Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Each Generation Has Found They Have Got Their Own Kind of Sound

Rumors have circulated that Madonna, recording artist, will sing with M.I.A. at the Super Bowl. Nicki Minaj is also implicated. Both artists have had success, but can either bring back the monoculture? Leaving the fleeting sensation of a Lynn Hirschberg truffle-fry ambush aside, if M.I.A. were interviewed by Barbara Walters, who would care? Neither M.I.A., a self-consciously “edgy” singer of extraordinary gifts of curation, nor Nicki Minaj, a self-consciously outré rapper of extraordinary gifts full-stop, have cultivated personae beyond “hardworking,” “talented,” and (in M.I.A.’s case) “prone to ignorable political pronouncements.” It’ll be a good show, but no one should expect an iconic moment on par with Madonna heaving in a [...]


Pictures of Joan Didion

In the October Vanity Fair—the one with Angelina Jolie’s most recent spin on the cover, this time in an ultra-zoomed-in portrait leaving her looking like a close-up-ready revision of Picasso’s portrait of Gertrude Stein—Joan Didion was depicted in her biennial being-thin tour, occasioned by the upcoming release of her memoir Blue Nights. The picture, taken by Annie Leibovitz, depicts a gaunt and dimly lit Joan, her hair overtaken by wispy flyways and even a small sweater piling upon itself on her frame. Some meager light plays across her face. The photo, in uncopyrighted reproduction, has 625 notes right now on Tumblr, and the actress Zooey Deschanel [...]


The Office's Gay Caricature

The office on The Office is a fairly inclusive place — African-American, Indian-American, alcoholic, or evangelist, all may work together more or less harmoniously. Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling), for instance, is one of the most fully realized minority characters on television right now: a woman whose obsessions with celebrity gossip and Netflixing romantic comedies far outweigh the practically insignificant fact of her race. With Kelly undergoing business training, practically anyone could take over the office, once manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) departs at the end of the season! Anyone, that is, but the show’s token gay man, Oscar, who has been marginalized and mocked over seven seasons.

Oscar (Oscar [...]


The Girl in the Dress: Taylor Swift's Endless Reign

2011 will be a great year for fans of Taylor Swift and her music, I have the feeling—as every year since, say, 2008 has been. She’ll keep releasing singles off of her album, so that anyone who hasn’t torrented or bought the full "Speak Now" can join the speculation as to whether that’s what Joe Jonas, John Mayer and Taylor Lautner are really like. She’ll tour and perform, and probably Us Weekly will catch Jake Gyllenhaal with her at Starbuckses across the continental U.S. and Canada. Probably she will perform at awards shows.

2011 will be a dire one for fans (fan?) of Lindsay Lohan and her music. [...]


The Slap That England Deserves

I had hoped to soak up as much contemporary British culture as I could while spending the summer working in England. It helped that I'd spent the lead-up to my summer reading Booker-ratified authors like Peter Carey (Australian, yes) and Ian McEwan-I wanted to be ready for the Anglophilic culture that produced such minds.

My trip got off to a disillusioning start, though, and not when I realized that the nation's top pop star sounds like Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins. While the students I was chaperoning had gone to an arcade, I sat at a picnic table with coworkers when a band-not a group, certainly a [...]


IRL Made Me Hate You

Some people in life are nice. Or they're nice to me, and then really funny when they're mean to others. They compliment me on my clothes (or pull me aside, ever so gently, to tell me when a certain item needs to be retired from rotation). Some people, other people, are famous, in that way people are sometimes-mention their name when you're temping at an office, or around the Thanksgiving table and you'd get blank stares, but everyone that I care about impressing knows them. I die when I get a casual email from them-but seeing them around is even better!

But other people, people I once knew and [...]


Some Summer Interns

A recent Times article on the restrictiveness of summer internship guidelines painted a certain picture of those students for whom summer is a time for building one's resume-for the students with whom the average Sunday Styles reader is acquainted. Writing a trend piece on the summer internship, or the youngs in general, however attractive a poster child any wistful art-history major locked out of art-industry positions might be, is an impossible thing to do.

I should know-I tried to write one, having pitched and reported a story that was killed for its narrative drift, its lack of hook. The experiences students encounter when arranging summer work are [...]


Hello, All That!

Moving to New York used to be a choice-a creative one, despite its eternal popularity-for people so devoted to nurturing their creativity that they were willing to overlook the strains of actually, you know, living there. I speak not from experience, really, but from my reading. Edith Wharton's writing career only truly began after Henry James advised her, "Use the American subject! Do New York! There it is round you." New York forces its resident to serve as constant interpreter-laying out the whole of "the American subject" in the petty triumphs and real inequities one finds. I always, when I was a student and lived in New York, found this [...]


Very Recent History: Charles Pierce

Today's top actresses (your Natalie Portmans, Reese Witherspoons, your-what the hell?-Rachel McAdamses) are all arch-feminine. They play vulnerable, lissome, thin, and, often, ever-so-polite. It's been that way for a while. Who was the last big movie star who broached any sort of gender boundary? Kathleen Turner, maybe-and where is she? On a recent episode of RuPaul's Drag Race, in which the contestants and RuPaul manques were asked to impersonate celebrities, not a single current movie star was represented, unless you count Paris Hilton. Have you ever seen a drag queen impersonate Gwyneth Paltrow?


Matt Cherette Is Going To Move To New York City

Matt Cherette is 25 and lives in Grand Haven, Michigan, about fifteen minutes from his parents' house. He traveled to New York in the second week of February and while he was here, he signed the paperwork for a job at Gawker.TV. He would be their night coordinator. This was an opportunity to actually get paid for the sort of diligent content repurposing that he's been doing for free, for years, on the LiveJournal-hosted gossip community Oh No They Didn't.

While he was in New York, he came to a party thrown by his new boss, Richard Blakeley, at Destination Bar, on Avenue A. The Tennessee-Vanderbilt game was [...]