pop culture

Internet Link Round-Up

These are the articles that got my attention this week. Without further ado:

From ‘Dawson’s Creek’ to ‘Buffy’ to ‘Frasier’ to ‘Seinfeld’ – What Happened to Those ‘Lone’ Token Black Actors? (The Undefeated)

A piece featuring interviews with eight different black actors who played “token” roles on television shows in the 90s, this is a must read:

Indeed, in the 1990s, the wealth of black representation on television could lull you into thinking (if you turned the channel from Rodney King taking more than 50 blows from Los Angeles Police Department batons) that black lives actually did matter. But almost all of these shows were, in varying ways, an extension of segregated America. It’s there in the memories of the stars below: There were “black shows” and there were “white shows.” If you were a black actor appearing on a white show, you were usually alone.

Thank You For Asking (NYT)

A really interesting look at Antioch College, the place where much of the consent movement relating to sexual assault started. It’s a really interesting piece and provides a lot of detail and history of how they developed their program and what it means in the #MeToo movement:

The college’s administration sees this all as a big selling point for the school. “Our students and our alumni have always been very involved with activism, and social justice is in our DNA,” said Mila Cooper, Antioch’s vice president for diversity and inclusion and the director of the Coretta Scott King Center. “There’s a heightened awareness of sexual violence and sexual assault right now with the MeToo movement, but I do think Antioch has been involved in these conversations long before. It’s not just a policy, you know, it’s part of the education and the culture here.”

Erik Killmonger is Not a Super Villain, He’s a Super Victim of Systemic Oppression (The Blavity)

So I saw Black Panther this weekend, and then I stumbled across this article. It’s really great, and worth a read, even if you haven’t seen the movie (but it probably resonates more if you have):

I refuse to see Killmonger as a super-villain. I see him as a super-victim of systemically oppressive forces, forces that forced him into a hyper-awareness of his dueled unwanted status in Wakanda and in America, due to having the blood of his mother, who was a descendant of black folks forced into the United States via the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. This two-pronged othering serves as the source of his super-power. His super-power did not derive from radioactive spider bites like Spider Man, or mythological alien strength like that of Superman. Killmonger’s character harbors a super-power more potent than the fictive mineral Vibranium, housed exclusively in Wakanda: Killmonger is the possessor of un-tempered black rage.

books and reading · pop culture

January 2018 Recap

January flew by, and I’m not sure I got as much done as I hoped I would. But let’s see how the month shook out:

Books:

Total: 51
Picture Books: 36
Middle Grade: 0
YA: 5
Adult: 10
Fiction: 48
Non-Fiction: 3
Audiobooks: 2
Total Pages Read: 4350

Favorite Reads in January:
31207017Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed:

American-born Maya Aziz wants to be a good Indian Muslim daughter, but she also wants to make her own way in the world. She loves filmmaking and wants to attend NYU, but her parents are completely against it. And don’t even get them started on what it would mean to date a white boy. When a terrorist attack close to home threatens everything she loves, Maya has to figure out how to stand on her own.

A very well done book about coming of age in the modern era, with a narrator whose voice is authentic and compelling. This sweet story was really great and holds a ton of teen appeal. It reminded me in many ways of an updated version of Marie G. Lee’s Finding My Voice.

Next Year for Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson: Chris and Kathryn have been together for 30201150nine years, and they’re pretty happily ensconced in their domestic life. But then Chris meets Emily, and Kathryn tells him to ask her out on a date. The two embark on open relationships that alter their perceptions of romantic love and of themselves.

Read for my book club, I really loved this weird literary novel about polyamory and bucking convention. It was well-written, thoughtful, and totally ambiguous, which I like. Full of complicated and garbage-y characters, too. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it was for me.

Viewing

Total Movies: 3
New: 2
Re-Watch: 1

Favorite Movies in January:

ladybirdLady Bird: I loved this movie by Greta Gerwig about a girl’s senior year of high school. It’s a quiet, weird little movie, set in 2002-2003, which is when I graduated high school, so I’m sure that’s partly why I liked it so much. But it’s also about mothers and daughters, and being a weird girl, and it was a total delight.

I’m already way behind in my “watch 52 new movies in 2018” thing, so we’ll see how the rest of the year goes.

Other Things I’ve Been Watching:

I’m nearly done with a re-watch of The Fosters, which I can’t even explain. I really like the first two seasons of the show, but I have to say that as I approach the end (with the understanding that new episodes are still airing, for now), it’s become so sudsy and silly that it’s hard to stay with it. Callie makes the dumbest choices and Jesus is the WORST, no matter who they cast to play him.

I’ve gotten really into 911 on Fox, and I’m embarrassed to say that that is the only thing I’m current with (except for The Bachelor, but that is another story entirely).

