The internet was funny, sad, sardonic, and hopeful this week. Highlights: The art world finally broke the internet, there was another school shooting, Black Panther is basically a class in critical race theory, a dominatrix is teaching black feminist theory, Lena Dunham got a hysterectomy, breakups suck, Brutalism is endangered, @AstroPoets is badass, mourning tacos means something, and we are obsessed with convenience.
1. The New Yorker: The Mystery of Amy Sherald’s Portrait of Michelle Obama
The official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama were unveiled on Monday at the National Portrait Gallery. Barack’s was painted by Kehinde Wiley, and Michelle’s by Baltimore’s own Amy Sherald. People were generally positively responsive to Wiley’s depiction of Barack, but Sherald’s interpretation of Michelle divided the internet. Many people did not think Sherald’s painting resembled Michelle and were off-put by the gray skin-tone of the figure.
It is interesting how much more entitled people felt to critique Sherald’s painting as opposed to Wiley’s, especially since much of the critiques seemed not to be about the painting but its subject. As a society, we are so used to critiquing women it is kind of scary and it definitely played a part in how people are responding to Sherald’s painting. And TBH, I don’t think it photographs well, it is very different in person. They both are.
2. The Telegraph: ‘The new normal’: With a school shooting every 60 hours, US faces grim reality
There was another mass shooting at a school killing 18 students. This year, there has been a school shooting every 60 hours. This is ridiculous. It is scary how desensitized we have become in this country to death from gun violence.
3. The Hollywood Reporter: How ‘Black Panther’ Taps Into 500 Years of History
I saw Black Panther yesterday. It is a fun movie to watch with action and humor that is smart and witty, not just dumb bro jokes. Sitting in the theater almost felt like taking a history and critical race theory class. White characters were told to stop peaking and referred to a “colonizers.”
Black Panther depicted a redemptive history that many black people, audience members and actors alike, have waited to see their whole lives. “Indeed, what’s most real about Black Panther are its literary and historical sinews tying us back into the black past, or better, to black past dreams.”
4. Huffington Post: Meet The Dominatrix Who Requires The Men Who Hire Her To Read Black Feminist Theory
I love this. It is smart and funny as shit! Dominatrix Mistress Velvet makes her clients, who are mostly white cis dudes, read black feminist theory. Her syllabi, as with her role-playing sessions, change based on the needs of each client. Mistress Velvet’s sessions are not only an exchange of sexual power, but also intellectual powers. For her, they become a “form of reparations.”
5. Vogue: In Her Own Words: Lena Dunham on Her Decision to Have a Hysterectomy at 31
I have a lot of mixed feelings about Lena Dunham. Usually, those mixed feelings are just me hating her for all of her backward, neoliberal, racist comments. When I first read the title of the article I thought, “Oh god. Lena Dunham is complaining again.” But this time, Lena Dunham is complaining about something significant, which is young women getting hysterectomies. This country spends way too much time taking away women’s reproductive autonomy.
While I find her prose whiny and annoying, I applaud her for fighting for her medical care, something too many women must do. Dunham could fight for her care because she is rich, white, and probably has good health insurance. It was some she could afford to do. One of the reasons I hate Dunham is because she consistently fails to understand her privileges, even after she says she does. I mean seriously, who else would get to write about this in Vogue??!?! Like not even the New York Times, or the New Yorker, or Bitch Media (although I’m not sure if they would publish anything by her) but VOGUE, a fashion magazine!?
6. Virginia Quarterly Review: The Breakup Museum: Archiving the Way We Were
I may have made the mistake of reading this while watching the Netflix documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? This piece and the Breakup Museum speak to losing relationships (all examples given in the article are romantic) mostly through objects. As I listened to Nina Simone slowly lose herself to mental illness and then lose her music to that, I couldn’t help but think about the other kinds of love we experience and relationships we lose.
My favorite poet is Elizabeth Bishop. I read at least one piece by her each week and loss is almost always at the forefront of my mind. As this piece articulates, and Bishop’s famous poem, One Art, reads “I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,/ some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent./ I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster./ —Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture/ I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident/ the art of losing’s not too hard to master/ though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.” We can lose what seems like everything and still be okay.
7. 4Columns: SOS Brutalism
I have always felt ambivalent about brutalist architecture. I also never thought that I would think about brutalism in reference to social activism before. SOS Brutalism started as a hashtag on social media in 2015 when many brutalist structures were being demolished. The goal of the movment is to “rechannel the energy from the internet’s filter bubbles to the very spot where bulldozers and demolition balls are waiting to destroy the next concrete monster,” something that many social justice movments are also trying to do. I do not think brutalist structures should be demolished, but I also don’t know if I am comfortable thinking about them in this way.
Scorpio as Adam Rippon outfit pic.twitter.com/SUT82ymDVF
— Astro Poets (@poetastrologers) February 18, 2018
In full disclosure, I follow Astro Poets on Twitter and it is one of my favorite accounts. Unlike other astrological blogs and twitter accounts, there is a freshness to Astro Poets, there is the perfect balance of wit, intellect, sarcasm, and pain. Maybe it is because they are limited in what they can say by character count. I wait every Sunday for the account to publish horoscopes, then often share and discuss them with friends. As with most horoscopes, some weeks, they miss the mark, and others they tell me exactly what I need to hear.
9. The Baffler: Temporary Autonomous Taco Zones
Last month I read about people holding vigils for a fallen Taco Bell and didn’t really think much of it. I thought of it as an IRL meme laughed, then continued to scroll to whatever website I found it on. Maybe I should have thought about it more.
We live in a world where branding and design is everything. When people held these vigils they were not mourning the restaurant itself, but its brand, and what that stood for. Maybe today “we are cursed to live in an age in which ‘brand evangelist’ is a legitimate vocational title.”
10. New York Times: The Tyranny of Convenience
Honestly, this article uses the word convenience way too many times. Seriously. This article uses the word 47 times. It took me a while to get through because I was just so annoyed, but it is interesting to equate convenience with technology. “The dream of convenience is premised on the nightmare of physical work. But is physical work always a nightmare?… Perhaps our humanity is sometimes expressed in inconvenient actions and time-consuming pursuits.”
The case for inconvenience is an interesting one but also one of privilege, of assuming that one lives a convenient life. Not everyone has access to convenience (just think of most urban transit systems) and maybe that should be addressed before we take it away for leisure.
*All images taken from reference articles*
Have a suggestion for next week? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”