Celebrity Sunday, Politics, pop culture

WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING: FBI, KANYE AND #FREEKESHA

This week has been somehow slow on news and heavy on bad news. Also I’m fairly certain I’ve blocked out this entire week from my memory for no reason, because I don’t know anything that happened. Why did I do this? Trauma? Drama? Llama? I don’t know if we’ll ever figure it out. But anyway, here’s your lookback and roundup of what you might’ve missed while you were trapped in that bathtub a la Howard Taft.

 

WHAT’S HAPPENING RN:

 

1). #FreeKesha: This is honestly heartbreaking. On Friday, a New York Supreme Court Justice moved to uphold Kesha’s deal with Sony Records for an additional six records. Kesha was asking to have the contract broken amid her allegations that her producer, Dr. Luke, sexually and emotionally abused her for years. She claims he drugged and raped her after her 18th birthday and bullied her so severely that she developed an eating disorder, for which she entered rehab in January 2014.

I think what I find most upsetting is the fact that Kesha, in this case, wasn’t even asking the judge to send Dr. Luke to jail. She just wanted to get out of her contract, because she’s legally obligated to make another six albums with him, which she won’t, and because she won’t, her career and livelihood will falter. Apparently Sony offered Kesha a deal to work with another Sony producer, but she says that that is a placation and that they will not promote her music unless it is made with Dr. Luke. Not to mention, that if she is mired down by lawsuits, her career is effectively over without the opportunity to record, produce and distribute music.

The Justice, Shirley Kornreich, said Sony would suffer irreparable harm if Kesha were allowed to break her contract. But what about the irreparable harm caused to Kesha? What about the irreparable harm of telling a rape victim that she is legally bound to her rapist? That her career, her everything, depends on a man who emotionally abused her to the brink?

Fans and celebrities alike are gathering around Kesha. Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, Janelle Monae, and Kelly Clarkson have thrown their support behind her. And we should all step behind Kesha. This is tragic and scary and heartbreaking, that we could live in such a barbaric world. Because it is barbaric. It is fucking barbaric that we could allow this to happen. I hope that somehow Kesha will get out of her contract, because I know that if she cannot, then the subtle endorsement of rape will have won. And it can’t win.

#FreeKesha.

2). Jeb Bush Is Audi 5000: After disappointing losses in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Jeb Bush has suspended his campaign for president on Saturday. I think Jeb thought he could ride easy on his family name and easygoing politics, but that came across as bland and uninspired. And against the flaming maxi pad called Donald Trump, Jeb became meek in comparison. After putting $100 million into his campaign, he stumbled and slogged his way through the other candidates.

 

I can’t say that I’m sad to see Bush go, but I’m sad for what it means for the GOP race. Bush provided a somewhat tempering, if passive, presence, and in the last Republican debate, relatively held his own against Donald Trump. Now, the race is largely split between Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. Rubio is expected to pick up a lot of dejected Bush supporters, which may turn the tides in his favor, since he’s largely competing with Cruz. But the scariest part is that veritable politicians are dropping out one by one, and Trump is steamrolling his way forward. The hope that he would burn out has faded and soured into a fear that he might be unstoppable. It’s like when Phi Phi O’Hara made it into the top three of RuPaul’s Drag Race, even though she was literally the devil incarnate that season. Somehow, good things are happening to bad people.

3). Hillary Clinton Wins Nevada: More political news, because now I’m a political junkie. Hillary won the Nevada caucuses after losing New Hampshire to Bernie. The votes were split pretty evenly, with Hillary getting almost 53% to Bernie’s 47%. However, while this is a victory to Hillary, it also is kinda of not. Nevada was supposed to be an easy sweep, but with Bernie nipping at her heels, it’s proving that he’s picking up steam.

In her victory speech, Hillary talked about her new plan for immigration—a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and protection from deportation—as well as slicing away at Bernie’s plans. She focused on the young voters, basically saying that Bernie’s ideas of free college tuition are unattainable, but that she wants to work with young voters to create a better future. Bernie used his concession speech to basically say that while he may have lost the battle, he’s gonna win the war. But they were both cordial and nice to each other, which is nice. I like that Mom and Dad aren’t fighting.

