Tuesday, February 28, 2017

justin thinking about justin

A friend who's going through some of her old stuff just sent me a photo of this Valentine's Day card I made for her maybe 15 years ago.

I'm fairly certain that's Justin Timberlake thinking about Justin Timberlake and make no mistake: when I made this thing, I was a grown-ass adult. It sort of feels like this image should be my About Me section for everything from now on, or possibly my business card.

Justin thinking about Justin is obviously a very powerful work, but I'm not sure that even it can make up for my pathetic selection for Book of the Week. (If you're new to this, I'm reading one not-for-work book every week, then gloating about it here.) And, okay, a busy week capped off by a visit from some old friends has resulted in my really phoning it in on this one. I mean, this is some seriously shameful shit: Food Rules by Michael Pollan.

First and foremost, despite the fact that I'm a relatively nonviolent feeble person, Michael Pollan fully lived up to my expectation of coming across as someone I really want to punch. I'd been vaguely thinking about reading one of his other books for various dumb reasons (it was free, and I've been reading stuff like it because I've had a whole boring health thing), but then I saw this after I'd already more or less given up on reading anything this week (which would have been most unwise, as it would've inevitably lead to me dumping my book pledge). At 140 pages, why not? As it turns out this book is much shorter than that, even. Really it's more like a long brochure, if brochures had no information in them whatsoever.

My favorite of Pollan's stupid food rules was definitely "Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food." My own great-grandmother famously ate Vick's Vaporub every night before bed for "health reasons," so if you imagine for one second that crazy old bitch wouldn't recognize Pizza flavor Combos as a foodstuff, think again Pollan. This whole romanticized notion of women in the olden days is actually a big theme in the book and guess what, I hate it. There's this one part at the beginning where he talks about having consulted with lots of doctors and scientists and mothers and grandmothers. A million years ago, I saw a tweet from a guy who was re-watching Waiting for Guffman and he was like "hmm, this seems really homophobic to me. Is this what it means to be radicalized?" And first of all, yes, that sounds about right (the radicalized part), but second of all I often ask a similar question of myself when I'm pondering the way some book or comic talks about women. Like, was Pollan really setting up a dichotomy there between doctors & scientists vs. mothers & grandmothers, or is that just my own shit? Who cares, he sucks. I'm going to do better next week.

Here are some other random things that caught my eye:

"Bustle and the Industrialization of Confession" (Gawker)
This piece is about a year old, but it was vaguely alluded to in this (bad) blog post by Sam Kriss. I'm really interested in the way people talk about the so-called industry of confession. And despite knowing something about that subject, I somehow missed that this was a thing:

Turns out the site that Kriss is talking about here is Bustle, by the way, which makes perfect sense. I'm not sure if this is still their practice, but as recently as a year ago they were asking their freelancers to tell them about abortions, drug addictions, sexual experiences, etc. At Gawker, Rich Juzwiak had some smart things to say about that:

I can hardly bring myself to believe that survey is real. I have mixed feelings about "write what you know" with regard to identity politics. Sometimes it's pretty obviously true, and sometimes less so. But asking women to disclose rapes and abortions and threesomes or whatever in their welcome packet? Jesus.

That blog from Kriss is the most pretentious thing I've read in a while. My feeling is that if you're going to be really pretentious you've got to show me the money. The money is...not this:

This is a very common distinction that people make, the "true" self vs. the online self, and what I object to isn't the possibility that we each are more or less a collection of identities, but in the primacy and integrity of some pristine true secret self that lives above it all. Different people and different places bring out different facets of identity, and if you don't get that right out of the gate I have zero interest in your opinions on identity. Zero.

"The Year's Best Weird Internet Video Gets Its Viral Payoff" (Gawker)
Speaking of old Gawker... I was sitting around the other night thinking about Videogum, as is my wont, when I remembered this old video I'm obsessed with:

Videogum archives are impossible to search so I googled some iteration of "sword children dancing" and found this explainer on what was up with these people, anyway. In some ways it's exactly what you'd expect...you don't need real powers of deduction to recognize that the video is neither 100 percent "authentic" (due to blatant art kid stuff) or "fake" (because of the girl's obvious expertise in whatever it is she's doing). Still, I never quite imagined this scenario (this is the guy talking):

And that, children, is where viral videos come from.

"Different Women's March, Same Message" (NYT)
Oh look, Missoni did a pussy hat.

"The pussy hat arrived on the runway," writes some lady at the New York Times:
The designer Angela Missoni and the rest of the extended Missoni clan, including her mother, Rosita, crowded onto the runway in their hats and urged everyone, along with all their models, to join them to “show the world the fashion community is united and fearless.” In the background, “Power to the People” played.
God, just kill me.

"The Latest Lesson in My Five-Year Journey toward Figuring Out that Fran├žoise Mouly Possibly Sucks"
Not sure if I'll be doing any comics links this week, so allow me to direct your attention to the most recent cover of the New Yorker, which is about representation:

It's titled #OscarsNotSoWhite." Oh, and here's the guy who made it:

Remember when I said there are some cases where identity politics obviously matter when it comes to choosing which creator you publish? Well, this is that.


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