The Internet is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week

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The internet was kinda dark this week. Highlights: Nipsey Hussle’s life was an Eritrean American Dream, bronc riding is offering women a fleeting chance at glory, marriage seems v weird, being a stepmother is complicated, YouTube circa 2006 is lowkey great, pop music loves to copy shit, Elon Musk NEEDS TO STOP, Beyonce has fired someone, Baltimore is hella corrupt, and we should still be paying attention to Venezuela.

1. The Atlantic: Nipsey Hussle’s Eritrean American Dream

Last weekend rapper Nipsey Hussle died in a shooting. His death quickly caused waves on social media, with his fans holding vigils across the country.

Hussle was born in Los Angeles to an African-American mother and Eritrean father. For many habesha, a “politically complicated umbrella term” that many Ethiopians and Eritreans refer to themselves as, Hussle’s music had “that extra step of connection” said Messai Belayne, an organizer of the vigil in DC. “Not only was he the template of success for so many people, but for us, specifically, there’s that deeper root, like I know exactly what he could be going through in his upbringing, his household, the values that people have instilled in him family-wise.”

A suspect was apprehended earlier this week by the Los Angeles police, “but the rapper and activist’s killing remains a devastating blow to his family and to fans around the world, many of whom have likened him to the late Tupac Shakur.”

2. Dead Spin: The Women Who Nod At Death And Say Let’s Go

Rodeo is one of the most dangerous organized sports. “One study estimated that there are 16.6 injuries in every 1,000 rides—and its most lethal contest, bull riding, has the highest fatality rate of any athletic event.” In the country’s major rodeos, barrel racing is the only event open to women. Since the death of Bonnie McCarroll in 1929, there have been nearly no women bronc riders, but Daryl McElroy, President of Texas Bronc Riders Association and organizer of a ladies bronc riding tour, is trying to change that.

There are the facts of life, and then there are fleeting chances for glory, which, usually, have to be chased.” The women of bronc riding are chasing their chances for glory on the back of a bucking horse.

3. The Cut: Marriage: An Investigation

This is maybe the weirdest thing on the internet this week. I find it weirder than default filename tv.

For the past week, The Cut has been publishing a series of essays and articles about marriage. As the magazine puts it: “They say you can never understand someone else’s marriage. But this week, New York Magazine and the Cut decided to try. We interrogated dozens of couples (and a throuple) to see what makes their marriages work — or not.”

I have not read all of the articles in this series, but of the articles I’ve read, it seems weirdly fetishizing of marriage…? Like none of the pieces (at least the ones I read) seem all that critical of why we culturally value marriage so much in the first place. I also feel like this series—not necessarily the individual pieces—is trying to be super woke, and it’s just not working for me.

I’m still thinking this one through.

4. The Paris Review: The Evil Stepmother

This is a sinister, dark, beautiful dense read. As neither a mother or a stepmother, I don’t really have any authority to make a judgment on it.

Sabrina Orah Mark is “a mother, a stepmother, and a step-stepmother” and a step-daughter. In fairytales evil stepmother’s exist to balance the purity of the absent mother—good is separated from evil—but that is not the case in real life. Being a “stepmother is the result of two contradictory impulses, mother and unmother, and therefore cannot exist—but she does.” Fairytales are so persistent “because they allow us to gaze at ourselves through a glass that is at once transparent and reflective. They give us a double gaze to see ourselves from the inside out and the outside in, and they exaggerate our roles just enough to bring into focus the little pieces of monster that grow on our hearts.”

5. default filename tv

For some reason, I watched Scarlet takes a tumble for the first time in years last week. I don’t remember what the first video I watched on YouTube was, but it happened sometime when I was in middle school from 2007–2009, and Scarlet takes a tumble was one of the first. Over the years YouTube has become a rabbit hole filled with some DARK shit. Gone are the days where you told the internet that you lost your chapstick.

default filename tv is a website that aggregates YouTube videos that have never had their filenames edited out. The videos flip from language to language, and vary in length, from a few seconds to presumable multiple hours. Watching many of the clips feels like a creepy act of globe-trotting voyeurism, but it is hard to stop.

