Wowwww, what a week! The internet was low-key great this week, but was defs overshadowed by the shit show that is American politics. Nancy Pelosi gave zero fucks and ended (at least for now) the shutdown, Kamala Harris (aka the popo) is running for president, and THERE IS HOPE IN VENEZUELA!
Highlights: Ariana Grande is stealing other people’s shine, JoJo is back!, St. Vincent loves air, art is online, Dana Schutz is interrogating ambiguity, the Oscars keep falling for racial fantasies, Bryan Singer is another Harvey Weinstein, Queer media doesn’t have a certain future, puberty is traumatic, and opera is taking on #metoo.
1. The Atlantic: How Ariana Grande Fell Off the Cultural-Appropriation Tightrope
I have never been a fan of Ariana Grande. I can never understand what she is saying, her voice is too soft and sweet, and I find her whole aesthetic vaguely annoying. Tbh, I would be totally fine if she never made another album. I could digress a lot about her.
Anyway, over the years she has been critiqued on her blaccent and spray tan and “in addition to her extraordinary voice, neurotic charisma, and glittery bath-bomb aesthetic, Grande’s success has increasingly relied on elements of rap and R&B culture.” Grande has always managed to stay just far enough away from cultural appropriation to avoid backlash, but with the release of 7 Rings, she is having to confront her image. Of course with the proper apology, 7 Rings probably won’t have a longterm effect on Grande’s career. As black culture continues to be disseminated, appearing farther and farther from its source, “the average, non-black listener, after being exposed to ‘7 Rings,’ may be less able to discern the particular meanings—and social circumstances—of the original documents. In a very real way, Grande has taken other people’s shine.”
2. Paper Magazine: JoJo Is Reclaiming Her Time
This is going to be an amazing year if Amanda Bynes, Lindsay Lohan, and JoJo make comebacks! My 10-year-old heart will be so happy! JoJo is a little different than Bynes and Lohan in that she largely hasn’t been present over the last decade due the legal disputes with her former record label, Blackground Records, and not substance abuse. When asked what she is currently up to, JoJo (who is now signed to Warner Brothers) responded “I’m fully immersed in making a new album, so I’m just writing, recording, moodboard-ing, and just figuring out what I want this next chapter to look, feel, taste, smell like. It’ll be this year.” I CAN’T WAIT.
3. GQ: Switching Lanes With St. Vincent
I always feel guilty that I’m not a fan of St. Vincent. Before reading this article I had no clue what she sounded like, although she has been recommended to me numerous times since high school. In all honesty, I still probably don’t know what she sounds like, and this article didn’t do the best job of convincing me that I should.
The profile is painfully artsy, verging on camp—which would be better than what it is—but stopping short. When recounting a personal gallery tour by Lisa Yuskavage of her show at David Zwirner in New York, Molly Young writes, “Yuskavage and Clark wandered through at a pace exclusive to walking tours of cultural spaces, which is to say a few steps every 10 to 15 seconds with pauses between for the proper amount of motionless appreciation.” It is a sentiment that is almost funny, almost mocking. The piece gets closer when St. Vincent “sipped from a cup of espresso furnished by a gallery minion. After she finished the drink, there was a moment when she looked blankly at the saucer, unsure what to do with it, and then stuck it in the breast pocket of her funky shirt for the rest of the tour.”
At the moment St. Vincent is interested in “air moving through a room,” a profoundly simple notion that is also incredibly boring. Maybe I’m just missing the artsy context, but I don’t feel guilty about not being a fan anymore.
4. Artsy: 10 Artistic Masterpieces Meant to Be Experienced Online
I don’t typically like Net Art, and I’m not exactly sure why that is, especially because I like the internet so much. Maybe it is because many of the things I love so much about the internet never make it into the category of art due to their lack of institutional engagement/critique and authorial intent—they aren’t art because they were never intended to be art. But every now and again Net Art catches my interest again. There are a few pieces on the list I have known about for a while, like Jayson Musson’s Art Thoughtz, and others are new to me.
5. 4Columns: Dana Schutz
Dana Schutz was all the art world could talk about in 2017 after her controversial painting, Open Casket which depicts Emmit Till, debuted at the Whitney Biannual to protests and even calls for its destruction. Since then, I haven’t heard much about Schutz until her show opened at Petzel Gallery January 10th.
