The internet was lowkey really nice this week. Highlights: Beyoncé gave an interview, Solange gave a lot of people a very good reason to procrastinate, the NFL proved Colin Kaepernick right, “they” is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year, the world has irreversibly shifted, lovers and Auschwitz, small talk purgatory, Vanna White hosts Wheel of Fortune, the banana, and the most awkward thing I saw all week.
1. Elle: For Beyoncé, Creativity Is the Ultimate Power
I always feel conflicted about Beyoncé for various reasons. Yes, she is probably the most talented entertainer working right now. But there is something about her image I am never wholly convinced of. I would say my relationship to her—a celebrity, a person I do not know at all—is neutral at the moment. This article didn’t do much to change that. Beyoncé mostly promoted her athleisure company, Ivy Park, and opened up a little bit about miscarriages, pregnancy, and motherhood. For me, this interview is notable mostly because it happened, as Beyoncé is notoriously private. But I didn’t come away feeling like I learned about the superstar, and instead reflected on how cold and calculated the interview feels.
2. YouTube: Solange – When I Get Home (Director’s Cut)
Honestly, I will find any reason to include Solange. This week she released the director’s cut of When I Get Home, a film that accompanies her recent album of the same name. I spent wayyyy too much time watching this masterpiece of the past few days.
3. The Atlantic: In the End, the NFL Proved Colin Kaepernick Right
I’m not a fan of professional sports. I don’t like the violence of football and I don’t like its spectacle. The only reason I even tangentially know anything about what’s going on in professional football over the past few years is because of Colin Kaepernick. I learned of Kaepernick when he “became persona non grata in the National Football League after the 2016 season, during which he protested police violence against African Americans by kneeling during the national anthem.” Kaepernick has not played in the last two years, and after the NFL staged, or attempted to stage as this article describes, a workout that would show that he is not in shape, a video he released showed that “the arm strength that allowed Kaepernick to lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl during the 2012 season was still apparent.” The reason Kaepernick hasn’t played doesn’t have to do with his marketability or talent, but “he is a danger because a league that champions conformity and balks at individual expression cannot have a player on its roster whose narrative is beyond its control. No player is supposed to be bigger than the NFL’s powerful brand.” The NFL’s treatment and recent dismissal of Kaepernick have “showed black employees that their livelihood will be destroyed if they question white dominance and threaten the systems that have oppressed people of color for centuries.” While Kaepernick likely will not play in the NFL again, the conversation he provoked is not finished.
4. Merriam-Webster: Word of the Year, They
Merriam-Webster announced “they” as its word of the year. The number of times people looked up “they” increased 313% from last year. The increase is due to the shifting use of they as a gender-neutral singular pronoun as “English famously lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun to correspond neatly with singular pronouns like everyone or someone, and as a consequence they has been used for this purpose for over 600 years.”
5. n+1: Irreversible Shift
This is one of the most precise, comprehensive pieces I have read in a while on British politics and their effect on a global scale. Written and published just before the U.K.’s election on Thursday in which the conservative Tories won in a landslide, the article explores how “London is a symbol of both the enduring injustices of empire and their possible reparations: the metropole that now speaks three hundred languages is also the capital of a country at war with itself over its place in the world and its position in history, a country caught in a vise of stasis—cultural, economic, historical—held in place by political dogma.”
6. New York Times Magazine: Lovers in Auschwitz, Reunited 72 Years Later. He Had One Question.
Two prisoners in Auschwitz were secretly lovers. David Wisnia was 17 when the affair began, and was a singer who was selected to entertain Nazi guards. Helen Spitzer had a position of higher authority as a graphic designer which allowed her access to offices and documents at the camp. She used her position to help prisoners and the resistance. They met “in their nook at a prescribed time about once a month. After the initial fears of knowing they were putting their lives in danger, they began to look forward to their dates.” It took them 72 years to meet again and Wisnia’s question was straightforward: “Did she have something to do with the fact that he’d managed to survive in Auschwitz all that time?” Spitzer raised “her hand to display five fingers. Her voice was loud, her Slovakian accent deep. ‘I saved you five times from bad shipment.’”
They both shared their stories with historians, and it took Wisnia a long time to do so, but “as the Holocaust fades from public memory and anti-Semitism is once again on the rise, Mr. Wisnia finds himself speaking about his past with more urgency.”
7. The Guardian: ‘This is small talk purgatory’: what Tinder taught me about love
I don’t like dating. I don’t like small talk. And I don’t like dating apps. People who know me know that the way I speak is vast and varying. I quickly and without transition jump from topic to topic, pulling in various references and do not usually explain them. Like the writer of this article, the best conversations I have are with “a conversation partner who travels through an abundance of interesting material at breakneck speed, shouting over their shoulder at me: Keep up. I want a conversation partner who assumes I am up for the challenge, who assumes the best of me.”
Tinder and other dating apps do not allow for this kind of conversation. Instead, “Tinder is by definition small talk purgatory.” Small talk has been compared to the idea of playing “in book” in chess, in which “the book is the known series of chess moves that should be played in sequence to optimise success. In most high-level chess matches, the first part of any game is played ‘in book’ and a smart observer will know which moves will follow which until a certain amount of complexity and chaos necessitates improvisation – at which point the players begin to play in earnest.” Conversations follow a script until improvisation is required. But in dating, especially online, that doesn’t always happen. It is hard, if not impossible to get to know someone when following a script.
This is quite a fascinating read about language, conversation, dating, and love.
8. LA Times: Vanna White hosts ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ upending a long history of dudes in suits
For the first time in 37 years, Vanna White hosted Wheel of Fortune while Pat Sajak, the show’s regular host, recovered from surgery. White wasn’t expecting the offer, but her “thousands of hours on the job made her the person in the universe most qualified to do this.” She will only host for a few episodes, and “looking ahead three weeks, might feel a little advance regret at it ending.”
9. ArtNet: Buyers of Maurizio Cattelan’s $120,000 Banana Defend the Work as ‘the Unicorn of the Art World,’ Comparing It to Warhol’s Soup Cans
This damn banana. As you might know by now, Maurizio Cattelan duct-taped a banana to the wall of Perrotin gallery’s booth at Art Basel Miami Beach, titling the piece “Comedian.” Naturally, the piece made the rounds of the internet and become a meme. It has also become a protest symbol. And another artist, David Datuna, ate the banana. According to a statement released by the couple that bought the piece, they bought it when they “saw the public debate ‘Comedian’ sparked about art and our society,” which makes a lot of sense to me.
I was talking to some friends about this and one said of the piece that “the kink always belongs to the Cattelan, and the joke is on everyone except the artist,” before another stated that “the artist is the guy that ate the banana. I’m into that guy. He is my hero.”
10. YouTube: Pete Buttigieg meets Lizzo, says he’s “100% that nominee”
This is here because it is so awkward I can’t stop thinking about it. Lizzo and Pete Buttigieg met on CBS This Morning. Buttigieg was asked three words to describe himself and chose “standing near Lizzo,” and was also asked if he’d had any DNA test recently confirming that he is “100% that nominee.” There were awkward chortles. This is the stuff that replays in your head for three hours while you’re trying to fall asleep.
*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.”