Prince and Lifetime’s Revolution: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Andrew Kelly / Reuters

Prince, Blackness, and Sexuality
Dodai Stewart | Fusion
“To watch him perform was to be in his thrall; to be stunned into barely breathing or even blinking as he stroked his long purple instrument like he was rubbing his cock, the guitar solo transformed into masturbatory act, his head thrown back, eyes closed, mouth open, each note building on the next into an explosion of indecent abandon.”

Prince: Nothing Compared 2 Him
Rob Sheffield | Rolling Stone
“At a time when pop was cowed by the past, Prince was the guy who refused to concede a thing to nostalgia, determined to go up against all the giants of pop/rock/R&B history and top them all, doing the twist a little bit harder than they did in ’66, a little bit faster than they did in ’67, to shut up everybody who wanted to surrender to the past.”

In a Special Sky: How Prince Escaped From Time
Brian Phillips | MTV News
“As a young man, he radiated a supernatural maturity; as an older man, he possessed a supernatural youth. In between, he lived a life that seemed to have infinite room—room to saturate the culture and room to vanish, room to stage intractable avant-cool experiments in audience alienation and room to overload pleasure centers until the whole planet got up and fucking danced.”

How Lifetime Became One of the Best Places in Hollywood for Women
Laura Goode | BuzzFeed
“Critics have unfairly dismissed Lifetime as ‘trash TV,’ but at its best, Lifetime has blended conventions of high and low art to challenge the lazy condescension of ‘trash’ itself. Lifetime’s library serves as an anthology of gender as genre, one that is distinct from other modes of filmmaking, rather than a less successful iteration of them.”

My Writing Day
Hilary Mantel | The Guardian
“Some writers claim to extrude a book at an even rate like toothpaste from a tube, or to build a story like a wall, so many feet per day. They sit at their desk and knock off their word quota, then frisk into their leisured evening, preening themselves. This is so alien to me that it might be another trade entirely.”

Earning the ‘Woke’ Badge
Amanda Hess | The New York Times Magazine
“‘Woke’ feels a little bit like Macklemore rapping in one of his latest tracks about how his whiteness makes his rap music more acceptable to other white people. The conundrum is built in. When white people aspire to get points for consciousness, they walk right into the cross hairs between allyship and appropriation.”

Nas, the Narrator: On Publishing & Hip-Hop Storytelling
Mensah Demary | Electric Literature
“If presented with a choice, I’d rather discuss classic hip-hop albums than short story collections: the former evokes warmth, my need to consecrate my life to a certain fidelity and pure aural bliss channeled into nighttime sessions in the bedroom, lights off, completely enveloped by sound, while the latter invokes the image of a bottomless pit.”

Imagine There’s No Outrage: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Dreams of a Post-Identity Comedy Utopia
Sonia Saraiya | Salon
“Buried within some snark about creators’ relationship to their largely anonymous online critics is a much sweeter ideal—one of performance art’s ability to communicate, include and transform. Ideally, Titus’s art would not need the packaging of advertisement or stated intentions—his performance would just flow to his audience, without any need to entice viewers or turn a profit. Ideally, no one would ever misunderstand a good intention.”