books and reading · pop culture

Internet Things I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the articles that I stumbled across this week:

What are We to do with Cinematic Monuments to the Confederacy? (Vulture)

A thoughtful and thought-provoking piece about the insidiousness of white supremacy and how Gone with the Wind is the best example of how pervasive it is:

Nestled in its visual splendor is a slippery sort of racism that is surprising for what it says, meta-textually, about the ways America has yet to reckon with its second original sin. More than any American film about the Civil War, Gone With the Wind reveals the cunning skill with which white supremacy creates its own myths.

Attacked by Rotten Tomatoes (NYT)

This article actually made me laugh when it quotes Brett Ratner right off the bat about how the website Rotten Tomatoes is to blame for the declining sales and attendance at movie theaters. The rest of the piece takes a really close look at the business of the website and how they create the algorithms of what becomes “fresh” or “rotten”, as well as providing insight into the employees of the website. It’s really interesting, and this part made me laugh, too:

Kersplat: Paramount’s “Baywatch” bombed after arriving to a Tomatometer score of 19, the percentage of reviews the movie received that the site considered positive (36 out of 191). Doug Creutz, a media analyst at Cowen and Company, wrote of the film in a research note, “Our high expectations appear to have been crushed by a 19 Rotten Tomatoes score.”

Like, brah, I saw that movie, and it was fucking terrible. Rotten Tomatoes didn’t make your movie bomb. I promise.

15 Percent? 20 Percent? It Doesn’t Matter Because Tipping Culture is Fundamentally Broken (Mel Magazine)

Minneapolis is starting to see some restaurants discuss doing away with tipping as we also move towards a $15 minimum wage, so this well-written piece about how tipping culture is fundamentally broken is a really interesting insider’s perspective on what’s happening:

This leaves the burden of paying for the expertise and performance of servers and bartenders on the dining public. Or put even more simply: “The restaurant owner has made it the customer’s responsibility to pay its employees,” says Sharon Block, executive director of the The Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School.

Which, when you think about it, is fucked up. Shouldn’t the people whose business I’m helping be successful be responsible for paying me? Not to mention, how can I be rewarded for a stellar job performance if my wages come from people culturally obligated to leave extra money on the table? And what happens when it’s a slow day?

Teaching White Students Taught Me the Difference Between Power and Privilege (Buzzfeed)

A super powerful piece about privilege, power, and race:

…white colleagues routinely put their hands on my back and called me lucky. They meant that Southern black boys like me were more likely to end up incarcerated than working beside wonderful white faculty at so-called elite liberal arts colleges. I looked in the eyes of those colleagues and routinely shook my head. These colleagues were lucky, not simply because their students demanded less of them, nor because their identities were never threatened by security or armed police officers; they were lucky that they got to share professional space with poor young black professors who materially never invested in notions of academic excellence being a stand-in for innocence.

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books and reading · pop culture

August 2017 Recap

This is how the month of August shaped up for me in terms of reading books and watching movies. And a lot of terrible TV.

Books:

Total: 35
Picture Books: 21
Middle Grade: 3
YA: 3
Adult: 8
Fiction: 30
Non-Fiction: 5
Audiobooks: 2
Total Pages Read: 4254

Favorite Reads in August:

32940879Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed: I loved this dystopian tale about an island where the (increasingly inbred) population follows a religion based on ancestor worship and strange mating rituals. It’s dark and haunting and beautifully written. I couldn’t pt it down. It’s one of my favorite reads of the year.

Grit by Gillian French: This fantastic YA novel about a girl31706530 living with a reputation in rural Maine was gripping and gorgeous. It’s my favorite kind of YA: dark, a little gritty, and featuring an authentic teen voice. French is an author to watch, and this is one of my favorite YA novels of the year, for sure.

Viewing

Total Movies: 6
New: 5
Re-Watch: 1

Favorite Movies in August: 

landlineLandline: I really really liked this dramedy about a family each dealing with their own issues. Set in 1995, things change for youngest daughter Ali (Abby Quinn) when she realizes her father (John Turturro) is having an affair. Meanwhile, Ali’s older sister Dana (Jenny Slate) starts to question her long-term relationship with nice guy Ben (Jay Duplass). It’s a smart movie, full of genuinely funny and sad moments about family and love and sisters, and while director Gillian Robespierre’s first movie Obvious Child remains my favorite, I really loved watching this tighter, more controlled narrative.

Everything else I watched in August was mostly garbage, including Baywatch, Beatriz at Dinner, and The Dinner.

Other Things I’ve Been Watching:

I’m almost done with Dawson’s Creek, and I want it to be over so desperately. I also can’t not finish, so I’m stuck in a pain cycle of my own doing. Everyone on the show is simultaneously boring and also the worst. I forgot how boring the show is in general, but it’s especially true of the college years.

I finally convinced the boyf to watch The Office, so we’ve been tearing through that. We started with Season 2, because he’s particularly sensitive to super awkward humor, and he seems to really be enjoying it, which is fun for me because it’s still one of my absolute favorite series.

