Hospitality & Manners, Sometimes Tart

Martha, Self-Restraint, Best Business Practices

Whatever your feelings are about Martha Stewart, you have to admit she’s a good business woman. She built a media empire and became a zillionaire in the process, although not entirely by playing by the same rules as the rest of us middle-class schmucks, but that’s another story.

So then the other day, I passed through the living room where AD was flipping through the channels and there was Martha on the television speaking to someone in her usual snotty and condescending tone.

It didn’t really catch my attention because Martha always speaks that way, even when she is talking about turnips. But then I heard her trashing Rachael Ray and I just had to stop and find out what crime Rachael had committed against Martha.  Were Rachael’s bed sheets not Egyptian cotton?  Had she used canned green beans in a recipe? No. It turns out that Rachael does not even have a garden!  What kind of low life does not even have a garden?  Show of hands?

Now I’m not Rachael’s PR lady and neither am I her detractor, I’m just saying Rachael is very popular.  Lots of people buy her books and magazines and watch her TV shows. My point is that she is loved by millions and my guess is that most of those people are the same people who buy Martha’s crap stuff.

Then last night as I was dozing off, there was Martha again on my television, this time going off on Sarah Palin.  Martha was dripping with contempt and saying some really ugly things. And again, I’m not here to sing the praises of Sarah or tell you why she is the devil, because everyone seems to have already made up their minds on that.  I’m just saying that millions of people love her.  And wouldn’t you agree that a lot Sarah’s fans are probably K-Mart shoppers? Or Sears shoppers or wherever Martha is hawking her wares these days. Obviously, I don’t keep up with Martha.

For a woman with a head for business, Martha’s lack of  self-restraint mystifies me. I fail to see what benefit it was to Martha to vomit the feelings she has towards Sarah and Rachael all over middle America, thus alienating most of the very people who fill her coffers.  Were those thoughts that simply could not go unexpressed?  Did it endear her to her customer base? No.  I think it made her look really small and sad.

Whatever your feelings are about any of the three women mentioned heretofore, from a purely business standpoint, Martha’s self-indulgent behavior seems to me like a really bad business move and terribly unsavvy.

Martha your lack of restraint surprises me. I thought you were more calculating than that.

34 thoughts on “Martha, Self-Restraint, Best Business Practices

  1. I just have never liked her but still… what’s up with that attitude.. was she having a theme? Beat up on women week?

    * * *
    It seems to me that all of America is suffering from a lack of self-restraint in recent yeras — verbally, materially, and many other ways. But why stop now! The holidays are just around the corner! =)

  2. My sister and I discussed this over the weekend. We love Rachel enough to have stood outside for three hours on a freezing December afternoon to have her sign a cookbook. And then Martha goes off on her. Maybe Ms. Stewart needs to up the estrogen for mood swings.

  3. Have to tell you how MUCH I look forward to your letters, you are an amazing woman and one of US! Love your recipes too. Just love your articles! Thank you! 🙂

  4. Have you heard Rachel Ray’s response? It was the epitome of graciousness – she said that her skill set was not as good as Martha’s. No defensiveness, no snarkiness. I was never a Rachel Ray fan (not against her, just ambivalent) until now.

    “Her skill set is far beyond mine. That’s simply the reality of it. That doesn’t mean that what I do isn’t important too … I really just think she’s being honest. She does have a better skill set than I do when it comes to producing a beautiful, perfect, high-quality meal.”

    Then she adds: “I’d rather eat Martha’s than mine, too.”

    * * *
    Yes, Rachael’s response was beyond gracious. Although I don’t agree that Martha was just being honest; I think she was being mean in a pathetic effort to elevate herself by tearing down another. ~AM

  5. I love that last line – not more good-hearted, just more calculating. 🙂 So true! What a great reminder that when we tear others down, we only end up looking small ourselves!

  6. I have never liked Martha. I refuse to buy her products or try her recipes. She’s such a phony. The whole idea of making your house warm and welcoming should come from someone who doesn’t make you want to run the other way.

    People have referred to me as “Martha Stewart” because I really like to cook and create things for the home and friends. I have never taken it as a compliment.

    Martha needs a visit from Ms. Manners.

  7. Somehow I missed the Sarah Palin comments; I only heard the Rachel Ray ones as replayed by the news (and Rachels comments in response were infinitely more gracious).

    When will people learn that you won’t gain more followers by bad-mouthing someone else (and, by association, their followers). An appropriate comment would have been that there’s room for both of them in the kitchen and that Rachel’s done a service by making eating at home simple and approachable again.

    She certainly added fodder to the caricature she’s become. (Might be worth tuning into SNL next week.)

    Mary Hampton

  8. Oh, I missed both incidents! I really don’t follow either woman. But I do remember catching a small segment of Martha’s show last year. She was also speaking frankly about politics.

    Maybe prison and getting older has changed her to be so honest, she is blunt! She has so much money now that she doesn’t need anyone. Kind of a lonely place to be.

    How gracious of Rachel Ray.

  9. I think Martha has more of a serial killer voice like Hannibal Lector or Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada. It is a voice with no inflection or emotion.

    My favorite Martha moment was when she made her own door knobs. She had a welder’s kit and mask and melted metal to make her own homemade door knobs. If I ever have that much free time, I think making door knobs would be way down on the list.

