the premiere prima donnas.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post for the guys around here. So today, I’m giving all two of you gentlemen an article about the most empowered, emotional, dramatic “I-Am-Woman-Hear-Me-Roar” types out there. So great, right?

Jay Caspian Kang writes for Grantland, a sports/media site that I posted about here. I was lucky enough to interview him for an upcoming magazine article, and he is way cool– smart, funny, irreverent, talented, focused, and humble. His most recent article on the site is the “DIVAWATCH 2012.” This marks the third year that Kang and a group of fellow serious researchers/analysts have gotten together to take a look at the year’s leading ladies in order to discuss, argue, and perhaps even throw a few punches in pursuit of the divAne truth. The female singers’ diva-nity is determined after close calculation of the following considerations: Taking the Listener on an Emotional Journey; Vocal Talent; Iconic Song/Moment; Commercial Success; Upstaging Presence; Hand Gestures; Hair; Stank (the judging committee has labored over the definition– the original and easiest one is “the growl in a Diva’s voice as she ground out the low, angry notes”); Making Insane Demands/Going to Rehab/Overall Drama; Weight Fluctuations; Aging into a Drag Queen/Wearing Insane Hats. 

The article is a funny, perceptive one, but it is not one without controversy. My girl Beyonce isn’t even included (“does Beyoncé even qualify as a singer anymore? She’s more of a corporation; think Jordan in ’98.” Ouch), and lovers of Katy Perry, beware. Apparently all she does is “melodic barking.”

Not surprisingly, Adele tops the list. But it’s not all glory, laud, and honor for her– here’s their criticism:

“The Committee just can’t see her breaking her current mold; she’s a very good singer who sings very good songs, but she still hasn’t provided a Consumption Frenzy moment that has made everyone run to the computer to watch everything she’s ever done. These iconic performances can happen at any point in a Diva’s career; Aretha’s ‘Nessun Dorma’ came at the age of 56; but the potential can usually be spotted pretty early on. Adele just doesn’t have it, at least not at this point in her career.

As much as the Committee loves “Someone Like You” (sources report that the Committee listens to the song somewhere between 3 and 12 times a day), there’s little chance it will ever breach the Iconic Song zone. Adele might have outsold Whitney’s The Bodyguardalbum, but in ten years, no fat Taiwanese kid is going to set the Internet on fire with his note-for-note cover of ‘Rolling in the Deep.'”

Go check out the article and see if you agree with Kang and his cohorts. In reading, I also learned of a number of new women myself (clearly my diva radar is on the blink), but I did think what he said about Robyn was so true/funny (“That being said, this feels like the 90th time we’ve been introduced to this great, quirky Swedish singer named Robyn who has cool hair, whom everyone in “Europe” just adores, who will open your eyes to the destitution of the American club music scene. Although it seems like this version of Robyn has some more staying power, the Committee can’t really get over this one fundamental truth: Robyn is just budget ABBA with lasers and a newfangled computer processor. And we really, really like Robyn. She’s just not anything new. So, please, everyone, stop telling me to listen to her”).

(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)


the what not to do.

So there’s this:  (really, just watch. It’s 25 seconds, and I am NOT one to recommend many youtube videos, so I promise it’s not a bad use of your valuable time). (Side note, how sad was this movie? It and Homeward Bound made 8 year old me choke up every time).

And there’s this:

But still…there’s got to be a place for constructive criticism, right? Katie at Sweet Tater posted her list of 12 Blogger Bad Habits, and she’s got ’em down. Here are a few of my favorites:

“3. Calling your significant other anything but his/her given name. I’m serious with this. Just stop it.”

Yes, especially with a definite article in front of it. I find reading about “the boyfriend” or “the husband”  or “hubby” (seriously the worst) SO grating. If your significant other’s name is the one thing that you want to keep private on the space that you broadcast all the details about your life to the world, at least give him/her an initial.

4Instagramming everything on Earth. I realize the hip fade makes your skin look flawless and your pumpkin spice latte look like a work of fine art, but please just take it down one notch.”

