Discover more from you owe me an apology
on the end of summer, Fat Acceptance Barbieland, and the girl's girls of pop music
'23: the summer of the public L
happy end of summer, everyone. I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to retiring my Megababe anti-thigh chafing stick (not sponsored but thickies, go ahead and click add to cart) and my emergency sweat rag for the foreseeable future. Summer and I have a bit of a strained relationship. Growing up, summers were a time designated for self-improvement, with the unrelenting goal of returning back to school in the fall a new and improved me. A skinnier me with better clothes, better hair, and a Laissez-faire attitude in the place of my usual, absolutely ruthless Black Tracy Flick one. Each summer I would fail in this doomed pursuit and each spring I would recommit myself, confident that this time, this summer, would be different. And even though now I am a grown up with no back to school finish line in sight, Summer continues to represent a time of the year where I feel inexplicably pressured by some unnameable outside force to prove something. To prove that I am having the best time, reading the most thought-provoking literary classics, traveling to the most culturally-enriching international (and it MUST be international) locations, and showing ass and side boob at the beach without a care in the world. The truth about my summer is that the majority of it has been spent two-stepping on the edge of a panic attack, wondering when the job I have will no longer be illegal to do and how the people in my community will be affected by this endless, excruciating strike. The thought-provoking classics lay unopened on my nightstand as I read romance novels about gay reality stars, online bully the AMPTP, and never get around to going to the beach.
Culture-wise, this summer has truly been a time for our most public figures to either sink or swim. It seems like every headline I saw all summer long was either, “This Couple Who Made Us All Believe in Love is OVER!” or “This Female Director Made the Most Successful Film of All Time!” All in all, it seems like the only person truly having the summer I have always wished for is Dua Lipa. I’m so happy for her and am definitely not gritting my teeth right now. And with that, I would like to welcome you to my inaugural end of summer pop culture round up, all about the stories from summer that I’ll still be thinking about as I shop the clearance aisle for apple-scented candles all Autumn long.
The MissLIZZOification of the Big Grrrls
When the Lizzo vs. The Big Grrls lawsuit first dropped, the discourse was inescapable and the streets were divided. For some, Lizzo’s alleged actions were irrevocably damning, stripping her of her newly-minted pop icon status and driving pilates gurlies all over the nation to delete “Good as Hell” from their playlists while choking back tears. For others, it was inevitable - it is often said that anyone who builds their empire with positivity and empowerment as their lynchpins is almost guaranteed to fall. For me, this moment solidified just how far we are from achieving the Fat Acceptance Barbieland that so many of us have spent years trying to will into existence. While what Lizzo’s dancers have said about their experience is completely unacceptable, it is not lost on me how many took this misstep as an opportunity to shout their fatphobia from the hilltops. As soon as the news broke, countless misguided individuals (cough MEN WITH PODCASTS) rushed online, eager to post their diatribes about how they were right about Lizzo all along and that somehow her inability to create a healthy work environment is directly related to her fatness. She’s a villain. Not because of the details of the case that I’m sure these bozos did not even read, but because she is fat and she is a woman and she is in public not hating herself, which is, of course, against the rules. Lizzo exists on an island with very few peers as a fat mega superstar and while no one should be in the position to singularly represent an entire demographic, the way our bank account is set up, that has been Lizzo. So when I first saw the headline, selfishly, I thought, fuck. Things for girls like me just got harder. RIP nuance, you know what I mean?
The “On My Mama” Effect
Victoria Monet, songwriting maven and originator of Ariana Grande’s speaking voice, dropped the “On My Mama” music video this summer, changing the world forever. A dedicated student of music history, Victoria has demonstrated a commitment to bringing back the good ol’days of R&B/Pop/Good Ass Music. That means attention to detail, VOCALS, choreo, writing her own material, and using her music to truly create a moment. During this time of political chaos and class warfare, for a brief moment this summer a burning desire to learn the “On My Mama” choreography brought us all back together. The video was choreographed by the iconic Sean Bankhead, shown here coaching one of the lead dancers in his signature otherworldly style, inspiring both fear and admiration in everyone who views it. I also lived for this moment, when Victoria took Druski’s early 2000s throwback sketch and ran with it, committing to the bit like only she can.
