pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Without preamble, here are the things making me think this week:

Life, etc.: 

The Online Dating Lorem Ipsum Text Generator (The Hairpin)

This is equal parts silly and amazing.  There isn’t much to say here except laugh at how bizarrely accurate it is.  Also, I hope someone tries this with their actual profile.

Pop Culture:

Beloit College is Trolling Us All (Salon)

As someone who attended Beloit College (briefly, and regretfully), I can attest to how much the annual “Mindset List” sucks.  For the blissfully uninitiated: the Mindset List is kind of like a more-pretentious Buzzfeed list about nostalgia that supposedly shows the worldview of incoming college freshman.  Salon’s article does a pretty good job of summing up why it’s problematic, lazy, and just kind of dumb:However, even the first list presumed that individuals spend the time between birth and matriculation at college avoiding as strenuously as possible any history books or even television.

However, even the first list presumed that individuals spend the time between birth and matriculation at college avoiding as strenuously as possible any history books or even television…Over time, Beloit’s professors ran out of things like “the AIDS crisis” and delved deeper into arcana or just meaningless incidents; the list’s entries often read like the setup for an observation, one that the list-makers aren’t willing to make but are happy to imply.

I mean, you get the basic idea.  At any rate, this year’s list is a hoot if you like broad overgeneralizations about an entire generation of people (so long as they’re white and upper-middle class) who apparently have no access to the world outside reality TV and entertainment culture.

Movies and TV:

Recap by Default: Why Terminology Matters To How We Write About Writing About TV (Cultural Leanings)

A really interesting, lengthy piece about how TV recapping is changing the scope of how we think, talk, and write about TV shows.  If you’re one of the believers who states that we’re in a golden age of television, this is a piece worth reading, for sure.  Cultural Leanings is always good food for thought.

Mindhole Blowers: 20 Facts You Might Not Know About Veronica Mars (Pajiba)

As a die-hard Veronica Mars fan, I knew most of these factoids already, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the hell out of this diversion.  As someone who can’t wait for the movie, getting to read and think about one of my favorite TV shows of all time is never a raw deal.


Bradley Manning is Now Chelsea Manning.  The Press Should Start Using Female Pronouns Immediately. (Salon)

Whether or not you’re following the story about Manning, the whistle-blower who leaked U.S. military information to Wikileaks and has been subsequently sentenced to jail for the next 35 years is sort of irrelevant with regard to this article.  What you should be paying attention to is how the media deals with transgender issues, and the lack of respect and understanding they consistently demonstrate when it comes to trans people.  If you ever wondered if you were living in a cisgender world, well, here’s more evidence that it is so.

The thing is, guys, that Manning was already transitioning before her arrest and trial.  Anyone who has been following the case shouldn’t be surprised by this, but the fact remains that most mainstream media outlets continue to refer to Manning using masculine pronouns.  I understand the inherent awkwardness in phrasing headlines about this, but it’s not actually that hard.  Manning is a she.  Manning should be referred to with feminine pronouns.  This is a conversation we need to be having every day until we can get it right.

What did you read about this week that got you thinking?


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