What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

I took last week off because of the holiday, so here are the things I collected from the past two weeks that got me thinking.

Prey (Random House)

This piece, written by Kathleen Hale, is not an easy read.  But it’s a powerful, important one.  I visibly recoiled when I read this:

I lost a lot of friends that year, in part because I wanted to tell everyone about the trial. Boys fetishized me, thinking they could reintroduce me to sex, which I had never learned to hate—or else they pulled my head to their chests, kissing my hair, like they were enacting some paternalistic movie moment. In general, I think hearing what had happened made recently-deflowered Harvard boys feel like sexy dads.

This piece is long and upsetting, but it’s also extremely well done and well worth your time.  Hat tip to my sister, who sent it my way.

 Your Female Characters Are So Strong (The Toast)

This humorous (I mean, kind of) piece just takes the phrase “your female characters are so strong” and runs with it.  Mallory Ortberg is awesome, and this short piece helps illustrate just why that is.  Also, if you haven’t, start reading the article tags on the pieces at The Toast, because they are amazing (“Feminism sort of!” and “some quotes from Job and some from Paradise Lost I think”).

90 One-Hit Wonders of the 90s (Salon)

I sent a link of this to my best friend with just the word “AHHH” because that’s how exciting something like this is to me, a lover of lists and all things nostalgic, especially when it comes to 90s music.  She and I regularly (like, nearly weekly) drink wine and watch YouTube videos on our giant TVs together, so this is the perfect sort of thing to dissect together (and apart).

What’s amazing about a list like this is that it’s automatically polarizing by claiming to be definitive.  I can’t wait to really delve into a nostalgia hole with it.

A Reluctant Star, Sia, Deals With Fame on Her Own Terms (NPR)

I’m obsessed with Sia’s latest single, “Chandelier,” so when I stumbled across this NPR interview after watching her performance on Ellen where she sang live facing the corner away from the cameras, I was super intrigued.  Basically, Sia doesn’t want to be that kind of famous (she writes pop songs for other singers and prefers to make her living that way).  And she has the privilege of being able to deal with fame (or avoidance of it) in her own way, which makes her a total bad-ass.

It’s definitely an alienating approach, which is probably why I like it and respect it so much.  Plus, she had this to say about the whole thing:

“I’m trying to have a good life,” she says as we look at the wigs, which symbolize her fame and what she’s doing to escape that fame, all at once. “Basically, my plan is to enjoy what I have.”

What got you thinking this week?

My Weekend in Pop Culture

As per the last few weeks, these are the pop culture items I consumed this weekend.

obvious childObvious Child: I know I talked about this movie on one of my movie news posts, and I finally had the chance to see it this weekend.  It was GREAT.  Like, probably my favorite movie of the year.

The premise is simple: a young comedian gets dumped, fired, and then pregnant from a drunken one-night stand.  She decides to have an abortion, and the film chronicles all those things in a really straightforward, funny way.

Very smart, very funny, very sweet.  Jenny Slate is brilliant and I’m totally in love with her now.  If you have a chance to see it, definitely go.

SIa – Chandelier

I just discovered this video, and I’m officially obsessed with it.  I love the song, but I also love the video itself.  The girl who dances in it is apparently from the TV show Dance Moms, and she’s spectacular.  The choreography is really interesting and the entire thing is done super well.

 What pop culture did you consume this weekend?

My Weekend in Pop Culture

In keeping with last week’s tradition, here’s the pop culture I consumed this weekend.  We had a pretty busy weekend (it’s wedding season, y’all), but I managed to get in some quality time with these pop culture gems:

covert affairsCovert Affairs: J. and I started watching the first season of this a while ago, but got distracted and sort of fell off the wagon.  I started back up again this week, and something about it clicked for me.  It’s definitely Alias-lite, but it works for me on several levels: it’s light enough for summer consumption, Piper Perabo is serviceable as the lead, and the fact that it’s sort of silly but knows it makes it just enjoyable enough.

At any rate, I made it through the first season and now am well into the second.  I love me some female-driven TV shows, and it doesn’t hurt that Christopher Gorham turned into a total babe.

Robyn & Royksopp – “Do It Again” EP

The video is for the song “Sayit,” which isn’t necessarily my favorite off the EP, but it’s the only one with a video (that I can find).  The title track is actually my favorite, and it’s well worth your time to seek it out.  I love Robyn and I’ll take her in any form, including in this collaboration EP.

