IDK how I felt about the internet this week, but I was feeling hella nostalgic about the 90s and 00s and it helped with that a little bit.
Highlights: Aretha Franklin’s Funeral was 10 hours, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill turned 20, pop culture died in 2009, Louis C.K. came back too soon, academia was compared to Thinx underwear, some people speak dozens of languages, postmodernism is trash, more secrets of the Catholic church were exposed, we don’t have a good infrastructure for the elderly, and The Village Voice is dead.
Aretha Franklin’s memorial service was held on Friday at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. To say the service was LONG would be an understatement, with full broadcasts clocking in at just over 10 hours. While Cicely Tyson gave an Emmy worthy performance, there were also many musical tributes, including those by Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, The Clark Sisters, Chaka Khan (with the help of a fan), but Ariana Grande had Twitter in flames, and not because of her performance.
The main points of discussion around Ariana Grande were the length of her dress, being groped by the service’s leader, Bishop Charles H Ellis III, and the Bishop joking about how he thought the singer “was a new something at Taco Bell.”
The Bishop has since apologized to Grande for both incidents. People have blamed the length of Grande’s dress, which was above her knees, for the groping incident with the Bishop, not to mention Slick Willie’s ogling. IMHO, Grande was touched inappropriately by the Bishop, something that should never happen, no matter what someone is wearing (same for Clinton’s ogling). The Taco Bell joke was racist. And Grande’s dress, while cute, was not appropriate for a funeral.
2. BuzzFeed: Is Lauryn Hill’s Legacy Still Assured?
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill turned 20 this week. While the legacy of Miseducation has been cemented since its debut, Hill’s is not so certain. I have no clue how I first heard of the album, or when I first listened to it. I was two when the album came out, and it existed in the background of my life for many years before I understood its importance.
Miseducation, as with Hill, is complicated. It “is a declaration of independence” not only from The Fugees but also her romantic relationship with married bandmate Wyclef Jean, and “the album’s themes attest to this disappearing act, and a desire to get free.” As with anyone in public life, Hill is by and large understood through the image she cultivates of herself as it is projected through the media. “On Miseducation, Hill elevates herself to a deity and destroys her public image. In it, she explores the tension between her early-twenties idealism and self-righteousness and hints at her later desire to be seen as a more holistic, complex individual. Perhaps now that old image is finally fossilized.”
3. The Outline: Pop Culture Died in 2009. Take a Tour of Its Body.
Recently I have become obsessed with early Mariah Carey. I don’t exactly know why but I can’t stop listening to Mariah Carey, Music Box, and Daydream. I was talking to someone about this and he said that if no more music were to have been made after 1999 he would be fine. I’m about 10 years younger, and my cut off is around 2009. We both agreed that whatever is happening now could be done without.
Popculturediedin2009 is a blog run by Matt James, who also facilitates tours of Manhattan of places “that were once ground zero to various socialite scandals.” Celebrities were still a mystery back then, and “in the brief post-9/11, pre-recession era, you could focus on the Uggs, the drugs, and the mini-skirts guilt-free.” It is harder to do that now. Alex Harris Goldberg, an interviewee, doesn’t “really have time to follow celebrity news because our democracy is falling apart. It created [Trump] in some ways, our celebrity obsession. The Apprentice was on during this era and we were creating a monster, unfortunately, with our consumption.” Plus, social media can make it harder for celebrities to ascend to the role of an icon. In the aughts “there was so much we didn’t know about [celebrities], and so many blanks waiting to be filled, that it was easier for us to create this romanticized idea about them and create iconography from it. That’s pretty much impossible today.”
4. The Cut: Too Much, Too Soon
Louis C.K. performed this past week, less than a year after he admitted to masturbating and showing his penis to women without their consent. According to the women that accused Louis C.K., he also “blackballed from their profession after sharing the incident with others.” He was reportedly welcomed “with a standing ovation before he even opened his mouth.”
