Cultural Appropriation Is the Last Resort of the Lazy Pop Star

There’s been a predictable Internet shitstorm about the cringe-inducing video for Avril Lavigne’s “Hello Kitty,” three-and-a-quarter minutes of cultural cluelessness that make Katy Perry’s VMA performance look like a nuanced examination of Orientalism and the changing nature of East/West cultural interchange since the abolition of the Sakoku policy in 1853. The Lavigne video is awful, obviously — it’s a sort of checklist of idiotic Japanese stereotypes, including candy stores, cupcakes, sake, sushi, random Japanese phrases (“Kawaii! Arigato!”), and, of course, four identikit Harajuku dancers who get used as silent stage decoration.(There’s also the curious fact that Lavigne appears to be wearing some sort of colored contacts in the video, that seem designed to accentuate just how blue her eyes are — although if anything, they end up making her look like an extra from David Lynch’s Dune who’s hit the spice a bit too hard.) It’s all like a budget knock-off of Gwen Stefani circa 2004, only without the Neptunes/Nellee Hooper production and the hooks. … Read More

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Don’t Believe the Nostalgia Machine: 1994 Was a Shitty Year for Music

It’s a strange thing to see an era you remember being regurgitated by the nostalgia machine. The last couple of years have been a constant stream of early-’90s anniversaries: Nevermind! Dazed and Confused! My So-Called Life! It’s not like we didn’t see this coming, of course — culture tends to move in generational 20ish-year cycles, so a resurgence of interest in the ’90s was inevitable. (And, of course, these days culture bloggers just love a good anniversary as an excuse for a think-piece, a trend from which this site is certainly not exempt.) Sure, the early ’90s were a rich flourishing of culture after the desert that was the late ’80s. But this year, we’re at the 20th anniversary of 1994. And listen: 1994 was shit. … Read More

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Yes, What Happened on ‘Game of Thrones’ Last Night Was Rape — So Why Doesn’t the Episode’s Director Understand That?

If you haven’t seen last night’s episode of Game of Thrones, spoilers abound, obviously, and you should stop reading right about… now.

If you have, you’ll most likely have logged onto the Internet this morning expecting to see a sea of think-pieces about the scene in last night’s episode where Jaime Lannister rapes his sister Cersei, right next to the dead body of their son. Even for the world of Game of Thrones, it was difficult to watch. There’s already been plenty of debate about the license the TV show took with its source material, and why. That’s a debate for forums and comment sections, but let’s be clear about one thing: that was rape we saw. … Read More

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Why Is Prince Getting Back Into Bed With Warner Brothers?

Hell must be freezing over, and the sun will probably rise in the west tomorrow, because this morning brought news of the single most unlikely thing in the world (or the music industry, at least): Prince has re-signed with Warner Bros. I say “re-signed” because, remember, Warner is the same company that so infuriated His Purpleness in the 1990s that he took to scrawling “SLAVE” on his face when he appeared in public, and pioneered the legally adventurous move of changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol in an attempt to extricate himself from his record contract. This fact seems to have been largely overlooked by everyone reporting the news of his new deal this morning. Clearly, Prince’s ways are inscrutable at best, but seriously, what’s going on here? … Read More

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‘Time Is Illmatic’: Why Nas’ Classic Album Is More Relevant Than Ever

There’s a moment in One9 and Erik Parker’s excellent documentary Time is Illmatic, which opened the Tribeca Film Festival last night, that sticks in the memory. Nas and his brother Jabari are discussing a photo that was taken in 1994, not long before the album release. It was snapped outside the building in the Queensbridge projects where the brothers grew up, and eventually appeared in the CD booklet. It captures a moment when friends and foes alike united behind a local boy who’d made them proud. There are maybe 20 people in the photo, some in their late teens, some little more than boys. Jabari points at face after face: “He’s doing life. He’s doing 20 years. He got shot. He just got out after doing a long time.” Nas is silent, although his eyes betray his horror. Eventually, he sighs, and speaks to the camera. “That’s fucked up.” … Read More

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Flavorwire Feature: EMA Finds a Future in the Void

It’s the first show of EMA’s new album tour, at Union Pool in Brooklyn, and things are going wrong. Her collaborator Leif Shackelford has been having trouble with his equipment all night, and about halfway through “Milkman,” something seems to fail completely. Shackelford bolts offstage, leaving three bewildered bandmates staring at where he’s supposed to be. They finish the song anyway, and Erika M. Anderson — she of the EMA acronym — gently admonishes Shackelford when he reappears. He explains what’s gone wrong, and then smiles: “C’mon, you had more fun finishing that song than anything else you’ve done tonight.” She chuckles ruefully. Speaking into the mic to make sure the whole place can hear her, she replies: “It’s true. I like it when things are all fucked up.” … Read More

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Beautiful Photos of a Farmer and His Pigs

Pigs get a bad rap — they’re generally portrayed as, in the immortal words of Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, “a filthy animal.” It’s not really fair, though. They’re intelligent, sensitive creatures, and the more I read about them, the worse I feel about bacon. Their social side is on full display in these beautiful photos of a pig farmer by the name of Otchan, who looks after some 1,200 pigs at his farm in southern Japan. The images, which we found on Feature Shoot, are the work of photographer Toshiteru Yamaji, and appear in his self-published photo book, Pigs and Papa. They capture the bond between human and animal, and serve as a stark reminder that our food doesn’t have to be produced in hideous industrial farms. … Read More

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Farewell to the Most Memorably Punchable TV Villain of Our Time

At about 9:56 pm EST last night, Twitter exploded with approximately a bazillion people all tweeting something along the lines of “YESSSSS SUCK IT JOFFREY!!!1!11!!” It’s probably the greatest outpouring of TV-based schadenfreude since — well, since Jesse got his revenge on Todd in Breaking Bad, at least. Yes, not-at-all good King Joffrey finally got his comeuppance, getting poisoned at his own wedding and bleeding his last out through his eyeballs as the Internet whooped and cheered in delight. Sometimes, the bad guys do get what’s coming. … Read More

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Your Guide to Surviving the Baby Boomer Clone Apocalypse

Stop this madness! You might think it’s all very well for some dentist somewhere, who apparently has one of John Lennon’s teeth, to use it to create some sort of clone of the late Beatles bandleader — but this is the thin end of the wedge. Remember Jurassic Park? If this idea isn’t stopped immediately, then we’re looking at something even worse than the end of the world: eternal life for the baby boomers! It starts with one Lennon, but before we know it, there’ll be armies of Jerry Garcias devouring everything before them, and hordes of John Bonhams prowling the streets in search of prey. … Read More

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Kurt Cobain Would Have Loved Lorde Fronting Nirvana

There’s not a great deal to be said about Nirvana’s Hall of Fame induction that hasn’t been said a gazillion times already. (If you haven’t seen the performances yet, there’s plenty of video here.) Still, it’s been depressingly predictable to see the complaints this morning about Lorde’s participation, with people bitching that she “hasn’t earned the right” and is “too pop,” etc. A couple of points here: first, the two remaining members of Nirvana chose the evening’s singers, and they have “earned the right” to do pretty much whatever the fuck they want. And second, I rather get the feeling that a certain K. Cobain would have enjoyed the idea of a 17-year-old girl from New Zealand fronting his band at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. … Read More

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