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See Jane Die

The blog 90 Day Jane is written by a woman recording her thoughts as she counts down the days until she commits suicide. She started the blog 7 days ago; thus she has 83 days left until she kicks the bucket.

upsetting and creepy and bad

I read about this on the Video Web Report. According to writer Sergio Ibarra, “she (claims she) has already caught the eye of a “HUGE” network that wants to talk to her “very soon.” Given the success of viral marketing campaigns, many doubt the legitimacy of Jane’s claims and expect the whole scheme to be a girl’s three-month attempt at her own 15 minutes of fame.”

In any case, I find the whole thing repugnant. I don’t think this is “genius” or “brilliant” or the “ultimate in performance art,” as some have suggested, as I don’t think this qualifies as art. I don’t care that she is an atheist (she defines this as “feeling that life has no great purpose”) and I don’t care that she is or isn’t depressed. I do care that she has such a bitter disregard for living and such blatant disrespect of dying. As far as I am concerned, this is irrefutable proof that civilization is indeed doomed.

In case you’d like to see more, I will leave you with 90 Day Jane shopping for her suicide dress (posted on You Tube, of course):

UPDATE: 90 Day Jane lasts only 7 days Blogger and YouTube have both pulled her content. In the week it has been on the internet, 90 Day Jane garnered thousands of comments to her blog, over 2,000 links on Google and allegedly a “huge” offer from a television network.

I am left wondering why this type of antic/behavior/initiative provoked such intense feelings, and I was reminded of the reaction that both Shirley Jackson and The New Yorker received after the 1948 publication of her short story The Lottery. In Private Demons, Shirley Jackson’s biographer, Judy Oppenheimer, wrote, “Nothing in the magazine before or since would provoke such a huge outpouring of fury, horror, rage, disgust and intense fascination.”

Humans have always been oddly captivated with public displays of death or mutilation, whether it be art or journalism. Let’s hope that this display will end up simply another footnote in the annals of Web 2.0.

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ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 4426 FILED UNDER Discussion
PUBLISHED ON Feb.13.2008 BY debbie millman
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
Ravenone’s comment is:

Urgh. 90 day Jane seems to be everywhere today. I find it sad and sick.

Debb- I agree with you on this one.

On Feb.13.2008 at 12:39 AM
Nick’s comment is:

But still, you blogged it.

On Feb.13.2008 at 12:52 AM
debbie millman’s comment is:

I know. And I can't stop thinking about it. Very perplexing and sad.

On Feb.13.2008 at 01:14 AM
Diane’s comment is:

re: "I don't care that she is an atheist (and therefore feels that life has no great purpose)..."

Please do not confuse being an atheist with having no purpose in life. Atheism simply means that one does not believe in the existence of God. And while it may appear that she has found no purpose in her life, this is mutually exclusive from the fact that she is an atheist.

I do agree however that she has a blatant disregard and disrespect for herself and others. The tragedy of suicide is extremely sad and she is insulting anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one. Personally, I am absolutely disgusted.

On Feb.13.2008 at 08:46 AM
Diane’s comment is:

re: "I don't care that she is an atheist (and therefore feels that life has no great purpose)..."

Please do not confuse being an atheist with having no purpose in life. Atheism simply means that one does not believe in the existence of God. And while it may appear that she has found no purpose in her life, this is mutually exclusive from the fact that she is an atheist.

I do agree however that she has a blatant disregard and disrespect for herself and others. The tragedy of suicide is extremely sad and she is insulting anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one. Personally, I am absolutely disgusted.

On Feb.13.2008 at 08:47 AM
Blake’s comment is:

Very few things on the Internet make me stop. Completely stop. And look on in disbelief. I guess I shouldn't be shocked. Human society is amazing at our best, and really fucking bleak at our worst. This is pretty bleak.

If this is supposed to be art, I don't agree with it nor am I impressed. This is unhealthy and fucking lame.

Free speech, sure thing. I'm not one to stop her. I also have a right to keep walking. I'm not visiting her site. I'm not linking to it. Nothing. I hope she seeks help. Real help. This attention-seeking blog isn't it.

On Feb.13.2008 at 09:17 AM
Renée’s comment is:

Both links above (the blog and the video) are broken/dead. Is it possible it's already been pulled by both YouTube and Blogger?

On Feb.13.2008 at 09:54 AM
Tom’s comment is:

"As far as I am concerned, this is irrefutable proof that civilization is indeed doomed."

This post and comment in particular is the kind of media attention that brainwashes people into thinking moronic celebrities and ignorant people like "Jane" make up the majority of the world. They don't deserve our attention, and the news media of today is a joke.