The exhibition of sculptures and paintings, dating both before and after Open Casket, is largely receiving positive reviews. Schutz’s new paintings are “no longer the buoyant, self-contained fantasies they used to be. Instead they’ve become attempts to grapple with the full weight of human experience, her own flaws and failures included,” and interrogate ambiguity. Dealing with the Whitney debacle “appears to have knocked Schutz into a heavier, more reflective, and altogether more deeply felt place.”
6. New York Times: Why Do the Oscars Keep Falling for Racial Reconciliation Fantasies?
If we should know one thing about awards shows, especially the Oscars, by now it’s that they are not a good metric for the best work. The Oscars notoriously dismiss underrepresented populations, and when movies that are made by or feature people of color are present, they are almost always films made for a white gaze. The movies (re: Driving Miss Daisy) “symbolize a style of American storytelling in which the wheels of interracial friendship are greased by employment, in which prolonged exposure to the black half of the duo enhances the humanity of his white, frequently racist counterpart.” They are relationships founded on capitalism, and at the end of the day, you can’t pay someone to be your friend.
7. The Atlantic: ‘Nobody Is Going to Believe You’
From the offset, this story frames itself as revealing the next Harvey Weinstein, quoting an actor saying, “After the Harvey Weinstein news came out, everyone thought Bryan Singer would be next.” That is exactly what this article does. It is an important piece of journalism, chronicling the film director Bryan Singer’s sexual transgressions, but nothing in it is all that different from Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, or Louis C.K. You probably already know most of Singer’s story.
8. BuzzFeed: Does LGBT Media Have A Future?
I don’t know why, but I went on afterellen.com this week (before reading this) for the first time in years. It was weird, and a shell of what it used to be, and I quickly left. A few days later it this article was published and it was announced that “BuzzFeed laid off its Deputy LGBT Editor and LGBT Video Producer (the only openly trans staffer at BuzzFeed News), leaving just one remaining full-time U.S. staffer on the LGBT beat.” And BuzzFeed isn’t alone in this, “Verizon’s media division (which includes brands like Yahoo, AOL, and HuffPost), and Gannett, which owns several newspapers across the country” have also been affected. Just a few years ago there was a renaissance in LGBT+ media, with many major media outlets covering queer topics more regularly, and now it seems like it may be coming to an end.
The history of LGBT+ press is fascinating and “was largely born out of necessity and activism, the earliest stories were focused on the most important issues related to the community.” But the future of the media might have “less to do with those within it than those outside of it — LGBT readers and consumers.”
9. The Cut: A 4-Year-Old Trapped in a Teenager’s Body “I was all of the things people are when they’re 14 or 15” — except a decade younger.
I think most people would agree that puberty is a trying time, but going through it at the age of 4 is unimaginable. Inherited from his father, Patrick Burleigh has a genetic mutation that caused the both of them to go through puberty a decade before most people. At 2 Burleigh got his first pubic hair. “The hormonal roller coaster [Burleigh] was on led to irrepressible bouts of rage,” and he “ricocheted from one emotional extreme to another.” By 7 he was “branded the Bad Kid.” When it came time for Burleigh to have children with his wife using in-vitro fertilization, they had the possibility of eliminating any embryos that carried his mutation, but he wasn’t so sure he wanted to do that.
10. Sparkes and Wiry Crys: Kathleen Kelly: Heidenröslein
I’m not going to lie, someone sent me this a couple of weeks ago and I just got around to reading it this week. The new song cycle, She Who Continues by Natalie Draper, tells the true story of the murder of Kathleen Kelly’s grandmother. Over the years the story has been changed and edited, “simultaneously softened and sensationalized as it spreads over time and distance, and as decisions are made to attract and keep readership.”
This article is fascinating and hard to summarize as it jumps in time from 1896 to the present, exploring the history of trauma, how it is erased, and how it is romanticized through the lens of opera. “Music is a way to sing the stories of war, of loss, of all kinds of brutality, and to open our grieving hearts. Is it human nature to yield to the sweep of that beauty and the release it brings, but also to hold it up as a shield between ourselves and the hard, unforgiving core of the greatest shame, the most profound ugliness? Does it help us avoid unpacking and understanding evil, even as it brings us solace from evil’s effects.”
*All images taken from reference articles*
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