That’s it, really. I’m hoping to read more genre fiction in September, and try to squeeze in a few movies, too.

pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

The White Lies of Craft Culture (Eater)

A really interesting look at the inherent whiteness of “Craft” food and brews and how it erases people of color:

Craft culture looks like white people. The founders, so many former lawyers or bankers or advertising execs, tend to be white, the front-facing staff in their custom denim aprons tend to be white, the clientele sipping $10 beers tends to be white. Craft culture tells mostly white stories for mostly white consumers, and they nearly always sound the same: It begins somewhere remote-sounding like the mountains of Cottonwood, Idaho, or someplace quirky like a basement in Fort Collins, Colorado, or a loft in Brooklyn, where a (white) artisan, who has a vision of back in the day, when the food was real and the labor that produced it neither alienated nor obscured — and discovers a long-forgotten technique, plucked from an ur-knowledge as old as thought and a truth as pure as the soul.

Kai Cole Has Posted a Devastating Account of Joss Whedon’s Hypocrisy During Their Marriage (The Mary Sue)

I’ve gone back and forth about posting about this, but it’s something that has stayed with me throughout the week, and I find myself thinking about it a lot. Joss Whedon was one of my idols during my formative years, and while I’ve begun to find some things about his work and things he’s said a bit on the problematic side, Buffy remains my favorite TV show of all time.

His ex-wife Kai Cole posted a public account of their marriage, detailing his numerous affairs, and it is devastating (although not entirely shocking). The Mary Sue links to the entire post, which is worth reading, but they also offer commentary that mirrors my own thoughts:

A lot of what Cole describes from Whedon sounds like sounds like classic “nice guy” behavior and entitlement; it’s the sort of stuff we’ve all seen before. For example, Whedon reportedly described his Buffy affair like this: “When I was running Buffy, I was surrounded by beautiful, needy, aggressive young women. It felt like I had a disease, like something from a Greek myth. Suddenly I am a powerful producer and the world is laid out at my feet and I can’t touch it.” I mean, ew.

Bummer.

What got you thinking this week?

 

books and reading · pop culture

Internet Things I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Bachelor in Paradise Treats the Idea of Sexual Misconduct as Entertainment (Vulture)

One day, I won’t include links to articles about the Bachelor franchise. Maybe. In the meantime, here’s a good piece about ‘Bachelor in Paradise,’ how garbage the franchise is, and how monstrously they’ve handled the sexual assault allegations that shut down the show for a few weeks:

From the moment Chris Harrison walked out onto an empty beach at the beginning of Monday’s episode, using a serious voice to look seriously into the camera and say serious things to the audience, the show began capitalizing on a winking, self-aware subtext about why viewers were watching. Harrison’s words were about the interrupted production and a promise for transparency about everything that happened during filming. But while the surface message was that the controversy would be addressed, the implicit message was, “you’ve tuned in to watch some extra-special drama, and we promise you we’ll deliver the goods.” And just in case it wasn’t absolutely unambiguous, let me be clear once again: The extra-special drama here is the allegation of sexual misconduct lingering in the air.

The Truth About Women and White Supremacy (The Cut)

A fascinating and super important piece about how we think about white supremacy and default to the maleness of the movement, when in fact it’s white women who have also powered the movement:

Undergirding this troubling belief that women aren’t central to racist movements is another: That racism occurs in a vacuum. Those who think white supremacy is a “white guys’ thing” must ask themselves about the nature of the fantasy they have constructed. Do we really believe the men holding torches in these photographs live in some sort of single-gendered society, or that the women they interact with hold no sway in their communities? There may be fewer of them marching with lit torches, but rest assured women are playing a powerful role wherever they can enact their agendas. If the 1920s Klan showed us anything, it’s that racist ideologies are nurtured in communities — not in isolation — and woven into a society’s very fabric. We will never understand the mechanisms that enact racism until we understand the whole societies from which they spring.

This is a must-read piece this week.

How Black Women’s Bodies Are Violated as Soon as They Enter School (The Guardian)

Part of a series of pieces on policing at the Guardian, this closing report talks about how black women’s bodies are not their own from a very young age. It also examines the use of force and the use of police inside school buildings. It is horrifying:

Alarmingly, among the violent policing tactics that have migrated from the streets to schools is indiscriminate use of stun guns, or Tasers, which are used to subdue people by firing barbs into them that deliver a jolt of electricity.

While researching a 2006 report on the US government’s failure to comply with the UN Convention Against Torture, I discovered a 2004 case in which a Miami-Dade police officer used a Taser against a 12-year-old girl, shocking her with 50,000 volts of electricity – for skipping school.

