walked off the set because I messed up a dance move. My mind was destroyed from exhaustion and those voices started in my head again, telling me I was wasting everyone's time. The video's choreographer, my backup dancer, Dan Karati, called for a break and took me aside. Stop. He said, Look at me. You are incredibly sexy.


You have to see that yourself to make other people see it.


Just feel the way you look and it'll come through. He had been on tour with Britney Spears and was a master at giving artists confidence. I wish I could see what you see. I said, it's crazy. You can't, he said. For the briefest moment I felt something, a small flicker of what I felt with Nick. But it was there. It was the first time I ever thought there could be a man in my life besides Nick.


Oh, interesting. And that's where we're going to leave it. Oh, my gosh. I'm really excited for the next one.


Another manipulative cliffhanger by now. It's great. I'm enjoying this.


Oh, gosh. So, yeah, that's that's where we are. She's cold. She's hungry. She's filming this video. That is not going to turn out to be all that convincing.


But having watched it, she's selling it like she is giving it a hundred and ten percent. And like there's very little going on in this stupid video. But like, she is working hard and she is staring at that camera just like they told her to. And I guess, you know what's interesting, too, is that, like, you at least haven't mentioned her talking about how happy or unhappy she is. Like, is she happy to be famous?


Does it feel good?


Like it's actually it's an interesting question. I mean, she doesn't address the question all that directly because it's like on some level she's gotten what she's wanted. Right? Like she wanted to hear her songs played on the radio. She has now done that. And it's really meaningful.


But it's also like these are not necessarily like the songs that she would have chosen for herself, which I feel like is a great example of why it's important to listen to what you feel, you know, because often, like even if you can't articulate why something feels not quite right to you. Yeah. If as a teenager you have really no way of saying that to yourself or anyone else, I still notice like this doesn't feel right. Like something feels wrong, like I don't feel good when this happens.


And that's one of the things that I find so frustrating about rhetoric that's sort of like ignore your feelings, sort of reason it out and think about what you consciously think is going on. And it's like, no, like our conscious minds are often catching up to our emotions and piecing together, like, why we are feeling bad or good about something. Yeah, yeah.


I mean, if anybody asks you to dance on a roof with your shirt hiked up, it's OK to say, I don't want to do that. I want to sing Amy Grant songs.


Yeah. I guess, you know, if you find yourself drawing, you know. You muscle groups onto your body with makeup. Ask yourself like doing this for me, maybe you are.