Monday, September 15, 2014


Thrift Store Wigs, Absolutely No Heart: The Brittany Murphy Story

Brittany Murphy Lifetime 1

Lifetime has recently been focusing on biopics instead of their usual awesomely bad cyberseduction-forbidden-priest-romance fare. Last year, they released The Anna Nicole Story; despite a decent cast (Adam Goldberg, Cary Elwes) and this shot of Martin Landau as J. Howard Marshall, the film fell flat. So far, this year we'll see The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Movie, an unauthorized Aaliyah flick to look forward to (or fear), and a Whitney Houston movie directed by none other than Angela Bassett.

Lifetime’s latest release, The Brittany Murphy Story, seemed like it came out of nowhere. And it did; The Brittany Murphy Story was shot in just two weeks, with the lead actress having only two days to prepare for the role. If I was going to sum up my review in one sentence, that sentence would be: this movie was a depressing three-ring circus with lots of thrift store wigs and not much heart. READ MORE


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The Internet is a Mirror: An Interview With Astra Taylor

People line up to cast their votes outside polling station in Majuli, a large river island in Brahmaputra riverOnce, someone tweeted that the Internet was garbage, and I retweeted it. Twitter was feeling like a huge circle jerk. Google was refining that search personalization algorithm, but Gmail wasn’t sending my emails. OkCupid sent me an email with a picture of a guinea pig with an arrow connecting a “YOU” to it. And I quit Facebook over a year ago, so that my feelings wouldn't be toyed with or updated.

Astra Taylor is a multi-hyphenate: documentary filmmaker (Examined Life, Zizek!), writer (The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age), and activist (The Rolling Jubilee campaign) doesn’t so much think that the Internet is garbage, but rather that it could be more democratic. She was in town for the Toronto International Film Festival’s Doc Conference, where she spoke about how the Internet is affecting documentary filmmakers. We sat down together to discuss her book, women on the Internet, and drinking from the fire hose of social media. READ MORE


Snackwave: A Comprehensive Guide To The Internet's Saltiest Meme

Over the past few years, an aesthetic we like to call "snackwave" has trickled up from Tumblr dashboards. Now a part of mainstream culture, snackwave is everywhere: it's printed on American Apparel clothes and seen in Katy Perry music videos. It's the antithesis to kale-ridden health food culture and the rise of Pinterest-worthy twee cupcake recipes. It’s the wording in your Instagram handle, a playful cheeseburger selfie, Jennifer Lawrence announcing on the red carpet that she’s hungry for a pizza. In snackwave world, everyone is Claudia Kishi, and your junk food drawer is also your blog.

What we’ve written here is merely a guide to understanding the rise of this very Internet 3.0-specific aesthetic. Snackwave is no longer a lowbrow joke bonding tweens across Twitter feeds and Tumblr blogs. It’s being co-opted by corporate Twitter accounts and fashion companies, both of whom are seeking to talk just like their ‘net-savvy young consumers.

Both of us are very much a part of this scene—in fact, we’ve got McDonald’s Sweet 'n Sour sauce IVs hooked up to our veins right now. We know snackwave inside and out. So grab a bag of Funyuns, a sleeve of Oreos, and get ready to ride the snackwave. READ MORE


Is My iPhone a Tool of the Patriarchy? Notes From an Investigation

New U2 album automatically loaded onto iTunes, Nicki Minaj's Anaconda remains suspiciously absent.

No default Beyoncé ringtones available, but there is some bullshit called "Stargaze."

Autocorrect changes "menstruating" (perfectly natural bodily function) to "men's trusting" (two words that should never be seen together). READ MORE


Bill Cosby's Pound Cake

There are three men I picture when I hear the words "my dad:" first and foremost, it's my actual dad. Second is Terry Crews, specifically in his role as Julius in Everybody Hates Chris, the patriarch of one of my family's favorite shows—also, he sort of looks like my dad. The last is Bill Cosby, who is, well, everybody's dad (Hairpin pal Michelle Markowitz already vehemently claims Claire Huxtable as her mother).

Last week's New Yorker profile of him was likely released due to the upcoming 30th anniversary of The Cosby Show, but his post-Huxtable fame —the comedy and lecture circuit—has a newfound relevance in our post-Ferguson world. Cosby's famous polemic known as the "pound cake speech" places, to some, almost equal blame on the unfairly convicted/prosecuted/killed person as it does the aggressor.

"These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! And then we all run out and are outraged: “The cops shouldn’t have shot him.” What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand? I wanted a piece of pound cake just as bad as anybody else. And I looked at it and I had no money. And something called parenting said, “If you get caught with it you’re going to embarrass your mother."

