UnREAL and Gawkerism: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment


Gods and Bachelors: On Lifetime's UnREAL
Phillip Maciak | The Los Angeles Review of Books
“TV this mortifying can be alienating, but, if you give over to it, it can be absolutely gripping. It’s like watching a car crash; or maybe it’s like being in a car crash; or maybe it’s like causing a car crash. Regardless, you have to ask: who’s at the wheel?”

Nicki Minaj Is Right: The VMAs Have Historically Been Biased Against Black Artists
Aimee Cliff | The Fader
“The Video Of The Year nomination that Minaj is seeking is the same one every artist wants—it’s been the most prestigious award of the night since the VMAs launched in 1984—but it has a very white history.”

Taylor Swift Is Not Your Friend
Dayna Evans | Gawker
“The reviews of the 1989 tour have been overwhelmingly positive in that cracked-smile way that makes it seem like every writer was forced to write with a gun to his or her head. They read like press releases at best and cult scripture at worse, and there is hardly a trace anywhere of any dissenting opinion, specifically anything that calls out Swift’s current co-opting of capital-f Feminism as a self-promotional tool.”

The Limits of Gawkerism
Jeet Heer | The New Republic
“The Condé Nast executive is seen as a legitimate subject for attack because of his wealth and class privilege. What the adherents to Gawkerism rarely consider is whether tabloid gossip is really the best tool for fighting a class war.”

How Ant-Man Highlights the Sad State of Marvel’s Female Characters
Matt Singer | ScreenCrush
“Throughout the entire movie, Hope keeps pushing Hank to let her join the fight. He refuses; he lost his wife, he won’t lose his daughter. And while Hope spends the film hoping for an opportunity to prove her value, the audience does the same, hoping that Marvel will finally give its fans the super-powered superheroine they’ve been waiting for.”

How Taye Diggs Is Transforming the Role of Hedwig
James Hannaham | The New York Times Magazine
“Hold up, though—is this not madness? Black America's most eligible bachelor is about to play a glammed-out Teutonic genderqueer mash-up of Nico and Axl Rose?”

The Bravery of E. L. Doctorow
George Saunders | The New Yorker
“Doctorow was an incredibly brave writer. He articulated our American darkness as well as any writer ever has—our hubris, our greed, our stupidity around race and class—but this awareness of darkness vibrated alongside a deep optimism, a fascination with the beauty and genius of the American experiment.”

An Expert’s Must-See Guide to the Half-a-Million Amazing Historical Videos AP Just Put Online
Caitlin Dewey | The Washington Post
“It’s the biggest dump of historical news the site has ever seen. It’s also a huge and exciting step in an industry-wide push to digitize and democratize information that’s typically been locked up in archives and museums.”

White People Have a Race—But Everyone Flips Out When We Talk About It
Jenée Desmond-Harris | Vox
“That idea—that white people have an identity worth thinking about, and a natural stake in tackling racism—is taking hold.”

How an Unlikely Hollywood Juggernaut Came to Rule Netflix
Jason Tanz | Wired
“Beyond their prodigious output, Mark and his brother, Jay, 42, are celebrated for creating an entirely new model of DIY filmmaking, one tailor-made for the Netflix era of digital distribution. Twenty years ago every young director dreamed of becoming the next Quentin Tarantino. Today they all want to be a Duplass brother.”