Preserve is actress Blake Lively's "lifestyle" blog that "honors the future, while having a love affair with the past." Preserve is home to a fictional essay titled "Flower Beards: Summer's Hottest Trend? Or a Death Sentence? A Story By Sir Willups Brightslymoore," which is about a man being beaten to death. The target audience for Preserve is the ghost of Felicity, American Girl doll. Preserve is completing its third week of public existence. Preserve is the most disturbing site on the web.
Preserve is GOOP with a death wish. The main function of the site is to sell star-approved items (in this case: artisan crafts) to people who don't know anything about anything. But unlike GOOP's design—which emphasizes, with a Paltrovian ferocity, the bleached bare minimalism of mind, body, and soul—the appearance of Preserve is unrelentingly creepy. (The products themselves are completely inscrutable. Take, for example, the TWOMBLY CREW, BY THE SQUAD, for $132.00. One hundred and thirty-two dollars' worth of something. But what?)
The process of actually reading Preserve is made all the more unsettling by the fact that the site is about as easy to navigate as a wobbly ferry down the churning waters of the River Styx. Preserve's design aesthetic is "covers from the 'horror' section of the Little Rock Barnes & Noble." In the Myspace-style haze of black background and burnt-sepia script, you never know when an errant click will bring you face to face with a tableau from a recurrent childhood nightmare:
Because Preserve is a complete catalog of horrors, its abominations are not limited to shoppable items. It also a showcase for creative writing, including the aforementioned "Flower Beards: Summer's Hottest Trend? Or a Death Sentence? A Story By Sir Willups Brightslymoore."
The tale by Sir Willups Brightslymoore (actually comedian David Cross writing under a pseudonym*) is a eulogy (of sorts) for a man named Tyler. "Tyler was an awesome dude and I miss him terribly," he writes. "He, of course, would say he simply had a 'Joie de Vivre.' Which was in fact tattooed in comic sans across his back." Tyler, Sir Willups reveals, was beaten to death for decorating his beard with flowers. It's a humor piece.
Did Blake Lively read this and think it was funny? Here's how I feel: terrorized.
In addition to essays from Sir Willups, Preserve offers an interview with a "medical mogul" who actually recommends staving off disease with apples, a guide to not choking yourself with your bow tie, and an essay by Ambler Tamblyn about motorcycle sex. There's an originally produced video set to piano music that features a young girl running through a field Lovely Bones-style and this one-eyed dog:
The only thread that seems to be tying everything together is a pervasive sense of impending doom.
Here's Preserve's signature image, which is two teens being washed away by a flood:
Perhaps the point is to frighten people into buying $90 elephant tusk earrings.
Lively, for her part, is energized by it all.
[Images by Jim Cooke, Preserve]