4). Kanye West: I feel like I literally keep talking about him, but I’ll stop when he stops doing interesting things in the media. So The Life of Pablo is out, but apparently Kanye’s still tinkering with it, and it’s been called the messiest release in history. People who bought it didn’t get it; some people were charged twice with no product. Some people—me—claim satanic forces are at play. Additionally, he will never, ever, ever put TLOP on iTunes or anything other than Tidal. And I just read an article that said that only Beyoncé putting her album exclusively on Tidal will save the flailing music service. And if that happens, I s2g I will leave the country. Because I need that album.

But what’s the most interesting is Kanye’s Twitter. Apparently, he’s $53 million dollars in debt, and is asking for loans to produce his “art.” And I say “art” in quotes because it’s not music he’s looking to produce, but the jury’s out on what he actually intends to do with the money. Anyway, he reached out to Mark Zuckerberg for a $1 billion investment, claiming that he needs the money more than “a school in Africa” and, frankly, that’s some bad karma. But he wants to lower the prices of textbooks, which I can get behind. He says that he needs the money to provide for his family, but, like, his wife is Kim Kardashian West, who is worth allegedly over $145 million, I don’t think they’re hurting. Also he’s like “I can afford to keep my family in furs, but I still need the money.”

But, to be honest, I really like The Life of Pablo. PUT IT ON ITUNES SO I CAN BUY IT AFTER MY FREE 90-DAY TIDAL TRIAL IS OVER. Pls. I’m ultralight-beaming for your help, Kanye.

5). Deadpool: I don’t know what this is, but everyone’s talking about it. Apparently he’s omnisexual, which is cool, and breaks the fourth wall, which is cool. Also Ryan Reynolds is behind the project, which is cool. What if Deadpool was just a really long, convoluted fever dream sequel to The Proposal? Could that be real?

6). An Apple A Day Keeps the FBI Away: So here’s the hot gossip. The FBI is asking Apple to create a back door—dirty—into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, after they accidentally reset the password to the shooter’s iCloud. This means that the normal way Apple accesses data, which they’ve done in past investigations, has been blocked for them. Additionally, the iPhone was set with a special precaution by the shooter Syed Farook’s government employers to self-destruct after ten failed attempts at guessing the password.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said no, that it would set a dangerous precendent, and that Apple has prided itself on its security, and to follow the FBI’s orders would negate that security claim. The FBI is asking FBWhyyyy and saying that it’s “just one time.” Also, they originally blamed the password reset on a San Bernardino county official, when it was later revealed that this official did it on the behest of the FBI. So not cool.

7). Big Ang Dies: Big Ang died on Thursday. She was previously diagnosed with Stage IV brain and lung cancer, and after a false alarm earlier in the night, Big Ang passed away. This honestly hit me so hard, and I think it hit the world hard. Love her or hate her, Big Ang was vibrant and shocking and bold and funny. She was the breakout star of Mob Wives, she became a household phenomenon, and she was the icon of my senior year in high school. I’m sad that she had to go so soon, and that her decline was so rapid. I think we can only pray that it was quick and painless and that her family will, someday, be okay.

Side bar: I went digging through my old blog and the archives of old photos, until I found a cartoon I had drawn of Big Ang my senior year. I’ve been a Big Ang stan since 2013.

Rest in peace.

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This has been sort of a heavy news week, but it sometimes can’t be avoided. The world can be a really tough place, and not even I can spin it into something with levity all the time. But I think that that’s a good thing—that some things aren’t meant to be touched by comedy. Some things are just sad. Singularly heartbreakingly sad.

I hope that everyone who reads my blog has a nice week coming up. I hope everyone who doesn’t read my blog burns their tongues on a really hot Starbucks latte. But they won’t even know it’s coming because they don’t read my blog.

Also, to end things on a nostalgic, lighter note, here are some photos I found while digging through my past. Revel in High School Me. Also I’ve been looking through the photos and there are an uncomfortable amount of photos of hot guys that I’ve just saved to my computer. What was I saving them for?

 

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Politics

THE NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY

On Tuesday in the New Hampshire primary, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump emerged victorious for their respective parties. Trump won 35.3% of the vote, with John Kasich following behind with 15.8% and Ted Cruz with 11.7%. Sanders won 60.4% of the vote, with Hillary getting 38.0%.