I’m also watching One Day at a Time on Netflix, because the second season just premiered, and it is as great as I remembered it. Seriously, it’s a show you should be watching.

books and reading · pop culture

November 2017 Recap

I spent a lot of November writing for NaNoWriMo (and finished by the skin of my teeth), which meant I didn’t read as much as I would have liked, and I stopped blogging almost completely. But here’s how the month shook out:

Books:

Total: 32
Picture Books: 22
Middle Grade: 3
YA: 2
Adult: 5
Fiction: 32
Non-Fiction: 0
Audiobooks: 2
Total Pages Read: 2927

Favorite Reads in November:
33876540Bonfire by Krysten Ritter:
Abby left her tiny hometown in Indiana and never looked back. But now she’s an environmental lawyer in Chicago, and her team has been sent back to her hometown to investigate a company that might be leaching chemicals into the water. She has to confront the demons of her past as she digs deeper into a conspiracy that’s more far-reaching than she ever imagined.

I devoured this twisty thriller in a couple of days. Ritter’s debut novel is compelling, smart, and super well-written. I was blown away by this one, and it’s one of my favorite reads of the year.

Viewing

thor_ragnarok-115636540-large

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

Favorite Movies in November: Thor: Ragnarok 

Other Things I’ve Been Watching:

Somehow I’ve ended up deep into a rewatch of Grey’s Anatomy, which has taken over my life. I’m into season 6, and I don’t even know how it’s happened.

We’re onto the last month of the year! I’m hoping to squeeze in a few more movies and books before revamping my goals for the new year.

 

pop culture

Internet Things I’m Thinking About This Week

My Life Has Been Marked by Sexual Harassment: Just Like All Women (The Guardian)

A short, powerful piece about how sexual harassment permeates every part of our culture:

Actually, though, life is good. I work on a magazine where men think feminism is talking to you for hours about problems with their sperm count. I have a flat and a baby, and then I get a job on a newspaper. Now surely I am in the safety of a middle-class world where women are taken seriously. However, there is inevitably one guy who touches up women as they bend over the photocopier.

I start writing about some of the big sexual harassment cases, such as Anita Hill. It’s a concern. The editor calls us all together. “Dreadful business, this sexual harassment,” he says. “I am glad it doesn’t happen here.”

Rebecca Solnit on Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Clinton, and Blaming the Acts of Men on Women (LitHub)

This should be required reading:

Remember that every time a man commits a violent act it only takes one or two steps to figure out how it’s a woman’s fault, and that these dance steps are widely known and practiced and quite a bit of fun. There are things men do that are the fault of women who are too sexy, and other things men do that are the fault of women who are not sexy enough, but women only come in those two flavors: not enough, too much, and it is the fate of heterosexual men to endure this affliction. Wives are responsible for their husbands, especially if their husbands are supremely powerful and terrifying figures leading double lives and accountable to no one. But women are now also in the workforce, where they have so many opportunities to be responsible for other men as well.

 

The YA Dystopia Boom is Over. It’s Been Replaced by Stories of Teen Suicide (Vox)

A very interesting piece that attempts to explain the rise and fall (and rise?) of YA dystopias, and the current (?) spate of books and movies about teen suicides. It’s definitely a piece for people who like to read about the underlying ideas surrounding pop culture phenomenons, but I liked it a lot:

If pop culture is America’s subconscious, then pop culture that’s aimed at teens is the purest distillation of that subconscious. Pop culture aimed at teens is simultaneously didactic and escapist:We want to pass good moral lessons to our youth, but we alsooften equate teen with trashy, and use the media we ostensibly create for teens as a way for adults to escape the pressures of post-teen life. On any given cultural issue, a look at the pop culture we make for teens will tell you both how we as a society think we should feel about the world and how we actually feel about the world.

What did you read this week that got you thinking?

books and reading · pop culture

Internet Things I’m Thinking About This Week

These are the articles that caught my attention this week:

From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell their Stories (The New Yorker)

This is a really long piece, but I read the entire thing in one sitting, unable to take my eyes away from the horrors the piece reports. It’s absolutely upsetting, and absolutely worth your time. If you read one piece this week, make it this one about the women who are coming forward about the sexual harassment, assault, and rapes they experienced at the hands of Harvey Weinstein:

Weinstein’s use of such settlements was reported by the Times and confirmed to me by numerous sources. A former employee with firsthand knowledge of two settlement negotiations that took place in London in the nineteen-nineties recalled, “It felt like David versus Goliath . . . the guy with all the money and the power flexing his muscle and quashing the allegations and getting rid of them.”

Here’s How Not to Critique Romance Novels (Jezebel)

I’ve been reading a lot of romance lately in an attempt to expand my reading horizons, and this piece at Jezebel about a very misguided piece in the NYT about the genre is super great:

Gottlieb writes in the tone of affable authoritative critic willing to entertain an unexpected interest, but to somebody who reads a lot in the genre, he comes off as a dilettante, failing to serve both romance fans who might be looking for an informed review of new titles and non-readers interested in educating themselves about a phenomenon with which they’re unfamiliar.

