Clueless and Capitalism: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment


As If: A Journey Through the Los Angeles of Clueless
Molly Lambert | Grantland
“Clueless formed the way I saw my city and myself, even as I grew not into a Cher, but a total and utter Tai. Its messages feel fresh, because they remain urgent — the paramount importance of female friendships, of not being defensive about your own ignorance, of trying to see the world optimistically.”

How ‘Privilege’ Became a Provocation
Parul Sehgal | The New York Times Magazine
“Most of us already occupy some kind of visible social identity, but for those who have imagined themselves to be free agents, the notion of possessing privilege calls them back to their bodies in a way that feels new and unpleasant.”

Stream of the Crop
Emily Yoshida | The Verge
“When my iPhone reset I would have access to Apple’s long-awaited streaming-music service, and I was standing on a cliff, arms outstretched, waiting for my corporate overlords to beam me up into their mothership and carry me off to a land of unlimited music and radio curated by people with better taste than me.”

Lady Gaga Goes to the Middle
Lindsay Zoladz | Vulture
“Perhaps a little selfishly, I’m worried about what might happen if Gaga goes fully normal. After all, we’re talking about the woman who, bless her heart, rescued us all from normal in the first place.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates and a Generation Waking Up
Brit Bennett | The New Yorker
“Structurally, Between the World and Me is a conversation between black men, and this conversation is vital, but the strength of the Black Lives Matter movement is that it calls us to participate in and create new conversations.”

The Pixar Theory of Labor
James Douglas | The Awl
“Is there any other production house operating today that is more obsessed with narratives of the workplace and employment? The basic Pixar story is that of an individual seeking to establish, refine, or preserve their function as an instrument within a system of labor.”

The Pink Ghetto of Social Media
Alana Hope Levinson | Matter
“Unlike the job of editor, which also goes uncredited, these positions don’t have a high level of prestige. No one brags over martinis that they wrote the Facebook prompt for a Gay Talese piece.”

Taylor Swift Is Definitely in Her Zone
Jia Tolentino | Jezebel
“Swift is not only at the height of her powers, she’s outshining everyone else—militantly and pointedly so, while maintaining a truly impressive set of impenetrable defenses, which range from deliberate (the Slumber Party Supermodel Just-Like-You Posse) to earnest (the avowed feminism, the open letter) to innate (the fact that she’s white, blonde, bone-thin, and beautiful).”

Ai Weiwei Reconsiders Himself
Rebecca Liao | Los Angeles Review of Books
“Why does this man shape so much of what the West thinks about China? Because he gives us what we want: digestible, consistent platitudes about the lack of freedom in authoritarian regimes. ”

At Comic-Con, Bring Out Your Fantasy and Fuel the Culture
A.O. Scott | The New York Times
“For a long weekend in July, this city a few hours down the freeway from Hollywood and Disneyland becomes a pilgrimage site for something like 130,000 worshipers. It’s both ordeal and ecstasy, and the secular observer is in no real position to judge.”

A Right-Size Dream
Sheila Heti | The Paris Review
“A line drawn with love can make us as vulnerable as what the line depicts. Whatever cynicism I had about how commerce creates familiarity creates conditioned responses creates “love,” it crumbled in that instant. An artist’s love for what they create is what creates love.”