Perverts on Twitter, Making Music at Rikers Island, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading

Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the Internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘Net are doing, too. Today, we have a reflection on the current savage state of Twitter, a call for members of the LGBT community to brush up on their history, a recount of a visit to Rikers Island, and — because we refuse to stop talking about the Oscars — an explanation of why The Revenant was guaranteed to be Leo’s award-winning moment.

New York Magazine’s Julieanne Smolinski is leaving Twitter because it has become a park filled with bats and perverts.

Twitter — a social media space whose problems with harassment and abuse called for the recent installation of a Trust and Safety Council — is still pretty behind when it comes to both monitoring and respectfully responding to accounts of online harassment. Unfortunately, Twitter’s ongoing struggle in this department has resulted in a number of disgruntled users taking matters into their owns, including some deciding to abandon the site completely.

Let me try to explain how I see it. Twitter is like a beloved public park that used to be nice, but now has a rusty jungle gym, dozens of of really persistent masturbators, and a nighttime bat problem. Eventually the Parks Department might rip up the jungle gym, and make some noise about fixing the other problems, because that’s what invisible administrators like Twitter staff and municipal recreation departments tend to do. But if the perverts and the bats got to be bad enough with no recourse, you’d probably just eventually stop going.

 

Salon’s Paula Young Lee explains why Leonardo DiCaprio owes his Oscar to the bear in The Revenant.

After an unspeakable number of losses in previous years, Leonardo DiCaprio finally received his long-awaited Oscar at the Academy Awards on Sunday night. Though everyone expected that DiCaprio would be leaving the Dolby Theatre with a gold statue, many questioned if his role in The Revenant really was deserving. In addition to the previously voiced opinions explaining why it wasn’t, Lee added on to the discussion by examining how DiCaprio’s bear-battling role of a white explorer who exploits indigenous natives was a near-guaranteed winning formula for the actor.

Loosely based on the unreliable 19th-century survival tale of Hugh Glass, the film augments Glass’s own fictions by glossing over the rape of the land and our (not-so) benevolent stewardship of it. For “The Revenant” tells a stark yet shimmering tale of white men subduing brutal markets and winning—a story of financial success–even as it masquerades as a redemptive story of a solitary hero who triumphs over adversity in the end.

 

The Guardian‘s Owen Jones examines what Sam Smith’s misguided Oscar speech says about the LGBT community and their knowledge (or lack thereof) of relevant history.

Sam Smith spent the better part of Monday getting reprimanded, teased, and mocked for his embarrassingly juvenile mistake at the Oscars on Sunday. Wrongly assuming that he was the first openly gay man to win, Smith was met with an onslaught of people (including an instantly-iconic retort from Milk writer Dustin Lance Black) correcting his oblivious assertion. But, more important than all of the jokes and memes is the unfortunate truth that Smith is not alone when it comes to reaping the benefits of LGBT activists without actually learning about the history.

We surely have to remember past heroes (prominent or not), for two reasons. Firstly, because the least we can do is to remember those who fought at such cost for our rights and freedoms: to ensure that those ignored or demonised or persecuted in their time are eventually vindicated by history. And secondly, because it encourages us to continue in their tradition to overcome all forms of oppression and prejudice, whoever happens to be on the receiving end.

 

VICE‘s John Surico visits a workshop at Rikers Island to write and produce hip-hop tracks with some of the inmates.

Rikers Island, one of the world’s largest (and most notorious) jail complexes, has been taking efforts to make their facilities slightly more humane for the prisoners. One of these efforts comes in the form of a weekly workshop called “Beats, Rhymes, and Justice,” and helps inmates learn how to make beats and write lyrics.

Every session starts with a song. The track is played, and its lyrics are discussed in a circle, which basically functions as a cypher. This time, it’s 2Pac’s “Dear Mama,” but in the recent past, the class favorite has been “Real Friends” by Kanye. Nas’s “One Love” from his 1994 debut album Illmatic is popular, too—the song is essentially a letter to a friend doing time inside.