Turning 20: How The Music Industry Transformed Lauryn Hill From Superstar to Specter
The decline of Hill’s career is a cautionary tale for artists who refuse to bend to the whims of the celebrity machine. The world has never had much patience for Black women who don’t play by the rules, and even less for Black women who behave as though the rules don’t exist in the first place. (In 2013, when her magnum opus turned 15, Hill was serving a three-month sentence for tax evasion.) So it’s funny that The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill can now be interpreted as a fundamentally conservative album.
Dietland And The Language of Fatphobia
Since Plum is fat, not even her whiteness can grant her access to the soft, benevolent utterances that she would otherwise be entitled to if she were thin. Fat is an aberration, and aberrations must be corrected. Thinner women might be granted ego-preserving euphemisms like “curvy” or “voluptuous” but larger women are simply fat. They are not seen as requiring the sensitivity normally extended around fraught issues of body shame and body image. Indelicate language is seen as tough love.
Sadistic Storytellers: Unpacking The Exploitative Violence of Rape-Revenge Film
Rape-revenge films must always center the victim rather than the physicality of her pain. There are meaningful stories to be told about women seeking to punish the men who harm them, but they cannot also be a place where women’s bodies are reduced to nothing but faceless receptacles of male savagery.
How TV Is Diversifying Family Structures
These extended families are their own miniature communities where members can find financial, emotional, and educational support. By distributing the caretaking responsibilities between more people, everyone has a richer, fuller familial existence. By showing these extended families, TV is expanding our understanding of what families can look like.
No Grace For Women: Queen Sugar Traffics In Toxic Masculinity
Although he understands how oppressive gender roles can be, he is happy to reinforce them if they validate his own sense of self. It’s important to balance praise for his casual dismissal of patriarchal constraints for men with condemnation for the way he weaponizes them against women. Ralph-Angel’s story is critical to demonstrating the real world difficulties that Black men face when reintegrating into society after incarceration, but it largely sidesteps the ways in which he both takes advantage of and dismisses the encouraging family support system available to him
The "Scandal" Effect: The Rise of Flawed Black Female Protagonists
Scandal’s influence has been felt throughout the entertainment industry, affecting everything from the quality of roles for Black women to making networks less hesitant to invest in programming by and for other minority groups. Everyone wants a piece of the Scandal pie, and as the juggernaut takes its final bow to make room for the peak TV content that has sprung up in its wake, it’s clear that desire for more diverse stories has not abated.
Carrying The Future: There's No Birth Control In Future Dystopias
It’s hard not to see the dystopian mismanagement of fertility as a symptom of a larger disregard for women’s stories. In a way, this reveals larger cultural attitudes about women’s fertility. Reproductive care is seen as an individual responsibility, rather than something that society at large has a vested interest in managing on a social or economic level.
Alternative Facts, Real Fiction: A Younger Roundtable
I find a lot of value in the idea that “the truth” isn’t the same as “the facts” because our individual experiences so often color our perspectives that it’s not only possibly but highly likely that two sets of people can have entirely contradictory takeaways. Just because something is a fact doesn’t mean it’s an objective truth.
Still Star-Crossed Is The Racebent Fairytale Shakespeare Never Delivered
While the multiethnicity of the characters is never explicitly mentioned, the show trusts the audience to ferret out the parallel meanings it presents. The racial dynamics of the story are explicitly engaged with in a way that adds a familiar layer of interpretation. Still Star-Crossed demonstrates that it is possible to diversify the stories we tell, including the ones we may not usually think lend themselves to diversity
Whiteness As A Weapon: The Historical Wounds of "Unforgettable"
While the plot of Unforgettable is good, campy fun, it also lays bare how white women often use their cultural presumption of innocence against women of color. White women’s “tears” are a powerful elixir, and the social capital they afford does not extend past the limits of white femininity.
Black Venus Rising: The Symbolism of Beyoncé's Pregnancy Photos
Anyone who has seen Lemonade can tell you that Beyoncé is fond of bending symbols to her will. From sinking a police car to dressing her dancers as Black Panthers, Yoncé has made it clear that she's aware of her place in our culture and understands the responsibility of wielding such vast influence.
The Year In Black Girl Magic
Of course, a year-end list could never fully encapsulate the multitude of ways in which Black women displayed their excellence in 2016. From Simone Biles sweeping the Olympics to Black actresses like Tracee Ellis Ross and Viola Davis finally getting the awards recognition they deserve, it’s clear that Black women have long known how to thrive when the odds are against us.
Male Tears For Fears: Embracing The Ironic Performance of Misandry
The rising prominence of feminism in mainstream discourse does mean that fewer men will automatically have access to unearned privilege. But the key word is “unearned.” In a fair and just world, men never would have been privy to those benefits in the first place.
Bwitch, Please: An Interview With Johanna Middleton and Martine Moore
Billed as a “witch's brew of comedy, camp, and commentary,” the five-episode web series Bwitches, cocreated by best friends/roommates Johanna Middleton and Martine Moore, tackles everything from dating to racial microaggressions from the perspective of two women of different races.
Reboot And Rally: The Revolutionary Opportunities Inherent In Reupping Franchise Favourites
Culturally, we have very specific ideas about who gets to be the hero, who is seen as a villain, and who gets to save the world. Racebending films that already exist allow us to easily cheat the boundaries of diversity, but also to add new dimensions to clichéd stories. They make inroads into our perception of who gets to be loved and valued and who gets to be protected. Racebending allows us to slowly widen the margins of who is allowed to have their stories told.
Performance Anxiety: Why I'm Here To Watch Drake Worship Rihanna
Pop culture is so full to the brim of narratives that reinforce the idea that no man would proudly claim a Black woman as his love and equal partner that it’s easy to feel like Black women are singularly undeserving of love and adoration. Even Eartha Kitt spoke publicly about her difficulty dating intraracially due to the prevailing idea that a Black woman had little to offer a man on the rise.
On "Orange Is The New Black" And The Destruction Of Black Bodies
Art is meant not just to reflect life, but to comment on it. To distill a universal truth about the mundane lives we live and supply us with a greater understanding of ourselves. The artist’s responsibility is not simply to reproduce the violence that exists, but to deconstruct it. What did this season of OITNB add to the conversation about police brutality that hadn’t already been said? How was this plotline any different from a simple reproduction of Black trauma?
When Visibility Isn't Enough: Abigail Mills And The Failed Promise of Sleepy Hollow
The quiet magic of Sleepy Hollow was its unassuming diversity. Abigail Mills and Ichabod Crane, joined together as Witnesses to a biblical prophecy across time, spent each week saving the world from apocalypse. Their adventures straddled genres from sci-fi to historical fiction, granting the Black women offscreen access to those spaces as the characters fought mythical monsters. But after a spectacular debut, the sophomore season saw Abigail and other visible minority characters consistently sidelined in favor of newly introduced white characters.