Highlights: Zsela is ready for the world, incels are obsessed with LAX bros, we might all live in a bird’s gut, Chernobyl is now the highest rated show on IMDB, Ava DuVernay is retelling history in When They See Us, an abridged history of the Central Park Five, Canada is making its first strides at acknowledging indigenous women and girls, how we came to love Lana Del Rey, Apple is killing iTunes, and salary transparency is real.
1. YouTube: Zsela – Noise
I think this video was my whole internet this week and gave me some serious Sade vibes. The simplicity of its single shot cinematography constantly offered a bit of respite from my TV watching this week and the craziness that is the world we live in.
Thank you, Zsela, and please hurry with your EP!
2. The Cut: How Many Bones Would You Break to Get Laid?
Well damn. I guess the best way to summarize this article is that incels, or involuntary celibate men who blame women for their celibacy and are generally misogynistic, are getting plastic surgery to look more like “Chads”—basically any white LAX Bro you can imagine.
Necessarily, this story addresses violence against women, mental health, cultural beauty standards, plastic surgery ethics and more. But what makes it so fascinating are the descriptions and images of men who have photoshopped themselves into their ideals. For example, one man interviewed, who goes by the user name Truth4lie, describes his bedroom as “‘typical incel,’ i.e., ‘trillions of fruit flies multiplying, cigarettes and ash on the floor, dirty clothes all over the place, not a glimmer of light.’” In another instance, the truth of the article can be summed up in a quote from an incel meme: The difference between a Chad and an incel is literally a few millimeters of bone.
3. The Verge: In BirdGut, you try to escape a dystopian society inside a bird’s stomach
I have never played or followed video games and I lowkey don’t remember how I found this article (probably in an esoteric meme group I’m in on Facebook), but this game sounds wild as fuck. The game, which takes about two hours to complete, is “about a disabled bee who is kicked out of their hive after being born. The bee manages to make its way through the world, despite not being able to fly, but eventually it’s eaten by a bird. It turns out that the bird isn’t eating insects for sustenance, but rather to brainwash them into mindless slaves who help operate and maintain the machinery inside the bird that keeps it alive. Due to the bee’s bent-over posture, the brainwashing chip isn’t implanted correctly. The result is that you can freely move within the bird to find a way out.” Like wow. I might have to get into video games.
4. The New Republic: The Enduring Horror of Chernobyl
Chernobyl is definitely the best TV show I have watched in years, and maybe the best show ever (although it is not my favorite). As Game of Thrones ended, Chernobyl, which is about the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion in 1986, became the highest ranking show on IMDB.
One of the reasons the show is so powerful is because we, the audience, in effect know the catastrophic ending of the story when the characters do not, “so it’s particularly harrowing to watch the people in the nearby town of Pripyat gather on a bridge to watch the fire glow, the power-plant workers slog through irradiated water in flooded chambers, the fire-fighters spraying their hoses into a radioactive fire in their shirtsleeves. The situation is a perfect vehicle for suspense, which Alfred Hitchcock famously described as arising when the audience knows something the characters don’t. Our understanding of the risks associated with nuclear energy is shaped by what’s about to happen to the people of Chernobyl—but they haven’t lived through it yet.”
I have already started rewatching the show and am seeing details I missed while trying to comprehend the confusion that took place in the days following the explosion. I am VERY ready for the final episode to air this week.
5. Los Angles Times: Ava DuVernay’s ‘When They See Us’ gets to the human heart of the Central Park Five
I’ve only watched the first episode of Ava DuVernay’s docudrama, When They See Us, which premiered on Netflix Friday, and tells the story of the injustices done to the Central Park Five. Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise (formerly Kharey Wise), more commonly known as the Central Park Five, were arrested and wrongfully convicted “for the 1989 rape and beating of a white female jogger, Trisha Meili, in New York’s Central Park.”
DeVernay tries to show the truth of the case, and in effect, When They See Us “makes a story out of raw facts, it is something like a trial itself. Choices are made — we see detectives constructing, changing and rehearsing the confessions the boys will commit to videotape — making concrete something some would characterize as disputed.”
