Caitlin Moran talks Moranifesto, Trump, Westworld, Tina Fey, and casting How to Build a Girl
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In Caitlin Moran‘s latest book Moranifesto, the British author turns her trademark blend of brash humor and outspokenness to politics.
Moran has written a memoir (How to Be a Woman) and a novel (How to Build a Girl), and an anthology (Moranthology), and now Moranifesto follows in that last book’s footsteps, compiling more of her columns from The Times of London and new writings that detail her thoughts about the political climate, culture, and, of course, feminism.
Moran appeared at the Strand Bookstore in New York last month to celebrate the U.S. release of Moranifesto. In between reading excerpts from the uproariously funny book, she talked a mile a minute about politics (she referred to this year, with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, as “the f—pocalypse”) and sat down with EW to discuss pop culture and her many projects. Hear Moran’s thoughts on Trump, Westworld, Tina Fey, and casting the role of Johanna in How to Build a Girl below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In the intro to Moranifesto, you talk about how these columns came from wanting to write about politics and not feeling like you could, but then getting over that. What made you want to anthologize them?
CAITLIN MORAN: I reckoned I could probably do with politics what I did with feminism [in How to Be a Woman]. [Feminism] is something I didn’t know that much about, but seems like a combination of common sense, working things out, and trying to be funny about it has hit a nerve. Similarly, I have a massive interest in politics. I didn’t know that much about it, but I know quite a lot of history. I know how systems work. I know how human psychology works. I’ve got some ideas about how things could be improved in the current system, and I observed that politics as it stands isn’t working that well.
People do not read political manifestos. People vote on whether they like the look of the guy and usually on one or two issues. Both during Brexit and for Trump, we voted in anger against the establishment. We wanted a chaotic “f— you” vote. It was a racist vote. It was against immigrants. So let’s make sure that we can make a space where people who aren’t straight white guys can start talking about the kind of planet that will make them not scared. Because I am scared right now.
Do you watch Gilmore Girls?
No. I should, shouldn’t I? I’m tits deep in Westworld at the moment. It’s really awkward because [Westworld star] Thandie Newton‘s one of the parents at our kids’ school. I think she’s an amazing actress but her tits must be so tired now. They’ve literally been in every shot. To be naked in so many scenes. Tits are very useful things. They sustain life. But even hers must be so tired now. I hope they get a BAFTA or an Oscar. They’ve been absolutely incredible. Very consistent. Their storylines have been incredible.
What’s the status of [British TV series based on Moran’s life] Raised by Wolves season 3 right now?
Tragically axed. TV is a fickle beast. But me and my brother and sister who write that [show] are back to work on a big new project which, to be honest, is going to be better than that. I’m really excited about that. In the U.S., Raised By Wolves is being remade with the goddess Diablo Cody, who won a f—ing Oscar for Juno, writing it. And that comes out on ABC next year.
What’s the status on the film adaption of How to Build a Girl going?
We’ve got the director and we start shooting in the summer next year. Casting-wise, it looks like that girl [whose name I can’t mention] who’s going to play me is one of my favorite actresses of all time, and possibly the only person who can play that role.
What funny female memoirs do you like?
All of them. I don’t really believe in people who go “Oh, this one’s not so good” and “This one was self indulgent.” They’re all really important. Even when they’re not absolutely amazing and flawless. Even if it’s the most tossed-off cash-in, it’s still important to get women’s stories out there and to hear women speaking in their voices and talking about their experiences.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Tina Fey’s Bossypants is one of the funniest f—ing things I’ve ever read in my life. Her description of a cervical smear, it’s so brutal and so funny. Last time I came for a U.S. book tour, I had Amy Poehler’s book with me and having her voice with me every day, I would go to a hotel and just read her. Loads of people [criticized] Lena Dunham’s book and particularly the section of the chapter where she lists everything she’s eating. “This is just self-indulgent filler.” I absolutely argue against that. Clearly, women and food, the relationship there is absolutely off the f—ing scale insane. Someone who’s famous, whose weight is much scrutinized, gave us access to all this information. Just to see what she’s eating, that starts a conversation.
What I love about Lena and Amy and Tina and other Amy [Schumer] is they all talk about boring vanilla sex. They’re all just like “Yeah, we’re not that great in the sack.” It was such a trope on Sex and the City to be like “I’m so f—ing freaky. I’ve got nine f—ing vaginas and I can do it backwards” and that was this performative f—ing post-porn thing. There’s a certain amount of bravado in doing that but when you’re talking to teenage girls, the majority of sex that’s happening in the world is very boring, vanilla, missionary and it’s just great. Everyone’s going to come, no one’s going to break any bones, you can have a snuggle and fall asleep. I love that all these girls were like “Yeah, we’re quite boring in the sack.” This is not f—ing Britney Spears dark circus, it’s literally some human beings fiddling around until happiness happens.
Are you working on another book right now?
The sequel to How to Build a Girl is called How to Be Famous and it seems extraordinary to me that in a world that is ruled by certain [cultural figures that] drive so much of our news and you see these archetypical stories and these people bring up issues and they influence everything. Think about the Kardashians and their bums. And the only people who write about it are the National Enquirer and gossip magazines. These people are putting massive issues on the table with these huge life stories. Right now with Kayne we have mental illness. How to Be Famous has a lot of amusing analysis about that. We’ve also got great f—ing. The first book, the female character has all this sex with all these guys but never comes, and that was purposely done, because the first sex that you have is quite s—. In this book, she finally gets some good sex. And I wanted to write the kind of sex scenes girls would read and go, “Okay, I like the sound of sex.” I don’t see any sex written about like that anywhere.
In the chapter “It’s Okay My Children Do Not Read,” you talk about how your kids engage with things like movies rather than books. You’ve also written about the joy of reading. Do you think it’s important that they eventually become avid readers?
That column was written when I was trying to cheer myself up when the kids weren’t reading and also really hoping that they might read the column and go “Maybe we should read,” but the problem with my children reading is because their mum’s a writer, and because I write about teenage girls masturbating and having sex and stuff, they don’t want to go anywhere near anything I’ve written. And I’ve probably poisoned the entire idea of literature and writing for them. So basically, they won’t read until I die. And I can’t die until I pay off the mortgage by writing books, so it’s a Catch-22.
The dedication in Moranifesto is [something like] to Dora and Evie, pick up the towels. Pick up the wet towels off the floor and hang them up for the love of god, they will not dry on the floor as a test to see if they went anywhere near that book. It’s dedicated to them. Would they read the dedication and go, “Mom, why did you take the piss out of us for the towels on the floor?”. Nothing. It came out six months ago. They’re just not going anywhere near it.