It's Labor Day here in the US, so I'm celebrating other people's labor by sharing a few pieces of my favorite cultural commentary - old and new-ish.
This piece came out in 2014 so in internet years it's ancient. At the time the mis en scene of Buzzfeed quizzes and weird videos, not a lot of reporting, and I remember sending this to so many people and saying, "okay it's on Buzzfeed but it's really good. Like, really good." (Honestly, I probably said some version of that way past when it was relevant. Change is hard.)
There's also a 2018 follow-up that I stumbled upon while putting this email together. It's a good continuation! Maybe next year we'll get a part three...
Maybe this says something about me but celebrity conspiracy theories come up in conversation relatively often and I'm always quick to say, "Let me send you this essay!"
The music history deep dive this episode goes on is so good! My favorite gem: A lot of people are associating "SOUR" with a pop-punk resurgence, but lyrically speaking it's more closely related to an entirely different genre (I won't spoil it; you'll have to listen)!
In reading this I immediately thought of the cover of the Sleigh Bells album "Treat", which features a pyramid of cheerleaders with their faces warped and blurred.
One thing I felt was missing in this discussion (maybe because it's hard to know how much it's at play) is the fact that artists don't control 100% of their image, especially at a level like Olivia Rodrigo's where she's at once very big while also lacking the capital and experience of someone like Taylor Swift.
Any podcast that can thread together the Ellen sitcom and Rita Ora is perfection.
Lord of the Rings, tender & queer
May, or may not, have teared up. It's fine.
To give an unsolicited endorsement, if (like me) you squirrel away emails like this to read the links later or you open tons of tabs of things you intended to read and inevitably end up closing them all without having read them, I highly recommend Pocket. I use it to save things I want to read later (and keep track of things I’ve read recently - useful for things like this!). There are a bunch of apps that do a similar thing, Pocket just happens to be the one I picked after perusing.
Do I save more things than I actually read? Yes. Do I read more things than I did before? Also yes!
I’ve heard from a couple of folks that the Carly Rae Jepsen essay ended up in their promotions tab. Not sure why that one, in particular, got flagged, but if you never saw it come through that’s probably why!
An email pro tip: service providers are algorithmically deciding what a ‘good’ or ‘real’ email is based on your behaviors. If you do things like responding to emails, it’ll keep them out of promotions, spam, etc (cause Old Navy sale emails could never).