That Awkward Moment: I finally got around to watching this movie, and I have to say that I actually really liked it.  Like, laughed out loud, hard, several times.  It helps that I love Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller more than pretty much anything (okay, that’s hyperbolic).  But it was actually a pretty funny diversion this weekend.  I enjoyed it greatly.

What pop culture did you consume this weekend?

 

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the articles I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.

The Tortured History of Entertainment Weekly (The Awl)

This is a piece of long form journalism, and it is really long, but it’s also incredibly interesting.  In the piece, Anne Helen Peterson details the rise and decline of Entertainment Weekly (a magazine I still subscribe to, and have, for more than a decade).  It’s incredibly interesting for anyone who has ever perused the magazine, but it’s especially fascinating for those who like entertainment journalism or have (or had) a vested interest in the magazine itself.  The parts that worked especially well for me were about the late 90s-early 00s, as those were my adolescent years.

The article focuses a great deal on the tension between the magazine’s journalists and the industry at large.  Because EW originally started as a magazine unafraid to take a critical eye to Hollywood, the relationships between it and studios and Hollywood folks has been a strained one.

The editorial maxim was a simple one: Write the best story. Don’t worry about who owns the product, or even if it’s a popular one—just cover it in a way that’s compelling. That maxim was what gave EW its unique critical voice and, more importantly, its incredibly loyal readership. Over the course of the 90s and early 2000s, protecting that voice engendered more and more conglomerate animosity.

At any rate, it’s a really interesting piece and well worth your time if you have about 20 minutes or so.

A Meditation on Britney’s “…Baby One More Time” (The Toast)

If you aren’t reading The Toast regularly, you should be, because it’s pretty much my favorite thing on the internet.  At any rate, this interesting, thought-provoking and melancholic piece has stuck with me, and will, I think, continue to stick with me for a while.  Part dissection of Britney Spears’s most iconic song and part meditation on the author’s life, it’s a piece I could relate to while also being completely riveted by the prose.

But to my mind, “…Baby One More Time” speaks as keenly about the loneliness of love as any other artifact of our culture—it’s not about losing someone but the impossibility of ever really having them. “When I’m not with you, I lose my mind,” Spears sings. “Give me a sign.” Romantic love doesn’t lessen the opacity of other people’s thoughts and motivations; it heightens it, because the desire to know and inhabit the beloved’s mind is so great…I’m convinced that I’m not reading too much into the song or overcomplicating—pop music can speak deep truths because it is simple, because the truest truths are simple.

Probably why this works for me so well is because I love any writing about pop culture that also intertwines personal experience.  It’s my kryptonite.  All the same, this piece is excellent.

“Game of Thrones” Fails the Female Gaze: Why Does Prestige TV Refuse to Cater Erotically to Women? (Slate)

I don’t have  a ton to say about this one, but I will say that this article gets to the center of what I find so frustrating about TV and movies when it comes to issues of “male gaze” versus “female gaze.”  It’s a smart piece.

 

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

I’ve been mostly trying to read SVH novels to play catch-up on my other blog, but I did manage to read a couple of articles that got me thinking this week.  Here they are:

How a White Australian Model Imitated Southern Black Rap – and Topped the Charts (Slate)

I completely understand that Iggy Azalea is controversial and kind of problematic, but I also kind of like her music, and I think “Fancy” is a damn fun song (the video is pretty awesome, too).  This article is definitely taking a critical eye to the performer, and much of the criticism is deserved, and I think, spot-on:

Having trained herself to rap in a cadence vastly different from her native speaking voice, Iggy’s comes off brash but studied, and she resembles no one so much as her mentor, Atlanta rapper T.I. Listen to the way her tone rises on the line “You should want a bad bitch like this, hah?”—a clear homage to T.I.’s singsongy, conversational tone on smashes like “Live Your Life” or his rap bridge on Justin Timberlake’s classic “My Love.” They say that good artists copy and great artists steal.

There’s some interesting stuff to unpack here, but the fact that Azalea is one of the very few females to crack the top of the Billboard Hot 100 says something, and it’s not without merit.

How a Meme Becomes a Myth (The Awl)

This is a very short, sad piece.  You might have heard about it in the news this week: two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin were charged with stabbing their friend nearly to death and claiming that they did it to please the Slenderman, a creepy fictional creature that started as an online prank on the Something Awful forums.

