Kim Kardashian West and Friend-Zone TV: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West ride in a classic car in Havana, Cuba. (Desmond Boylan / AP)

Kim Kardashian West on Kanye and Taylor Swift, What’s in O.J.’s Bag, and Understanding Caitlyn
Caity Weaver | GQ
“It is Kim Kardashian West’s full-time job to make you feel privy to her secrets—that you are getting to see (or gently squeeze) a very special part of her enchanted world. She’s the progenitor of a new kind of fame. While a celebrity, Kim doesn’t have the luxury of an actor to request that her personal life remain private, because her personal life is what pays her bills. She deploys radical transparency about her life not just because she wants to, but because she has to; the continued viability of the Kim Kardashian West brand demands it.”

Friend-Zone TV
Willa Paskin | Slate
Game of Thrones is rich in characters, rich in ideas, rich in details. It is also rich in needless torture, dull travel arrangements, and front-runners for the Iron Throne who have trouble making multiple facial expressions. And even as I type this, I can feel how petty these quibbles sound, how trifling compared with the grandiosity of the series, its sprawling, churning plot, and the energy expended by it and on it.”

Why ‘Transcending Race’ Is a Lie
Greg Howard | The New York Times Magazine
“In a time of black revolution, Simpson was a counterrevolutionary; as blacks embraced black power and self-love, Simpson surrounded himself with white people. There were plenty of great black football players around his time, but Simpson was special: Not only did he play better than most, he also used his wit and charm in the service of making white people feel safe. In a period of nationwide change and unrest, he was ‘one of the good ones.’”

Please Don’t Stop the Music
Richard Kim | The Nation
“Gay bars are therapy for people who can’t afford therapy; temples for people who lost their religion, or whose religion lost them; vacations for people who can’t go on vacation; homes for folk without families; sanctuaries against aggression. They take sound and fabric and flesh from the ordinary world, and under cover of darkness and the influence of alcohol or drugs, transform it all into something that scrapes up against utopia.”

Orange Is the New Black Is Netflix’s Only Great Drama
Alison Herman | The Ringer
“This mosaic, deceptively sprawling and carefully managed, is what makes Orange unlike anything else on television. It’s also what makes the show perfectly suited for Netflix — and the only drama to date to turn its format’s pitfalls into a feature rather than a bug.”

What Kind of Queer Ally Is Nick Jonas?
Myles Tanzer | The Fader
“As a 23-year-old celebrity, he could be doing and saying a lot worse. It’s not his words, then, but some of his actions, which have given me pause—moments like the boner joke, in which gay people are not positioned as his peers … Though Jonas has spoken in support of LGBTQ people, his actions suggest it is his own image he is most interested in protecting.”

The Magic of EJ
Kelley L. Carter | The Undefeated
“On this day in May, a few minutes past noon, Johnson sweeps into a lush penthouse suite atop the tony Hudson Hotel in Manhattan’s midtown. A five-star oasis in a city known for its grit, it’s a place where millionaires congregate and host private, superexclusive events. It’s a location that magazine and video crews use to frame the remarkable ones—like Johnson.”

Zadie Smith on the Young Writer Who Teaches Her Everything
Zadie Smith and Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah | Elle
“All I could think to do was recreate the kind of teaching I’d known as a student: imperious, formal and cold, qualities that don’t work in the U.S. 
I looked up from my lecture and saw Rachel’s head down on the table. She was totally exasperated with me. I learned later her mother is a professor so she already knew that it’s possible to impart knowledge in an inclusive way rather than delivering sermons from the mount. She taught me more in that class than I taught her.”

Gawker Was a Great Place to Become a Journalist
Adrian Chen | The New Yorker
“This was long before Gawker became the subject of national fascination as a principal player in a drama that resembles something that Trey Parker and Matt Stone might imagine if they were commissioned to write a musical about the First Amendment … In 2009, Gawker, like most of the internet, operated on a smaller stage. It was best known as a diversion for college students and bored office workers, who obsessively refreshed the site to devour its young writers’ acerbic dissections of New York City power players’ comings and goings.”