Sassy worked when it did (and it was by no means perfect, but I’ll forever have a place in my heart for it because of how it opened my eyes to the Kill Rock Stars catalog) because its editorial voice was pretty Real Talky—the snarkiness wasn’t so much learned from previous iterations of the form as it was borne from chafing against the not-yet-exploded-at-all women’s magazine ideals, having to work with annoying publicists and put dumb celebrities in the pages for the purposes of wrangling access later.
xoJane does not work because its editorial “voice” is that of people auditioning for one of those Vh1 clip shows (I Love The ’90s XXVII: Because You Could Use “Gay” As A Pejorative And Still Sorta Be Seen As A Feminist); it’s Sassy post-Petersen buyout, where the chatty, conversational voice is a put-on to disguise that there’s nothing being said by that voice, at least nothing that’s brought up in a straight-on, adult way. (Jane’s posting of every single congratulatory text message she got, and her ranting about the waxing salon making her feel old, probably sets the tone here.)
It is to Sassy, in more than one way, what sporting a “Major Bitch” baby tee is to writing SLUT or PRO-CHOICE on your arm.
(Also, some of the launch content—the Facebook-contact-of-the-rapist story, the lube story, the “omg look at how SKINNY i am” nude bodysuit piece—is so “OMG REALLY???” linkbaity it makes me think what these writers are going to have to do next in order to produce “exclusive[s that] only happened to us.” Yipes!)
(Also also: The Awl commenter who called the editorial angle “defensive feminism” was so right on. Like, show don’t tell, people! You don’t have to be all, “YO, STEP TO ME”—commenters are pretty ready to do that at all times, trust.)
(Also also also: They’ve already gone down the “pageview-bait by dissing Radiohead” path. Oh dear.)