6. Vulture: Welcome to the Age of Pop ‘Plagiarism’

I’m obsessed with plagiarism and sampling in pop music. More accurately, I’m interested in what the threshold for plagiarism is—when a song transitions from sampling to being stolen—and why certain music, that is boring as shit imho, is popular.

Sampling took off with hip-hop, and as pop and hip-hop have intertwined with each other and digital technology, the practice is more pervasive than ever. Today, being a star and making popular music is “a game of ceaseless, crafty annexation.” The key to bringing a star as somewhat shifted from being musically talented to being able to intuit the next function of pop music’s algorithm—all while avoiding legal trouble and maintaining a brand. Today “artists pounce on emerging trends as quickly as brands do; fresh sounds and innovations wash through the industry like runoff.”

One of my favorite artists, Evan Roth, said that digital content by “it’s nature wants to be free. I’ve heard the analogy of it being like water flowing down a mountain.” Maybe in the age of Spotify and SoundCloud rappers where most music is experienced as a digital file, we should let it be freer. But freedom also comes with responsibility and requires criticality.

Billie Eilish’s debut album came out this week and a few friends have asked me if I’ve listened to it yet. I haven’t and the reason has nothing to do with the music. Her image and brand are so contrived that I have no interest in her music. For me, Eilish is solely the result of an algorithm, and doesn’t seem all that critical of it, and I have no interest in her music. Maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe she challengings my critique in her music. Maybe she is more aware than I’m giving her credit for. Maybe she will prove me wrong. But I don’t think that’s the case, especially in terms of her image.

7. SoundCloud: RIP Harambe

Elon Musk just needs to stop. In every way possible. Last week, Musk released a song about Harambe, the beloved gorilla that was tragically killed in 2016 after a 3-year-old boy climbed into his enclosure. Like yes, RIP Harambe, but WTF ARE YOU DOING, MUSK?!?!

Don’t buy a Tesla, FUND PUBLIC TRANSIT.

8. The Grapevine: A Photo of Beyoncé’s Kids Made It to Social Media and Somebody Getting Fired

This may not seem like a big deal, BUT IT IS! This is a thing for two reasons. One, Beyonce and Jay clearly want privacy for their twins, Sir and Rumi, as they don’t share pictures of them and they are seldom (if ever) see in public and leaking a photo is CLEARLY a breach of the family’s privacy. Second, the twins have been suspiciously absent in Beyonce and Jay’s lives since their birth in 2017, especially in comparison to how often we see Blue, the couple’s first child. All of this basically means the leak is juicy as shit.

The fact that we rarely see the twins has prompted some people to think that it isn’t as much a privacy concern on the part of Bey and Jay, but is due to the fact that their children aren’t as cute as other celebrity kids—just think of John Legend and Crissy Teigen’s kids, and regardless of what you think about Kim and Kanye they make cute babies.

Now I’m not saying that is judging celebrities’ babies cuteness is nice, right or fair game, but it is one that is being played. I even know some people that have proposed that Beyonce didn’t use Jay’s sperm because she wanted cuter babies  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

But someone is getting fired, or at least canceled.

9. The Real News: Privatization and Kickbacks: Why the Healthy Holly Scandal Is Bigger Than Baltimore’s Mayor

LMFAO! So this isn’t funny at all, but I sometimes laugh at inappropriate times and idk what else to do because this story is SO WILD! Basically, Baltimore is HELLA corrupt and the Mayor, Catherine Pugh got like $500,000 in kickbacks for writing a children’s book that has mostly disappeared…  thousands of copies are missing. Now, Pugh is taking a leave of absence, ostensibly due to her health. Or is she coming back next week? Baltimore, get your shit together.

10. NPR: ‘New York Times’ Journalist Describes An ‘Almost Unimaginable’ Crisis In Venezuela

I don’t post about Venezuela each week, but recently it feels like I should. So much has happened in the country since Hugo Chávez’s death in 2013. And so much has happened since Juan Guaido Interim President in January.

In this interview, journalist Nicholas Casey discusses Venezuela’s recent history and current state, and how what was once one of South America’s most prosperous countries can no longer provide its citizens consistant power.

*All images taken from reference articles*

Have a suggestion for next week? Email with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”

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