I was originally pro-Hillary, but as Bernie has risen in the polls and I have learned more about him and his politics, I have begun to research him and his politics, and I find that I agree with him on a lot of issues. And I think it was actually Bernie who said it best when, at the end of the Democratic debate against Hillary, he said that either he or Hillary would make a better choice for the country than a Republican. And I don’t even necessarily agree with that, but I do agree with his respect and general classiness towards Hillary and towards the entire presidential race. If he won the nomination, I would be sad because I support Hillary, but I wouldn’t be distraught.

A few weeks before the election, I went to a local bus station in Boston and interviewed New Hampshire residents about the upcoming primary. I asked them primarily why they thought Donald Trump was so popular, and whether or not that popularity would translate into votes in the election.

The answers were interesting. He was popular because of name recognition—The Apprentice—because of his strong opinions about border control and ISIS. Because he wasn’t a pushover. Because he wasn’t a career politician.

(Also this a total side note, but why is it bad if the President is a career politician? I know that the government can be corrupt sometimes, but in general, I want to believe that the people who dedicate their lives to civil service are doing it out of a desire to be helpful to their country. So what if someone has spent their career in politics? Shouldn’t they be well-versed in politics if they’re going to be, like, the head person in politics? I need someone to explain to me why that would be a bad thing.)

Most people laughed—uncomfortably—and said that while he was popular, they hoped that he wouldn’t gain votes in the election. As a journalist, I don’t think I’m supposed to have any sort of opinion, but I’m a bad journalist and a good human, and it makes me distinctly uncomfortable to know that Trump has the majority vote in New Hampshire.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t know everything about politics. I probably know 15% of what there is to know, but as a millennial coming to age in America in 2016, it’s fucking terrifying to think that a celebrity bully could garner the majority in any state. And that’s what Trump is; he’s a bully. He’s a bulldozing, immature, graceless bully, who’s used to getting what he wants.

Personally, I look at a few categories to see what I need to know about a candidate: civil rights, tax reform, gun control, abortion and drugs. As of October 2015, Trump would move to defund Planned Parenthood. Only a few months previous, he said that in general, he supported Planned Parenthood, but that abortions needed to stop. In a few short months, he went from qualifying to outright damning.

On same-sex marriage, Trump says it’s fine “for now.” But that, frankly, threatening statement is almost more terrifying than an outright damnation of same-sex marriage. At least with people who outright oppose it, I know where they stand. With Trump’s “for now,” I have the feeling that like a villain in a movie series, it’ll rear its head in the near future and come back with a vengeance.

I find it scary that I can live in a country where the leading presidential candidate for his party can propose to take away basic human rights—that we just got—and that that is not an immediate deal-breaker. How would people react if Trump tried to re-segregate schools? Or take away women’s votes? By threatening to take away one group’s civil liberties, it shadows over everyone’s civil liberties. Because when Trump threatens same-sex marriage, he challenges the idea that these basic human rights are up for negotiation.

It’s a common fact that to run for president, candidates often become more radical and more of an outlier than they would normally. And so it’s not necessarily surprising that the far-left option—Sanders—and the far-right option—Trump—gained the votes in New Hampshire. What is surprising is that we are allowing Trump to gain strength and momentum.

I want two nominees who are respectful and strong in their opinions and classy. I want nominees who respect the general population, who protect my civil liberty and who have my best interest at heart. I wouldn’t be comfortable if Trump gained the nomination. I would be afraid. What country has a leader who is banned from entering other countries—like the UK and Canada? What country has a leader who proposes banning an entire religious group, branding them as terrorists? What country has a leader who labels an entire population entering the country as rapists, criminals, and terrorists?

By engaging in hate-speech and fear mongering, Trump proves that he is not in this race for the interest of the people. I want nominees who, if they get into office, I wouldn’t have to worry about what would happen to me, or my friends, or my peers. I want a President who, even if we have differing politics, I can trust to protect me on the most basic levels. We shouldn’t live under the threat of something happening to us. And this isn’t just worrisome for same-sex couples, or Muslims, or Mexicans. This affects all of us. Because who our President is says who our country is. We can’t have a country that casts doubt and aspersions onto vast swaths of its population. We can’t have a country that threatens to take away the most basic, human rights.

