Rap and the New Rock Star: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Universal Pictures

How ‘Rock Star’ Became a Business Buzzword
Carina Chocano | The New York Times Magazine
“Despite what his ‘Behind the Music’ episode would invariably reveal, a ‘rock star’—or the Platonic ideal of a rock star—was not just a powder keg of charisma and unresolved childhood issues, but a revolutionary driven by a need to assert the primacy of the self in an increasingly alienating commercial world.”

Who Got the Camera?: N.W.A.’s Embrace of “Reality,” 1988-1992
Eric Harvey | Pitchfork
“‘Fuck tha Police’ wasn’t provocation, but proxy: a stand-in for the millions of stifled screams wrenched from over-patrolled black neighborhoods nationwide. So maybe it was advocacy, but for catharsis, not the violence that Alerich and the FBI feared.”

Dating Will Never Die
Moira Weigel | The New Republic
“If there is one thing I have learned from combing through over a century of material about dating, it is this: People have been proclaiming that dating is about to die ever since it was invented. What intrigues me about these pieces is: Why does anyone still read them?”

The Modern Noir Has Atrophied (And It’s Not All True Detective’s Fault)
Angelica Jade Bastién | Vulture
“Noir’s shifts in part come down to one question: Whose story is being told? The dominant image of noir today is a white, male power fantasy, whether it be in positioning his brutality as badass in Drive, turning depravity into parody in Sin City, or the empty stylistic exercise of Looper.”

Polishing the Apple: What Dangerous Minds and Other Movies Get Right and Wrong About Teachers
Shea Serrano | Grantland
“The first time I watched Dangerous Minds, I thought it was great—partly because I was 15 years old at the time, and so I wasn’t very good at figuring out what was good or bad yet. But another part was that (obviously) I had not yet been a teacher. Because when I watched it on cable after I’d been a teacher for awhile, it felt like one great big FOH.”

Stephen Colbert Shares Why He Thinks Women Should Be in Charge of Everything
Stephen Colbert | Glamour
“My point is this: Why does this gender inequality still persist, and how can we stop it? I don't have all the answers. And frankly, it's sexist of you to think I do just because I'm a man. C’mon! Besides, it's not my place to mansplain to you about the manstitutionalized manvantages built into Americman manciety. That would make me look like a real manhole.”

The Unbreakable Rebecca Black
Reggie Ugwu | Buzzfeed
“As luck would have it, her overexposure came just moments too soon in the history of the viral video industrial complex to translate into anything resembling a sustainable career. When it comes to making traumatic first impressions on the Internet, Black is patient zero.”

The Forever-Doomed Eastern Europe of Our Imaginations
Harry Merritt | The Awl
“Once the Cold War began, comic books had more reasons than ever to use Eastern Europe—real and imaginary alike—as a setting. Not only did the Fantastic Four and other Marvel Comics heroes do battle with Soviet-sponsored villains from the sixties onward, but the Fantastic Four’s origins exist in a Cold War context as well.”

Canon of Taste
Jill Neimark | Aeon
“There is a growing global movement to establish a culinary canon and to restore the actual local ingredients that composed it. Why shouldn’t there be a canon of taste, like other canons of our civilization, those of literature, art, music, architecture, religion and science? We have a global palate now, and with that, a new willingness to cross-pollinate and revivify regional foodways—and even ways of staging food at the table.”

The Art of Being Underestimated
Jessica Roy | The Cut
“Kim is a handy unofficial barometer of social trends, so let us consider the possibility that she’s onto something. Maybe being underestimated—especially for daring to behave in stereotypically feminine ways, or even just for being a woman in the first place—isn’t a weakness; it’s a secret weapon. No less than Joan Didion, probably the anti-Kardashian, has noted the power of seeming like a nonthreatening girl.”