The internet was messy this week! Miss Tina filed for divorce. Jamie Foxx released a video. Carlee Russell was charged. Highlights: Sinéad O’Connor, Wanda Coleman, Amy Winehouse, Doja Cat, Ariana Grande, Cardi B and Offset, Jason Aldean, snow monkeys in Texas, aliens are real, and X.
Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor was found dead on Wednesday. She was 56. O’Connor’s career spans three decades, with a discography “so broad and dynamic that it’s difficult to efficiently characterize her sound, from the buoyant, whooping new wave of ‘Mandinka,’ a single from her début LP, to her voluptuous, breathy take on Cole Porter’s ‘You Do Something to Me,’ to her haunted rendition of the traditional Scottish tune ‘The Skye Boat Song,’ which she recently recorded for the title sequence of the television show ‘Outlander.’”
Known for her steadfast politics, and “the richness of O’Connor’s music was often surpassed by the vehemence and scorch of her politics.” Her work is filled with a dedication to truth, and marred by grief and cruelty. “O’Connor was never quiet about her pain, even when it would have been easier to swallow or evade it—in fact, being unapologetic about the crippling weight of certain sorrows was the defining characteristic of her work.”
I came across a snippet—or rather a snippet came across me—of Wanda Coleman’s ‘6:50 PM. The Phone Rings. It’s Him’ on twitter this week. Quickly after reading those few lines of Coleman’s work, a cursory google search led me to this episode of Poetry Off the Shelve. Poet Terrance Hayes talks to host Helena de Groot about Coleman, and the impact both she and her work have on Hayes and his life.
Brilliant and governed by curiosity, Coleman was known as being “intense and fiery” and also outraged, Hayes speaks of her work with great reverence, even as it is still often overlooked. Her outrage is the outrage of many Black women, and as Hayes lays bare, “comes from the fact that she’s not sitting where I am, and we know what that was about, because she was a Black woman. She was a Black woman with kids, she was a Black woman not with a lot of money, she was a Black woman from the West Coast, she was a Black woman with an attitude, I mean. She wasn’t delusional about why she’s not here.”
When I first saw Amy, the 2015 documentary of Amy Winehouse’s life, I was devastated by her prescient observation that her “music is not on that scale. Sometimes I wish it was, but I don’t think I am going to be at all famous. I don’t think I could handle it. I’d probably go mad.” The clip, from her pre Back to Black fame, was made public four years after her death from alcohol poisoning in 2011. Winehouse’s well-documented addictions were constantly touted as reasons she should not get awards, despite her musical talent, something “would not have been such a hot topic if she were a man.” Lisa Whittington-Hill looks back on how we failed Amy Winehouse, weaving together the way she was treated in life and death with that of Kurt Cobain.
Doja Cat is beefing with her fans, rebuking their ‘Kittenz’ moniker, a name she gave them herself. Doja has a history of insulting her fans (for liking her work). Over the weekend the singer went on a Threads rant writing “my fans don’t get to name themselves shit… If you call yourself a ‘Kitten’ or f–king ‘Kittenz’ that means you need to get off your phone and get a job and help your parents with the house.” While known for being an internet weirdo, she has taken things far with this beef, and some of her most popular fan accounts have been deactivated, and she has lost hundreds of thousands of followers.
Also at the center of this fight is Doja’s long rumored boyfriend J. Cyrus. A comedian and Twitch streamer, Cyrus who “has been accused of manipulating and emotionally abusing members of his team and community.” In response, Doja declared “I DON’T GIVE A F*CK WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT MY PERSONAL LIFE I NEVER HAVE AND NEVER WILL GIVE A F*CK WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT ME OR MY PERSONAL LIFE GOODBYE AND GOOD RIDDANCE MISERABLE HOES HAHA!”
This saga has brought about important questions of what celebrities owe their fans, “and while Doja Cat’s admonishment is probably a much-needed reality check for some hyper-online fans, she seems to have gone out of her way to deliver it in as cruel a manner as possible.”
Apparently Ariana Grande is messy. Grande, who just recently separated from her husband Dalton Gomez this month, is allegedly dating Ethan Slater. Slater reportedly filed for divorce on Wednesday from his estranged wife, Lily Jay, with whom he shares a son. Adding to this mess are reports “that Grande had hung out with the couple as friends and met their baby,” and liked a mother’s day Instagram post Slater made. There is a lot going on and patterns in Grande’s behavior are starting to become clear—even to those of us that don’t follow the singer.