And so as the primaries continue and the race gets tighter, I suppose my plea is this. Educate yourselves on the candidates. Educate yourselves on who they are, what they stand for. Separate yourself from the hate-speech, the fear mongering, and the emotional tugs at “a greater America.” Acknowledge that candidates, any candidates, will use things like ISIS and marijuana and gun control and hide behind bluster and savage words and strong promises. Separate the magic from the material. Seek the truth, and make smart decisions.

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Celebrity Sunday, pop culture

THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW

Do you ever have one of those weekends where suddenly it’s Sunday night, you’re lying on the floor of your apartment on a blue shag carpet, and you’re realizing that the most culturally significant moments of the past weekend involved eating food, and that you can name exactly what you ate but not any other thing that happened? No? Never mind.

I was overwhelmed and amazed and pleased at the response my last post—read here if you would like—but the response was so explosive that now I am the literal definition of “deer in headlights.”

And since I didn’t do adequate planning—due to the “deer in headlights” (or the “when the kitchen lights come on as you’re sitting on the counter eating chocolate ice cream out of the carton”) aspect of these last few days—I’m giving you, in lieu of a specific spotlight on what’s happening celebrity-wise, a sort of “What You Should Care About Right Now” list. You’re welcome (?).

WHAT’S HAPPENING RN:

1). The Super Bowl: No comment, except that I essentially view the Super Bowl as a three-part musical—football, BEYONCE, football—and I will, until I die, refer to the field as a “stage” and football players as “Beyoncé’s warm-up act” because I think that is hilarious. But, if you care, it’s the Panthers versus the Broncos. I’m assuming that I’ll just get the low-down from my mother, the Queen and a total Sporty Spice, tomorrow, since she is watching the game.

2). BEYONCE: Beyoncé released a new music video, “Formation,” out of nowhere, and my eyes were not ready for the Instagram stills that she put up when the video came out. I’ve watched the video, and I have a few things to say. Blue Ivy is so big now, it’s crazy! I love the whole “back to my roots in Givenchy” vibe, as well as her braids. I like the synchronized dancers, and the “I Slay” mentality. I also will be incorporating “Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper” into my daily life.

3). BEYONCE, part dieux: I just need to make her more than one point. She’s so great. I can already tell that I will be awkwardly and inappropriately dancing to this song in a club/my shower, someday very soon. Also I’m craving Red Lobster.

4). This quiz about which Kardashian-Jenner you are: Necessary, and culturally relevant. I got Khloe. Obviously.

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Source: Danny McCarthy

5). Kocktails: I’ve been binging on Snooki a lot lately and she was on the third episode of Kocktails with Khloe. This was the least cringe-worthy episode of the show, so while I will not be watching consistently, I will at least be checking up to see who the guests are to see if it’s worth me having very tense shoulders for forty minutes.

6). This video from Mic: The music video of Coldplay and Beyoncé (BEYONCE) has been criticized for cultural appropriation, and this video from Mic does a really excellent job of differentiating between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. Basically, appropriation occurs when one borrows recklessly from another culture without understanding the historical significance behind what they are borrowing. So for instance, Chris Martin (referred to in my mind as “Gwyneth Paltrow’s ex-husband”) being followed by a crowd of adoring Indian children might seem weird on the surface, but when you consider that less than 100 years ago, the British Empire was oppressing and ruling over India—which inspired Gandhi to rise up and call for Indian independence against the British Empire—the image becomes almost horrifically self-indulgent and inappropriate. It’s well done and succinct, so watch it!

7). Paris Geller is confirmed to be in the revival of Gilmore Girls: This might be the most important revival of history and my life, so I’m excited that one of the key players will be returning.

8). Gloria Steinem, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton: I might go into this in deeper depth—omg am I political??—but basically Gloria Steinem, noted feminist and author, said that young women are gravitating towards Bernie Sanders to impress boys and are shying away from Clinton. She later apologized, because…obviously, but it’s still relevant. Also Bernie and Hillary had a Democratic debate this week on who was actually deserving of the term “progressive.” Things got heated. Watch this Late Night with Seth Meyers clip to get a deeper look—but not funnier, because I’m the funniest—at what went on.

This has been “What’s Happening RN.” I’m your host, Danny McCarthy. Good night, and good luck out there.

Psst. Aren’t I so official?

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