Hello! I apologize for this week’s musical reference subheading. I simply couldn’t stop myself.
As an important piece of housekeeping, last week’s Wednesday post was my first-ever discussion thread, but I’ve since heard from a few people that the way the email appeared in their inbox made it hard to tell that it was an open thread. So this is a boost: please check out that post and leave me a comment if you have any feedback at all! I might be changing the format or frequency of the newsletter, so your opinions are really important to me as I consider what to do.
This week’s post, however, will be classic Friendmendations you know and love. Let’s get into it!
Appropriating Blackness for clout
If I may sound like an ancient anthropologist studying The Youth, I’m interested in the way that Gen Z has grown up immersed in an internet culture that divorces signifiers of Blackness from their original context. (It’s something I see in Billie Eilish’s personal style, for example.) Jason Parham’s WIRED cover story, “TikTok and the Evolution of Digital Blackface” is a comprehensive look at TikTok’s role in this phenomenon. One of the platform’s key functions, its lipsynching feature, literally allows white users to take on the voices and sentiments of Black cultural figures, but Parham details more insidious examples too.
Writer and academic Lauren Michele Jackson is quoted in the piece, so I also want to recommend her book White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue ... and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation. Right before the pandemic shut down the libraries, I picked it up after reading an excerpt about Paula Deen. It’s so well-written and compelling, and anyone who’s interested in examining pop culture will love it.
I probably don’t need to tell you that the American education system is a garbage dump on fire that some dedicated educators are trying to put out while politicians hurl chunks of more flaming garbage directly at their heads. The Atlantic is publishing a series of pieces on pedagogy written by veteran teachers that address various problems that students and teachers face. For instance, Christopher Edmin’s piece on “Reality Pedagogy” challenges teachers who focus on managing students’ behavior to instead make space to discuss the real-world stressors that might be impacting children’s emotions. Faith Hill’s “The Pandemic Is a Crisis for Students With Special Needs” addresses an issue I’m especially concerned by, as my mother teaches young children with autism in a public school. The entire series is worth checking out.
An enjoyable tale of disaster
I’m not a theme park person, but I am always amused by stories of bad theme parks and attractions. (One of my favorite episodes of Lizzie McGuire was one in which the McGuire family visits a janky cowboy theme park called Grubby Gulch!) So naturally, SFGate’s article “‘Burn this ride to the ground’: The worst, most hated attraction in Disney history” had me from the title. The video of the ride made me think “Boy, design was so corny and shitty in the 80s” and I had to re-read it to process that this ride opened in 2001. The detail about what they did with the celebrity figurines in the new attraction was both hilarious and a bit horrifying, which is my favorite combination in a theme park story!
My brain gets melted in the summer, like a popsicle, so I’ve lacked the patience or energy to watch full movies or even TV shows lately. That means I’ve been watching more YouTube videos, mostly Kurtis Conner’s. I love him! He’s a goofball with a heart of gold, and I find his chill energy so soothing that I listen to his podcast when I’m getting ready for bed. I am a devoted member of Kurtistown and will always be nice to the mayor.
Music time fun time
This song sounds like the giddiness of falling in love feels. It makes me very happy.
While I’m sharing songs that make me happy, I’ll throw this one in even though it was rather popular and I try not to share very popular songs on the official Friendmendations playlist. I think it’s indie enough to count.
On a closing note, every summer I think of McCary Caroline and hope she is doing super good now that her summer internship at P.R. is over. Go forth with her confidence today.
This week last year…
“Friendmendations #5” — a heartwarming story about getting catfished, a browser extension that I couldn’t live without, my meal planner, the perfect salmon salad to adapt to any season, and a song with vibes.
“Please stop me from having opinions on The Kissing Booth!” — an unsettling experience that I got to revisit for last week’s bonus post! Subscribe if you’d like to see me get even more invested in The Kissing Booth 2.