Hope Solo and 'Hamilton': The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Hope Solo in Frankfurt after the Women's Soccer World Cup final, where the U.S. lost to Japan on penalties.  (Michael Probst / AP)

Why We Make Women Athletes Into Villains
Beejoli Shah | Rolling Stone
“The respectability politics of female athleticism have never come under real scrutiny before because, well, female athletes were never really under scrutiny before. But to hold them to a standard of behavior based on what we want our athletes to exude—professionalism, dedication, veins cold as ice—is a tenuous game to play given that our standards for sportsmanship are a constantly moving target.”

Making House: Notes on Domesticity
Rachel Cusk | The New York Times Magazine
“Like the body itself, a home is something both looked at and lived in, a duality that in neither case I have managed to reconcile. I retain the belief that other people’s homes are real where mine is a fabrication, just as I imagine others to live inner lives less flawed than my own. And like my daughter, I, too, used to prefer other people’s houses, though I am old enough now to know that, given a choice, there is always a degree of design in the way that people live.”

Gabrielle Union on Birth of a Nation Co-Star Nate Parker’s Rape Allegations
Gabrielle Union | Los Angeles Times
“I took this part in this film to talk about sexual violence. To talk about this stain that lives on in our psyches. I know these conversations are uncomfortable and difficult and painful. But they are necessary. Addressing misogyny, toxic masculinity, and rape culture is necessary. Addressing what should and should not be deemed consent is necessary.”

Why Movies Still Matter
Richard Brody | The New Yorker
“The experience that the watching and the critique of new serial television resembles above all is the college experience. Binge-watching is cramming, and the discussions that are sparked reproduce academic habits: What It Says About, What It Gets Right About, What It Gets Wrong About. There is a lot of aboutness but very little being; lots of puzzle-like assembling of information to pose particular kinds of questions (posing questions—sounds like a final exam), to explore particular issues (sounds like a term paper).”

The Burning Desire for Hot Chicken
Danny Chau | The Ringer
“Hot chicken’s widespread popularity suggests a shift in the national palate. But it’s a dish rooted in a strong sense of place; you’ll always know how to go directly to the source. The most celebrated and emblematic dish of one of the 25 most populous cities in the country is something designed to hurt you. I’d never felt more American than when I was eating hot chicken in Nashville.”

Black Tweets Matter
Jenna Wortham | Smithsonian Magazine
“For all its power as a protest medium, black Twitter serves a great many users as a virtual place to just hang out. There is much about the shared terrain of being a black person in the United States that is not seen on small or silver screens or in museums or best-selling books, and much of what gets ignored in the mainstream thrives, and is celebrated, on Twitter. For some black users, its chaotic, late-night chat party atmosphere has enabled a semi-private performance of blackness, largely for each other.”

Javier Muñoz of Hamilton Has Been Reborn, Over and Over and Over Again
Taffy Brodesser-Akner | GQ
“Javier’s life story—the mere fact that he’s even still here at all—might explain his open-heartedness, his refusal to take his good fortune for granted. But it could just as easily explain the opposite. Brushes with death don’t always bring out the best in people; sometimes the fear of mortality, of throwing away your shot, or having it taken from you, can wreck a man, harden him into chasing glory at the cost of his soul. Javier nearly had his life taken from him, twice.”

The Stinky Cheeseman Introduces Kids to a Postmodern Landscape
J.J. Anselmi | The A.V. Club
The Stinky Cheese Man finds momentum as much from its illustrations, which convey a similar ghoulishness as the characters in The Nightmare Before Christmas, as its text. A cow’s jaw unnervingly drops as if made of clay, and the fox’s toothy grin is the stuff of bad dreams. In the end, the small man made of malodorous cheese gets discarded into a river, where he falls apart. No lessons about not trusting strangers here: just a few lumps of cheese that dissolve in water.”

Vince Staples Remains More Reality Than Television on Prima Donna EP
Matthew Ramirez | SPIN
“True to everything he’s ever put on record or said to the press, Staples is a pragmatist. He neither romanticizes violence nor outright condemns gang life; he doesn’t linger on its brutality to valorize the struggle or revel in it for authenticity points. He’s a chronicler who puts his thoughts at the forefront of his stories, like a great first-person essayist.”