Kanye West and the Tumblr Teens: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Andrew Kelly / Reuters

God’s Not Finished: Kanye West Sees the Light on The Life of Pablo
Craig Jenkins | Vice
Pablo finds him more famous perhaps than ever before but not more powerful. He still can’t find the necessary venture capital to execute his most lofty ideas, and the cruel hum around the net when he details plans to shift the worlds of fashion and technology suggest at least a low-grade lunacy. This is not a burden we lay on the shoulders of white dreamers, the Disneys and Jobses Kanye counts as personal heroes.”

The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens
Elspeth Reeve | The New Republic
“On Tumblr, you can revel in anonymity, say whatever you want without fear of it going on your permanent record … While other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn generated billions upon billions of dollars, Tumblr gradually evolved into a fast-moving conversation focused on jokes, art, and sex. The culture of Tumblr began to be dominated by teens—weird teens.”

What Should We Say About David Bowie and Lori Maddox?
Jia Tolentino | Jezebel
“It is less easy to turn over what Maddox evinces in this narrative, from the late 1970s to her account of it now—which is that women have developed the vastly unfair, nonetheless remarkable, and still essential ability to find pleasure and freedom in a system that oppresses them. The persistence of that reality—that we learn to have sex not in a utopia but within and around whatever norms we are presented with—is why it matters that things were different in the ’70s.”

Love Naturally
Hannah Giorgis | BuzzFeed
“What could very well be a simple matter of aesthetic preference, in the vein of ombre versus jet-black hair color, or nude versus red nail polish, is instead depicted as a matter of moral fortitude. To have a weave is to aspire toward whiteness, to be fake; to have natural hair is to be ‘down for the cause.’ If black women’s bodies are the stages on which gendered respectability politics are acted out, then weaves are the (sometimes red) curtains.”

Fortunate Son
Rawiya Kameir | The Fader
“Davido thinks he will triumph where others have struggled because of his innate cultural literacy of both the U.S. and Africa, the result of being raised between worlds. Long before the Internet erased them for the rest of us, money and travel erased borders for him. ‘I can be in the club with Meek Mill and Future and be on a level with them,’ he says. ‘I understand what they’re talking about. I know what the trap is.’”

The Uncomfortable Power of Pop-Music Cruelty
Alexandra Molotkow | New York
“Tesfaye’s best songs describe cruelty with an exactness and emotional heft that confirms the worst about sexual power dynamics while making some sense of them. There’s cruel music, and there’s music that’s aware of its cruelty: Cruel music makes me uncomfortable when I love it … music that knows its own cruelty makes me uncomfortable, but I love it. Music is a form of confession without accountability, or an especially intimate fiction.”

Watching Beyoncé From New Orleans
Elena Bergeron | NPR
“Blackness here has been measured in drops and fractions, measured against paper bags and disguised with French and Spanish terminology, divided into backatown and Uptown neighborhoods and left to drown as a community. Blackness, here more than anywhere, is complicated, and Beyoncé’s experience of it may be unapologetic, but New Orleanians at Mardi Gras time didn’t exactly agree that it was theirs.”

What Bill Cosby Taught Me About Sexual Violence and Flying
Kiese Lamon | Literary Hub
“Bill Cosby, the comedic master of “the talk,” made a career talking at us about how to be good black students, how to be clean black children, and how to appropriately pay for pound cake … But Bill Cosby, like most of the famous cis-gendered American men we pay way too much attention to, was a complicated, monetarily generous coward, afraid to give his audience a chance to love, hate, or disregard where and who he’d really been.”

Why Am I Obsessed With a Cellphone Game About Collecting Cats?
Ryan Bradley | The New York Times Magazine
“The cats do not care. They have other lives, other places to be. What brings you back, again and again, is that these semiwild creatures have decided, temporarily, to share their existence with you. You cannot collect them, merely the memory of them, for existence is fleeting and nothing, save for ourselves, is ever entirely ours.”