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

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The internet was all about chicken this week! Highlights: Popeyes released a chicken sandwich, the subtle light of Venus Williams, lady Kimora Lee Simmons, Missy Elliott, Hanif Abdurraqib reflects on breakups, Sapphire Adizes’ The Wild Boar, a Black feminist calls out call-out culture, Gwyneth Paltrow has a book curator named Thatcher Wine, social media influencers are getting into porn, and David Koch died. 

1. Twitter: Chicken Sandwich

Earlier this week Popeyes debuted its much-anticipated chicken sandwich. #Chickenwars Twitter is basically the only thing I have read all week and to say that it is WILD is an understatement. The sandwich has sold out in many locations around the country because of Twitter. People are fighting, catching cases, very excited that homophobia isn’t an ingredient, loving that Popeyes is open on Sundays, and musing that the Popeyes chicken sandwich is where Ronald Regan put all the crack. The descriptions of the sandwich are hilarious.  Vegans are even trying it!!!! Popeyes is the clear winner in this fight. And damn, pay the social media manager more because they are DRAGGING Chick-fil-A, and no one really knows why Wendy’s tried to enter the debate. Black Twitter is reportedly saving Popeyes over $23 million in advertising

I have yet to taste the chicken sandwich, but damn do I want one. 

2. New York Times Magazine: Did Venus Williams Ever Get Her Due?

We always hear about Serena Williams. And although we all know Venus Williams, we tend to hear less about the elder Williams sister. Before Venus, writes Elizabeth Weil, “Tennis had never seen such a tall woman with such an epic wingspan move with such speed and grace. Tennis had never seen a skinny limby black girl who, by her own estimation, looked like ‘a baby giraffe,’ so proud of her own dark skin that she wore a backless dress.” 

The press has long been fascinated by the sisters, and “every piece of Williams arcana has been studied, repeatedly, to decode how this happened: how these sisters from Compton, Calif., became two of the greatest tennis players of all time and transformed not just the game but our understanding of what’s possible for women in sports, maybe even what’s possible period.”

The descriptions throughout this piece are simply breathtaking: here the light is turned to Venus. 

3. The Cut: Lady Kimora

KIMORA LEE SIMMONS IS RELAUNCHING BABY PHAT! Baby Phat, Simmons’ fashion line that originally ran from 1999 to 2010, “was a billion-dollar company built on the lifestyle she embodied. The popularity of the brand — which started with bedazzled-logo baby tees the Simmonses passed out to model and musician friends like Lil’ Kim, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington — helped turn streetwear into a movement.” Simmons and Baby Phat “brought the attitude and style of hip-hop to the mainstream.” 

I’m lowkey very disappointed this article didn’t also include a photoshoot, BUT I am all for this comeback! 

4. YouTube: Missy Elliott – Throw It Back [Official Music Video]

Every music video Missy Elliott releases is a beautiful gift to culture. Like, I don’t know what else to say. She is the GOAT. She is amazing. 

5. The Paris Review: On Breakups

I really love Hanif Abdurraqib. His Paris Review column, Notes on Pop, “muses on the relationship between songs and memory.” Here, Abdurraqib reflects on the role music plays in breakups—and overcoming them. As Abdurraqib writes, “the thing I never learned to understand about breakups is that, even at their largest, the moment of the break itself might not be the hardest part,” and “so much of heartbreak is an animal born from past desires. Not just the desires themselves, but the things those desires asked us to ignore.”  Love and heartbreak are constant tropes in music, and Abdurraqib mines what we can learn about them from music and lyrics and the silence between them. 

6. The Wild Boar: The Wild Boar

I’ve been waiting for this to come out for a while, ever since the first part, Birth, was released late last year. I went to high school with Sapphire Adizes, the creator of the project, and have loosely followed his work until The Wild Boar. 

The project, which narrates Sapphire’s life, is reminiscent of a symphonic poem. At times its structure, with songs endlessly flowing into each other and fragments of people speaking, reminds me of Solange’s most recent album When I Get Home. While there is no music video, the project site is filled with short video clips that gesture at the song’s narrative. 

The Wild Boar is a project that demands attention and rewards the time spent with it. I am curious to see what Sapphire will do next.

7. New York Times: I’m a Black Feminist. I Think Call-Out Culture Is Toxic.

I have a friend that basically tells me this entire article all the time. My friend and I are very different. And although we love each other deeply, we have a difficult relationship. 

My friend thinks that I can be hypercritical. That I, like Loretta Ross, have “sharply criticized white women for not understanding women of color. I called them out while trying to explain intersectionality and white supremacy. I rarely questioned whether the way I addressed their white privilege was actually counterproductive,” that I’ve too sharply criticized people while trying to explain a myriad of different things. She calls me out, “usually for a prejudice I had against someone, or for using insensitive language that didn’t keep up with rapidly changing conventions. That’s part of everyone’s learning curve.” And all of this, including how being called out can make one feel, gets amplified by the internet.

I often think about the phrase “consenting to learn in public” when writing these lists. I first heard it used by Adrienne Keene during an episode of the podcast All My Relations. There are things I’ve written here over the past two years that I probably don’t agree with now. And there are things that I certainly won’t agree with in the future. But consenting to learn in public—putting very personal ideas, sometimes not fully formed, into the world—is something that I have to do each week. I have to be willing to get called out. I have to listen. I have to practice listening. I have to learn. I have to reflect.

My friend and I grew up and live in different places. The social rules we are used to are different, as is the general working knowledge of social justice of the people in our orbit. We approach people and communication very differently. Sometimes she is right to call me out. Sometimes she isn’t. Either way, we constantly learn from each other.

8. Town & Country: Gwyneth Paltrow Hired a Personal Book Curator—Here’s What He Chose For Her Shelves

Of course Gwyneth Paltrow would have a personal book curator. And of course, his name would be Thatcher Wine! 

Most libraries grow slowly over time. But when working on Paltrow’s library, which “needed about five or six hundred more books to complete the shelves,” Wine and Paltrow seemingly bought them all at once…? Wine says his “philosophy is that the books we keep on our shelves reflect who we are. But the thing about books is that you can only really read one book at a time—yes you can be reading five books, but not literally all at once. So home libraries, especially those that contain a few dozen, hundred, or even thousands of books, are not about constant use of reading.”

So I guess he is telling us that we should buy books without the expectation of opening them? Honestly, this interview is so strange that I don’t really know what to do with it. Sure, books can be extremely beautiful objects, especially artist books. But apparently the content doesn’t matter to Wine? Idk. I’m confused and annoyed. 

9. Wired: When Influencers Switch Platforms—And Bare It All

Over the past few years, influencers have been dipping their toes into porn, many of them through the websites OnlyFans and justFor.Fans. Being an influencer is all about commodifying your life, and “on Instagram, an influencer is helping sell products. On OnlyFans, influencers are themselves the product.” Life in the digital age requires near-constant moments of public performance, especially for influencers. People are constantly redesigning themselves, and “who an influencer is, even in moments of performance, is becoming even more muddied. As OnlyFans and JustFor.Fans demonstrate, people can remake their identities, or be remade by them, in often surprising and unforeseeable ways.” 

10. Los Angeles Times: David Koch dies at 79. With brother, he moved U.S. politics to the right

David Koch, the billionaire conservative philanthropist and political meddler, died on Friday. There will be more written about him in the days to come, and I’m curious to see what people will say. And I’m curious to read all of the hot takes on what his death will mean for American politics.  

*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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