The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 1/24

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Art AND: Precious Blake

The internet was a bit relieving but also exhausting this week. It was all about the inauguration this week (and the subsequent memes), political hot takes (that I was too exhausted to read), and a few other things sprinkled about. Highlights: Inauguration highlights and memes, MLK Day, screen memories, plastic surgery on Instagram, the #metoo movement in Germany, and Kyrie Irving. 

1. YouTube: The Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris | Jan. 20th, 2021

WE HAVE A NEW PRESIDENT. This country is still very fucked up but hot damn this inauguration was exciting. Biden has taken no time in exercising his power and has already signed 30 executive orders including rejoining the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Accord, multiple orders that improve COVID-19 protocols, and more. 


2. BuzzFeed: Michelle Obama’s Inauguration Look Has Everyone Losing Their Minds

Michelle Obama was one of the most talked about people at the inauguration, and rightfully so—her outfit was amazing and not a hair was out of place. People lost their shit. While people have many of compliments about the Sergio Hudson design, no one seems to know what color to call her ensemble, which has become somewhat of an obsession of mine. Many outlets are calling the whole outfit plum, although one could argue that her top, pants, belt, and coat are all slightly different colors. The Cut describes it as a “monochrome look in shades of burgundy and plum,” Roxane Gay tweeted that Michelle Obama was “flawless with my hair laid right and my plum ensemble,” and Marie Claire categorized the color as purple. In the caption of a Canadian ET interview, the designer says the ensemble is burgundy—which I can agree with.

Personally, I gravitate towards describing the color(s) as maroon, burgundy, or crimson, and it also drastically changes based on the photograph, but I will die on a hill of my own bullshit if someone calls it plum. 


3. YouTube: Poet Amanda Gorman reads ‘The Hill We Climb’

Another highlight of the inauguration was the nation’s first Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, whose poem, “The Hill We Climb,” has been shared EVERYWHERE. I think Gorman walked a very fine line very well with this poem as it simultaneously calls people out but promotes unity and healing. She points out the differences people have in cultural positioning, including herself: “a skinny Black girl / descended from slaves and raised by a single mother / can dream of becoming president / only to find herself reciting for one.” She pays reverence to history when she says that “being American is more than a pride we inherit, / it’s the past we step into / and how we repair it.” She also looks forward, acknowledging “that even as we grieved, we grew, / that even as we hurt, we hoped, / that even as we tired, we tried, / that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. / Not because we will never again know defeat, / but because we will never again sow division.

This poem was political but it also played politics. 


3. BuzzFeed: These Are The Absolute Best Bernie Sanders Sitting At The Inauguration Memes

That photo of Bernie Sanders sitting at the election is everywhere still. This meme has become so popular that within 48 hours of the inauguration, someone built a website that lets you put Bernie anywhere with Google Street View. My personal favorite version of this meme is Bernie sitting across from Marina Abromovic as part of her 2010 performance, The Artist is Present, created by Baltimore writer R. Eric Thomas. 


5. BuzzFeed: Trump Left A Note For Biden At The White House, So Naturally Twitter Meme-ified It

Taking part in a modern tradition, Donald Trump left a note for Joe Biden at the White House… and it turned into a meme. Many of the memes feature short notes with childlike handwriting and straightforward statements. They are funny, but the memes I’ve seen aren’t very diverse and largely make the same joke. 

Honestly, it is very nice but also kind of strange that Trump can’t tweet his commentary this week as I’ve grown accustomed to it over the years. But, as Imani Gandy tweeted, could you imagine if trump were still on Twitter? He would be so annoying… He would tweet annoying shit every day.”


6. Twitter: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center 

It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day last Monday and the internet was flooded with content about him and his life. His daughter, Bernice King, reminded people to honor her mother, Coretta Scott King, as well, since “She was the architect of the King Legacy and founder of @TheKingCenter.” Others implored people, especially white people, to not whitewash Dr. King’s legacy into a palatable quote, but to actually contend with his radical legacy. In this Twitter thread, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center provides links for people to do just that: engage with the work of Dr. King and not truncate his legacy.  



7. Real Life: Screen Memories

I used to take and share a lot of screenshots. For years, this practice was largely my studio practice, and I shared these images on Instagram, creating a profile of hundreds of snippets of texting conversations and screenshots of my camera roll. For me, and for writer Kelly Pendergrast, “the screenshot is a technique I use to process and frame the world, to keep or to share with others. The act of capture is a simultaneously archival and communicative act.” Recently, for reasons I’ve yet to be able to point to, I archived almost all of these screenshots. 

Pendergrast writes that “the screenshot is a gesture that lays claim to the act of seeing, and turns the framing and capturing of an image that often contains a mixture of windows and picture fields (a web page, a Microsoft Word window, all of it) into an act of creating anew. The old metadata: Gone! In its place, my image, with fresh data and the pleasingly prosaic file name “Screen Shot 2020-12-01 at 9.54.48 PM.” In taking a screenshot, we create “proof of memory — proof that I was there, online at a moment in time.”  

I used to spend hours looking over my camera roll and screenshots, organizing images into different folders, similar to Pendergrast’s process of reviewing each screenshot “in case there’s a snippet of essential documentation or a glimmer of genius captured in the pile of weird fragments.” I hardly look at my camera roll at all anymore (unless I’m looking for a picture of my parents’ puppy), and I think that has something to do with why I archived most of my Instagram account: it held things I no longer wished to see, no longer wished to remember. 


8. Wired: Your Body, Your Self, Your Surgeon, His Instagram

I somehow got embedded in plastic surgery Instagram for about a week and it was A LOT that I was not expecting. Personally, I’m not very good with images with blood, cut flesh, bruises, swelling, etc., and there was a lot of that on plastic surgery Instagram. 

Based in Toronto, Martin Jugenburg can best be described as “a celebrity surgeon, a doctor turned influencer who shares his masterworks with his followers in real time. In his operating room, showmanship and sutures get equal play.” While some “clients are happy to play a role in his reality show,” others, including a woman called Laura who shares her story in this article, “say they’ve felt pressured to participate. And in the years that followed her procedure, Laura wasn’t the only one wondering if the doctor had become more beholden to his fans than to his patients.”

Some of the stories here are grotesque, and people discuss how they “felt like a piece of meat” after watching their videos. 


9. Columbia Journalism Review: The Doctor vs. #MeToo

I could not stop reading this once I started. In this article, Caitlin L. Chandler covers the reporting of Juliane Löffler and Thomas Vorreyer, of BuzzFeed Germany and Vice Germany respectively, on HIV specialist Dr. Heiko Jessen, who has been suspected and accused of abuse and sexual assault for decades. Chandler’s story is as much about the accusations against Jessen, whose case is making its way to trial, as it is about German law. The intersections within this article—with queerness, living with HIV, how the #MeToo movement played itself out in Germany, and the German legal system—are fascinating and tragic. 



10. The Guardian: Hero, villain or troll? Kyrie Irving remains the NBA’s oddest genius

I don’t follow professional basketball. I don’t actually follow any sports. But, somehow, everything I read about professional basketball makes me want to follow the sport. Before reading this article I’d heard of Kyrie Irving and knew he played basketball but that’s about where my knowledge of the Brooklyn Nets player ended. I did not know that he is controversial, that “to some the Brooklyn Nets guard is an entitled conspiracy theorist. To others he is a superstar millionaire with a conscience.” Irving is dichotomous, and “if anything’s for certain about the man, it’s this: keeping the world off-balance is what he does best. Now as for the shape of said world? Oof. Please. Do not get him started.”


Header Image: Bernie meme by R. Eric Thomas

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