I could not keep up with the internet this week! There was TOO MUCH celebrity drama. Highlights: Florida Man, Kirk Franklin, Deion Sanders, Jann Wenner, Russell Brand, Clarence Thomas, James Ho, Jens Haaning, Diddy, and F-35s.
I love Kristen Arnett’s love and dedication to Florida. Florida is a central character in everything Arnett writes, and here she uses the “Florida Man” meme to explain the culture of the sunshine state. It is easy to make fun of all the “Florida Man stories [that] include the kind of incidents that involve tossing a live alligator at a fast food employee (admittedly more exciting than someone hurling, say, a cat), stealing $30,000 worth of turtles, and attempting to “eat someone’s face” after ingesting bath salts.
These crimes are odd and incomprehensible; the kind of behavior that someone might associate with a badly behaved toddler whose brain has yet to fully develop, and are made public due to “the Sunshine Law, a prime example of freedom of information legislation: Arrest records and mugshots are readily available online for the general public to gawk and point at.” People often jokingly refer to Florida as the “armpit of America” without seriously considering “the difficulty that’s attached to living in a red state. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to remain living in a place that is systematically stripping away my rights.”
I’ve met many coastally minded liberals that eschew Florida and dismiss its residents “through rampant internet usage and bad faith reasoning. Gator thrown at a fast food worker, they think. Naked man stealing a truck, they think. Maybe they deserve it, they think.” While it is “easy for outsiders to point at us and say that we’re what’s wrong with this country,” Arnett writes, “I think the harder lesson is that Florida is no different from anywhere else; the headlines just turn our hardships into a joke to make things more palatable.”
In advance of his forthcoming album, ‘Father’s Day,’ legendary gospel singer Kirk Franklin released this documentary about the same day, documenting Franklin discovering the identity of and meeting his biological father. Throughout the documentary, Franklin is open about the trauma not knowing his father caused him, connecting how it influences his relationship with his son. There is a lot to say about this.
In a series of Tweets, Candice Benbow articulates many of my thoughts on the way “so many Black male pastors and religious figures/leaders are navigating parental trauma and they think they’ve masked the wounds that it’s caused.” Benbow “hope[s] Kirk’s transparency leads many of them to reckon with the brokenness of longing and belonging so they can be better for themselves, first” and “the relationship between a parent and child is, I believe, the ultimate soul tie. Even if they aren’t in our lives, there’s nothing we can do to fully sever our connection to them. They shape us, with/in their presence and absence.”
Even if you don’t follow college football (which I, in general, don’t) Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders is inescapable. The new head football coach of the University of Colorado, Boulder Buffalos is a “flashy multi-sport star [who] has turned a college campus into one of the most popular places to be in America. Where Sanders goes, eyeballs, talented ballplayers and most specifically – money – follows.” In just one season, he has turned around the Colorado program, and gotten people who’ve never paid attention to the school or football to not only watch, but cheer for the Buffs! Reportedly “the locker room looks like entertainment agency Roc Nation brunch before games. Old crunchy, kitschy shops are selling random trinkets that say Prime on them, just to cash in on the fun.”
I have been to Colorado a few times and it is very white. I cannot imagine how “absolutely bizarre it is to see the residents of Boulder, Colorado, walking around with Prime T-shirts on, at a school that’s barely 5% Black.”
Apart from all of the wild celebrity relationship gossip over the past few weeks, “several public figures have stepped in it recently by oversharing or making moves they simply didn’t have to make. The list has become so long that it feels less like they’ve committed a series of unforced errors and more like an entire unforced era.” As outlined here by Aja Romano, this includes Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis supporting their friend, former costar and convicted rapist Danny Masterson, a slew of celebrities supporting Tory Lanez, multiple people attempting to cross the Hollywood picket lines, and reports of Russell Brand’s sexual abuse.
All of this was capped off last week when RollingStone co-founder Jann Wenner’s choice to “include zero Black artists or women in his forthcoming book, meant to represent the depth and breadth of Wenner’s career and his place in the legacy of rock and roll.” His reason, as he stated in a New York Times profile, was because Black and women artists lack “mastery.” Of course this is despite rock and roll having roots in Black culture.
