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A Classy Dinner at Cheesecake Factory with Megan Amram

We talked to the Science... For Her! author about malls, feminist infighting, and her lord and saviour, Jesus (Christ, natch).
Photo by Megan Koester

​ Megan Amram is a brilliantly funny Harvard graduate, which means she's contractually obligated to be employed as a television writer. And employed she is. The lil lady currently writes for Parks and Recreation, and her previous credits include Kroll Show and the 83rd Annual Academy Awards (she's like Bruce Vilanch…on estrogen!).

Baby girl doesn't just write scripts, though. She writes books, too. Well, one book (as of press time). Her horrifically humorous faux textbook Science… For Her! will be released November 4, and she'll be touring the country promoting it this month.


I caught up with Megan over Glamburgers® at Cheesecake Factory, a favourite haunt since her days as a husky teen living in Portland, Oregon, and chewed the fat before getting our parking validated at a movie theater we did not patronise next door. What can I say? We're bad girls. ;)

VICE: You're a woman with a book deal. Who'd you have to fuck to get it?
​Megan Amram: I fucked the number one publisher of all time, Jesus Christ. He's the one true publisher.

Was he good?
​He will make you transcend your body. I'm just saying, every Sunday, I fuck the one true publisher, Jesus Christ. Also, why do people keep asking me this question? I get this all the time.

What question do you actually get all the time?
​The real answer is, probably, so when did you start tweeting? Which I'm horribly embarrassed by, but also owe a great debt of gratitude to. I wish that Twitter didn't have such a stupid name. I feel like I wouldn't feel so embarrassed by it if it were called, like, Right Site.

Which leads perfectly to my next question: When did you start tweeting?
​Just write that I threw up all over my Cheesecake Factory.

Two-part question: Why should someone buy your book, and why should anyone respect you as a human being?
​OK, you should buy my book because, as I state in the book, I hate trees, because they're very tall and thin, which gives women unrealistic expectations for their bodies. Mostly the book exists so I can kill trees. There's a bunch of blank pages in the book because I just want to kill as many trees as possible, and if you don't buy the book, they won't print more books and kill more trees. And to respect me as a person, my car was broken into last year and a lot of stuff was stolen, including NyQuil and my Atkins diet meal bars, so I think you should respect that I've managed to carry on without my cold medicine and diet food. Oh, and that I dedicated my life to Jesus Christ. That's also why you should respect me; I almost forgot, I'm very devout.


If you didn't have staunch faith in Jesus Christ, where do you think you'd be right now?
​I think I wouldn't be eating my Cheesecake Factory at this church we're in right now. Jesus has really helped me through a lot of addictions. I was addicted to drugs, I was addicted to learning about evolution. Then I found Jesus, and I've kicked that completely. Oh, by the way, I'm talking about Jesus Christ. I don't remember if I said Christ.

I have to play the tape back, but thank you for clarifying that.
​Not just any old Jesus. The Christ one.

If Jesus Christ were here right now, what do you think he'd order?
​I think he'd order Bang-Bang Chicken and Shrimp.

Why is that?
​That's just my gut instinct, because Jesus loves everything. He said that countless times in the Bible, and I think Bang-Bang Chicken and Shrimp has a little surf, a little turf… it basically represents all of God's creatures, and I think he would like that.  ​

Here's a cute question: What do you look for in a guy? We can only talk about guys, incidentally, 'cause heteronormativity.
​I'm looking for sandals, stigmata, long, stringy hair, and dark black skin. I'm looking for someone who can just veg out at the Cheesecake Factory at the Grove, or can get dressed up to go to the Cheesecake Factory at the Americana. Like whatever vibe Cheesecake Factory you're in, I just want you to be able to fit that vibe.

Speaking of the Grove and the Americana [two Los Angeles-based outdoor shopping plazas], do you want to explain your theory about malls?
​Oh, I would love to. In malls, especially malls like the Grove, which are constructed to be like Main Street USA, I oscillate between feeling very comforted, and feeling like I'm the only human that exists in the whole world, but also I'm dead, and we're all dead, and we're all dead ghosts wandering the halls of an internal prison that had been set up by a sociological sieve of everything we've ever experienced.