No one knows what the proper punishment is for people (mostly men) who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct but only tried in the court of public opinion. What has been clear “is that these men can return to their industries, with the expectation that their reentry might be near the top…. And this reality reaffirms — and in fact recapitulates — the false notion that their worth, their value, their indispensability was built independently of the systems that permitted them to abuse their power in the first place.”
5. The Chronicle of Higher Education: I Worked With Avital Ronell. I Believe Her Accuser.
Damn. This is some of the best writing I have read in a while.
Avital Ronell, a NYU professor and academic superstar, was found responsible for sexually harassing a former student by the schools Title XI office. Many leading academics, including Judith Butler, have defended Ronell, but “it is simply no secret to anyone within a mile of the German or comp-lit departments at NYU that Avital is abusive.” This is not surprising when “academic celebrity soaks up blood like a pair of Thinx.”
This whole article is damning, to both Ronell and academia, to say the least.
6. The New Yorker: The Mystery of People Who Speak Dozens of Languages
Like many native English speakers, I cannot speak another language. I took French in high school and occasionally still read in it, but my vocabulary is shit, and I can only understand you if you talk to me like I’m three. A lot of my friends are polyglots, and learning another language is always at the forefront of my mind.
While there are a lot of polyglots in the world, there are very few hyperpolyglots, or people who speak eleven languages or more. Evelina Fedorenko, a researcher at MIT, studies this by having participants read Alice in Wonderland in different languages while in an MRI machine.
“As the language in the tests grows more challenging, it elicits more neural activity, until it becomes gibberish, at which point it elicits less—the brain seems to give up, quite sensibly, when a task is futile. Hyperpolyglots, too, work harder in an unfamiliar tongue. But their “harder” is relaxed compared with the efforts of average people. Their advantage seems to be not capacity but efficiency.”
7. Electric Lit: Postmodern Literature Is the Best Expression of What It’s Like to Be Autistic
While I don’t read postmodern literature, I read postmodern theory. This article isn’t super interesting, but it is one of the best descriptions of postmodern theory I have ever read, and it captures my feelings on the discipline almost seamlessly.
“Postmodernism is trash, it’s garbage literature. It’s too white, too male, too wannabe-intellectual, too self-important, too distant from its subject characters because it’s scared of sincerity.” All true, but at times postmodernism is useful, which is why the discipline is still around.
8. BuzzFeed: We Saw Nuns Kill Children: The Ghosts of St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage
This is another one of the LONG reads. It is difficult to read and chronicles the systematic abuse of nuns at Catholic Orphanages, specifically St. Joseph’s in Vermont. It is not something to be summarized because “darkest of all, it is a history of children who entered orphanages but did not leave them alive.”
9. The Walrus: The New Old Age
While this article is about Canada, it is fascinating nonetheless. All over the world, people are living longer, but there is relatively little infrastructure for this growing demographic. Many of the government support structures in place for older populations were not created for people to live this long, and the history of retirement is relatively young.
“German chancellor Otto von Bismarck is credited with inventing public pensions for the elderly in the 1880s. Before then, people worked till they died or until a younger generation offered them a rocking chair by the fire in the family home. The new-fangled pension was not a risky initiative, because the plan provided for ordinary citizens over the age of seventy at a time when life expectancy was around forty. Fifty years later, in the middle of the Great Depression, American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. It was geared to a retirement age of sixty-five; life expectancy for men was sixty.”
As our population begins to age, we need to find more, and better ways to care for the elderly. After all, is it worth living longer if there isn’t a high quality of life?
10. Gothamist: The Village Voice Is Officially Dead
The headline about sums it up. “Three years after buying The Village Voice, and a year after the paper shut down its print edition, owner Peter Barbey told the remaining staff today that the publication will no longer be posting any new stories.” The paper was founded in 1955 as an alternative weekly newspaper. Half of the current staff will stay on to “wind things down” and work on digitally archiving the paper. If the established for-profit economic model for publication is not working, what is the future of media?
*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.”