'Off the Cuff' Podcast: Miranda July on How Women "Can Make Things Happen for Each Other"

Todd Cole

The filmmaker-author joins #THRpodcasts to discuss her new novel, 'The First Bad Man,' her thoughts on the word "twee" and why she doesn't recommend "reading mean tweets alone at home."

"My son, who's almost 3 now, his phrase that he likes to shock me with is 'poo-poo in the bum-bum,' " Miranda July tells Off the Cuff. "And I have to act scandalized each time. But in my head, I'm like, 'You don't know who you're dealing with here! I pretty much invented poo-poo in the bum-bum!"

July is referring to what is surely the most repeated line she's ever written, "pooping back and forth forever," from her first feature film Me, You and Everyone We Know. The line is so memorable in fact that it appeared in the popular party game Cards Against Humanity, something July was made aware of when fans started tweeting her pictures of the playing card bearing the phrase. When her husband, director Mike Mills, designed the black-and-white cover for her debut novel out this month, The First Bad Man, July momentarily panicked and asked him "Does this book look like that game?" before quickly realizing, well, who cares?

July is very quick to admit her self-doubts, especially the self-inflicted ones that come at the hands of too much online browsing.

"For those of us who grew up in the DIY thing, it feels kind of like what that was supposed to be," she says of the Internet. "Also it's a total nightmare when you're reading one-star Amazon reviews." When asked if she could ever do a bit like Jimmy Kimmel's "Mean Tweets" she muses, "Well, that's fine because it's like, 'I'm so famous and beloved that I can do this!' It's when you're reading mean tweets alone at home that it's much harder."

Despite the constant labeling of her work by some as "twee" (a word that she finds "very degrading and dismissive," if not a bit sexist), the Internet has proven to be a great ally to July as she seeks to promote her book, especially with the help of famous friends such as Lena Dunham and Carrie Brownstein, who have several of their own projects coming out around the same time (including a new Sleater-Kinney album whose music videos July has appeared in twice.)

"It's sort of an amazing time in terms of how, just because of social media, women with enough power can make things happen for each other," says July. "Right now I feel like I'm pushing all these things, and other people are helping push me."

We ask July, who turned 40 last year, how she feels about a line from her 2011 film The Future when Hamish Linklater describes everything after the age of 40 as "loose change."

"I think a lot of stuff in that movie is about the anxiety of the unknown and this '40' and maybe having a child and all of this stuff that I do know about now, and only have been good things, actually. So I look back at that movie and I'm like 'Wow, that's a really good movie for people in their 30's to watch, but I don't want to watch it!"

Based on early reviews of The First Bad Man, life after 40 promises many more good things to come for the author, who will take two weeks off from her U.S. book tour before resuming in London, where she will also put on a live performance. We had to ask — does July consider herself a workaholic?

"That just came up in therapy!" she said, laughing.

Listen to July's full interview in this episode of Off the Cuff, and be sure to subscribe to #THRpodcasts on iTunes for all the latest episodes.

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