File under crass commercialism. Last week I saw a promo for this HSN tie-in with the Eat, Pray, Love movie. (I was probably watching Project Runway, which still unfortunately airs on Lifetime, a network tailor-made for such promos. It pains me, on principle, to know where Lifetime is located on my dial. I’ve cultivated ignorance in this respect, which S indulges by retaining that info for me and changing over the channel upon request.)

So yes. Eat, Pray, Love espresso machines, frozen meals, throw pillows, bed skirts, wraps, shoes, purses, jewelry. And more! All inspired by Italy, Bali, and India. For the woman who wants to go, but it tethered to the home by circumstance or budget – TV-based shopping is your surrogate for experience! Travel is a requisite to recreating Elizabeth Gilbert’s spiritual healing process, so if that’s out of your reach, well…an I Deserve Something Beautiful tee ($39.90) is a wonderful way to remind yourself that you do matter.

At least, I assume that’s the logic behind the Sony-HSN partnership, conceived by merchandising exec and EPL fan Lynn Ronon, and nicely dissected here.

I am pained to admit that I in fact read the book. At this point, with the backlash in full effect, feeling compelled to offer a reason (book club) and admitting that I didn’t connect with it has a distinct air of pile-on/ret-con/sour grapes. But! It’s only because I did read it that this HSN thing strikes me as so very tone-deaf.

I imagine that Gilbert must feel ambivalent at best about the partnership (the interwebs are silent on this). To me, it’s an unequivocal head-shaker. The whole point of the book is the sensual experience of these places. And a woman on a budget could easily recreate meals and initiate meditational practices without an uninspired, $60 canvas tote, or Padma Laksmi’s blooming teas. Why, HSN-Sony? Why? WHY? (Disclaimer: This hair-tearing is purely rhetorical. I know why. Elizabeth Gilbert knows why. We all know why.)

Says memoirist Kathleen Flinn: “At some point if you’re successful enough, you become a commodity.”

It’s true. And it’s the kind of thing that could prompt…I don’t know…a spiritual crisis. So maybe Gilbert will get some additional material out of what must be a bizarre experience. I’m sure she already knows that you cannot shop your way out of a spiritual meltdown. It was, after all, the point of her book.

ETA: here’s some interesting commentary on the place Eat Pray Love occupies in so-called priv-lit.


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