Thus far, the series is very well done and I agree with every positive (yet critical) review I have read. But in its honesty to the story it tells, When They See Us depicts all the violence done to young black and brown bodies in the name of corrupt justice, and it is hard to watch. I understand why some people, namely people of color, are not watching the series because, as Kima Jones tweeted, “I had to stop watching movies w racialized violence because they make me depressed for weeks and weeks and weeks and I need my head above the water.” But white people? You all should watch it.
6. Smithsonian Magazine: How Central Park’s Complex History Played Into the Case Against the ‘Central Park Five’
For the past few weeks, there has been more and more press about When They See Us and the Central Park Five generally. Most articles focus on the TV series, our criminal justice system, or Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise themselves. I found this article interesting because it focused on the park itself, which Ed Koch, the mayor at the time of the attack, described as “holy,” in 2012 documentary The Central Park Five. “If it had happened anyplace else other than Central Park, it would have been terrible, but it would not have been as terrible.”
As the history of the park from its conception in the mid-19th century to its creation in 1853 to its slow fall into disrepair beginning in the 1940s peaking in the years leading up to 1989, as laid out here, “it follows that any crime in the park became all the more personal for New Yorkers because of its setting.” Central Park, due to its history, was a participant in the crime in a way and is “a manmade piece of nature that represents its city not despite its many conflicts and paradoxes, but because of them.”
7. Uproxx: How Lana Del Rey Became The Queen Of Soundtracks
I like Lana Del Rey as much as the next person, but two of my closest friends are OBSESSED with her, and she tends to play a larger role in my life than makes sense. Further, my two friends don’t know each, so when anything big with Del Rey happens my life turns into a ping-pong ball frantically bouncing between them.
For all of this, I’ve never actively paid attention to Del Rey’s discography because I know it will be part of my life, whether I want it to or not. I try to make a habit of learning about my friends’ interests in obsessions, so I follow Del Rey on twitter, and every once in a while find myself googling her name. I did that this week, finding this article which argues that “it was Lana Del Rey’s relationship to film and her contributions to major film soundtracks that reconstructed her role in mainstream culture as much as her discography itself did.”
Reading this provided context to nostalgia-tinged memories of the many hours I spent in one friend’s dorm room in high school listing to early Del Rey while constantly being shushed, and drives last summer to Lake Michigan with my other friend which always included a playlist featuring Del Rey.
WOW! This is sad! Like my heart is actually breaking. While I have never been one to obsessively curate my iTunes library, I have used the platform since I got my first MacBook in 2006 and greatly prefer it, or simply listening to music on youtube, to Spotify, Apple Music, or other streaming services. One of the reasons I like it so much is because it allows me to organize music and audio recordings in a single location: I have recordings of my friends’ degree recitals from conservatories, recordings they send me of them practicing, music illegally recorded at concerts, funny voicemails, things download from websites throughout the internet. Streaming services only offer studio recordings, or studio-sanctioned live recordings, flattening soundscapes.
iTunes was revolutionary, and killing it “symbolizes a lot, too. By portioning out its music, television and podcast offerings into three separate platforms, Apple will pointedly draw attention to itself as a multifaceted entertainment services provider, no longer as a hardware company that happens to sell entertainment through one of its many apps.”
Bye bye, iTunes! You will forever be in my heart!
9. Google Doc: Arts + All Museums Salary Transparency 2019
This is defs for you if you love a good spreadsheet! Started by Michelle Millar Fischer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this spreadsheet invites employees of museums to anonymously share their salaries along with a few other pieces of information. At the time of this writing, there are over 300 entries from private and public institutions on at least two continents (I have only done a preliminary scan). If you work at a cultural institution, visit any, or patronize them in any way, looking at this document is a MUST.
10. CBC: National inquiry calls murders and disappearances of Indigenous women a ‘Canadian genocide’
One of my closest friends is Native American. I have always passively supported indigenous communities and populations in their fights against erasure and injustice but it is only since I met my friend last fall that I have begun to actively research the histories of different tribes and go out of my way to support indigenous peoples.
A $92 million Canadian report found that “state actions and inactions rooted in colonialism and colonial ideologies” has resulted in disappearances and murders of at least 4,000 indigenous women and girls in the past few decades, and is accordance with the state definition of genocide. The Canadian government is preparing a supplementary report to decide what to do with the findings.
I know that Canada has healthcare and all but, as with the rest of us, has a lot of work to do.
*All images taken from reference articles*
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