Following in the great(ly annoying) tradition of Gwyneth Paltrow's goop and Olivia Wilde's Conscious Commerce, actress Blake Lively launched Preserve, her lifestyle website, this week, and much has been said about the new venture. While the public was expecting something as bright, sunny, and sparkly as the ultra-blonde Gossip Girl herself — a web destination that felt like something a Malibu-born, green juice guzzling, flower crown wearing pixie PR girl would read on her rose gold iPhone 5s on her way to Coachella — the actual product is a bit, shall we say, darker than all that.
Don't get me wrong — I love dark. You should see my GoodReads bookshelf/Netflix queue/iTunes library full of bands named things like "And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead." But there are already places I go on the Internets to find things that are dark, moody, sullen, and weird. The website of a woman who starred in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (which I saw in the theater, by myself — I know, what?) is probably not going to be one of those places.
I definitely respect Lively for breaking the mold and confounding expectations a bit...but it's going to take the rest of us a while to adjust, alright? There you are, just looking for a cute peasant top to wear to Lollapalooza, when suddenly a wayward click lands you on a page that looks like cover art for a Sylvia Plath novel or a scene from a Lars von Trier film. In order to successfully surf Preserve, we're going to need to develop a keen eye for this sort of stuff. We're here to help. Let's play "Preserve or [insert creepy thing here]" trivia!
1. Preserve or that torture chamber scene from Saw II?
Answer: Preserve! This is the cover image for a story about Los Angeles leather goods maker Chris Pak and his company Sandast. Also, this was a trick question as I haven't seen Saw II and have no idea if there is a torture chamber scene.
2. Preserve or Reggie LeDoux from True Detective?
Answer: Preserve! This comes from a story about L.A.-by-way-of-Tennessee musician Caleb Owens, but he's a doppelganger for meth cook/bike gang member/sexually predatory monster of the terrifying HBO series.
3. Preserve or creepy NYC dive bar?
Answer: Creepy NYC dive bar! Though if I weren't inventing this quiz myself I certainly would've gotten this question wrong. The above photo is from a place called Home Sweet Home on NYC's Lower East Side — it's littered with freaky taxidermy and ancient velvet sofas, and I used to spend way too much time there with wayward folk after weird concerts at the Bowery Ballroom. It PERFECTLY mimics the look of Lively's site, and I think she probably has interior shots of the place all over her "Preserve Inspiration" Pinterest board.
4. Preserve or the film version of The Virgin Suicides?
Answer: Preserve! You know that melancholy, lo-fi movie Sofia Coppola directed about a group of sisters in the 1970s who all commit suicide? This is not from that, though you'd be forgiven for thinking so, as the aesthetic is pretty much identical.
5. Preserve or Coney Island Freak Show performer?
Answer: Coney Island Freak Show performer! Though, the lovely sword swallower Heather Holliday would fit right in with this one story that somehow makes ice cream seem creepy.
6. Preserve or The Bell Jar cover?
Answer: Preserve! Though we can hardly tell the difference between Preserve's short Bryan Rowland film and the cover art for this novel. Did I mention the book tells the story of the protagonist's descent into mental illness, which includes suicide attempts, electro therapy, and residence at an insane asylum?
7. Preserve or promo pic for a witch house band?
Answer: Witch house band! This is a promo shot for gothic/electronic/witch house (yes, that's a genre of music, and yes, it's as scary as it sounds) band SALEM, and these guys may look creepy but they would still fit right in with plenty of Preserve content. Shudder.