Tim Gunn is not short on comments about the behavior of the famous and spoiled in his new book Tim Gunn’s Golden Rules, or on his incendiary book tour. He’s gotten a small degree of backlash, but the majority of people are cheering him on because he’s able to verbally bitch-slap those who deserve it with pointed grace.
Is it really the polite thing to do? Not really, but that’s not really the point of his book. As humans we’re all a bit unruly, selfish and neurotic on the inside, but that doesn’t mean we have to treat other horribly. Regular people don’t have the money or position to convince others to help us maintain our heightened view of ourselves or indulge in our every desire and whim. We usually have financial and social consequences to our behavior that many celebs and famous people do not, but even us regular folks don’t always realize or care when we’re being rude or ungracious.
Most of Tim’s book deals with how to step out of the various “monkey houses” we find ourselves in. The “monkey house” is Tim’s metaphor for being acclimated to a certain way things are, and unable to detect when something really stinks. When you first walk into a monkey house with poo everywhere it really smells putrid, but once you hang out for a while you don’t notice it anymore and don’t understand when other people walk in and vomit.
When Anna Wintour was carried down five flights of steps on the arms of her assistants at a fashion show, she’d been in the the monkey house so long she thought she had the power to cause things that were true to be untrue (She asked Tim to retract the story, but he refused because it was true. He did apologize for implying she didn’t know how to work a Manolo heel and sent her flowers).
There’s a lot of this type of behavior going on in the fashion world, and among celebrities, so Tim uses them as examples of people forgetting their basic humanity. Everyone’s poo stinks, but some people are rich enough to have assistants follow them into the bathroom with rose spritzers to convince them otherwise, and that’s really more unfortunate to them than anyone else. It’s the old Emperor’s New Clothes story. A luxury is taken for granted and then turns out to be an unhealthy state of existence.
And the thing about Tim is that there is no bitterness or malice behind his comments and opinions. He’s a genuinely kind guy who simply doesn’t give an Eff if people know what he’s really thinking. In Tim Gunn’s Golden Rules, in addresses a myriad of revealing and painful topics about himself with directness and authenticity. He talks about growing up with social anxiety, a stutter, and inability to fit in with other children or be understood by his father. As he grew he realized he was gay on top of that and found his situation so helpless he seriously attempted suicide at 17 and was disappointed when it didn’t work. He also talks about his excruciating feelings when he first had to teach a class, and the earth-shattering break-up that’s left him celibate for 28 years.
It’s a brave thing to speak out about behavior that’s ridiculous and “taboo” because of these people’s positions in society. It’s also a brave thing to openly recount your own struggles without sugarcoating them or making up excuses.
Here’s Gunn on The Daily Show, killing it:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
And Tim tearing into the Salahis while they listen in via satellite: