Emily Ratajkowski made a career for herself as a model and actress. Willowy, wide-eyed and Bambi-ish, she found being a woman more famous for her looks than her thoughts dehumanising – an experience she wrote about in her 2021 book My Body. A bestseller in the US, it was deemed intellectually hollow by some critics: the New Statesman writer Sarah Manavis called it a “brand exercise”.
Now, Ratajkowksi (or EmRata, as she is often known) has released a podcast series, High Low with EmRata, where she plans to discuss “the lowbrow in a highbrow way, and vice versa”. (There was a widely beloved British podcast series with an almost identical name and premise – this does not stop Ratajkowski framing her show as revolutionary.) Each week she releases two episodes: an interview with a celebrity, and an “EmRata asks” instalment, in which she chats about questions such as whether women should have sex on a first date. Her first interviewees are Alexandra Cooper, the host of the comic sex podcast Call Her Daddy, and the model and actress Julia Fox.
It’s a wincingly painful listen: rambling, solipsistic, repetitive and dull – full of all the worst tics of celebrity podcasts. The refrains “especially as a woman” and “that’s why the fact that we’re talking about this is so important” recur. Ratajkowski and her guests frame criticisms and career setbacks they’ve experienced as a result of the patriarchy – and while I don’t doubt they’ve known grim sexism, their deeply held belief that their voices must be “taken seriously” is baffling, as they show so little interest in how sexism impacts women outside the Hollywood bubble. TikTok is cited as a source for statistics with alarming regularity; an emphasis on facts, it is posited at one point, is elitist. And yet the tone is relentlessly self-congratulatory: the “radical” conversations they are having are “how change is made”. Both grandiose and trivial, self-absorbed and unrevealing, Emily Ratajkowski’s podcast is the logical conclusion of “empowering”, blinkered first-person feminism.
High Low with EmRata
[See also: Why do humans kiss? Procrastinate? Take risks?]
This article appears in the 16 Nov 2022 issue of the New Statesman, The state we’re in