  10. Just goes to show, even going to jail doesn’t phase some people. Martha is a perfect example of why women fail to “prosper” in business (lower wages, yada-yada). We are our own worst enemies.

  11. I bet Martha just wishes she had a thimblefull of Sarah Palin’s guts, class, and chutzpah. A hair’s breadth of Rachael’s sense of fun wouldn’t hurt either.

    * * *
    You know what I think bugged me about Martha’s comments is the implication that she is better than Rachael Ray and Sarah Palin, and by default all the rest of us middle class middle America non-elites. In my mind, she was indirectly expressing contempt for the very people who have made her wealthy and that sort of chaps my backside.

  12. She would do well to remember…
    THERE IS SO MUCH GOOD IN THE WORST OF US

    AND SO MUCH BAD IN THE BEST OF US

    THAT IT HARDLY BECOMES ANY OF US

    TO TALK ABOUT THE REST OF US.

    ~~~anonymous

  13. I’ve never liked her. She’s one smart business woman though but what a terror she would be to work for. She doesn’t even be able to fake niceness on her show. I also saw Rachel’s comment. She was most kind.

  14. Sometimes it seems like we all never really leave High School. Martha was probably the Senior Class Pres, Rachel was Head Cheerleader and Sarah was HS NRA Pres. oro something. I thought we were all supposed to act like grown-ups eventually:)

  15. I really like the look of some of Martha’s products, but her attitude, approach and superiority keeps me from buying anything. I know she has an zilloin dollars, but I also believe that I can speak with my money. I just won’t contribute to someone with that attitude.

    The older I get – I just turned 40 – the less tolerant I am of people that don’t understand or live a life of humility. I just can’t stand it. We were put on this earth for somethings besides being superior to someone else. Thanks for the post.

  16. Well written and lovely post! And I totally agree with you: trashing other people only makes you look like trash.

    Not very smart of Martha, is it.

  17. I kind of feel that way when other famous people start spouting political opinions and such. I think that since some people look up to them, but not everyone will agree with them, they should keep pretty quiet about it. Except maybe when it’s something all normal people would agree with, like that it’s wrong to kick puppies! 🙂

  18. I’ve always been taught never to criticise other people in public. “Publicly praise, privately correct” was the training I got.

    When did that change?

    I make exceptions, of course, for people holding political offices. If you can’t criticise tax-fattened hyenas, there’s no justice.

    Bill

  19. I’m on this bandwagon too! As to the retail outlet for her goods, I’ve seen her in many Macy’s ads!(did i spell that right?) so I guess she doesn’t need our middle and lower class money any more.

    I’ve never been a martha fan, do not buy her stuff because of her attitude, and when she comes up in conversation I make it known how I feel. It has caused conflict with my sisters, whom I love so much, which makes me sad. But no matter what I can’t support her ugliness.

    I do enjoy your blog very much.
    Thanksgiving Blessings,
    debbie

  20. I’m not going to defend her recent behavior, but I have to share a little story in Martha’s defense. About 9 years ago, when my girl was five years old, she LOVED to watch Martha Stewart’s show. B/c we homeschool, we would take a “break” when Martha was on & Jami would watch every step Martha took as she demonstrated her different projects. Jami, of her own accord, decided to draw a picture of herself and Martha, as well as write a little “fan letter”. I located the address (thank you, Internet), wrote a little letter of explanation, clipped one of Jami’s photos to it and mailed them off. You can’t imagine our shock when the phone rang one day – caller ID said “OmniMedia”. I answered it, and a very nice woman in Martha’s office said Martha had received Jami’s picture and liked it so much that she would be sending her a photo, too. A few days later, Jami received an autographed photo from Martha that said “To Jami, My #1 Fan – You’re a Good Thing – Love, Martha”

    It absolutely thrilled my girl. It wasn’t long after that the stock scandal broke. I explained to my girl that sometimes the people that we like make bad choices and there are prices to be paid for those choices. She still likes Martha, but realizes that she made a bad choice and had to pay for it. A good illustration of how no one should be above consequences, maybe?

    I don’t know what’s up with Martha now. I wish she would get it together – she is very talented and has so much knowledge to share. The snooty thing kind of ruins the whole, though, dontcha’ think?

  21. I wonder when women will quit beating each other up and start lifting each other up instead.

    It’s easy to be mean. It takes more skill to be kind. I’m sad that Martha has come to this, and as you know, I do have a garden. Not everyone wants to or can. 🙂 ~~Dee

  22. I used to love Martha.

    I have ten years of her magazine stacked up downstairs (those things are TOO expensive to throw away.)

    I would tape, then TiVo her show.

    I MADE HER HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS!!!

    But, then, three years ago, I quit.

    It was the day after the election in 2006. She said, about ten seconds after she walked on stage, “Isn’t today a wonderful day?” And then basically did a jig, “we won we won we won. Yipeeee! you lost you lost you lost. Nanny nanny boo!” It was really awful. I mean, I would have been fine if she had said, “Yesterday was an important election. I hope everyone had a chance to vote. What a wonderful day. It’s a good thing.” But the gloating? Whatever, Martha.

    * * *
    So I made some candied ginger, big whoop. But ~YOU!~ made marshmallows?!? I bow down. I do. And my son would want you to adopt him.

    I keep seeing her Christmas issue of Living in the grocery store and I’d really like to have it. But I Just. Wont. Buy. It.

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