With little to no social interaction these last months, it’s safe to say we’ve all gotten a bit … awkward. But first-time author Cazzie David and filmmaker Zoe Lister-Jones are leaning into that discomfort. In this episode of The Cut, producer B.A. Parker talks with David about her debut book of essays No One Asked for This, as well as Lister-Jones about developing the new adaptation of The Craft. In David’s book of essays, she talks about her celebrity father, Larry David; her anxiety disorder; her public breakup and the heartbreaking aftermath.
PARKER: In one of Cazzie’s essays, called “Erase Me,” Cazzie talks about what it feels like to see your ex all over the tabloids — while never mentioning his name. But in a weird way you don’t need to know his name. It’s not about fame. It’s really about what heartache looks like in real time. And it’s messy. A whole section of the essay involves her sobbing. On the bathroom floor of an airplane, at a graduation party, on vacation. And no one knows how to respond.
CAZZIE: That was one of the essays in the book that I had written during every moment that I actually was experiencing it. There wasn’t a lot of going back to it so I could edit out anything I wasn’t comfortable with. I was writing it every single day with no intention of doing anything with it. But I did. I was writing it while I was experiencing it, which is why I think it’s kind of visceral because usually when you get to go back to something, you do have the perspective of feeling like you’ve grown and you’re over it and you can write from a place of stability. And I wasn’t writing it from that place at all.
PARKER: This is also a terrible thing to compare it to. Have you ever seen Twilight: New Moon?
CAZZIE: It’s one of the best breakup movies that there is.
PARKER: You in the bathroom just reminded me of the montage where she’s sobbing to Lykke Li and I’m like, Oh, someone needs to sedate her. What is going on?
CAZZIE: Oh, I feel like that’s something TikTokers would really make fun of now. But as I said, there are so many things that are universally relatable in the book. But what I’ve experienced is totally amplified and heightened in this breakup, which is something that people that have gone through any breakup could relate to. But it’s a catastrophic version of the thing that we’ve all experienced.
PARKER: It’s not a great story. It’s a terrible time for you. Why am I like, This is great?
CAZZIE: The greatest stories are written from the worst times. It was a really isolating time for me because I felt like there was no one who could really understand fully. So it was really the only thing I could do. It was super natural because that’s usually what I do. I do turn to writing when I’m going through something, mostly something obsessive. And it was as obsessive as you can possibly get. I emotionally don’t think I could have handled this situation worse privately. But it did really help me just because I felt alone and I didn’t really know what else to do with all of the thoughts I was having in my head besides write them down so I could feel like maybe I could let some of them go at least to make room for the new ones that were coming in.
Lister-Jones wrote and directed The Craft: Legacy, a fresh adaptation of the 1996 original with Robin Tunney and Neve Campbell. Here, she talks about what it was like updating the film.
ZOE: A lot of what we see in the media, when teenage girls are coming into their power, especially in genre films, is that their power is too overwhelming and they end up becoming out of control. And the power can turn on them and turn dangerous, and then they turn on each other. I really wanted to subvert that message because there is no power too great for women. When I say “women,” I of course am including trans women. There is no power that we should feel intimidated by or that it’s not our place to embody.
PARKER: So when Zoe took on the challenge of writing and directing a sequel to The Craft — it’s called The Craft: Legacy, it just came out this year — she wanted to revisit this story in a new way.
ZOE: In the first one, the girls ended up sort of turning on each other, and I think we needed a little update on that message. I think there are larger, more nefarious and pervasive systems at work that in community, we as women can try to dismantle day by day.
PARKER: I love that the true villain is patriarchy. You hit a lot of big-ticket items. You’ve got menstruation; you’ve got bisexuality; you’ve got toxic masculinity. How do you decide what to tackle and what to put a pin in?
ZOE: The personal is political. So what in my own life has led me to where I am today, what traumas need to be unpacked that also are collective traumas when we’re talking about women’s experiences.
To hear more about David and Lister-Jones’s projects and how they get comfortable with the uncomfortable, listen below, and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.