Cosby accused poor people of “not holding their end in this deal,” and built to an expression of metaphysical disgust. “You can’t keep asking that God will find a way,” he said. “God is tired of you.” The definitive TV father had run out of patience.

I interviewed my dad for an article on Ferguson a few weeks ago; though he and Cosby were born in different eras, their POVs are starkly similar: you shouldn't have been fooling around in the first place. What I've seen amongst my generation has been much more empathetic– I'm not sure where the divide is. Criticism of Michael Brown's character have been hotly defended– the New York Times hastily apologized and explained themselves after they called Brown "no angel" and detailing his alleged robbery. Why are some people so eager to divvy up the blame, where others are more singularly focused?

Just because Cos has been the Ultimate Dad—the profile is called "The Eternal Paternal"—doesn't mean he is necessarily right about pound cake, the weight of responsibility, or anything. Two of Cosby's protégés— Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor—rebelled against his old-fashioned ideals, with Murphy notably working the generational divide in his act. Maybe we should all tell our dads to get with the times and get rid of the idea that all young African-American men have to do stay alive is to put their heads down and stay out of trouble. Anybody got a purple leather suit?

'Shy People' and the Consequences of Excavating a Lost Film


-Look over there.

-I don't see anything.

-You don't see them. They'll see you.

Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky's Shy People opened in New York and Los Angeles in December of 1987 after winning the award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival and receiving a handful of rave reviews. The film was seen by few people and nominated for even fewer awards, even though its lead actors—Barbara Hershey, Jill Clayburgh, and Martha Plimpton—teetered somewhere on the mostly recognizable and well-liked edge of B- and C-list. In May of 1988, the film was given a slightly wider release, allowing it to take one final gasp of air before falling into the murky depths of forgotten films and becoming an official bomb.

Considering the fact that major publications failed to get even its general plot correct in their Fall movie previews, the fate of Shy People was unsurprising—most notably to Roger Ebert.

Of all of the great, lost films of recent years, "Shy People" must be the saddest case. Here is a great film that slipped through the cracks of an idiotic distribution deal and has failed to open in most parts of the country...If you want to see it, move decisively; it will be pushed aside soon by the big summer releases. With slightly different handling, "Shy People" could have been a best-picture Oscar nominee.

Roger Ebert

May 20, 1988

In 2014, Shy People barely exists. READ MORE


Weekend Roundup

Have you ever seen Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest? You should, one, because it's fascinating, and two, because director and producer Michael Rapaport manages to make some of it About Him in only a way that Michael Rapaport can. Anyway, in it, Q-Tip discusses his mindset after the group's mind-blowing debut album, Peoples Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm: "They were talking about a sophomore jinx. Sophomore jinx? What the fuck is that? I'm going to make the Low End Theory." Their follow-up record is one of the greatest albums of all time.

Here's Hairpin 3.0's Low End Theory: We were not like most girls. We lied, died, and celebrated our favorite tee. We got some busy jellyfish to exercise with us, bloodfeasted on the best sandwich in town, and then popped by the doctor for a quick, run-of-the-mill stool examination. Fun! We dismantled the idea that white ideals of beauty are the only valid ones, went to the just for kydz fun zone, wished for self-washing hair, and didn't feel bad if we made friends from the internet, as long as they weren't Nev Schulman. We mounted a fox. We lost our voice, but never lost our spirit. Alright! The Source gives us five mics.

Really, though, Haley and I are both proud of this week, and we hope you are too. As always, call or beep us, if you wanna reach us (we're just your basic average girls, but we're here to save the world)—comments, concerns, questions, pie recipes are all welcome. A follow up to a question posed last week: the spam is still in the process of being slayed, but it's been a little better in the past week, no? All thanks goes to Dusty. Behind the scenes: Haley is off getting a tattoo, and I'm considering learning how to cross-stitch. We both bought tickets to see Mindy Kaling and Emily Nussbaum in the The New Yorker Festival and had the above reaction. How are you?

Because we love the ladies: before you go, relish Hairpin pal Michelle Markowitz's summer fling, and read Mallory Ortberg's righting of a wrong/her own list of disruptors after Vanity Fair released their atrocious one. Full disclosure: Haley and I are on it, but so are so many women that we love and respect and Instagram stalk (hi, Pilot), and we endorse it for them, not us. You're all on my list of "The Best", and I wish you the happiest weekend.