Yes! Thank you! Especially cool it on the foamy milk on top of coffees. And stop talking about pumpkin spice lattes/Starbucks red cups all together. Not interesting anymore.

9. Calling yourself a writer. I’m sorry but… you’re just probably not. Eep. I said it. I’m ok with joggers calling themselves runners, but I’m not ok with casual gym goers calling themselves athletes. Do you see the difference? Someone who enjoys cooking is a cook, not a chef. Following? I’m ok with you calling yourself a blogger or even a freelancer or saying that you write as a verb, but you are not a writer. It’s a fine, blurry line, I realize. Respect it.”

Yes. I cringe when a blogger writes a touchy feel-y post about being a writer. I could list about 12 bloggers off the top of my head who do this with regularity, but I’m going to remember that they’re fighting a hard battle, and I”ll follow Thumper’s advice.

I’ll add to the list bloggers who use the world “amazeballs,” and any mention of losing one’s sanity in the blogging cause. Seriously, just typing that made me shiver.

Anything that grates on you?


the ennui.

Today’s blog is a popular one. It’s similar to Catalog Living (I posted about that one here), but instead of taking a jab at the stylized decor, its target is the people in the ads. Unhappy Hipsters‘ tagline is “it’s lonely in the modern world,” and the blog’s tone is darkly deadpan. Creators Molly Jane Quinn and Jenna Talbott started it one evening as a release from the magazine world in which they worked (and didn’t enjoy), sent it to a few friends, and watched as it spread like wildfire (truly– to the tune of 122,000 hits its first week).

Here are some examples, captions below:

Picture on left: ““He quietly contemplated the disconnect between his social ineptitude and impeccable aesthetic.”

Picture on right right: “The child could bear the boredom no longer.”’

“The daily cleanup of hair, slobber, and urine was disgusting. One was expected to keep toys on hand to keep him from chewing, but he coordinated with their motif amazingly well.”

The women’s work has now been made into a book, but they don’t think of themselves as all that successful. In an interview with New York Times, Quinn talks about how funny and alarming it was to watch the life cycle of a blog— “I would read these tweets, people were saying, “Unhappy Hipsters used to be great, but now it’s really jumped the shark,” and it was only two days old.”

It’s a rough world in the blogosphere…guess the hipsters are unhappy for good reason.

(Images via Unhappy Hipsters)

the so-attractive-it-is-painful.

The worst class in my 18 years of formal education took place my last semester of grad school. I guess some higher power wanted to cure me of any allusions of continuing on in academia. In Postcolonial Theory, the class that made every Wednesday at 3:15 the best moment of the week because I knew I was as far away from the next meeting as I’d be all week, we read heavily footnoted article after heavily footnoted article like this:

“The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relationships in relatively homologous way ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical object to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.” Homi Bhaba 

Keep in mind that the clarity of these articles was not enhanced by the fact that they were often printed on shoddily scanned pages, or if it was my responsibility to print them out, in about size 6 font with 12 pages shrunk down to fit on 1 page because no way was I going to spend anything but the bare minimum on that junk. I sent some friends the passage above once, and this girl’s response was:

“Well one thing can be certain, Homi whatever must be ugly or anti-social. He has spent too many Friday nights with his nose in books. And Saturday mornings, and afternoons, and evenings.”

While she’s normally right about just about everything, there’s one feminist theorist who breaks the mold. And that’s number 1 on my top 5 for hotness: Ryan Gosling.

Apparently the one cool girl in all of English graduate studies ever (sorry Erin) started this blog, Feminist Ryan Gosling, as a way to keep track of the theorists she was studying. She takes pictures where Ryan looks particularly dreamy and posts a theorist’s ideas below, and it’s really, really funny. Laughing at these jokes *almost* makes struggling through Postcolonial Theory worth it.

I had to present on Chandra Mohanty– one of the more painful/shameful 75 minutes of my life.

If you’re more the artsy type, you might enjoy Handmade Ryan Gosling. Here’s a sampling:

There are tons of Ryan Tumblrs out there (lucky me!), but these are two that really doing it for me lately. Enjoy!

(Images from here and here)