"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 26 October 1995. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Looking for a Little Sass


If you slum the net long enough,

you'll eventually get a taste of

some of the classic debates

that, like Jason Voorhees, never

seem to die. While all of the

more obnoxious entries should be

familiar by now, such as "Rap -

brave, new rock'n'roll or

derivative, misogynistic pap", a

recent and only slightly less

pedantic addition to the

ever-expanding queue might be

"Sassy - subversive youth

literature or faux-hip

consumerist swindle".



If you were hoping for us to

provide some sort of tidy

resolution to the lifestyles

merchandising conundrum, we'd

advise you to put down your

crackpipe for a second and check

your bearings - this is a

low-rent cybercrap column, not a

Chomsky reader. We will point out

that, when considering Sassy, one

thing is widely agreed upon: the

post-Petersen buyout abomination

that nowadays masquerades as

Sassy is hardly worth

considering (even when the

supermarket check-out line is

long and the magazine selection

above the candy bars is slim).


[Sassy Logo]

What the old pre-takeover Sassy

had to distinguish itself from

its suicide-inspiring

competitors (Teen and Seventeen, to

name two of the more inspired

titles) was a hell-bent devotion

to hyping pubescent girls on all

things novel, anti-conformist

and "hip". In a word: sass. By

way of illustration, consider

this opening paragraph to a

venomous interview with

Tiffini-Amber of Saved By The

Bell (and later, ironically

enough, Beverly Hills 90210):


[Tiffani-Amber Thiessen]

"That badly written,

lowest-common-denominator show

Tiffani-Amber Thiessen's on is a

total affront to anyone with

half a brain. It's like the poor

man's 90210, with its ensemble

cast of high school students,

lame jokes and cardboard-looking

sets. Although it's filmed in

front of a live studio audience,

even the laughter sounds



[Fashionable Model]

So what if this article was

sandwiched between a Cute Band

Alert and a Lady Kier fashion

spread? We're talking about a

teen magazine here - it's a bit

much to take this kind of acidic

prose for granted. And it's not

surprising that Sassy's blip on

the radar screen of slop culture

has not gone unnoticed on the

Web. Luckily for us, the extent

of Sassy's digital documentation

goes a bit beyond the standard

scan & HTML Web shrine...


[Richard and Bryan]

In particular, anyone with a

shred of fond memory for the

glory days of the Christina

Kelly/Jane Pratt-edited Sassy

will be impressed by the content

found at Blair. Written and

created by Richard Wang and

Bryan Nunez, Blair is a bitchy

queen's take on NYCentric street

culture - with a look and feel

that more evokes the candid

sniping commentary of zinedom

than the cookie-cutter banality

of most Web journals.



In Blair's first issue,

published almost a year ago,

Richard and Bryan included

a eulogy to Sassy, sandwiched

between mock-earnest paeans to

Free Kitten and the Bedazzler.

And instead of being tagged as

potential stalkers, they

actually ended up becoming

friends with some of the

ex-Sassy staff, a relationship

that would culminate in an

enviable payoff: the full

contents of the lost last issue

of Pratt-era Sassy - the

all-celebrity edition.



Collected as Sissy by Blair,

this Web-hijacked content

is the material that was

both salvageable and stomachable

by the staff of Blair. When we

asked about the pieces they

trashed, Richard forwarded a

mind-smashingly insipid

editorial intro by Samantha

Mathis (of Little Women/River

Phoenix's ex fame) - elegantly

proving the merits of tight

editing. If you find Veruca

Salt's mascara tips or Evan

Dando's fictional

transgressions offensive - rest

assured that it could've been

much, much worse.



Post-mortems on Sassy's demise

were at one time fashionable;

the upshot of all of them seemed

to be that advertisers don't

want their youth market to know

about birth control - hell,

effective birth control could

shrink their consumer base. Sad

to say, the net may make an

ad-supported print-based followup

to the former Sassy not worth the

effort. While marketers insist

on selling girls images of

themselves that they just can't

buy, they can make it happen for

themselves on IRC and in their

own Webzines and home pages.

Sassy is dead; long

live sass.

[Blair Logo]

courtesy of the Duke of URL