This piece talks a little bit about the case, and a little bit about the media shit storm that surrounds it.  It’s sad and terrible.  But we can all agree that the media is fucked, right?

The John Green and Fault in Our Stars Media Bingo Card (Book Riot)

It’s written by Kelly Jensen, so you know it’s going to be good:

It’s interesting, though, to see what the overlaps are in these pieces. In many ways, they’re downright sad in how they present the YA community, the YA readership, and how they represent girls and girl interests especially. It’s fascinating to think about the media attention Green’s book has received, both in quantity and in quality, and compare it to other YA authors who’ve gotten the big screen treatment. Did we see this for Veronica Roth’s Divergent earlier this year? Will we see this for Gayle Forman’s forthcoming If I Stay?

Slots on the Bingo card include “John’s hair,” “John cried,” and “girls crying.”  In short, it is the best antidote to TFIOS overexposure and exhaustion one could hope for.  Awesome.

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

I start every week with a renewed vigor for this weekly feature, and by the time I end the week, I hardly have the energy to finish the post.  But I will trudge on and ultimately prevail! Or something.  Here are the things that stood out to me this week, in a slightly different format, because I’m lazy.

Please Stop Complaining About Harry Potter (M. Molly Backes)

Backes takes issue with this idea that children’s and young adult literature isn’t real literature, and she’s tired of hearing people blow a lot of hot air about it.  It’s definitely worth a read.  Also, she’s awesome.

Where Do I Start with Mariah Carey (Slate)

Mariah Carey is definitely a little bit crazy, but that often overshadows her actual accomplishments as an artist.  She was a pioneer in the music industry, being one of the first to blend pop music with hip hop, and she should be celebrated as such.  This article does a nice job of both taking a critical eye at her latest shenanigans while also celebrating some of her great songs.  Be prepared to lose an hour in YouTube music videos, though.

Confidentially Yours: The Banality of the Celebrity Profile, and How it Got That Way (The Believer)

If you like a good celebrity profile (and really, who doesn’t), you might like this piece, which examines the history of celebrity profile journalism, and how we got to where we are today (reverence over dumb, dumb stuff).  It’s very interesting and well worth your time.

What Everybody Gets Wrong About Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” (Salon)

A re-examining of Alanis’s greatest song, which is often maligned for its misuse of irony.  I still love the song.  I loved this essay.  Do with it what you will.

What did you read this week that got you thinking?

Things I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

As per usual, these are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  It’s YA-heavy this week, but that’s kind of where my passion is, so it is what it is.  Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Unplugging from John Green and Rob Thomas (Persnickety Snark)

vmI was so happy when Adele from Persnickety Snark started blogging again after a fairly long hiatus.  I love her posts and her thoughts about books and pop culture, and I was particularly struck by a recent post in which she talks about fatigue from being deluged by a creator’s updates about their process.  Because I agree.

Like Adele, I was a Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter Backer, and also like Adele, the updates from Rob Thomas got to the point where another one would appear in my inbox and I would think, “Seriously?”  She gets to the heart of it here:

At this point in time, Thomas has sent out 92 updates on his highly successful Kickstarter initiative to revisit the world of Neptune High.  92 updates, a media eclipse of content, a mediocre film and nowhere to run.  Even in unfollowing every cast member and creator, I was still inundated with information about the script, the casting, the production, the team working on it, the media appearances, Rob’s new VM related projects, the premiere, and now I am getting news on an unrelated Thomas driven project via the Kickstarter updates*.

I’m with her, and I’m also with her about the updates we’re now being subjected to about iZombie.  I can’t tell you how much I don’t care about iZombie.  Actually, I can.  I don’t even know what it is, apart from the fact that Thomas is working on it.  I can’t even be bothered to Google it, so irritated am I that I’m receiving updates about it.

This part of her post also stuck out to me, because it’s exactly how I feel about it:

But in a world where we are becoming increasingly interlinked, escape is becoming less probable.  I want some mystery back.  I love hearing about the process, and the creators’ emotional journey etc after the end result.  If the process is intensely detailed as it’s happening – I need to disengage.  I don’t want to be over the book/film before it has even made its way to the public.  I am then robbing myself of some great storytelling with the added benefit of surprise.

Just something to think about.

