Weekend

Required Reading

This week, fantastic knitted masks, immunoprivilege, Juilliard’s socially distanced rendition of “Bolero,” Axl Rose and Steve Mnuchin on Twitter, and lots more.

It’s an era of masks, but Ýrúrarí Jóhannsdóttir’s knitted versions are the fantastical creations we need to see right now. Not sure if they are exactly ideal for a pandemic, but they make us smile amidst the zaniness. More knitted masks and info on Colossal. (via Colossal)
  • I’ve been thinking about this article since I read it earlier this week and I highly suggest you read it too. Immunoprivilege is a thing and there’s a long US history around it, according to Kathryn Olivarius:

Yellow fever, a mosquito-borne flavivirus, was inescapable in the 19th-century Deep South and a point of near-constant terror in New Orleans, the region’s hub. In the six decades between the Louisiana Purchase and the Civil War, New Orleans experienced 22 full-blown epidemics, cumulatively killing over 150,000 people. (Perhaps another 150,000 died in nearby American cities.) The virus killed about half of all those it infected and it killed them horribly, with many victims vomiting thick black blood, the consistency and color of coffee grounds. The lucky survivors became “acclimated,” or immune for life.

In Decolonising the Mind, Ngũgĩ wrote that colonialism meant that the “night of the sword and the bullet was followed by the morning of the chalk and the blackboard.” Our Lady of the Nile illustrates this by allowing the audience to eavesdrop on some infuriating lectures dished out by deadpan teachers proclaiming racist ideas, such as the notion that “Africa has no history,” or reprimanding characters with the adage, “You are expected to be good citizens, good Christians.” In one of the school assemblies, students are explicitly told, “I have heard girls only speak Kinyarwanda. Our code of conduct forbids the use of this language.” In addition to Christian chastity, the French language and glorified Western history, the ideals of good taste (code for European refinement) are also playfully dissected. The young women taste foreign foods like foie gras and caviar and find them repellent. Amidst the giggles, Gloriosa reminds them, “You girls have to get used to this kind of food … At official dinners, you won’t be eating beans and bananas.”

Plato’s Father Was (Probably) a Rapist

Over those four decades, Said became probably the most eminent public intellectual of his generation, producing a wealth of essays, articles, and long interviews (on everything from Middle Eastern politics to classical music and psychoanalysis) and writing for a broad general readership as well as his academic peers. His public involvement ranged from contemporary affairs to debates about the history of empire, but it was most pronounced where Palestine was concerned. Through his writings, his media appearances, and his activism, Said did more than anyone else to make the question of Palestine better understood in North America. Although this advocacy earned him many admirers in the United States and the rest of the world, including among Palestinians, it also earned him powerful enemies in the academy, the media, and elsewhere. Nonetheless, at a distance of nearly two decades since his death, it is clear that their enmity has done little to diminish his legacy or the immediacy and relevance of his ideas.

  • I can’t stop thinking about this poor lizard who ate too much greasy pizza. The title says it all:

Super-Constipated Florida Lizard Breaks Records With Gargantuan Poop

Yellow filter goes hand in hand with films that depict mostly negative stereotypes about living in the country in question, all while centering the journey of a white hero: Some combination of gangs, extreme poverty, drug use, and war seems to pop up in most of the movies that use yellow filter. Not only is it ugly and overused, but it reinforces stereotypes about people in countries that Americans still tend to think of as the “developing world.” One can almost be certain who will show up to save the day. The white savior trope needs to go — and it can take yellow filter with it.

  • The new television series by Mindy Kaling, Never Have I Ever … is hugely popular around the world (I watched it and enjoyed the new ground it breaks in US TV shows), but it’s not perfect and writer Monica M. addresses the many issues she identifies in the show:

As South Asians have noted on social media , there are glaringly problematic issues in the show ranging from casteism, anti-Blackness, anti-Semitism, ableism, to fatphobia. They call into question whether diverse representation is really equitable storytelling. For example, all the Black and other people of color in Never Have I Ever exist in a cultural void and have little texture other than to be cultural props for Devi.  Whether it’s Devi’s two friends or her therapist Dr. Jamie Ryan (Niecy Nash), their flatness is disturbing and offensive.  Devi’s Jewish nemesis-turned-friend becomes the butt of an oddly anti-Semitic joke about Nazis killing Jews while the show pretends like genocide is something only found in history books.

In the first ten minutes of the show, Devi is seen praying to an altar of Hindu gods, right before white tennis star John McEnroe explains to us that she lost her father, and until recently, she was paralyzed. In what can only be described as a gross display of ableism, Devi is miraculously able to walk after seeing her crush at the grocery store. Her paralysis functions as a totally meaningless plot device, which receives no further context in the show beyond being fodder for schoolyard insults. There’s also the tired model minority tropes, including a scene about Devi being just another smart Indian girl who is struggling in college applications, that surface uneasy reminders of how Kaling’s brother used blackface to get into medical school.

GO: I remember there were rumors of tapes of Trump dropping the n-word that never seemed to materialize. Not that any of his supporters would care.

NC: Trump gets off on using racist terms, especially if there are people around who happen to be of that particular minority. He seems to hate Puerto Ricans the most. I will leave it at that, but his policies after Hurricane Maria came of no surprise to me. He is basically trying to kill them, in my opinion.

GO: Nothing we’ve learned about him these last three years suggests that your opinion is wrong.

Four of the biggest bombshells you often talk about on Twitter are Trump’s incontinence and use of adult diapers; his drug addiction; his STD; and his creepy relationship with his daughter, Ivanka—your former boss.

Let’s take them one at a time. First, incontinence. To play devil’s advocate, why does it matter that he wears adult diapers?

NC: It matters because his incontinence stems from his decades of stimulant abuse and fast food diet. He pretends he’s the model of physical health, when instead his bodily functions are being dictated by his drug addiction—and he tries to cover it up. So it’s evidence of his incompetence, and one of the main reasons for the NDAs. The crew nicknamed CA “The Shitshow,” because he would soil himself during tapings, often after flying into a rage and cursing out the Script Dept. Because he couldn’t read a three-syllable word.

GO: Is Trump illiterate?

NC: He is severely dyslexic, and has been his entire life. Ivanka would joke about it off camera.

Required Reading is published every Saturday, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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