Molly Hodgdon lives in Vermont. She’s currently in grad school studying criminology and is a contributing writer for Rifftrax. On Twitter, Hodgdon goes by the name Molly Manglewood, or simply @undeadmolly. Her tweets meld the macabre with observational humor and silliness. I recently asked Hodgdon to elaborate a bit on three of her favorite tweets, and she spoke with me about her pet turtle, her reasons for adopting a pseudonym, and the importance of conversation on Twitter.
Hodgdon: I like jokes that take a familiar phrase and give it a new twist or meaning. I’ve always liked this tweet because it does that in a way that is representative of the elements I love in humor. I like things that are dark and macabre but also extremely silly. Cannibalism and infanticide aren’t funny, but that’s the point. Some things are so inconceivably terrible that we use humor to cope with the idea of them existing, make them less threatening to our psyches. It’s an important theme to me because I’m a grad student in criminology, so I have to read and write about a lot of terrible things. Humor helps me to manage the low-grade vicarious trauma of that.
What made you decide to use a pseudonym on Twitter? Have you noticed it affect the way you write or interact on the site?
Probably for the same reason most people do, a slight layer of privacy. I’m not ashamed of anything I write, but I realize it can have negative consequences. If someone in a position of influence over me doesn’t care for satire or blue humor and can easily find my twitter page by googling my real name I’d be screwed. It wouldn’t be hard to figure out with minimal digging, but this gives me a slight gap. What I post is already heavily edited from what I’m really thinking and saying, but in order for it to be completely palatable to 100% of consumers, that would take away almost all of the things I find funny and interesting.
Yellow Hummers and really all gratuitously huge trucks and SUVs are such recognized symbols of ostentatious, insecure, impotent douchebaggery, and I feel like white horses must’ve been the same thing in centuries past. I can so clearly picture the biggest, loneliest wieners of yesteryear swaggering into the horse dealership and demanding their biggest, whitest horse. Totally impractical, but they would want it anyway for the visibility, the imagined status. They’d always be washing it and riding up and down the main strip in town, taking up three horse spots at the hitching post, etc.
Were there people you followed early on when you joined Twitter who helped set your tone or the way you use it?
I first joined twitter in 2008. I started an account and looked around, but there didn’t seem to be anything happening so I left and forgot about it. I didn’t really pick up the account and start tweeting until some time in early 2013. I was just spouting, talking to myself. I started following a variety of people but found the style I most prefer in Sean Tejaratchi (@shittingtonUK), Bridger Winegar (@bridger_w), @vladchoc, and @ceejoyner, then later Jacy Catlin (@ieatanddrink). They all write ridiculous things but there’s an obvious undercurrent of intelligence. Their tweets often contain whole worlds, stories. Each one is an original creation, they don’t use formulas or hashtags unless they’re subverting them in some new, clever way. I don’t know if this is true for all of them, but it feels like they’re tweeting for the pure joy of it, not making strategic tweets designed to harvest retweets and new followers.
This isn’t the only time you’ve tweeted about horses/animals. Are there specific characters or themes that you find yourself tweeting about frequently?
I love animals! I have a pet tortoise, Chester, and three cats. I like most animals, but tortoises really fill me with joy. I feel better knowing those grumpy little old man dino babies are trundling around the earth. I don’t like some animals, but I realize it’s not their fault. Lampreys, for example, aren’t being terrifying nightmare razor suck-fish on purpose.
I don’t have any running characters except my pets. Some people are great at that, like @karentozzi, but I try to stay away from it. It just isn’t a good fit for me.
I sincerely think this would be a great idea for a show. The opposition to gay marriage is 99.9% religious, and most of that comes from a certain malignant breed of Christian. I find this argument so absurd, incomprehensible really, that we should create laws that affect everyone based on the religious beliefs of some. Then the absurdity of that is compounded by the selective nature of the Biblical laws they want encoded into U.S. law. Obviously a show where they had to quit with the buffet model and commit to the full course dinner would highlight how ridiculous it is on so many levels. Most my posts are simply nonsense with no message, but some sociopolitical issues I feel strongly about do surface in tweets like this one.
Is the response very different when you post a tweet with a message vs. a nonsense one?
Yes, I think silly tweets get a bigger response. Which is understandable. We’re bombarded with op eds, blogs, think pieces from all over, nobody needs to hear it from me as well. It’s really an act of vanity when I post something serious. Some part of me needs to be identified as a Good Guy.
Do you think it’s important for Twitter to invite conversation? Do you think that conversation can lend itself to more humor or that it stifles it?
I think the conversational aspect is entirely up to the user. I know that’s a lame non-answer, but it’s true. For me I want the conversation extraordinarily limited. I only follow 79 people right now, a carefully curated list of people who fit with my very specific idea of what I want to see in my feed. Just the right frequency, content, tone. There are lots of followers I’m friendly with and very fond of, but I know if I followed them I’d never read their tweets and probably end up muting them. That feels dishonest to me, so I’d rather just not follow them in the first place. They’re not bad tweeters at all, I’m just very firm in wanting to maintain strict control over my experience. It’s really not them, it’s me.
Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn and works at Funny or Die.