Why the Eleanor and Park Movie is so Important (BookRiot)

If you follow YA news at all, you probably already heard that Rainbow Rowell’s excellent (seriously, seriously excellent) Eleanor & Park has been optioned by Dreamworks.  Although it’s a long road to actually becoming a film, because of the book’s intensely vocal (and wide-ranging) fanbase, it seems pretty likely to do so.  Of course, this movie news is influenced by the recent surge of other realistic YA novels being optioned for film.  But this one feels particularly important in a way that other YA lit movie news doesn’t.

For one, it doesn’t include Shailene Woodley in the lead role (is she in everything, or is she in everything?) This Book Riot post gets to the heart of it pretty quickly:

But when it comes to casting, it’s not a surprise that we’re seeing the same faces over and over again…by using the same actors over and over again are telling movie audiences: “These are people whose stories are worth telling. If you look like this person, your story is worth telling. If you don’t…um… it’s like… I don’t know what to tell you, dude.”

The argument here, of course, is that this won’t work with Eleanor & Park, because Park is half-Korean and Eleanor is not a waif.  This means, if the movie hews closely to the book, casting directors are going to have to go outside of their comfort zone, at least a little.  Maybe?

No One Wants to Discover New Music? Ridiculous. (Salon)

Books might be my first love, but music is a pretty close second.  I’m an audiophile, and I’m obsessed with discovering new music and tracking what’s being released when.  Most of my music discoveries happen through music blogs, but I definitely use things like Pandora to help discover new stuff, especially when I’m hanging out with people and we want background noise.

This article appeared at Salon this week, and takes issue with another article (linked at the site and not here, because I kind of feel like the original article is troll-y click bait) that purports that streaming services like Pandora and Spotify are fighting an uphill battle that they will never win.  Essentially: music listeners don’t want to discover new music, because they are comfortable with what they know they like.

Which, what?  This is true of some music listeners, sure.  It’s impossible to make a blanket statement one way or the other, but the original article attempts just that.  And it’s super ridiculous.  The article from Salon agrees:

What’s so astonishing is that, now, more than ever before, it simply doesn’t have to be that way. When I was an impressionable teenager it was logistically difficult to get exposed to new music outside of the narrow confines of Top 40. It required money and transport (or, at the very least, a good FM DJ). But today it’s the easiest thing in the world. For the last week or so, I’ve been occasionally listening to a Pandora station seeded by the Broken Bells, and I’m continually amazed at just how much creative, interesting music is out there that I’ve never heard of.

So maybe for casual music fans, there’s a certain truth to the original argument.  But for people who actually love music and are interested in discovering new bands and sounds?  Streaming sites like Pandora are a mecca.

The Hazards of Book to Film Adaptation: Further Thoughts on Attempted Rape in Divergent Divergent  (Stacked)

I finally got around to seeing the Divergent movie last week and was surprised that there was a divergentscene in which Four attempts to rape Tris during one of her fear simulations.  I didn’t remember it from the book, but I sort of brushed it off because I read the book years ago and the details of the plot are hazy at best.  But then I started reading articles on the internet, and I realized that I hadn’t forgotten the scene–it had been added.

Which is disturbing for a lot of reasons.  But this piece by Kimberly Francisco at Stacked gets to a lot of what makes that decision so uncomfortable.  She wonders why the filmmakers decided to fundamentally alter Tris’s fear landscape to include an attempted rape:

The kindest answer to my question may be that the filmmakers thought it would be too difficult to communicate Tris’ fear of sexual intimacy – or just affection in general – on the big screen.

So if that’s the case–and I agree with Francisco, that’s likely what propelled the decision to change the scene from one in which Tris is afraid of sex because of how scary sex is when you’re a teenager to one in which the fear is of actual rape–it sends a completely different message to viewers:

Perhaps they did not intend to explicitly tell readers and viewers that they felt Tris’ fear of sexual intimacy was equivalent to fear of rape, but by making the choice to exclude the book’s scene and create the attempted rape scene, that’s exactly what they have done. 

Which is, of course, completely alarming.  Francisco is not the only person who takes issue with this choice in the movie.  Melissa Montovani at YA Bookshelf has some great pieces about this movie and how it fits into rape culture, and I encourage you to take a look at them.

At any rate, I’ve been thinking about this since I saw the movie, and I think I’ll be thinking about it for a good long while still.

What got you thinking this week?

 

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the articles I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  Let’s get to it.

