Pop-Culture | Posted by Aph Ko on 07/27/2015
Rihanna’s ‘BBHMM’ Video and Our Resistance To Black Women’s Subjectivity
Rihanna performing BBHMM live at the 2015 iHeart Radio Music Awards.
As anyone even mildly interested in pop culture likely knows, Rihanna recently dropped a new music video for her song Bitch Better Have My Money. I found the video itself interesting, but honestly found the critiques of it even more so. Many of these critiques demonstrate that mainstream culture still doesn’t know how to meaningfully engage with black women and the popularity of the work they create. Specifically, it seems that critics of black, female artists try to understand their work through the lens of static theories that reiterate racist tropes, and which produce prescriptive, limiting understandings of their work. We’ve seen this with panic over Beyoncé’s feminism, shock in response to Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda album cover, …
Feminism, Pop-Culture | Posted by Saskia G on 07/21/2015
What Misty Copeland’s Success Reveals About Race In The Arts
Misty Copeland in an Under Armour commercial
Misty Copeland made history on June 30th when she was promoted within the American Ballet Theatre, becoming the first African American ballerina to reach the rank of Principal Dancer after being the second-ever black soloist in the traditionally white ballet company. Considering that almost all principal ballerinas around the world have historically been white, Copeland’s promotion is an immense achievement in an artistic tradition that still largely favors pale skin and extremely thin bodies.
Copeland rose to fame amid circumstances that, for elite ballet, seem at odds with her success. She took her first ballet class at her local Boys & Girls Club at 13-years-old — a relatively late start — and lived with her single mother and siblings in relative poverty …
Pop-Culture | Posted by Kinder L on 07/16/2015
How One Anti-Body Shaming Campaign Actually Reinforced Beauty Standards
I have a mole on my right cheek. As a child, it was the physical feature about which I felt the most insecure. For years, however, my mother insisted that what I considered a flaw was actually a “beauty mark.” Thanks to her persistence, I eventually realized that my mole is not something to be ashamed of, but part of who I am. I slowly learned to love this beauty mark and ultimately discarded my life goal of getting it removed as an adult.
I recalled this experience when I learned about a recent social media trend called the #DontJudgeMe challenge. This challenge simply required that individuals post pictures of themselves appearing as ugly as possible — by drawing flaws onto their images or purposely applying grotesque makeup. …
Pop-Culture | Posted by Natalie H on 07/9/2015
‘Miss USA’ Switched Networks, But Should It Be Retired Altogether?
Miss America 2014.
NBC recently dropped the Miss USA Pageant, but the pageant quickly found a new home with cable network REELZ. However, it seems like this could have been a good time to stop televising the pageant altogether — and probably should have been.
Although the pageant often highlights the fact that it provides scholarships to its contestants and is thus an academic opportunity, this argument is undeniably incompatible with the contest’s emphasis on beauty. If the pageant is truly a contest of academic achievement, appearance should not factor into whether or not participants receive a scholarship or have any chance to enter the so-called ‘academic’ competition in the first place. How does the way one’s body looks in a bikini relate to their academic capability?
What’s more, the …
Pop-Culture | Posted by Aph Ko on 06/29/2015
“Hot Girls Wanted”: White Respectability and the Erasure of Men
Hot Girls Wanted — a new documentary produced by actress Rashida Jones — follows five amateur porn actresses between the ages of 18 to 25 and details their experiences filming porn and living together. While the documentary’s subjects spoke freely, it seems like the filmmakers still crafted the work based on their preconceived notions about porn: Namely, they chose to portray the young actresses as innocent, exploited victims. The film fails to present the possibility that these women have any agency, erases the experiences of women of color in the industry, and arguably most problematically of all allows the men that drive the demand for this industry to remain invisible.
The character whose narrative anchors the film, Tressa, exemplifies this victimized narrative. Tressa is coded as white (although …
Pop-Culture | Posted by Holly L on 06/12/2015
Sexism At Music Festivals Needs To End
Where are the women on stage?
Music festival season is just beginning, and with it comes yet another reminder that women still have a long way to go before we achieve equality. Although there are plenty of female acts to choose from, and they clearly deliver when included — some even argued the female acts stole the show at SXSW, for example — one need only look at lineup posters to see the persistent imbalance of men to women at these festivals.
This is not a new phenomenon: Men have long outnumbered women when it comes to festival lineups and headline performers are almost always male. Among the most popular British music festivals last summer, for example, all but one festival completely excluded female acts — and that single female …
Pop-Culture | Posted by Morgan K on 05/15/2015
Margaret Keane and the Countless Invisible Female Artists
A Keane painting
Our generation may not be too familiar with the haunting “Keane Eyes” which were ubiquitous in the 1950s and 60s. Those dark, doe-eyed figures found their way into print and media, living rooms and coffee shops countrywide. But it wasn’t until Tim Burton brought light to the reality in his biographical drama Big Eyes that the truth about those paintings supposedly created by Walter Keane was made clear to young people.
Margaret Keane – Walter’s wife – spent years painting the “Big Eyed Waifs.” The artist’s husband convinced her that using his name would increase the paintings’ popularity. But as the fame of the paintings — as well as Walter himself — grew, so did Margaret’s anger and isolation. She finally reached a breaking point and came …
Pop-Culture | Posted by Bridget L on 04/29/2015
Where Are The Jewish and Queer Students at Hogwarts?
I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter. I grew up reading the books, have seen each film countless times, and dressed up as Hermione for many Halloweens. But while I’ll always love the series, I also recognize that it’s not flawless.
Last December, JK Rowling revealed that there were Jewish students at Hogwarts, and even provided readers with an example: Anthony Goldstein. This revelation prompted others to question whether or not there were LGBT students at Hogwarts as well. In a Twitter chat, Rowling addressed this by stating “But of course,” there were LGBT youth at Hogwarts.
I find these revelations problematic for a couple reasons. First is the fact Anthony Goldstein was only a background character without any distinguishing character traits for the duration of the series. …