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The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 4/3

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Will Smith slapped Chris Rock and that was basically the internet this week. While many of the hot takes about Smith are, at this point, more annoying than entertaining, the slap that was seen across the world has (re)engendered conversations on misogynoir, accountability, consent, colorism, and nepotism. Admittedly, there are a lot of articles about the slap this week, largely because my favorite coverage of it is by the podcast Tea with Queen and J. is on their Patreon and protected behind a paywall (their Patreon is worth paying for).

Highlights: Will Smith and Chris Rock, celebrities are canceling themselves, colorism in R&B, Fo Sho and Ukrainian hip-hop, trans and non-binary hosted podcasts, piping plovers, befriending a goose, and the Blue Man Group. 

 

1. Twitter: Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock at the Oscars

If you have not already heard, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars last Sunday. The slap came after Rock made a joke at the expense of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, about her alopecia and shaved head. After realizing his wife was uncomfortable, Smith walked to the stage and slapped Rock before returning to his seat and informing Rock to “keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth.”

While this slap has dominated the award show (and this internet), there were many other notable moments about the event, including its all-Black production team, Beyonce’s performance, Samuel L. Jackson’s Oscar win, Megan Thee Stallion’s performance, and more.  

 

2. Teen Vogue: The Will Smith & Chris Rock Slap Situation Is Not About You

Predictably, the internet had a lot of unsolicited, “unnecessary, lukewarm takes about everything from celebrity distraction conspiracies to violence and its ramifications.” A large number of these critiques are coming from white people, and white women in particular, “who have decided to implicitly connect Will Smith to abuse, suggesting or even outright stating that he is a domestic abuser and a danger to his wife or daughter. They claim that the slap and subsequent yelling triggered them, that it reminded them of experiences with abusive fathers or partners.” This is “part of a historical trend in which white women weaponize themselves and their reactions to Black people, reframing our neutral states or our valid anger as threatening to them.” 

These critiques are also ignoring that Smith and Rock have a history, as “Rock has made the couple the butt of a few of his jokes.” Further, this joke, in particular, is steeped in misogynoir, a form of racialized misogyny targeted at Black women. 

Perhaps “violence isn’t the best response to misogyny… but let’s not ignore that misogynoir is violence. Let’s talk about that.”

 

3. Xo NeCole: Will Smith, Chris Rock And What Accountability Looks Like

For me, The Slap itself isn’t the most interesting thing to discuss, but rather all of the discourses it engendered, one of them being accountability. Right after the incident, “A photo captured Will Smith being spoken to by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry a few feet away from the Oscars stage.” We do not know the content of the conversation, but during his acceptance speech for Best Actor, Smith “told the audience that Washington said, ‘At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you.’” 

Many unsolicited hot takes “have fixated on wanting the actor to receive carceral punishment,” despite Rock “[declining] to press charges against Smith, thus begging the question: who is it that we are protecting by insisting on carceral solutions if the person harmed here is not interested in pursuing any legal recourse?” 

Smith has since apologized for his actions, but we have yet to see Chris Rock apologize to Pinkett Smith. It appears that people are more interested in punishment than accountability because “sometimes accountability looks like being pulled to the side by an elder like Washington that will gently but firmly correct you. Accountability is an act of love and community. And Sunday night showed us a brief glimpse of what that looks like.”

 

4. BuzzFeed: Zoë Kravitz Is Trending After She Shaded Will Smith For “Assaulting People On Stage,” And People Began Circulating Her Past Comments About Then–14-Year-Old Jaden Smith

Many celebrities showed their asses after The Slap (many of the notable celebrity comments are included in the Teen Vogue opinion above), and Zoë Kravitz was one of them. Kravitz posted a picture of herself at the Oscars captioned “here’s a picture of my dress at the award show where we are apparently assaulting people on stage now.” A second post of her after-party dress was captioned “and here is a picture of my dress at the party after the award show -where we are apparently screaming profanities and assaulting people on stage now.” 

Black Twitter did not take kindly to the comments, which shaded Will Smith. Twitter swiftly came for Kravitz with a speed I had never seen before. Shortly after the posts, people started spilling the tea on Kravitz. Many noted her close relationship with designer Alexander Wang, who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault. Additionally, “her comments from a 2013 interview with V magazine resurfaced” in which interview Kravitz “made several suggestive remarks about Will Smith’s son Jaden, then 14.” In one comment, Kravitz recalled how “there were moments that I was hanging out with Jaden and thinking, I can’t believe you’re 14, I have to check myself, like what I say to you.” She was 24 at the time. She really could have just said nothing. Further, criticism of Kravtiz has noted that she is light-skinned and the child of famous parents, implying this has helped her achieve fame. 