The Gaslight District: The Dangerous Precedents Being Set By the Woody Allen Molestation Case (Pajiba)

Honestly, guys, I don’t care if you’re sick of hearing about it, because like this article states, you should be sick over this issue.  You should, because it’s disgusting what’s happening.  We need to be talking about this, because when we don’t talk about these things, we set the precedents talked about in this article, and we reinforce everything that we allow in a rape culture.

There’s a lot at play here, and there’s a lot to unpack.  Biological vs. adoptive parents, victim blaming, the concept of a vindictive mother, etc.  All of these things are worth talking about, but by wanting to quickly move on, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and the victims of sexual abuse.  This is an accessible article and it tackles all of those things.  Read it.

#SochiProblems is More of an Embarrassment for America Than For Russia (PolicyMic)

I’m not watching the Olympics because I literally don’t care and also because I don’t think we should be in Russia.  But my best friend sent me a link to a compilation of the best hashtags about the problems in Sochi, and my immediate response was, “This is fascinating because cultural privilege.”  And this article, whether you agree with it or not, is worth taking a look at.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone created a novelty Twitter account called @SochiProblems to document all the perceived mishaps that are happening in the city during the Olympics, but it is worth it to take a minute and think about the larger implications of that.  It’s malicious glee, and while I’m certainly guilty of feeling that way about certain pop culture events, it’s important to reflect on what that says about me (and the culture at large):

As faves and retweets on @SochiProblems explode, it’s clear that the meme is based on cultural misunderstandings borne out of sheltered ignorance: The posts reflect actual issues that directly impact the quality of life of Russia’s 143 million people…Most Russians don’t drink water from the sink due to fear of illness, and the ones who can’t afford bottled water just boil it and hope they don’t get sick. Only around half of Russians had access to drinking water that met reasonable health standards in 2002, according to Jean Lemierre, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. And the situation is still so bad that Putin himself admittedlast May that even he has dirty water running from his sink.

This article is definitely on the earnest side, but hopefully it also makes people stop and think for a second.  The #SochiProblems trend makes me super uncomfortable, and this helps me pinpoint why that is.

J.K. Rowling Did Make a Mistake, But it Wasn’t the Ron-Hermione Pairing (Book Riot)

Apart from sort of wishing that Rowling would stop talking about things that should have happened in her books that are already published in a series that is (probably) complete, I’ve stayed pretty far out of the latest reveal that Rowling thinks Harry and Hermione should have ended up together.  Mostly because I DO NOT CARE.  But this article is interesting, because it doesn’t really care about that, either.  Instead, it tackles one of the biggest issues that even hardcore fans have with Rowling’s books: that epilogue:

I still remember when I turned that final page and saw for the first time that Rowling had added an epilogue to Harry’s last book. It didn’t take more than few sentences for me to develop a sinking feeling in my stomach. What?, I thought, 7 books of plot twists and suddenly everyone marries their high school boyfriend and has adorable moppets who become friends with their high school friends’ similarly aged moppets!??! Even Draco Malfoy is there?

There’s also this:

It also feels like cheating. If you want to decide what happens to your characters, Rowling, you have to actually write it. It’s no fair summarizing all that time in the middle. You have to make it happen.

Whatever, this piece isn’t going to change the world or anything, but she definitely has a point.  It’s a fun diversion.

The 15 Most Hated Bands of the Last 30 Years (Salon)

I’m really good at hating things, so there’s no doubt that I’d love a list like this.  It’s totally silly and fun, but there’s also a kernel of truth to it.  Some highlights:

Nickelback, Creed (aka “Nickelback before there was Nickelback”), Lana Del Rey, etc. etc.

However, not including U2, my MOST HATED BAND PROBABLY EVER, feels like a great oversight.  You best believe they’re mentioned in the comments (and not by me, because they ARE THE WORST).

Does Length Matter? (Dear Author)

I include this not only because it’s a thoughtful, well-written piece, but because I think about this all the time.  One of J.s jokes about me is that my biggest and most frequent complaint about nearly every movie we watch together is that it’s “too long.” And in my defense, this is mostly true: movies are more bloated than ever before, and there are stats to back it up (you can Google this.  I’m too lazy).  I’m a firm believer in taking the amount of time you need to tell the story, but I often feel like movies, books, and even TV shows could be tighter in how they do this.  So yeah, I believe length matters.  Which is why this piece struck a chord with me.

