Blac Chyna and Colorism: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Arnold Turner / Invision / AP

How Blac Chyna Beat the Kardashians at Their Own Game
Sylvia Obell | BuzzFeed
“The pattern of ‘Columbusing’ isn’t unique to the Kardashians, but the extent to which the family has profited from it is remarkable. This element of cultural appropriation in the Kardashians’ style has left many feeling like they created an empire using things that don’t belong to them. To quote actor Amandla Stenberg, they ‘cash cropped’ our cornrows. So when Chyna, an actual black woman, decided to not only get a slice but come for the entire Kardashian pie, those watching couldn’t help but cheer as she swooped in.”

From Nina to Lemonade, Why We’re Still So Bad at Talking About Colorism
Mallika Rao | Vulture
“Under this logic, racism effectively looks like a zero-sum fight, comprised of winners and losers: white versus black. Acknowledging that there are also winners and losers inside the black community threatens a powerful, singular narrative of oppression. In this way, the bigness of racism directly feeds the persistence of colorism.”

Men Are Sabotaging the Online Reviews of TV Shows Aimed at Women
Walt Hickey | FiveThirtyEight
“And for a perfect example of this, all you have to do is look at how men rate TV shows aimed at women compared with how women rate shows aimed at men. When you rely on the wisdom of the crowd on the internet, you risk relying on the opinion of mostly men. Seventy percent of IMDb TV show raters are men, according to my analysis, and that results in shows with predominantly female audiences getting screwed.”

I Speak to God in Public: Chance the Rapper’s Faith
David Dark | MTV News
“On Chance the Rapper’s third mixtape, Coloring Book, the heart of the 23-year-old Chicago MC is very much on his sleeve. But we’ve seen Chancelor Bennett’s heart before. Love requires a context, like lust needs a setting. For Chance the Rapper, the context (classroom, church, family, neighborhood, fans) is never far away. There’s no life to be lived without one. On Coloring Book, heaven—like hell—is always other people.”

On Playing Games, Productivity, and Right Livelihood
Janet Frishberg | The Rumpus
“I wanted to know what it meant to spend a life this way. How much damage can you do to anyone else if you stay quiet and alone all day, if all you’re doing is rearranging the same sets of pixels on a screen with your fingers on a touchpad or a keyboard for points or to complete levels? If you have nothing to show for your day, I wanted to believe, nothing can hurt anyone.”

Bookslut Was Born in an Era of Internet Freedom. Today’s Web Has Killed It
Jess Crispin | The Guardian
“Back then, nothing you did mattered. And that gave you freedom. Back then, the online book culture was run mostly by enthusiasts and amateurs, people who were creating blogs and webzines simply for the pleasure of it, rather than to build a career or a brand. I know that nostalgia is a stupid emotion, but still I regret the day money found the Internet. Once advertisers showed up, offering to pay us to do the thing we were doing just for fun, it was very hard to say no. Or understand exactly what the trade-offs would be.”

Conservatives Anonymous
Andy Kroll | California Sunday
“Hollywood is a famously brutal place to work. So many talented people are competing for so few spots; rejection—and the insecurity that comes with it—is the norm. It’s not just actresses who see their careers evaporate at 35, replaced by the latest crop of ingénues living at the Oakwood Apartments ... Conservatives in the industry face an additional question with no clear answer: Have their political views stifled their careers?”

Banshee, Game of Thrones, and the Problems With Serial-Killer Plots
Maureen Ryan | Variety
“In a show that is all about people’s movement through different moral agendas—from pragmatism to amorality to self-interest to clan loyalty—Ramsay has been a fixed point, but not in a good way. A character going from incredibly monstrous to even more monstrous is not a journey; he’s just become a bigger and blunter version of the thing he always was.”

Our Brand Could Be Your Crisis
Ayesha Siddiqi | The New Inquiry
“But a major-studio movie with model-pretty actors that has zero cachet when name-dropped in conversation is the perfect conclusion to anachronistic first-wave millennial angst and pre-Condé Nast Pitchfork-era debates. Maybe that’s why it inspired so much knee-jerk dismissal, reigniting the old impulse to make fun of the Troy Boltons of the world and their lack of cool irony.”

Violence Is Golden: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Shane Black’s Simple Art of Murder
Priscilla Page | Birth Movies Death
“The detective is driven to solve the mystery by an obscure object of desire, something powerful and unknowable, and in the process he is driven to his destruction or his redemption. In Black’s movies, his protagonists are at their most damaged, and the secret, unknowable thing they’re driven toward is innocence, magic, redemption.”