Earlier this year, in a stunning display of the Kardashians’ remarkable ability to continuously outdo themselves, Kylie Jenner threw a birthday party with the theme of The Handmaid’s Tale. And while Jenner clearly had a ball transforming her corner of Calabasas into the dystopia of Gilead, the rest of the world didn’t take too kindly to Kylie and co. gleefully shrieking “praise be, bitches!” or casually sipping cocktails with names like Under His Eye. (Naturally, the entire thing was thoroughly documented on Instagram.)
Perhaps Jenner, who frequently claims Hulu’s adaptation of the 1985 novel is her “favorite show ever,” simply doesn’t understand the full implications of the story, because the supposed homage was almost comically tone-deaf. And The Handmaid’s Tale, commenters explained in droves, is no laughing matter. In the decades since the prolific Canadian author Margaret Atwood published the novel, her vision of a society in which women are enslaved concubines has proven all too prescient—almost by design. With newspaper clippings and the Bible as her primary sources, she made sure that everything in The Handmaid’s Tale was something humans had actually done in real life.
And yet, despite that encyclopedic knowledge of history and socioeconomic politics, Atwood still has some cultural blind spots. “I had to look up who Kylie Jenner was, I’m so old,” the 80-year-old author said in a new interview with New York magazine, in response to Kylie’s take on Gilead.
Having sufficiently studied up on the 22-year-old lip kit mogul, Atwood is now ready to weigh in—sort of. Drawing from past experience with similar faux pas, she mostly decided to steer clear of the mess. “My readers deal with those things. They notice them before I do,” she said. “I expect that Kylie Jenner heard from some of them along the lines of ‘We appreciate the thought, but you kind of missed it.'” (Yet another accurate prediction from Atwood, aside from the optimism regarding the internet’s civility.)
“There were some themed tequila,” Atwood continued, referencing the “Under His Eye” concoctions that Jenner—a rule-breaking handmaid if ever there was one—served her guests. But there are no hard feelings on Atwood’s end. “People often do this in a very well-meaning way; they’re not trying to be unpleasant. It has been the occasion when I’ve been speaking somewhere and I will be greeted with Handmaid’s Tale cupcakes because the person doing the catering is such a fan.” Rather than take offense at such foolery, Atwood blithely makes the best of the situation: “Will I turn up my nose at such cupcakes? No, I will not. I will not do that.”