Obviously, this is different for every reader, but there are some good reasons put forth here, and it’s worth a read if you like to read–no matter what the length of the book.

What did you read this week that got you thinking?

 

 

Five Things I’m Into Right Now

A long time ago, I used to do this thing where I’d post a list of things I was into at the moment.  I’m trying to do that again, right now.  I have no idea how often I might post a list like this, but I can promise you it won’t be more than every other week, mostly because I don’t like very many things.  Seriously, this list would be easier for me to post if it was “Five Things I Actively Hate,” but I’m all about the positivity, guys.

1. The Good Wifegoodwife

I wrote about this a little bit in my January recap, but I am legitimately obsessed with The Good Wife.  I don’t remember the last time I was this excited about anything I was watching, really.  Normally not a huge procedural fan, but this show is so smart and is so well-cast that I can’t help but find it completely compelling.  I don’t know what I’m going to do when I’m all caught up and have to wait for episodes to air.

If you haven’t given this one a chance, I suggest you do.

2. Ice Cream with Sprinkles and Marshmallows

This is my dessert of choice lately, and I’m completely aware that it’s diabetes in a bowl.  I don’t care.  There’s something about how the marshmallows freeze and the sprinkles crunch that makes me so happy.  Whatever, guys.  I eat pretty healthy the majority of the time, but I’m fundamentally a dessert person, and this is my jam right now.  I’m sure I’ll get sick of it soon, but in the meantime, this is my favorite treat.

tongue3. Zoey, the Love of My Life

It’s no secret that J. and I are pretty in love with our brilliant, frustrating dog, Zoey.  She’s one of the sweetest, friendliest dogs you’ll ever meet.  Full of raw enthusiasm and unbridled curiosity, she amazes us every day.  I guess this is how some people feel about their kids?  I wouldn’t know.

zoeybear

But I do know that I look forward to going home to this crazy puppy every day, and I love getting to spend time with her, whether we’re going for a walk and finding things to smell or hanging out on the couch, cuddling.

How could you not love this dog?  Seriously, how?

4. Ask Polly

My best friend and I regularly read and dissect the Ask Polly advice column, and it’s always a good time.  I think Heather Havrilevsky, who writes the column, gives amazing, thoughtful, and truthful advice.  I often identify with the letter writers as well as “Polly’s” response.  Full of good advice and often very funny insights, this is required reading, every week.

We even have a saying: “WWPS,” which of course means, “What would Polly say?”

5. “Magazine” by Caroline Smith

I had the chance to see Caroline Smith at First Ave recently, and she didn’t disappoint.  She’s one of my favorite artists right now, and this song is so catchy and thought-provoking and fun.  I dare you to listen to it and not get it stuck in your head.  I love it–and this video.

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the articles I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  Let’s go!

Revisiting the Reductive Approach to YA Revisited: Contemporary YA and Generosity to Readers (Stacked)

There’s a lot to unpack in this excellent piece by librarian extraordinaire Kelly Jensen, but it’s worth a read if you’re at all interested in how YA gets written and talked about, and the rise of the bogus concept of the “YA Savior.”  In it, Jensen takes issue with a New York Times review of A.S. King’s book Reality Boy, written by the polarizing (but mostly beloved) John Green, and then expands upon Green’s influence in the media these days:

Article after article from publishing insiders talk about how contemporary realistic fiction is on the rise. That it’s the next trend to really hit YA fiction. While I disagree that it’s the next trend — it’s always been a staple of YA fiction as much as being a teenager has been a staple of being between the ages of 13 and 19 — I think the actual trend is the rise in YA fiction that reads like or can be sold as being a John Green alike.

That’s not all that this article covers, though.  Jensen talks about Green’s position of power in the world of books, and she talks about the fact that while he doesn’t abuse that position, he also makes grand pronouncements and doesn’t back them up.  Recently, he tweeted this:

Fascinating to see responses to Allegiant because I think many of the book’s readers are just, like, wrong about what books are/should do.

He goes on to talk about the fact that readers have an obligation to be “generous” to the books they read.  Jensen has some questions about all this:

So what is it that a book is or what a book should do? And more than that, why does the reader owe generosity toward a book? He doesn’t offer a suggestion here, but rather a platitude that doesn’t dig deeper into the implications of what being a generous reader means.

