Laura Harrier and Nail Art: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about arts and entertainment

Laura Harrier at the 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' premiere
Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP

Laughing and Crying With Laura Harrier, the New Star of Spider-Man
Ashley Weatherford | The Cut
“Harrier is biracial, in a moment when the Tracee Ellis Rosses, Rashida Joneses, and Zoë Kravitzes of the world are vocalizing the complexities of living in this country representing two disparate backgrounds. Harrier has joined the conversation. ‘Growing up, there were no families on TV that looked like mine. I remember doing the census as a kid and my mom being like “This is a really big deal because this is the first time you can check more than one box.”’”

With 4:44, Jay-Z Is Being Celebrated for Owning His Mistakes. For a Black Man, That’s Rare.
Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib | Vox
“No size or age dictates the rate at which we learn to turn away from our old mistakes, and clean ourselves up before making new ones. And so when I think about the platinum-plated response to the 47-year-old Jay Z’s 4:44, I also think about the 12-year-old [Tamir] Rice—how he was never afforded the mistakes that come with growing up, and the accolades that come with surviving them.”

How a Russian Street Art Museum Defies Kremlin Censors
Sophie Pinkham | The New Republic
“Street artists have the freedom to make whatever they please—with the important caveats that if they’re caught, they are subject to arrest, fines, and prosecution—not to mention the destruction of their art. A museum imposes limitations on the works shown within its walls on the basis of aesthetic, political, and other criteria, but in exchange it promises conservation, protection, and respect for its holdings.”

The Great Power and Great Responsibility of Spider-Man
David Harper | The Ringer
“For all of the character’s success and the passion he engenders, Spider-Man’s 55th year finds him in unfamiliar territory. With Spider-Man: Homecoming kicking off Spidey’s third film franchise in 15 years and with the comics at a five-year sales low point, the character is facing a foe he’s never met before: an uncertain future.”

Eternal Sunshine
Rembert Browne | The Fader
“It’s a masterful, near-political dismantling of the old heads, just another thing that makes [Lil] Yachty a heroic figure to many of his teenage peers and a thorn in the side of many of his rap elders ... Still, inquiries into whether or not it’s all a schtick aren’t without warrant. And the more you keep digging ... the more you’re forced to realize that the teens have changed the rules, and the easiest way to get left behind is to get hung up on reality.”

The Kitsch Gazes Back: Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst Return
Kibum Kim and Natasha Degen | The Los Angeles Review of Books
“Today’s most acclaimed and successful artists, such as Mark Bradford, Carol Bove, Rashid Johnson, and Sterling Ruby, evince impeccable taste through spare compositions and assemblages that draw on the language of minimalism, often in dialogue with aesthetics from fashion, architecture, and design. In contrast, Hirst’s and Koons’ projects are characterized by overwrought conceits, aesthetic excess, and a kind of deliberate, even defiant, tackiness.”

The Weekly Package
Kim Wall | Harper’s
“Cisneros’ building had no internet connection—in Cuba, only apparatchiks and hackers could get online at home. But when she plugged the drive into her laptop, another world revealed itself, in folders within folders ... El Paquete Semanal (‘The Weekly Package’), as the compilation is called, is part newsstand, part mixtape, part offline streaming service—a drive curated with magazine articles, Hollywood films, ­YouTube videos, phone apps, classified ads, and more. It has become the country’s largest private industry, reaching about half the population and generating at least $1.5 million a week.”

Filtering Your World Is Understandable—but It’s Not Helpful
Emma Grey Ellis | Wired
“People grow and evolve by being challenged. Letting them tailor the digital world to their exact specifications may hold everyone back at a time when people are trying to learn to live with one another—online and IRL ... That’s not to say that there shouldn't be safe spaces, or that all speech is 100 percent dandy. But blinkering yourself is no substitute for the thinking person's conscientious digital objection: choosing not to stream that movie—or clicking Unfollow.”

Nail Art Power
Niela Orr | The Baffler
“While Claws is surely not an example of avant-garde art, its mesmerizing shots of intricate nail designs nonetheless sanctify its mostly female space. The nail salon in Claws becomes a heterotopia of female art—with Quiet Ann watching the door at all times—and it illustrates how traditional feminine aesthetics, even when presented in straightforward media, often tend toward unruliness and even abstraction.”