Lior Zaltzman Illustration
Generally, the passing of celebrities affects me none. My Facebook feed fills up with heartfelt tributes, links to a flood of articles recounting their career and quotes from that particular celebrity’s most famous films, songs or shows. I casually glance, maybe even click, but I never really get absorbed, let alone shed a tear. I mean, I’ve never met this person, how could I mourn his or her loss?
Somehow with Joan Rivers, comedy legend, writer and celebrity fashion pundit, I felt truly and profoundly sad. It was the start of Labor Day weekend 2014 when Joan went into cardiac arrest during a routine throat procedure, and after several days in a medically-induced coma, she died at the age of 81. Maybe it’s that I could recite her scene with Miss Piggy in the Muppets Take Manhattan by heart, or that I watched Fashion Police every week or that she was still enjoying an extremely active professional life far beyond the regular retirement age. Maybe it was her unapologetic, brave comedic style that invited us to laugh at her personal insecurities as she plumbed the depths of our own imperfections.
More likely it’s that she kind of reminded me of my grandma, who had died just a few months earlier and who lived not far from Joan’s Upper East Side neighborhood. I was still emerging from the haze and sorrow of my grandma’s much-longer decline, and I remember thinking this was a tragically unfair bookend to a rather emotional summer.
Last week, Chelsea Handler of “E!“‘s late night talk show “Chelsea Lately” announced that she would be leaving the network. A few days later, David Letterman — host of “The Late Show” and the record-holder for longest running late night host in history — announced that he would be retiring in 2015. Coincidence? Or destiny?
Instagram, the artsy-fartsy photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, skews young. If one were to build a composite of the average Jewish female Instagrammer snapping away with her iPhone, she’d probably be a 16-year-old Jersey girl who collects and distributes “likes” with her #besties (best friends) of #selfies (self portraits) taken posed in front of a bathroom mirror.
I’ve lost many hours mining Instagram’s search feature for hashtag keywords in an attempt to figure out just what types of photos and behaviors Jewish girls and women are offering up on this particular social network. The popular hashtag #jewishgirlproblems (and its variants, like #jewishgirlsprobs and #jewishgirlprobz) yields more than 1,000 photos. Add another thousand for #jewishgirls, and another 500 for the predictable #jewishamericanprincess. Most of the photos with these tags are taken by girls who are almost certainly younger than 18, so I won’t highlight them here, but the point is that girls are using Instagram hashtags to tie their faces and bodies to their self-identified Jewishness.