What did you read this week that got you incensed or thinking?

pop culture

Internet Things I’m Reading and Thinking About

These are the articles that got me thinking this week:

The Heartbreaking First Black Bachelorette (Slate)

I’m a trash monster who loves watching The Bachelorette and judging people. This season has provoked a lot of think pieces, and this one about how the season wrapped up is worth a look, if only because it provides a more unique perspective:

Over the course of the season, it became clearer and clearer that the decision to cast a black bachelorette was merely evidence of the network’s interest in pushing faux-colorblind love stories as fairy-tale fantasies; the show failed to account for the ways that race would complicate the existing narrative, including the real challenges that interracial couples experience—especially black women who date nonblack men. I was confounded by the ways the men (both black and white) talked about Rachel as an anomaly. The subtext of their praise seemed to imply that it is unusual for black women to be smart, beautiful, or successful, let alone at the same damn time.

We Need to Talk About Digital Blackface in Reaction Gifs (Teen Vogue)

This has been making the rounds this week, and it’s an important piece about how we (white people) use GIFs without thinking about how we might be contributing to damaging images of black people as a result. It’s a fascinating piece, and it’s thought-provoking and worth your time:

Now, I’m not suggesting that white and nonblack people refrain from ever circulating a black person’s image for amusement or otherwise (except maybe lynching photos, Emmett Till’s casket, and videos of cops killing us, y’all can stop cycling those, thanks). There’s no prescriptive or proscriptive step-by-step rulebook to follow, nobody’s coming to take GIFs away. But no digital behavior exists in a deracialized vacuum. We all need to be cognizant of what we share, how we share, and to what extent that sharing dramatizes preexisting racial formulas inherited from “real life.” The Internet isn’t a fantasy — it’s real life.

Toxic Drama on YA Twitter (Vulture)

I’m active on Twitter, and I consider myself firmly on the pulse of what’s going on in the book community, but I grew tired of the infighting and petty dramas a long time ago, so I stopped following most YA authors and most book bloggers and started focusing on other things.  This piece by Kat Rosenfeld investigates how toxic YA Twitter has remained, and it’s fascinating, no matter how you feel about Rosenfeld (who is no stranger to Twitter controversy).

She focuses largely on the response to one book, but it’s also about a larger issue within the Twitter bubble and callout culture:

It’s also a process in which tough questions lie ahead — including how callout culture intersects with ordinary criticism, if it does at all. Some feel that condemning a book as “dangerous” is no different from any other review, while others consider it closer to a call for censorship than a literary critique.

I read the entire thing with this weird pit in my stomach. It’s worth a read.

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

pop culture

Movie Trailers

I’m falling very far short of my goal of watching 100 movies that are new to me in 2017, but these are some trailers for upcoming movies I’m super interested in.

It (2017)

Look, I get that this one isn’t for everyone. A killer clown stalking children? It combines so many fears for so many people. I think it looks absolutely terrifying, but it made me want to pick up the novel again–I haven’t read it in at least 15 years. I’m going to have a hell of a time finding anyone to watch this with me, but I’m determined to see it.

A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

I loved this book as a kid, and I can’t wait to see this take on the book, featuring a stellar, diverse cast. I think it looks good, and early buzz isn’t bad, either.

Step (2017)

Upon watching (and crying) this trailer, I immediately emailed my mom and told her we needed to see this. It’s completely in our wheelhouse, and I can’t wait to watch this documentary about girls who dance in Baltimore. It looks so lovely and beautiful and heartbreaking.

What movies are you really looking forward to?

books and reading · pop culture

July 2017 Recap

This is how the month of July shaped up for me in terms of reading books and watching movies (okay, a lot of TV).

Books:

Total:  51
Picture Books: 33
Middle Grade: 1
YA: 5
Adult: 12
Fiction: 46
Non-Fiction: 5
Audiobooks: 2
Total Pages Read: 5568

Favorite Reads in July:

 

32195204The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter: I’ve already extolled the virtues of this one, but it’s still a stand-out read for the month. I think it would make a great movie, too.

This House, Once by Deborah Freeman: A great picture 30312840book with sparse text and gorgeous illustrations. There was something so beautiful and simple about this one. I just loved it.

Perennials by Mandy Berman: I think this was a 32148219really strong debut, and Berman will be an author to watch. There’s a lot of good stuff here, and the characters have stayed with me long after I finished the book.

 

 

 

Viewing

Total Movies: 4
New: 4
Re-Watch: 0

Favorite Movies in July: okja
Okja: My mom emailed me after watching this late once night and told me I had to watch it immediately; then she called me that night to talk about it some more. So, I watched it. And I loved it. It’s sad and beautiful and weird and sneaky and wonderful. It’s definitely worth your 2 hours.

Other Things I’ve Been Watching:

I’ve been slowly slogging my way through ER Season 2, and that’s been an experience. Everyone looks so young, and every episode feels so long!

Because I’m a masochist, I’ve been rewatching Dawson’s Creek, mostly as background noise while I do other things. It’s still terrible, and every character is total garbage except for Pacey, and yet somehow I can’t quit it.