In the meantime, there are billions of decent human beings trying to make the world a better place, however small or large their contribution.

Obviously the world isn't perfect, but until then please ignore the ignorant.

On Feb.13.2008 at 10:51 AM
f0vela’s comment is:

I agree with you. Actually I didn't know about this thing until today, and I really dislike her. making this show of a sad event as is suicide, and laughing at the face of friends and families that have lost their loved ones.

Totally disgusting!

On Feb.13.2008 at 10:58 AM
andrea’s comment is:

Your comment about Atheism meaning one feels life has no purpose in way way off the mark and offensive.

And am a little surprised to see something like this posted on here.

On Feb.13.2008 at 11:00 AM
f0vela’s comment is:

Well seems like the site and the video are down now. I suppose that someone report the whole thing.

On Feb.13.2008 at 11:03 AM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Andrea and Diane--
I apologize for offending you. That was not my intention. I was simply quoting "Jane" and I have clarified this in my post.

Renee and f0vela--
Yes, you are correct, both the blogspot site and the You Tube video have been pulled. I do not know if "Jane" pulled them or the inter-Gods.

In any case, I have added an "Update" to my original entry. Finally, whether it be a stunt, a hoax, a performance piece or a sincere (albeit awful) public communication, I believe that it is fair game for commentary on Speak Up.

On Feb.13.2008 at 11:07 AM
Peter Whitley’s comment is:

Doesn't bother me at all...though I'm not implying that anyone else should or shouldn't be insulted by her "sensational" project. It's her right (taste be damned) to exploit whatever resources are hers to exploit. People die for far more benign reasons than the quest for fame.

What disappoints me is the lack of sophistication. I like the audacity of the scale..."I am going to commit suicide. You are invited to participate."...but then to publish that performance art using low-brow materials (youtube, blogger, etc.) seems to cheapen the whole idea. That, to me, is the crime...not that she is interested in the publicity of her death. And why shouldn't she be? We consistently celebrate suicide as a society through a vast soul-searching exploration...albeit superficial...whenever we lose someone noteworthy in this way.

Callous? Maybe. But if she is determined to off herself, well...worse things have happened to better people. She might as well deliver the biggest cry for help possible before she does.

On Feb.13.2008 at 12:25 PM
des’s comment is:

http://90-day-jane.blogspot.com

Seems like its here instead now :)

On Feb.13.2008 at 12:48 PM
Chad K’s comment is:

It reminds me of the part in Malcom Gladwell's, The Tipping Point where he discusses a fad that happened on an island where suicide was a cool thing to do almost like the influence of smoking. I wish I could remember more detail from what he said, it has been a while since I read it.

On Feb.13.2008 at 03:04 PM
agrayspace’s comment is:

As a small minor retort to this post which I don't really have much to say about…

Being an atheist is the exact opposite of both the sentiments "bitter disregard for living" and "disrespect of dying". I'm not saying that you were necessarily comparing them Debbie but I just have to take the opportunity to clarify a misconception about atheism

Because the atheist does not believe in the afterlife, both the acts of living and dying are very precious and respected things. It could be argued that because the atheist doesn't have a "free pass" awaiting them after death they can value and respect life & death more than the non-atheist.

A generalization…yes, but worth clarifying.

None of this has anything to do with 90 Day Jane.

On Feb.13.2008 at 03:15 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

hi there agrayspace--
thank you for your post--

i would like to make it very, very clear that i have absolutely nothing against atheism. i did not mean to disparage atheists or atheism in any way.

i also wasn't (as you rightly pointed out) trying to compare thoughts. i was merely quoting "Jane."

a lot of folks out there in cyberspace have been criticizing "Jane" for her use or misuse of atheism. i agree that she is misinterpreting fundamental tenets of the belief (or non-belief) system. i actually think she would be better suited using the word nihilism.

On Feb.13.2008 at 03:30 PM
Whaleroot’s comment is:

Well, I followed des's link and it seems it was all an "art piece".

If she really was going to off herself I would've much rather seen an effort on her part to create an extraordinarily designed CSS-based interactive website and not, what I'm going to refer to as, the lazy-man's blog. I think that's what bothers me the most.

On Feb.13.2008 at 04:57 PM
Diane Zerr’s comment is:

In case you'd like to see more, I will leave you with 90 Day Jane shopping for her suicide dress

Why on earth was she shopping for a "suicide dress?" If someone was truly suicidal and disliked life to the point of even contemplating suicide then why would that person try to look their best on the way out? It doesn't make sense in any way and is a crappy "art piece" whether it gained "viral" momentum or not.