How Essential Oils Became The Cure for Our Age of Anxiety (The New Yorker)

I should be clear: I think essential oils are at best an annoying white-lady-wellness thing and at worst part of a very dangerous anti-science cult, but this article about how they’ve permeated the mainstream is very very good:

Multilevel-marketing companies are structured in such a way that a large base of distributors generally spend more than they make, while a small number on top reap most of the benefits. It is often expensive to invest in an initial stock of products, as well as to make required minimum monthly purchases—around a hundred dollars for Young Living members who want to receive a commission check. According to a public income statement, more than ninety-four per cent of Young Living’s two million active members made less than a dollar in 2016, while less than one-tenth of one per cent—that is, about a thousand Royal Crown Diamonds—earned more than a million dollars.

books and reading · pop culture

Internet Things I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the articles that got me thinking this week.

I Called Hugh Hefner a Pimp, He Threatened to Sue. But That’s What He Was (The Guardian)

This great piece by Suzanne Moore looks at the history of Hugh Hefner, and it’s really well-written and interesting:

Well now there is, of course. But this man is still being celebrated by people who should know better. You can dress it up with talk of glamour and bunny ears and fishnets, you can talk about his contribution to gonzo journalism, you can contextualise his drive to free up sex as part of the sexual revolution. But strip it all back and he was a man who bought and sold women to other men. Isn’t that the definition of a pimp? I couldn’t possibly say.

The Divinity of Dog Writing (LitHub)

This is an admittedly pretty academic piece about humans and how we write about dogs–it looks at a number of authors who have written about dogs–but it’s also super interesting and moving. It begins like this:

Fear of my dog’s death preoccupies me more than fear of my own. It’s not just that it’s nearer or that I’ll live to the other side, where silence will replace the dashing of her paws across the floors. Assuming good health and good fortune, my fiancée and I will decide the time of her end. This is what haunts me: the anticipation of a death for which I’ll bear ultimate responsibility. But caring for a dog means speaking on behalf of an animal who cannot speak. To help a beloved dog die is the final act of this kind of care.

So obviously I’m in it for the long haul with this one.

We Have to Stop Pretending We Can’t Do Anything About Gun Violence (Teen Vogue)

Once again, Teen Vogue doing so much of the heavy lifting:

If there is anything uniquely exceptional about America right now, it is the normalization of record-breaking mass slaughter. Each new tragedy ought to be the too-horrible thing that turns the tide, finally allowing for a total paradigm shift in the way we talk about gun control. It speaks volumes about American culture that extreme violence has lost the capacity to shock. Las Vegas will be no different if we allow our elected officials to go through their ritualized pageant of sending up “thoughts and prayers” while doing exactly nothing.

What did you read this week that got you thinking?

books and reading · pop culture

Internet Things I’m Reading and Thinking About this Week

These are the internet stories that got me thinking this week. Without further ado:

Keeping ‘Insecure’ Lit: Cinematographer Ava Berkovsky on Properly Lighting Black Faces (Mic)

Before you scan past this based on the title, it’s worth noting that it’s a very interesting look at what it means to light faces that are darker than white people in movies and TV. It’s especially interesting to read about how little it’s even taught in film school:

“When I was in film school, no one ever talked about lighting nonwhite people,” Berkofsky said in a phone interview with Mic. “There are all these general rules about lighting people of color, like throw green light or amber light at them. It’s weird.” These rules are a start, but they’re far from a complete picture.

Why We Fell for Clean Eating (The Guardian)

This is right in my wheelhouse: an expose about the clean eating movement (which is total crap) and how Instagram has fueled it even as scientists have debunked it. The article also looks at why we were so quick and desperate to believe in the magical properties of clean eating:

Clean eating – whether it is called that or not – is perhaps best seen as a dysfunctional response to a still more dysfunctional food supply: a dream of purity in a toxic world. To walk into a modern western supermarket is to be assailed by aisle upon aisle of salty, oily snacks and sugary cereals, of “bread” that has been neither proved nor fermented, of cheap, sweetened drinks and meat from animals kept in inhumane conditions.

Skip It: Why It’s O.K. to Start a TV Show in the Middle (NYT)

A sweet, light take on why it’s okay to skip ahead to when a TV show gets “good”. The argument is made that it only works for some shows, but in an era when there’s too much good TV for any one person, it’s almost necessary. I admit that I clicked on this article because it had a picture of Buffy, so your mileage may vary:

It’s also misleading to treat most series, even the greats, like fully formed wholes set down according to careful design. TV is an improvisatory art, in which shows shoot a pilot and then beta-test themselves out in public. (A classic example, Mr. Sepinwall notes, is “Seinfeld,” which became great around Season 3.)