pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About

These are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about on the internet this week.  Without further ado, let’s get to it.


No, Thanks: Stop Saying “Support the Troops” (Salon)

I’m sure this one is fairly divisive, but it’s a piece that spoke to me this week, as I’ve struggled with this for the ten years since I’ve come of age, since I was a senior in high school and Bush sent us into a war with Iraq.  I’ve never subscribed to the “Support Our Troops” mentality, and for years, I’ve felt like it’s something I have to keep quiet, as if my questioning of the blind patriotism so many people are willing to engage in made me an automatic terrorist (and, you know, according to some people, it does).  Obviously I’ve never been alone in my thinking about this topic, but it’s nice to see someone write a really thoughtful and accessible essay about it.  A choice quote:

Such troop worship is trite and tiresome, but that’s not its primary danger. A nation that continuously publicizes appeals to “support our troops” is explicitly asking its citizens not to think. It is the ideal slogan for suppressing the practice of democracy, presented to us in the guise of democratic preservation.

There’s this, too:

“Support the troops” is the most overused platitude in the United States, but still the most effective for anybody who seeks interpersonal or economic ingratiation. The platitude abounds with significance but lacks the burdens of substance and specificity. It says something apparently apolitical while patrolling for heresy to an inelastic logic. Its only concrete function is to situate users into normative spaces.

I mean, obviously I want you to go read the entire article, but if you take away one thing, it’s to think about what that stupid phrase means, and how it’s used to keep us unquestioning, unthinking, and blind to what is happening around the world every day.

The Myth of the Teenage Temptress (xoJane)

This piece is hard to read, but I’m glad I did it.  This week, one of my friends sent me an article about the court case wherein a 49-year-old teacher was sentenced to 30 days in jail after repeatedly raping a 14-year-old former student who later killed herself.  The judge ruled that the 14-year-old girl was much older than her chronological age (WHATEVER THE FUCK THAT EVEN MEANS) and was “in control of the situation,” which, if that isn’t rape apology and feeding rape culture, I don’t know what is.

This article approaches the subject of consent.  There is a difference between agreeing to something and giving consent.  If you have any questions about what that means, this is the article for you.

Social Media:

I Can’t Quit You, Skype: A Look at the Websites That Make it Hardest to Delete Your Account  (Slate)

Part really interesting and part really frustrating, this piece takes a look at the website justdelete.me, which helps you figure out how exactly to delete your account on any given site.  This clever website also color-codes the different sites, so you know exactly how hard it’s going to be (some are really hard and require you to call the company and talk to an actual person while others are actually impossible in that they won’t allow you to delete your data, ever–what up, Netflix?).

Definitely a fun diversion, at the very least, and super practical to boot.

Pop Culture:

Solidarity is for Miley Cyrus (Groupthink/Jezebel)

Listen, you’re probably sick to death of hearing about Miley Cyrus’s VMA’s performance, and I get it.  I’m sick of it, too.  But this piece about Cyrus, white privilege, and appropriation of black culture is absolutely worth reading.  It’s challenging, difficult, and really important.  If you were at all uncomfortable with Cyrus’s bizarre performance, this piece will help you figure out exactly why.  Do I agree with everything here?  Not entirely, but this is the closest approximation to what is so completely wrong with what happened on that stupid stage on Sunday, and it’s the thing that too many people are choosing not to focus on.

It is a race issue, and it does need to be talked about.

Jane Austen Movies and (Mini-Series) Ranked (Vulture)

I’m closing out this week’s articles with something fun and silly.  Vulture ranks a bunch of the Jane Austen movie and mini-series adaptations, and it’s pretty spot-on.  They had me with the first description of two different Mansfield Park adaptations:

Which is worse? A weird postcolonial reimagining of Mansfield Park that adds so much pluck and personality to insipid heroine Fanny Price that she can’t rationally function in Austen’s plot — or a version as meek and bland as poor Fanny at her mousiest?

Even if you’re a casual fan of Austen, this list is worth perusing.  It’s so spot-on (I see you, Becoming Jane) and snarky, but it also understands why there are so many adaptations (and celebrates it).

What did you read this week that you found particularly memorable?


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