I’m not doing a very good job of summarizing this post, but that’s because there’s so much here to think about.  Jensen is very fair to Green–much more fair than I probably would, but she raises some really good questions.  It’s worth a read.

Why TV Wives are Always Way Hotter than Their Husbands (Alternet)

It’s no secret that there’s a double standard in Hollywood when it comes to the attractiveness of men and women.  Men are allowed to be much more ordinary-looking than women are.  It’s much more common to find a kind of schlubby dude paired up with a much hotter, fitter (and often younger) woman.

Across the board, audiences today are subjected daily to female characters who are not, for lack of a better word, ordinary. They are almost always gorgeous, fit, sexy and dating or married to someone not nearly as attractive as they are. Men can be all shapes and sizes on film; women must be hot.

In this article, the author, an actress herself, took a look at a bunch of different character descriptions that casting directors use to fill spots on TV shows.  The message is clear: what a woman looks like matters.  It’s worth reading the different character descriptions (how many euphemisms can we find for “hot”?), but it’s also so, so discouraging.  With fewer and fewer roles for women, why does it always come down to what they look like?  And wouldn’t everyone benefit from seeing more representation onscreen?

My So-Called Life Set the Path all Teen Shows Would Follow (AV Club)

Wasn’t My So-Called Life the most amazing thing, like, ever?  Can you believe it’s been nearly 20 years since it aired?  Does that make you feel as old as I do?

My So-Called Life felt utterly and completely unique when it aired, and it feels utterly and completely unique now; if this show somehow found its way onto the schedule in the fall of 2014, it would almost certainly be just as hailed as it was in 1994, and it would almost certainly feel as fresh as it did then. It is an oasis in the history of television, but like all oases, its presence was far too small.

This article is such a beautiful love letter to a show that was pretty much flawless.  I think I have to rewatch the series now.

Don’t Hate Macklemore Because He’s White. Hate Him Because His Music is Terrible (Slate)

I’m including this article not only because I think it raises some good points, but because the title made me laugh.  Look, I’m sure Macklemore is a nice person, mostly.  I don’t think about him a lot, but when I do, it’s usually because he’s done or said something that’s well-meaning but sort of awful.  He’s been in the press a lot this week after his (completely undeserving) wins at the Grammys, and that’s to be expected, I guess.

This article is pretty great, though, for a lot of reasons.  This is one:

No, I hate Macklemore and Ryan Lewis because I think their music is terrible at best, and worse than terrible at worst. It’s the lowest sort of middlebrow, an art-like commodity that shallow people think is deep and dull people think is edgy…This is rap for people who don’t like rap that makes them feel proud of themselves for not liking rap, and for buying Macklemore albums, and as such it moves from bad music into immoral, bleached-out hucksterism…

It gets better when it starts to dissect Macklemore’s music, and why, exactly, it’s so awful:

As Jon Caramanica noted in a Times piece far more levelheaded than this one, Macklemore apologists and detractors alike often argue that his music is more pop than hip-hop, and that to compare him to Kendrick and Kanye and any number of other artists who were up for Best Rap Album on Sunday is an unfair equivalence. This is bullshit. For starters, from a musical standpoint both Kanye West’sYeezus and Drake’s Nothing Was the Same are easily more genre-straddling works than The Heist, a conservative record in every sense other than its politicsSecondly, and much more importantly, Macklemore claims himself as a hip-hop artist, proudly, at every opportunity.

I mean, whatever.  In the scheme of things, he won some Grammys, and people are either in on the fact that the Grammys are kind of a joke or they’re not.  People either understand that there is white privilege at play here or they don’t.  I’m not trying to be a social justice warrior and I’m not trying to rail against people who think his music is good (it’s not, guys) or fun (I guess I’ll allow this).  I’m just trying to engage in the discussion about what Macklemore’s wins mean, and how it relates to the pop culture machine.

I’ll leave you with this:

And this is when I wonder: Who does this dude think he is? The number of lazy elisions and smarmy misdirections buried in here are confounding. In what asinine, addled universe is “hip-hop” reducible to YouTube comments? Hip-hop is certainly a culture “founded from oppression,” but what might you know of that, Macklemore? It quickly starts to feel like the white kid in the front row of the Af-Am Studies class, droning on about his own radicalism, convinced he’s the only one in the room with Dead Prez on his iPhone.

Okay, I’m done now.

What did you read this week that got you thinking?