But what would it matter if we think we're alive?
No, I don't think we'd really be dead, it would just be super weird. I also feel like chains in general make me feel dead because they're too much like my thesis. When you see certain restaurants or stores repeated too many times, they all start blending into each other. You're constantly getting déjà vu because you're like, Oh, I've been here before. Of course you've been to the Grove 30,000 times, but you've also been there in different iterations in different places of life.

Is that why you enjoy going here, because of the existential crisis that it triggers?
​Yes. The best case scenario is that I leave thinking that time doesn't exist, place does not exist, and the good feelings I feel will be repeated an infinite amount of times forever, and the worst case scenario is that nothing matters because every place is just a Cheesecake Factory with a fountain in the middle, and there's no individuality or point to life. So I leave the mall feeling one way or another.

Generally, how do you leave?
​Definitely feeling great. Every once in a while, I get a bad trip.

So, you're saying that the mall can either be Heaven or Purgatory, but not necessarily Hell?
​Yes, that's a good way of putting it. But also, I think what is sometimes unsettling is that malls are like these fake homes where you walk in and they're attempting to make you feel totally comforted and at home like you did as a child, but you can never feel that way. It's also that oscillating feeling between, I'm just a little kid and everything is good and there's no pain or suffering at the mall, but then there's a comedown when you realise, I have to use my own money to buy things, and cheesecake has calories. So, yeah, I would say to sum all that up: never grow up, because everything's bad.


Why do you think feminism's still such a touchy subject?
​Partially because so many people want to criticise it. So many women don't want to call themselves feminists. So many men don't think it's legitimate, but it's also inextricably tied into the internet too, where you think that everything you say is going to get yelled at. When I was doing [an interview for another website], I was super straightforward and nice and said what I wanted to say, but kept feeling like someone was going to get mad at me, which is probably true, whether it's a woman who doesn't think I'm fairly representing some group or whatever. And at some point, you just have to be, like, I'm thinking through how I feel. You can't be perfectly well-spoken with every single thing you say.

Yeah, but the internet also seems to need shit to constantly be mad about. So if anyone fucks up slightly, they're attacked. There are a lot of women who won't identify as feminists and men who don't really like feminists, but I think one of the bigger problems that's coming up now is feminists criticising other feminists for not being feminist enough.
​Everyone is living their lives in different contexts and comes to ideologies in their own ways. So if Beyoncé makes a song where she quotes feminist theory, that's amazing and good for her, because she doesn't have to do that. She could be complacent, which would not be good, but I'm really just trying to defend Beyoncé. I think that any amount of work you're doing toward being culturally aware is good. So if you're not doing it enough, that's not something to be angry about.


There are so many people who don't try at all, so why not just be mad at those people? Why do you think there is so much infighting?
​Because I think there's so much criticism coming from the outside. I really do think a lot of it stems from the fact that a lot of women don't want to be labeled as a harpy, which is unfair because men don't have to worry about that; it's a double standard. There's not a derogatory term for a man who has strong opinions. I just think it shouldn't be argumentative. It's like, we're all on the same team here. Women, men who are feminists, homosexuals, the transgendered… we're all on the same team, which is to support minority voices, and it's always crazy to me when a woman criticises a gay group or vice versa, or any of that stuff. It's like, pick your battles, man. Your battle is the one big battle, and once we fix that, you can argue about semantics, but until that happens, generally try to prop up people who aren't heard. It's easy to be witch-huntery, on the internet especially, to be like, Oh, this woman in the public eye isn't doing it right, so let's all write think pieces about it. I mean, Lena Dunham has gotten so much flack for feminist stuff and it's like, whatever you think, that's not the battle. Don't attack someone who is arguably doing a lot of interesting things in the sphere of young women. That's not the enemy. Yes, there are legitimate discussion points, but the enemy is, like, Sharia law. Worry about a bigger thing.


Follow Megan Koester on ​Twitter.

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