The Internet Is Exploding

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I wasn’t really that into the internet this week. Highlights: David Foster Wallace was a jerk, Macaulay Culkin is not who you think he is, Jeanne Calment might not have been the oldest living person, Joshua Yaffa’s Russia is worth paying attention to, the power of Parasite, Eminem finally lost himself in the moment, Kobe Bryant’s love of history, Harriet Tubman’s credit card, and the Westminster Dog Show. 

1. The New Republic: Infinite Jerk

I’ve never read anything by David Foster Wallace. I do not generally enjoy reading novels, and the first time I saw the sheer mass of Infinite Jest, and knowing how his fans exalt him as a writer of some kind of exemplary literature, I was immediately turned off. 

Adrienne Miller’s new memoir, In the Land of Men, focuses on her relationship with Wallace (who was 10 years older than her), and “is a recollection of her career as an editor at glossy men’s magazines from the 1990s to the mid-2000s, and of the sexism she encountered on the job.” Laura Marsh’s review of the book, also references Lisa Halliday’s 2018 novel, Asymmetry, “which draws on the relationship she had with Philip Roth in the early 2000s, when she was in her early twenties and he was in his sixties.” While Marsh is sensitive to sexism and predatory behavior by older men, she also all contextualizes the books in the dissolution of the media and publishing industries, proposing that in a different environment, “perhaps these men would have been no more than glamorous cameos in a very different sort of story. As it is, we get skilled and unsparing portraits of them, largely on their own terrain.” We don’t live in that environment.  

Maybe I should give Wallace, or Infinite Jest, a chance. But this review makes it hard for me to want to .

Macaulay Culkin

2. Esquire: Macaulay Culkin Is Not Like You

This is the most annoyingly fascinating thing I have read in a while. I’m confused about the tone, and descriptions of “his broad, taut, slightly elongated, pinkish, not-hairy, almost-forty-year-old torso,” but also they make so much sense for the myth of Macaulay Culkin, who goes by Mack. I’m not sure that I wanted to read the whole thing, but I definitely did. Which I guess is good?

Jeanne Calment

3. The New Yorker: Was Jeanne Calment the Oldest Person Who Ever Lived—or a Fraud?

I have an ideal age range that I would like to die within—I know this is kinda weird. Traditionally, it has been between the ages of 75 and 85, but recently I’ve shifted it between 80 and 90. I told this to a friend that is older than me, and she said this showed my age. Perhaps she is right. 

Jeanne Calment thoroughly outlived my range, dying after living “a hundred and twenty-two years, five months, and fourteen days,” and is known as the oldest person who has ever lived. She died in the summer of 1997 in France, the same year as Princess Dianna and Mother Teresa: “the first became a household name by marrying into royalty; the second, by caring for the world’s sick and poor. Jeanne Calment, however, was an accidental icon, her celebrity the result of a form of passivity.” Calment and her passivity, however, have been under attack since 2018, and a group of doctors and mathematicians is set to declare her a fraud.

Joshua Yaffa

4. Longform: Podcast #397: Joshua Yaffa

I rarely, if ever, have posted about Russia or its influence on American politics in this column. The news constantly inundates us with news of Russia and its involvement in something that I don’t usually feel the need to include it in this column. 

Joshua Yaffa is the Moscow correspondent for the New Yorker, and throughout this interview he discusses how he got to where he is, his experience of reporting on and from Russia, and in the process encapsulates many major moments in Russian politics over the past few years. 

Bong Joon-Ho

5. The Hollywood Reporter: Critic’s Notebook: The Liberating Power of the ‘Parasite’ Oscar Win

Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite swept the Oscars, winning Best Original Screenplay, International Feature Film, Director, and was the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture. For Korean American critic Inkoo Kang, “watching Parasite be embraced by so many people has been an unburdening, a de-otherization I didn’t know I needed. The parts of myself I didn’t think would be understood by non-Koreans maybe weren’t so illegible, so unknowable, after all — partly because of the way Korean culture has spread internationally, partly because I had preemptively decided others might find those aspects of me too esoteric or difficult to comprehend.” 


6. Variety: Eminem Reveals Why He Finally Performed at the Oscars, 17 Years Later

Eminem performed “Lose Yourself” at the Oscars… 17 years after it won an Academy Award for Best Original Song because he “kinda figured maybe since I didn’t get a chance to do it at the time, maybe it would be cool.” The internet was excited and confused. 

Kobe Bryant

7. n + 1: I Should Have Known!

I was never a fan of Kobe Bryant. I knew he had a massive cultural impact on many people, but when he died I didn’t feel it—I never had a personal connection with him—and I was conflicted due to past allegations against Bryant. This essay by Henry Gruber is the first thing I have read that made me understand the personal relationships people developed with Bryant. Gruber, who grew up in LA, found himself teaching Bryant about Ancient Rome after he wrote a blog post that “considered [Bryant’s] career in the context of the philosophy of Lucius Annaeus Seneca and his essay ‘On the Shortness of Life.’” For Gruber, Bryant “let us think about what it meant to sacrifice everything—other people, certainly, happiness, perhaps—in a drive to be excellent.”

8. YouTube: Dwyane Wade’s Candid Talk About Supporting His 12-Year-Old’s Gender Identity

Dwyane Wade’s 12-year-old daughter came out as transgender. This interview is so good because it is so simple, and Wade and his family’s support is exemplary. 

9. Bossip: Swipe To Freedom! This Wakandan Harriet Tubman Credit Card Is The Funniest Thing On The Internet

Ummmm…I’m not exactly sure what to say about this. One Union Bank created an (unintentionally) Wakanda-vibed Harriet Tubman credit card for Black History Month. Needless to say there were lots of jokes about using the card at Cracker Barrel

10. The New York Times: Siba the Standard Poodle Wins Westminster Dog Show

Although I do not have a dog, I am very active on dog social media, particularly Instagram. My entire Instagram explore page is normally Bernese Mountain Dogs, but sometimes other breeds make it in. I like so many pictures of Bernese Mountain Dogs from my personal account that when I worked on BmoreArt’s Instagram account, occasionally pictures of the dogs would appear on that account’s explore page—sorry, Cara! 

Anyway, the Westminster Dog Show took place over Monday and Tuesday, and Siba the poodle won Best in Show much to the dismay of the Golden Retriever crowd favorite, Daniel—who would have been the first dog from his breed to win Best in Show in the competition’s 144-year history! Sadly, a Bernese Mountain Dog was not in the finals. 

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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