The internet was good this week but also really dark. Highlights: 8chan might be the darkest place on the internet, navigating super-modernity, it doesn’t matter that we don’t really know who Beyoncé is, Baltimore’s squeegee kids are pawns in a racist culture war, the complex role assigned to black women in horror movies, the problem(s) with white male critics, Disney’s changing perspective on love, #NotMyAriel, loving Britney Spears, and July horoscopes.
I have never been on a “chan” website, nor do I want to. The websites are separated into different boards based on topics where people can make posts and comment, but the defining feature of the sites is that “no registration is required, and each comment is anonymous,” allowing for people to become their deepest darkest selves. Chan sites and their boards become “organic communities of anonymous participants that have started to behave almost like a new consciousness, separate and more powerful and dangerous than the sum of its parts,” writes Nicky Woolf.
Unlike its predecessor 4chan, 8chan allows its users to create their own boards. “From its effect on the world, 8chan could be ranked as one of the internet’s most dangerous sites. Some have even compared it to terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda or ISIS. The pattern is similar: men – and it is always men – find their way there, and get radicalised into an extreme ideology which drives some of them to violence.” This is the story if 8chan’s creator, Fredrick Brennan.
2. E-flux: Editorial: “Navigation Beyond Vision”
According to this editorial, this issue of e-flux is dedicated to asking “what are the interfaces of navigation that transcend the realm of the purely technical, even as a form of visualization that paradoxically supersedes the spatial and temporal constraints of images completely? How do navigational paradigms in virtual and offline environments increasingly inform the politics of the image? If navigation puts ontological pressure on the static frame of a photographic or cinematic image, then how are our concepts of political action, visual literacy, and collective intervention also pressured to surpass or perform model worlds?”
3. BuzzFeed: Beyoncé Is A Mystery We Can’t Stop Trying To Solve
I think Beyoncé is an amazing performer, one of the best ever, but I find her image dubious. As we engage with the world, we are always acting as screens for the images, aesthetics, and values that people project onto us. That means that we, in turn, project images, aesthetics, and values onto the people, things, and ideas we engage with. And, for a reason I have yet to completely understand, the way this works with Beyoncé’s image bothers me.
Beyoncé has always been a mysterious, private celebrity and no one has ever been able to answer “what exactly is Beyoncé’s persona,” writes Niela Orr, because “there are as many answers as there are Bey eras.” Honestly, who Beyoncé is really doesn’t matter as much as how she appears to be, because how she appears to be is all we can meaningfully engage with. But I guess if you are part of the BeyHive, trying to “figure out” her persona could be a fun adventure.
4. The Baffler: Plight of the Squeegee Kids
If you have spent any time in Baltimore you have seen the “squeegee kids.” They are primarily young, Black boys on street corners ready to clean your car window, for whatever amount you can give, if any. If you have paid attention to the news, you’ve seen them as the subject of a racist debate that goes back decades, with one side advocating for criminal punishment of these children and the other side reminding those in power that these are children trying to survive by working. Most people I know don’t mind the kids, but every now and again I meet someone that hates them for no reason. Well, as with everything, there is a reason and this is the story of “how Baltimore’s youth became pawns in a racist culture war.”
5. The Baffler: The Women Who Knew Too Much
I get scared easily and don’t often watch or follow horror films. I did see Us when it came out this spring, but the last one I watched before that was probably The Blair Witch Project when it came out. I know generally most of the tropes of Black women in horror films, but since I never watch I’ve never fully learned their cinematic history and the history of the “sacrificial negro” who, as defined by Ashlee Blackwell, “puts themselves in the face of danger and dies in order for the white character to survive.”
Further, I’ve never explored how the triple consciousness of black women, being “black, a woman, and, usually, American” all at the same time allows for them to “access alternate selves” and narratives, as described by Nahum Welang, “to reimagine skewed perceptions of black womanhood,” and how that plays out in horror films. This was a fascinating and informative read written by Niela Orr.
6. The New York Times: The Dominance of the White Male Critic
Yes. Just a general yes to this article. Across arts and cultural criticism, most critics are white men. This is especially true for legacy publications. In film criticism, for example, there are 27 white men for every woman of color. Legacy publications, which have more readership and thus more power than their smaller media counterparts which tend to have more diversity, are also more likely to view press previews of films, art exhibitions, and other cultural events, and are thus able to shape and dominate cultural narratives before the voices of critics of color and other historically oppressed identities can be heard.
This is important “because culture is a battleground where some narratives win and others lose. Whether we believe someone should be locked in a cage or not is shaped by the stories we absorb about one another, and whether they’re disrupted or not. At a time when inequality and white supremacy are soaring, collective opinion is born at monuments, museums, screens and stages — well before it’s confirmed at the ballot box.”
7. Aeon: Love Isn’t What it Was
My adult sister is fully obsessed with Disney films. She listens to the soundtracks, and always seems to be watching a movie, particularly from the Disney Renaissance in the late 1980s and 1990s. I liked the movies enough when I was younger, but find them more and more reductive the older I get. I love animated features (my favorite three movies are Happy Feet, Surf’s Up, and Meet the Robinsons), but I don’t usually watch the new Disney films, especially not in theaters.
But, as this article points out, Disney is doing something interesting with its new movies and “between Tangled (2010) and Moana (2016), the ideal of heterosexual romance has been dethroned by a new ideal: family love.” I’m not a fan of fetishizing romantic love, and after reading this I might have to take a closer look at some of the films I’ve ignored over the past decade, even if it means getting Let it Go stuck in my head for the next month.
— Art Maggot (@ArtMaggot) July 5, 2019
Disney cast Halle Bailey (of R&B duo Chloe X Halle) as Ariel in its live-action remake of The Little Mermaid and the racists are PISSED. People infiltrated white supremacist groups, colorist memes were found, people are making it into the exclusion of redheads in media? Other people are—sarcastically—mad an actual mermaid was not cast.
9. Topic: Love in the Time of Britney
I’m lowkey obsessed with Britney Spears even though I don’t know her discography or even like her that much…? I don’t really know why. It is probably because she became famous when I was 4 and is the first celebrity I can remember. While this article traces the story of Keith Collins, one of Britney’s biggest fans who donated his massive collection of memorabilia to her hometown museum before his premature death, it is also about how we consume and display celebrities, both on the internet in “tributes to artists on Tumblr pages and Instagram accounts, to more tangible goods.”
10. W Magazine: July Horoscopes: Twitter’s Favorite Astrologers Forecast the Rest of Your Summer
I’m an astrology hoe and I love @astropoets. I wait up every Sunday night for weekly horoscopes to be posted on their Twitter account. It has become one of my favorite rituals and I send my sister and a friend their horoscopes every week. The monthly horoscopes are too long for Twitter, so poets Dorothea Lasky and Alex Dimitrov partner with W Magazine. I have to say my horoscope (Sagittarius), and my sister’s (Virgo/Libra cusp), and my friend’s (Gemini) were all very good this month.
*All images taken from reference articles*
Have a suggestion for next week? Email [email protected] with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”