I have a big mouth and am extremely nosy. This makes me passable-to-good at one thing (journalism) but bad at another (keeping secrets). For the past few weeks, I’ve been lying low, trying not to spoil something I’m excited about: I’m doing a new thing! Earlier this month, after four years, I said goodbye to Vulture. I wanted to freelance, to try other types of writing, and to build this, my very own newsletter. Welcome to Hung Up.
It feels a little weird to start a new job in the middle of a pandemic and a Nicole Kidman HBO prestige drama. (Imagine explaining to your granny that you’re … writing a newsletter now.) My staff writing job at Vulture, covering movies and film festivals and awards season, had already been so upended by the pandemic, that when Substack approached me about exploring a newsletter, it felt like a good time to leave, to try something different, to pursue some other personal and professional goals. I love writing about movies and celebrity, and while this space will be primarily movies-focused, there are so many thoughts I have wanted to put somewhere other than Twitter and my group chats: Elle Fanning barefoot at LAX, the Taylor Swift song “seven,” the specific torture of using too many AHAs on my skin, the nude glossy lip J. Lo has been wearing for longer than I’ve been alive.
So welcome to Hung Up. The premise of this newsletter, and the inspiration behind the name, is that I am drawn to the idea of personal obsessions. A lot of my writing has been about cataloging mine and others’: why every teen in every movie wants to go to Yale, why you’d make a ventriloquist dummy of your celebrity crush, the Pirates of the Caribbean line that I’ve been thinking about for seventeen years, Rihanna and Leonardo DiCaprio. I’m curious about the movies and songs and people we are hung up on, and I like asking enough silly questions until we can figure out why. I’m just as nosy about hang-ups — the preoccupations we just can’t seem to get out from under.
The other reason for Hung Up, as a title, is that I want this to be a place for the writing that’s, like, the first thing you call your best friend about when you get home. (Alternatively, I will settle for writing the thing that leaves the group chat in shambles, or writing the thing that gets me a text from my mom that is simply “Hunter.”) Eager friend-calling, as an image, as a concept, is magic to me: running home to talk to someone you love like, “Girrrrrlllllllllll…” Also, at age 11, I purchased that one Madonna song twice on iTunes in 2005 — my taste.
This newsletter will always have a free component, but I’m introducing it today with an opportunity to be a paid subscriber. If you like my writing or my tweets or the videos I make of people dancing to the song “3AM” by Haim, I hope you’ll consider supporting my work. Your money helps me pay for all my regular expenses (rent, pizza, Spectrum) and the other expenses that will make this newsletter look good (graphic designers, copy editors, regular editors). I don’t believe that anyone should write for free, so the ask is this: For $5 a month, or $50 a year, you have access to everything I (and Hung Up) have to offer. If that number isn’t affordable for you at this time, please email me.
I’m excited to build this, with your help. Media is a messy and unstable industry; Substack has given me the opportunity to own my work. Hung Up is essays, interviews, recommendations, reviews, gossip, line readings, love notes, cool stuff you want to share with your friends. Twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays. I think we’ll have fun here.