There are always rumors about Offset and Cardi B’s relationship. In their new song, JEALOUSY, the two rappers (maybe) address some of those rumors. Sampling Three 6 Mafia’s ‘Jealous Ass Bitches’ and a cameo by Taraji P. Henson, there is a lot to dig into in this rich video filled with pop culture references.
For years now, I’ve seen various articles discuss the change that is taking shape in country music. It was first brought to my attention through the work of Tressie McMillian Cottom, who has written many articles on the history of country music, and the many Black women and femmes currently making waves in the genre. Just last week Emily Nussbaum had a major piece in The New Yorker about the remaking of Nashville and the culture wars in the genre.
Although country music has its roots in Black American culture, it is widely known as a white genre, in addition to a conservative one. Jason Aldean and his song ‘Try That in a Small Town’ are emblematic of this reputation. First released in May, the music video for the song was released early this month—garnering both intense criticism and praise.
Aldean’s “lyrics are rife with threats to outsiders, particularly people from the city. The words encourage listeners to resort to vigilantism and gun violence against outsiders.” The music video, however, took this further and “is more explicit about whom it considers an outsider. The video includes clips of riots, vandalism, and police encounters. Some of the images come from Fox News’s coverage of Black Lives Matter protests, but some are stock footage, including of demonstrations from other countries. The intended effect is to encourage violence against people protesting racial injustice.”
The video has been pulled from CMT, and the BLM footage has been removed due to copyright issues. The song is also being picked up by right-wing politicians and “Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley actually played the song at their campaign stops.” People in country music are also split on the song. In a Twitter post Cheryl Crow expressed her disdain writing, “I’m from a small town. Even people in small towns are sick of violence.There’s nothing small-town or American about promoting violence. You should know that better than anyone having survived a mass shooting. This is not American or small town-like. It’s just lame.”
Supporting Aldean is asinine and does nothing but promote right-wing propaganda. He is not new to this. “He is openly anti-vaccine and has dressed his children in anti–Joe Biden clothing. His wife and sister have a conservative clothing line dedicated to mocking liberals, and Aldean wore blackface for a costume in 2015. He has also gone golfing with Trump and gave an impromptu performance at Mar-a-Lago.”
There are monkeys in Texas! In 1972 a troupe of Japanese macaques were transplanted from their snow-capped mountain tops to an arid Texas ranch. When Sarah Bird first heard about the monkeys in 1975 while a graduate student, she immediately felt a connection to them having also moved to Texas as a child after spending three years in Japan.
After stumbling upon an article she wrote about Pelka, the monkey at the center of this story, “the accompanying photograph instantly whisked me back almost fifty years.” Bird searches for her long lost companions in this “story with no bad guys, only good guys doing what they thought was best within the context of the time and their training. And, for me, it’s a story without the fairy-tale ending of my childhood. Just a glimpse of a solitary monkey perched high atop a far-off mesquite tree, yearning either for the snowy heights of her ancestral Stormy Mountain.”
Apparently aliens are real. While many people (myself included) have assumed such for a long time—simply based on the scale of the universe—we now have confirmation, although the witness offered no proof and no specifics. On Wednesday retired Maj. David Grusch testified before Congress’ House Oversight subcommittee that “The U.S. is concealing a longstanding program that retrieves and reverse engineers unidentified flying objects.” The Pentagon, however, has denied these claims… but what else are they gonna do?
The internet might have been ready to storm Area 51 in 2019, but if the aliens aren’t here to lower rent or the cost of living people really don’t care.
Elon Musk rebranded Twitter to X last Sunday. The bland name, or letter, “has been on just about everything Musk has touched for the last two-plus decades. X.com was the original name for Paypal; it’s in his SpaceX company name; it’s in the name for the Tesla SUV; it anchors X.Ai and his kid X Æ A-12; and he has said he wants to turn Twitter into ‘X, the everything app.’” The whole rollout was, predictably, a mess and took place over a late night rant. And, for someone obsessed with design, branding, and images, the logo is ugly. No one is calling Twitter X.