not in our stars, but in ourselves
There’s been plenty of news to stress and/or bum me out this week, but fuck it.
1. We all know that Beyoncé is the queen, but Fader makes a strong case for her being a real, actual, honest-to-god queen – because she controls her own image, and never gives interviews, and basically runs the world. Most of us are quite aware of this indisputable fact, but in case you aren’t, read and learn.
2. Nicki Minaj is a queen, too, and she has a lengthy profile in The New York Times Magazine this week. For the most part, it’s a good article, but I had a couple of qualms with it. First of all, I gather that Vanessa Grigoriadis does lots of celebrity interviews; and she certainly seems to have come to an understanding/appreciation of Minaj; but Christ alive, what a load of cringe-worthy questions she asked. Minaj was right to shut her down. Second of all, consider the first paragraph:
Pop music is dominated almost exclusively by the female star — Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and, as always, Madonna. Engaging in a frantic, complex game — crossing over many genres to keep up with the current caldron of hip-hop, electronic music and R&B; signing sponsorship deals to make up for the lack of album sales; performing live everywhere from sheikhs’ parties to worldwide arenas — these women arethe pop business now, and they’re not feeling particularly shy about telling us that. Their primary message has become one of being the woman you actually have to be behind the scenes to succeed today: powerful, outspoken and in control.
Now, whatever my personal opinion of Perry, Swift, Cyrus, and Gaga (I guess), I won’t deny that they’re popular and dominant in their respective spheres. Obviously, I agree that Beyoncé and Rihanna should be included in this category. But that “as always, Madonna” struck me. I haven’t heard a new Madonna song since Music, basically. I know she’s touring. I know she still has her fans. I know she has a new album, or something. But she’s become the Hillary Clinton of pop music: clinging desperately to relevance, reinventing herself in any and all possible ways, bungling social media, and generally not being very gracious about the fact that there are better and more interesting acts out there. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Madonna of the ’80s and ’90s, and her influence can’t be overstated. But she’s not changing the landscape anymore – and the thing that Queen Bey, Minaj, Rihanna, Perry, Swift, Cyrus, and Gaga have in common is that they can, and often do, shift the cultural conversation in seismic ways. Any time any of those ladies releases a new song, I hear it – whether I want to (Bey, Minaj, Rihanna, occasionally Gaga) or not (Perry, Swift, Cyrus). I can, and have for years, get away without hearing Madonna’s latest attempt to retain control – er, I mean, her latest single.
3. Speaking of people I don’t respect, here’s a piece from Reductress that I wish I’d written. “Amy Schumer good. Amy Schumer good! Amy Schumer critics? NO, AMY SCHUMER GOOD!”
4. The Toast is one of the best websites in the known universe, and Mallory Ortberg should really be on the $5 bill by now. She wants to make sure you don’t miss this video of Norwegian bodybuilders visiting a tiny town because it makes them look bigger. I want to make sure you don’t miss it, either. Please do yourself a favor and check out the adventures of Knut and his pals. You will not regret it.
5. I ran a 5K on Sunday with my friends, Rose and Dan. Here we are, finally all smiling at the same time after several failed selfie attempts:
Aren’t we cute? We make me sick with how cute we are, frankly. (In case you wondered: I finished in 26:33. That’s pretty good for me, but those two smoked me, because they’re machines.)
6. Wesley Morris used to write for Grantland, and now he writes for the New York Times. He’s really, really, REALLY good. Take the time to read his first essay; you will be rewarded.
7. Here’s a helpful infographic about why discourse on Facebook, etc., is so stubbornly idiotic:
So before you gnash your teeth to dust, just remember that most of us are nitwits, and will forever remain so.