Review of Hissyfit Gayle O'Brien Zine-O-Rama

import_contacts Review of Hissyfit

reviewed by Gayle O'Brien

Published in Issue No. 67 ~ December, 2002

Oh, I remember it like it was yesterday. In 1997 I had a Chickclick sticker on the side of my harddrive, fresh and tasty made me feel like I was part of a new brand of girl power by owning a snowboard and I wore by Bust t-shirt with pride. In the Web’s hey day, I also got into the whole girl zine scene, back when it actually felt like a scene. There were dozens of fresh, fun and informative zines for women, most of which, thankfully, had nothing to do with horoscopes, make-up or dieting. These zines did what print mags didn’t have the balls to do – challenge to status quo, talk about real, often unpleasant issues, and not underestimate the power of a good old rant. And most girl zines did it with intelligence and class. They all formed part of an inspiring and vibrant community that inspired us all to kick ass and take names in the name of e-liberation.

But those days are (mostly) long gone. Chickclick has long shut down, abandoned by its frustrated and tired founders, fresh and tasty is now a site for baked goods, and many of those that have kept their domains haven’t updated since 1999.

With so many sites having gone by the way side, what’s left? In the short, but none-the-less impressive list of survivors, Hissyfit ( is at the top.

Hissyfit‘s motto – `you are entitled to our opinion’ – hasn’t changed since Wing Chun, its creator and main contributor, launched the site in 1997. Chun started the zine to help her `maintain some grasp on her self-respect’ while working for an interactive agency that dealt mostly with big name corporates. And even though Wing Chun left the corporate nest, she has lost none of her fervor and hilarity, combining her excellent writing skills with healthy doses of humor and sarcasm, targeting everything from the French to FOX programming.

Hissyfit is still the same breath of fresh air it was back in 1997. The Internet economy has come and gone, but Chun and her list of contributors still use the site as a platform for hissyfits. Regular columns like `112 Reasons to Live a Barren, Childless Existence That Ends in Your Death’ and the serial Bad Teen Novel are particular highlights, and my personal favorite is the long-running `A Review of a Movie We Haven’t Seen’

As Chun writes in `Bubble Girl’, her rant about having to actually deal with her fellow humans, `the whole point of this site is pretty much to complain, generally about people.’ But `complaining’ doesn’t quite do Hissyfit justice. It’s kvetching with style. It’s bitter with an intellectual bite. It’s sassy, it’s smart and it’s a darn good read.

This month’s main article, `Slap Them: They’re French’, is a case in point. A variation on `What have the Roman’s ever done for us?’, Chun writes:

“Have you ever noticed that most of the French words and phrases that have entered the English lexicon happen to represent concepts that pretentious people like to talk about? Like “oeuvre and “genre” and “mise en scène” and “Favre” and “ménage à trois” and “au contraire“? Language of love, my ass.”

Hissyfit is good, solid writing by smart, interesting people who aren’t afraid to take the piss out of what other people just accept, like Bruce Willis’ hairpiece in The Story of Us and the lack of pre-screening counselors at tattoo parlors.

Hissyfit rocked in 1997 and it still rocks today.

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Gayle O'Brien has written for newspapers, monthlies, oodles of websites and is currently attempting to write the Great Anglo-American novel. She lives and writes in England.