Olivia + Amelie + Gracie + Lacy + Taylor
Olivia Rodrigo just dropped her latest album Guts, an ode to the soundtracks of all your favorite early 2000s teen movies, and her song “Lacy” has the streets talking, chile. The song, which has lyrics about being morbidly jealous/in love with another woman, has fans (me included!) thinking that it might actually be about the indie girl voice-afflicted nepo baby Gracie Abrams (of the House of J.J.). Deeply unemployed and beyond interested, I did a deep dive and found out that Gracie has a song called “Amelie” with lyrics very much about the same subject matter. Be who you are for your pride! Adding another layer of mess to this album rollout, there’s also a song on Guts, “The Grudge,” that to me is indisputably about the fallout of her relationship with Taylor Swift. Basically, when Olivia’s first album came out, she admitted that she was inspired (key word: INSPIRED) by Taylor’s “Cruel Summer” to try out a sort of yell-singing technique on the bridge of her song, “Deja Vu.” Cut to, the song comes out and is an immediate hit, and Taylor (allegedly) demands 50% of the royalties and a writing credit on the song.
I’m documented Taylor hive so don’t come for me, but I think Taylor made a huge mistake in pursuing credit on this song and was clearly motivated (allegedly) by a hurt ego. This was Olivia’s first album, second single, and she was already demonstrating a songwriting prowess and vocal ability that took Taylor a bit longer to truly harness. Say what you want about the similarities between the songs but we can all agree that Taylor didn’t need the money, so why did she do it? I guess we’ll never know, but I’m taking the lyrics to Taylor’s song “Nothing New” as my answer. Because I take pop culture seriously, I see this beef for what it truly is: a fascinating case study about the inner turmoil of the progressive white woman and how they must reckon with their desire to welcome younger women of color into their overwhelmingly white industries while also dealing with the lasting effects of the capitalist, white supremacist belief systems that raised them. If they were told by Applecare that at the end of the day, it would always be them with the gold medal around their necks, what the hell are they supposed to do when a Filipina pop star snatches it away from them? What, did you think it was just a silly girl fight? As if!
To me, the emergence of the first top-charting Taylor Swift diss track is a perfect encapsulation of Summer 2023: ego-driven moves backfiring in spectacular fashion (shoutout AMPTP), laying the groundwork for even more mess and mass humblings in the future. If I were you, I would be getting the popcorn ready because this is gonna be good, girl!
this week, I demand an apology from: biology???
Here me out. You know when you see an older couple sitting on a bench in the park, with one of them working on a crossword puzzle and the other tearing up a turkey sandwich on a baguette that you know is just decimating the roof of their mouths, and they happen to look exactly alike? I’ve always just brushed it off as a proximity thing - the longer you spend with someone, the more they rub off on you, like the summer when I had roommates from Italy and had the urge to start saying “ciao” and see if I could get away with it. That is, until I saw this TikTok:
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And while I refuse to do even a perfunctory Google to verify the science behind this, I feel the truth of it on a spiritual level. It explains so much. How so many women seem different after they get married and start having kids, and not just different because their priorities have changed, different in their very essence. Just read the comments. Some mothers say their skin tone changed after giving birth, that they inherited their husband’s allergies and food preferences. It’s simple - just as I have suspected after all of my years of misandry, men truly are up to no good.
So biology, you owe me an apology. For making it even harder for me to date because now I will always have this horrifying knowledge screaming at me in the back of my head. “Am I willing to slowly shape-shift into a version of this man? Am I willing to be twinnem with a Vitamin D-deficient ‘consultant’ with huge pores, awful taste in music and bad peripheral vision?” The thought alone sends a chill down my spine.
this week, I’m recommending:
This Olivia Rodrigo rehearsal video. I hear the frantic footsteps of mediocre pop singers all over the world sprinting to vocal lessons as we speak.
This Jake Johnson/Idara Victor gif. That’s all.
thank you again for being here and see you soon!
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