13th of April: Race, Russia, and Reproductive Rights

And a bunch of other stuff, but I couldn’t resist the alliteration.

OK, first off, I was planning to make the “song of the week” thing a regular feature and then forgot about it, so good job there. Basic idea from here onwards will be a pick of my most played of the week, thus keeping it in the “week in review” theme. This week’s song is by Aloe Blacc, who when he came up in a Spotify mix, I thought was really cool and was confused by never having heard of him, which made me feel like a bit of a cutting edge chap. Turns out he’s well known so that just makes me a knob. Anyway it’s a nice song.

 

Serious Stuff

  • Few good articles on race in America here (I’m sure this is the most-used phrase on this blog). One from Jamelle Bouie commenting on the Jonathan Chait/Ta-Nehisi Coates debate currently ongoing (great entry from Coates here). One , very sad, at Buzzfeed about Jordan Davis, the teenager who got murdered for listening to his music too loud last year. Finally, this is really worth reading on a project to rehabilitate people released from prison (mostly for drug-related offences) in West Baltimore (there is, of course, a reference to The Wire).
  • In case there’s any boring “cowardly liberals capitulating to Islam” pieces (*cough*Cohen*cough*) circulating after the Brandeis/Ali thing, this is good on the big problems with the narrative people like Ali push.
  • If you can overlook the classic John Schindler condescension this is an interesting, if dispiriting, take on the trajectory of Russian foreign policy since the fall of the USSR
  • An interesting excerpt on the history of mercenaries in Africa and beyond – cites a book I cited in an essay last year which is mildly exciting.
  • Good review of the Operation Unified Protector (Libya 2011*)  – very balanced while still agreeing with me
  • Grim account of one woman’s experience with Brazil’s terrible abortion restrictions. Upsetting stuff, but worth reading.
  • Dispiriting tract on the decline of London here.
  • Interesting blog on how people interact with Twitter “celebrities” – it was uncomfortable reading for me because I’m sure I’ve done at least half of the things the author criticises.
  • There was a big fuss about the “France bans email” story – here’s a dismantling of it**

Culture Stuff

  • Couple of good cinema-ish pieces – one on the prevalence of racist stereotypes in kid’s animations (the bit about the casting in Rio is particularly baffling), and one on the horror that is going to the cinema for some films as an adult, which I recognise fully. At least the author has a girlfriend to go with.
  • Very good defence of Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones – she seems to be a particular victim of the definitely sexist negative response people have to female characters
  • This is a good takedown of Macklemore’s “Same Love”. There was a lot of hilarious backlash to him around the time of the Grammys***, so it was nice to revisit the reasons behind it.
  • It’s Batman’s 75th anniversary and one of the creaters of Batman: The Animated Series released a lovely little short cartoon to mark the occasion. Some wonderful images.
  • Two great Mad Men pieces. One from Sean Collins on the self-destruction that he predicts from Season 7, and one Buzzfeed recap of some of the gorgeous shots the show has given us over the years ****. Also this wonderful blaxploitation version of Mad Men is great.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. What has Kanye bestowed an eye-roll on this week?

Unfortunately, it’s a Clive Martin piece. I recommended him a couple of weeks ago, but this week he wrote a pretty awful piece on Why He Won’t Be Watching Game of Thrones. For the most part, between the mocking pictures of cosplayers, and the constant sneering at fantasy fans and works (including digs at both LOTR and Muse, which just…), it just reads as a nasty bullying piece written from a position of complete ignorance. For all these crimes and also for being middlingly amusing, I bestow upon it a full Kanye eye-roll.

Image

As an addendum to the Kanye eye-roll feature, I think I’m going to regularly share examples of better versions of the criticised pieces. Part of me wants to accompany them with a second, approving-Kanye gif, but that does just lead down a dark path of this blog being expressed solely in pictures of Kanye West, so I’ll refrain.

A great example of why sensitive discussions of problematic aspects of popular genre works are generally better when they come from the inside – A Song of Ice and Fire: Misogynist or Feminist?”. It’s based on the books, but looks at the show and is pretty spoiler-free to my eyes. It’s just more interesting than the Vice piece.

With that, I leave you for another week. Have a good one, all.

PS: As of this evening, Game of Thrones and Mad Men will be airing regularly so expect an increase in the amount of links to stuff relating to those two. Sorry not sorry. I promise not to link to too many episode recaps though.

PPS: Also, a postscript to the bittersweet success that was the Last Forever review. This afternoon, while too hungover to move, I finished my rewatch of the ninth season of How I Met Your Mother (seriously, I watched about twelve episodes almost back-to-back – I felt myself recover as the wedding weekend progressed). The season as a whole held up and wasn’t ruined. The finale itself was also much better on a second viewing, partly because I knew what to expect, I think, so took it on its own terms. I definitely cried more than I had the first time round – still less than expected. I’m going to miss that fucking program.

*what a dick. Sorry

**I like her columns, but I think it’s got to be a bad sign when people cite a Lucy Mangan column as the basis for an economics story

***also I listened to The Heist again this week – he’s fucking cringeworthy at times. ‘Neon Cathedral’ is great though,

****though I could have done without “lusty shot of Joan’s bum” being one of them.

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