Making a mockery out of suicide is not art and not a performance. I think for her next "piece" she should be locked up in a mental institution and she can blog about that.

On Feb.13.2008 at 07:49 PM
Mark Notermann’s comment is:

Debbie, I'm not as surprised by her site (regardless of whether it was real or "art") as I am by your revulsion to it and subsequent posting on SpeakUp. Showing your disapproval by becoming part of the viral campaign and promoting the work— very confusing. I give you the benefit of the doubt, maybe you wanted to get the designer's take on it to see if it was any different than your own. Either way it shows that you were affected enough to act which is pretty effective communication.

If you say this isn't art, then you must have a definition for what is, and I'd love to see it.

And your dismissal of this as a footnote of "web 2.0" is very telling. This kind of stuff will not go away, anymore than suicide will go away.

I say all of this with respect to your personal feelings about a painful subject. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

On Feb.13.2008 at 08:47 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

Either 90 Day Jane is an exercise in marketing sinfulness, that has gotten and will continue to get the attention of Generation Y; or it's a very sorry story of a person that needs love, tenderness, and one helluv an intervention.

Either way, Chris Burden did the whole 'suicide art' thing best. So if Jane is trying to one up Burden, she's dead in the water (pun intended).

On Feb.13.2008 at 09:33 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Hi Mark:

To answer some of your questions and/or address some of your points:

You asked for my definition of art.

I don't have a static definition. Instead, I am going to borrow from the work of Jonah Lehrer in his astonishing book, Proust was a Neuroscientist. The following is a short excerpt from his chapter on Paul Cezanne. I think it holds up pretty well as a starting point regarding what I believe about art:

Cezanne was trying to return to the start of sight, to become nothing but a “sensitive recording plate.” The slowness of this method forced Cezanne to focus on simple things, like a few red apples set on a trapezoid of table, or a single mountain seen from afar. But he knew that the subject itself was irrelevant. Stare hard enough, his paintings implore, and the laws of the known universe will emerge from just about anything. “With an apple, Cezanne once said, “I will astonish Paris.”

You said:
Showing your disapproval by becoming part of the viral campaign and promoting the work— very confusing.

I can see your point. I guess I was trying to engage a discussion about my revulsion, and solicit feedback. Probably not the best idea if I didn't want to give "Jane" any more publicity. But my disapproval was indeed genuine, nevertheless.

You also said:
And your dismissal of this as a footnote of "web 2.0" is very telling. This kind of stuff will not go away, anymore than suicide will go away.

I agree that this stuff isn't going away, but I don't think that my comment was dismissive of it. It was more of a plea. But I won't argue with you if you don't think it is realistic.

On Feb.13.2008 at 10:41 PM
Ricardo Cordoba’s comment is:

I find the whole thing repugnant. I don't think this is "genius" or "brilliant" or the "ultimate in performance art," as some have suggested, as I don't think this qualifies as art. I don't care that she is an atheist (she defines this as "feeling that life has no great purpose") and I don't care that she is or isn't depressed. I do care that she has such a bitter disregard for living and such blatant disrespect of dying. As far as I am concerned, this is irrefutable proof that civilization is indeed doomed.

Debbie, in response to some of the comments here, I think that your post is a genuine and honest reaction of disgust,and maybe that alone justifies it being here. But this person has after all gone public with this, whether it is staged or for real, so it involves a public medium. I like what agrayspace said regarding atheism, and I think that you're right when you say that nihilism is perhaps a better word for the author's stated beliefs.

But... as I was typing the last paragraph it occured to me that maybe, if 90 Day Jane is just a sham, the author was (is?) commenting on the current state of our media culture, specifically reality TV shows that seem to have no limit on what is fair game, or the idea that if something is not on the Internet, then it doesn't exist... If that is the case and the reaction was to take everything down, maybe the author has proved that there are limits after all.

(That said, if this is not a hoax, I am with you when you talk about her disrespect for dying.)

On Feb.13.2008 at 11:47 PM
oscar’s comment is:

I think it's brilliant from a "marketing" perspective. I also think it's crass and tasteless. And finally, I don't buy it for a second.

On Feb.14.2008 at 01:36 AM
Ricardo Cordoba’s comment is:

There is a note on the blog's homepage saying the site will go down in a few days... Debbie, I don't know if the note was already up when you created this post, so I will quote a few paragraphs from it:

The blog's author says... I feel a massive sense of responsibility to my art, but more importantly the readers of this blog. My closeness to this project must have made art seem like reality to many people. That is not a reaction that I expected nor can I morally justify. This is why my project, 90DayJane, will be taken down in the next few days.