 

5. YouTube: Colorism & The Modern R&B Music Paper Bag Test | @Jouelzy

Perhaps it is just that I’ve started listening to more R&B over the past few years, but the genre seems to be in the midst of a revival. Established artists such as Jazmine Sullivan are finally getting their due, and Ari Lennox’s 2019 Shea Butter Baby became an instant classic. At the same time, light-skinned and racially ambiguous artists such as Jorja Smith, Snoh Aalegra, and Ella Mai have quickly made a name for themselves—some have even had opportunities to cross over to pop from R&B. This has happened notably faster than their darker-skinned counterparts. In this video, Jouelzy “[discusses] how colorism & lightskin privilege still reign supreme in the R&B music industry” and addresses how this affects brown and dark-skinned women in modern R&B. Jouelzy is not the first person to say this, but it is notable given the Grammys tonight.

 

6. Rolling Stone: These Three Sisters Helped Bring Hip-Hop to Ukraine. Now They’re Refugees From War

Three Black Jewish Ukrainian sisters, Bethlehem (or Betty), Miriam, and Siona Endale, make up the hip-hop group Fo Sho. When they first started making music in 2019, “people were still looking at it as something weird,” says Betty, the eldest sister. “People were still interested in melodies. Hip-hop is about groove and it’s a revolution in taste. We were missing that in Ukrainian culture.” 

The group was planning to release their first album this year but fled Ukraine when war broke out with Russia, and they are now refugees in Germany. Their music “[doesn’t] talk about how everything is good. We talk about political stuff.” But the album is on hold: “right now it doesn’t make sense… We won’t be able to sing those songs for a long time. They’re not relevant to us now. We need to write something new.”

This is the first time I’ve heard of the group, and I’m very interested to learn more about them. 

 

7. Instagram: Tea with Queen and J.’s Recommended Podcasts Hosted by Trans & Non-Binary People

Thursday was Trans Day of Visibility. To celebrate, Tea with Queen and J., one of my favorite podcasts, posted a list of ten podcasts that are hosted by trans and non-binary people. Some of these shows are new to me, but I’ve listened to Marsha’s Plate, Inner Hoe Uprising, Bag Ladiez, and Hoodrat to Headwrap and enjoyed all of them. I’m very excited to get into these in the coming weeks! 

 

8. The Narwhal: Plovers quarrel: a tiny, endangered bird returns to Sauble Beach to find sunbathers dug into the sand

Growing up in Michigan, I became an avid lover of freshwater beaches, the Great Lakes, and their ecosystems. My favorite beaches often require driving down dirt roads, followed by hikes up and down sand dunes or through forests to reach the shore. The beaches I go to aren’t manicured and have restricted areas to protect piping plovers amongst other shorebirds. 

There were once an estimated 800 pairs of breeding plovers around the Great Lakes, “but by the 1960s, piping plover populations were quickly vanishing from [the region].” In 2007, a pair of the “critically endangered shorebird… magically returned to Ontario after a 30-year absence.”

Since then, birders such as Don Kennedy have protected and tracked the plover’s comeback in Sauble Beach. Known for its sandy Lake Huron shoreline, every summer Sauble Beach attracts “cottage goers, bird watchers, vacationers hopping between small towns. Every summer, they set up camp, feeding a local tourism industry that sustains the town for the year.” With the increase in tourism “over the past six years, the Town of South Bruce Peninsula has been raking and bulldozing the beach to make it look ‘clean’ to tourists and developers.” In an attempt to protect the birds, “the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry fined the town for violating the Endangered Species Act by destroying sensitive dune systems and plover habitat.”

The town has taken this issue to court, and it has turned into a lengthy legal battle “that could have implications around the world about what it means to ‘damage’ a habitat.” The suit questions “exactly what a beach should be. Pristine white sand is the preferred backdrop for sunbathing, picnics, sandcastles and snorkeling, while driftwood, uneven sand, plants, rocks and shells are best for nesting, feeding and survival. It all comes down to who the beach is meant for: humans, plovers — or maybe both?”

 

9. The Paris Review: My Friend Goo

During the beginning of the pandemic I, like everyone, walked. Deb Olin Unferth walked “longer and farther than I’d ever gone on foot from my house.” Moving through this pensive, apperceptive essay, Unferth walks you through losing her brother years earlier, tension within her marriage, and becoming friends with an African goose she named Goo. 

 

10. Vulture: How Blue Man Blew Up

The Blue Man Group has been around longer than I’ve been alive. Their first performance was in May 1988, when “eight people carried a coffin into Central Park to conduct a ‘funeral for the ’80s’… The participants, most of whom had painted their skin blue, piled the objects into a metal drum along with some flash paper, which they lit on fire.” Shortly after, “the group of Blue Men had been winnowed down to three: Chris Wink, Matt Goldman, and Phil Stanton.” The group continued to tour, and after a few years earned a spot at the Astor Place Theatre. “This past November, the Astor Place show marked its 30th year — one of the most successful Off Broadway runs of all time.” 

Unusual as the show may be, it has been popular and accepted for as long as I’ve known about it. The “show found an audience when it launched — during the rise of rave culture and a few years after Burning Man debuted on Baker Beach — made a certain kind of sense for the era. But its lasting success has surprised no one more than the founders themselves.”

Personally, I feel like the group will be around forever. 

 

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