Thrashin' Fashion: Laia Garcia Reviews NYFW

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Another fashion week has come and gone, and just like that, we no longer covet things available tomorrow or next month. Now, we're coveting things awaiting us in the distant future: February, March, and April. Modernity is old news. New York Fashion Week—always looking forward, always looking for the next best thing, always dreaming, never sleeping. READ MORE


Stipulations for a Contemporary Will

4462208505_0f971ac692_o Dearly beloved, you are gathered here today to divvy up my stuff. To cry (possibly), to laugh (hopefully), and to respect my last wish: that I be buried in a seapunk coffin engraved with the words "only god can judge me, lol."

While I am, for the most part, happy to let you take my funeral in whatever direction you choose (as a starting point, consider: group dance), I have a few conditions in addition to the standard business of my will that I hope you will (ha ha) (bit of clerical humor for you there) respect. To that end: READ MORE


Disrupters, Disconnectionists, and Dicks

On Tuesday, Nev Schulman took a selfie in an elevator. The photo shows him standing with his hand over his heart, staring all serious straight into his iPhone. In the corner, a bag of groceries and a water bottle rest against the door to block it from closing. The light in a closed elevator is rarely flattering; when you have upwards of 740K followers, there’s not much room to fuck around.

“Cowards make me sick,” read his accompanying tweet. “Real men show strength through patience & honor. This elevator is abuse free. #RESPECT.” READ MORE


Bad Boy Records: An Oral History

Nothing excites me more than a great "Who's Better?" pop culture argument, where there are two major sides, only one correct answer, and everybody has an opinion. In the early 90s, only one question like this reigned: Bad Boy or Death Row?

We'll never be at a dearth for information about hip-hop's golden era, but every so often someone writes an article with even more information to fuel our debates, and the excitement starts all over again. "Aint Nothing Shine Brighter Than That Bad Boy," an oral history published this week on GQ, mostly focuses on Sean Combs (fka Puffy, Puff Daddy, Puff and Diddy), founder of Bad Boy Records and easily the "Gordon Gecko" of golden-era hip-hop. After college, he took an internship with Uptown Records and was one of the pioneers in popularizing New Jack Swing; soon, he had his own catalogue of artists (Mary J! Jodeci!), and was producing their songs, his process soon becoming an industry standard.

Combs: I got an opportunity one night when [mega-successful R&B producer] Teddy Riley didn't show up to the studio. He had a session at Chung King, this famous studio downtown. So I said, I'm just gonna utilize this time. I had this idea, which was influenced by the mixtapes of Brucie B. and Kid Capri: They would blend hip-hop beats with R&B a cappellas. I took one of Jodeci's a cappellas and put an EPMD beat underneath it, and it was the first record I produced: "Come and Talk to Me," the remix.

Cheo Coker: Blending an R&B record with a hip-hop beat seems so elementary. It seems like peanut butter and jelly. But when you're the first to figure out PB&J tastes good together, it's going to propel your career, and that's what Puffy did.

But Combs' biggest success, of course, is finding rap icon Biggie Smalls, who, almost overnight, re-legitimized the East Coast in the face of California's—and Tupac Shakur's—growing dominance. On the first time he heard Big: "My mind was blown. I knew instantly that Big was the greatest rapper I ever heard. It was like witnessing a miracle or something." Combs instantly got him out of his contract at MCA, signed him to Bad Boy, and, well, you know the rest.

In the collected anecdotes, Combs comes off as, in his words, "dramatic", and in others', "a nightmare," but it was impossible to question his importance to the game. And, what's worse, we learn, is that he knew it:

Jayson Jackson: [Combs] steps off the elevator with his bodyguards. He's got on a mink coat, dripping jewels, sunglasses. Looks at everybody. Goes to his office. Gets something to drink. I don't know, some juice. He's an apple-juice fiend. Keeps us waiting another five minutes, comes back, sits down, and looks at the room and says, "Y'all are mad as fuck, ain't you?"

Sean Combs: producer extraordinaire, fur enthusiast, and apple-juice fiend. We wouldn't be anywhere without him. And if you didn't know, then now you know.


Notes from a Liar

The temptation is to define lying, mortalize the monster by excavating its heart as evidence, but even then we cannot find it in us to absolve it. This is not how the story goes: we want the snake to live. if it survives, then we are not the snake. That is, in fact, what we need the most. READ MORE

A Brand Remembers 9/11

Where was I? It was a clear morning on the conceptual plane where all brands exist, and I was staring into the blue, repeating my own name. It was like any other day. I don't remember who told me. Probably one of the people who constantly manifests me into media for a living.

They all seemed upset. So I mirrored their emotions back at them, with some added optimism and aspirational imagery, which seemed like the right thing to do.



The 50/50 "We Be Jammin" Tee: A Beloved Children's Fairy Tale

title card_we be jammin READ MORE