Certainly Wenner and all of these celebrities will not be the last to step in it, as “what all of these incidents have in common is a kind of tone-deaf self-assuredness that comes when a person’s level of societal insulation from criticism is so cushiony, so velvety and soft, that it becomes part of their worldview. These are the mishaps that result when so many people have affirmed a person over the years that that person starts to believe that if they want to do a thing, that thing must be right and justified — because they’re the one doing it, and they’re a good, correct person.”
Actor and comedian Russell Brand has been accused fo rape, sexual assault and abuse by multiple women. The investigation by The Sunday Times, The Times, and Channel 4 Dispatches began in 2019 with allegations going back to 2006, and is emblematic of a system of abuse we’ve seen in many instances of famous people using their position and power to abuse others. Brand has denied all allegations.
ProPublica continues its campaign against Clarence Thomas, this time with news that the Supreme Court Justice “has attended at least two Koch donor summits, putting him in the extraordinary position of having helped a political network that has brought multiple cases before the Supreme Court.” At this point in the midst of all this fuckery, news of Thomas’s devious canoodling with the Koch’s is par for the course, but it is still extremely important to have public awareness around the direct influence within our highest court.
While this title is accurate, it is also a bit misleading because JAMES HO WANTS TO BE WORSE THAN CLARENCE THOMAS. The fifth circuit judge was one of three judges—all republican appointees—that just ruled to “significantly restrict access to mifepristone, one of two drugs used in a regimen to induce an abortion,” if the decision is held up by the Supreme court.
In a concurring opinion, Ho argued that mifepristone, which was first approved by the FDA in 2000, because of “aesthetic injury” or that “doctors delight in working with their unborn patients—and experience an aesthetic injury when they are aborted,” as he explained. WHAT!??
Elie Mystal does his best to explain what Ho means, but he’s “been studying law for 23 years, and I cannot tell you what that sentence means as a legal principle.” In conclusion, “Joe Biden must win the 2024 election. If he doesn’t, James Ho—or one of the handful of Republican justices running to out-evil him—will be coming for our rights. That’s all the motivation I need to get out and vote.”
In 2021 artist Jens Haaning was commissioned by the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg in northern Denmark to make an artwork. Haaning, who “is known for creating pieces decorated with currency”, was given 534,000 kroner (~$76,560 today) with the expectation that he would “physically incorporate [the banknotes] into two artworks.” Instead, Haaning pocketed the money, and gave the museum two blank canvases “fittingly titled Take the Money and Run.” Although the director of the museum did agree that “we got new and interesting art,” they still sued Haaning, whose expected “compensation for the commission was 10,000 kroner (~$1,600 in 2021) plus expenses.”
Haaning argues “this is only a piece of art if I don’t return the money,” and he is correct! However, the courts do not agree and although “Haaning filed for an acquittal and for the museum to pay him 550,000 kroner (~$50,800) in compensation for the two blank canvases, a request that was denied. Haaning now has four weeks to appeal the court’s decision. For now, he’ll be handing the museum 492,549 kroner (~$70,650) — the original cash sum minus Haaning’s commission and viewing fee.” Tomato.
Diddy released his first solo album in 17 years, ‘The Love Album’, last week and EVERYONE has a feature! The long list includes, but is not limited to, Jazmine Sullivan H.E.R, Summer Walker, John Legend, Teyana Taylor, French Montana, Busta Rhymes, Dawn Richard, Kalenna, Ty Dolla $ign, Jacquees, Kehlani, 21 Savage, and a whole lot more! It is a good album, but with 27 tracks and a runtime of 1 hour and 33 minutes, it is too damn long.
What in the world?! Last weekend a Marine Corps F-35 fighter jet crashed in South Carolina after briefly going missing. The pilot was reportedly forced to eject from the $100 million dollar plane after an unknown malfunction. Futher adding to the oddity of the event, “the aircraft was only at an altitude of about 1,000 feet (300 meters) and only about a mile (less than 2 kilometers) north of Charleston International Airport, in a populated area that led the pilot to parachute into a residential backyard,” yet the plane kept flying for about 60 miles before crashing in Indiantown, SC.