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Vince Staples and Jay Z’s Midlife Crisis: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Rich Fury / Invision / AP

Vince Staples, Regular Genius
Jeff Weiss | The Fader
“He strips away the glorification of gangsta rap and reminds listeners that their entertainment doesn’t come without a body count and other brutal consequences. Staples has transcended comparisons, but if you needed to make one: He’s the closest heir to the Ice Cube of Death Certificate crossed with the Ice Cube of Friday.”

40 Is the New 40
Sean Fennessey | The Ringer
“His investments — not just a professional sports team, but alcohol, nightclubs, clothing brands, a website — and his family had become interwoven. His pirouette across the tightrope of American success was near-complete. ‘If you escaped what I’ve escaped,’ he raps on the album, ‘you’d be in Paris getting fucked up, too.’ He could have disappeared forever that night with a life well lived.”

The 1975: Talking Fandom and Philosophy With Pop’s Most Daring Radicals
Meaghan Garvey | MTV News
“It wasn’t that they’d found their lane so much as realized how to effectively swerve between all of them. Flashes of perfect ’80s-inspired pop-rock were bookended by wordless ambient experiments. None of this could have entirely predicted the dense, uncategorizable glory of their latest record, but at least they tried to warn us.”

Think Gender Is a Performance? You Have Judith Butler to Thank For That.
Molly Fischer | New York
“Theoryspeak, meanwhile, has infiltrated civilian vocabularies. Trope and problematic and heteronormative; even, in a not-quite-Butlerian sense, performative—the sort of words that rankled queer theory’s culture-wars critics—are right at home on Tumblr and Twitter. In a broad-stroke, vastly simplified version, the understanding of gender that Gender Trouble suggests is not only recognizable; it is pop.”

The State of the Domestic Goddess
Emily Gould | Eater
“Being a domestic goddess is not the same as being a woman cookbook author, and it is definitely not the same as being a woman chef. One can be the head of an empire devoted to perfecting domesticity in all its forms and still not—sorry, Martha—be a domestic goddess. A certain sloppiness or silliness is required; a non-professional, self-taught, this-is-just-what-works-for-me vibe.”

Inside the Mind of Steven Spielberg, Hollywood’s Big, Friendly Giant
Jon Mooallem | Wired
“It’s like there’s a Spielberg film happening behind the scenes of all these Spielberg films—a potentially gut-wrenching fable about the loss of innocence, about a displaced child cornered by the machinery of the grown-up world. And Spielberg wants to direct that story too—steer it toward a safe resolution.”

Letter of Recommendation: Bunk Beds
Zachary Fine | The New York Times Magazine
“I had bought the thing in the name of economy, but it had become an attraction in itself. Perhaps bunk beds, in an age of individuation, tap into our latent desire to share a world—they urge us, after all, to cohabitate, and to explore the pleasures and challenges of unfamiliar intimacies.”

HBO’s Suited and the Search for the Perfect Fit
Linda Holmes | NPR
“All these stories are different in their particulars: Some people change their names, others don’t. Some have surgery, others don’t. Some have supportive families of origin, others don’t. Some care profoundly what pronoun is used to describe them, others don’t. But they all want to look good in a suit. And the specificity of that common desire protects the film against any tendency toward the generic.”