90DayJane was meant to mirror the tragic figure, Christine Chubbuck. Newscaster Christine Chubbuck committed suicide in 1974 by shooting herself in the head live on air. She was very vocal about her depression to those around her and gave every indication of her exact intentions leading up to the event. Sadly, no one reacted or helped Christine and those left behind could only ask “why”.

Her story both inspired and terrified me because I can truly empathize with her rage and even her isolation. I wondered how Christine’s life and subsequent suicide would play out in our time. Would the internet be yet another place of isolation to her or an escape? If she remained vocal about her intentions would anyone bother asking “why” or even noticing before the fact? Would the reaction (if any) of the public change her intentions?

I thought this mirror might reflect the isolation everyday people feel and the lack of true human connection on the internet.

It is my feeling that the internet is the best and worst example of human interaction. This was painfully proven to me by reading every comment and every email. I believe I owed that to everyone. I know we all saw the dark side of the reactions in the blog comments. There was so much hate, immaturity and apathy. But, I truly wish everyone could see the beauty and honesty in the emails; many people feel like Jane (me). People have been more real and heartfelt than I thought was possible. I owe them a debt of gratitude for showing me the difference between people’s reactions and their true feelings. I understand.

The author also claims not to have accepted any money, despite many offers.

On Feb.14.2008 at 07:34 AM
Steve Mock’s comment is:

Yeah... she's done. Hoaxer.

I think this was another manifestation of the 'x a day' trend in blogging. Everybody loves a blog that is fresh every day, right? Painting a day. Poem a day. Baby story a day.

But as Jane finds out - I think - is that it's a lot harder than one might think. Turns out she could only keep up the schtick for a week. Would not have been interesting for three months. What could she have said (re: the 'concept') for 90 days?

Weird and a little funny. Now. She'll be fine.

whenwillamywinehousedie is a lot more disturbing.

On Feb.14.2008 at 11:15 AM
Rob’s comment is:

In any case, it's sad that someone thinks of this as being "art" but who am I to judge? I'm not quite sure what one expects to gain by a stunt like this, noteriety or fame?

A 90 day countdown blog is a far cry from shooting oneself on-air. I would think a one-time post would do the trick much better in emulation. Good thing Jane didn't think the same way.

There are many strange people in our world. Some good strange and some not so good. But they are human beings all the same. What they do may lead to questions but in the end, hopefully, we can all learn a little more about ourselves.

I appreciate your post Debbie but despite my morbid curiousity, I have no interest in following any of the links. Having read all the other comments, has been enough.

Happy Valentine's Day.

On Feb.14.2008 at 11:31 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

People are intrigued by death and the taboos that surround it. The web isn't going to make one bit of difference in regards to that. ;o)

So, anyways, aren't we supposed to be talking about her logo or the type on her blog or something?

On Feb.14.2008 at 02:34 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

When Steve Kazmierczak went on the shooting spree at NIU, he may not have had a website to promote the event, but if he did, how would the public respond? Who governs the internet, and what watch groups (if any) should oversee and investigate threats or suicidal tendencies?

The recent events at NIU demonstrate one of the biggest and most formidable problems with online exhibitions like 90 Day Jane. When is it real? When is it art? When is it marketing? When do we pay attention, and how do we reach out to people? Debbie's timing of this post is uncanny. Now what do we do?

On Feb.15.2008 at 12:55 PM
Jeff’s comment is:

On Feb.16.2008 at 04:57 PM
agrayspace’s comment is:

I was hoping that my comment about atheism didn't look like I was calling you out on something. I wasn't. Just taking a ripe opportunity to post about something I think about a lot.

My second thought is that fact that I absolutely love the idea that your post about a fascination with an "abhorrent" thing actually adds to viralilty of it. I think it's a great thing of the internet for someone like 90 Day Jane to experiment with media and society. The fact that people are offended by it is precisely the point. And the fact the you have aided and abbetted something you oppose is exactly the point as well.

It's almost like the internet has eliminated the ability for hypocrisy to matter. I have feel that having an set-in-stone position on anything is actually counter productive to progress, and is diametrically opposed to the scientific progress of evidence leading to assessment, round round forever. Perhaps our morality could learn a thing or two about that.

Nothing is black and white. Given the evidence. everything is up for reassessment at all times. Everything exists in the gray spaces.

On Feb.18.2008 at 12:06 PM