When it comes to Miranda July's rise, The New York Times has been along seemingly for the whole ride. This weekend, The Times does the inevitable and profiles the Los Angeles-based artist and filmmaker in the magazine. (For comparison: though July is based out of Los Angeles, a quick look at The New York Times' record on Google turns up 62 hits on July to the L.A. Times's 26.) It's worth a read if only to get to know the artist and better understand why most people either love her to bits or hate her vehemently, as evidenced by the blog I Hate Miranda July.
In their first mention of July, née Miranda Jennifer Grossinger, when she relatively unknown in 1999, The Times's film critic Stephen Holder said that "Ms. July lacks the wit and showmanship of Laurie Anderson" and went on to say her work "belongs squarely to the tradition of the experimental one-person Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art)." This initial reaction was prescient. In the dozen years since then Miranda July has written stories for The New Yorker and The Paris Review, produced music videos for Sleater-Kinney, performed in art exhibitions around the world and even nabbed a Caméra d'Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival for her first feature-length film, Me and You and Everyone We Know. The Times coverage has kept pace, and they seem pretty positive about the 37-year-old artist. July has contributed videos and music playlists to the paper, while the arts section has reviewed most of her major work.
The New York Times Magazine devotes about 4,500 words by Katrina Onstad to July and peppers in about every reference to things hipsters love, while capturing how hipsters also love to talk about how much they hate hipsters. Onstad devotes the first part of the profile to July's massive fan base:
Yet despite this (or perhaps because of it) she has also become the unwilling exemplar of an aggravating boho archetype: the dreamy, young hipster whose days are filled with coffee, curios and disposable enchantments. “Yes, in some ways Miranda July is living my dream and life, and yes, maybe I’m a little jealous,” wrote one Brooklyn-based artist on her blog. “I loathe her. It feels personal.” To her detractors (“haters” doesn’t seem like too strong a word) July has come to personify everything infuriating about the Etsy-shopping, Wes Anderson-quoting, McSweeney’s-reading, coastal-living category of upscale urban bohemia that flourished in the aughts. Her very existence is enough to inspire, for example, an I Hate Miranda July blog, which purports to detest her “insufferable precious nonsense.” Or there is the online commenter who roots for July to be exiled to Darfur. Or the blogger who yearns to beat her with a shoe.
The rest of the piece meanders through July's work and daily life, giving glimpses into her creativity and unique approach to everything. She's typically a sort of mysterious, so it's useful if you've ever wondered what the inside of her apartment or what she did after her film's runaway success. She's presented sort of splendidly:
In person, July was very still, with ringlets of curly hair falling over her wide blue eyes like a protective visor, and she seemed perceptively aware of the “precious” label that is often attached both to her and to her work.
You probably won't mind this typically glowing portrayal, if you like July. But if you don't, you probably won't make it that far into the profile.