No Way! Okay, Fine: A memoir of pop culture, feminism and feelings

Brodie Lancaster

 
No Way! Okay, Fine: A memoir of pop culture, feminism and feelings
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No Way! Okay, Fine: A memoir of pop culture, feminism and feelings

Brodie Lancaster

‘I identified early on that my role in relationships was the sidekick, the platonic female cast member in an all-male production, or the friend who was relied on selectively when other options were unavailable. I was the comic relief or the stand-in, never the lead. I knew this, I felt it, I wrote it down, but I didn’t dare say it aloud because that would prove that I cared and caring wasn’t cool.’

From the small town in regional Australia where she was told that ‘girls can’t play the drums’ to New York City and back again, Brodie has spent her life searching screens, books, music and magazines for bodies like hers, girls who loved each other, and women who didn’t follow the silent instructions to shrink or hide that they’ve received since literal birth. This is the story of life as a young woman through the lenses of feminism and pop culture.

Brodie’s story will make you re-evaluate the power of pop culture in our lives - and maybe you will laugh and cry along the way.

Review

Brodie Lancaster’s first book is a memoir that fuses Lancaster’s love of pop culture and feminism to explore her quest for authentic identity and self-acceptance – even if the taboo of being an ‘adult One Direction-fan’ hasn’t exactly been broken. Yet.

Lancaster uses film and TV, music and the internet to examine her own life: every essay is chock-full of cultural references that illustrate the degree to which we interpret our lives through stories we see on-screen. Discussing body image and self-esteem, Lancaster draws on comedian Aidy Bryant’s work on Saturday Night Live; in an essay about growing up in a small town, moving away and returning home, she compares herself to Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama. These references range from obvious to obscure, and serve to underline Lancaster’s realisation that she has spent her life trying on and discarding the identities – church-going teen, pop-punk scene kid, New York City career woman – that she grew up watching in movies and on TV.

The strongest essays cut to the heart of her own personal history. While the arguments in more critical pieces – like ‘The Codes to Self-Esteem’, which analyses the cult of Kanye West, or ‘Real Quality’, about what constitutes good taste in music – didn’t always convince me, Lancaster’s reflective essays flow easily and more self-assuredly. The chapters that examine body image and dating, feeling lonely and trapped living in New York, and falling in love on the internet are compelling and speak honestly to the experience of being a young, millennial woman.

No Way! Okay, Fine. adds to the growing canon of memoirs by young Australian writers, and will appeal to fans of Lena Dunham, Lindy West and Melissa Broder.


Kelsey Oldham works as a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.

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