11 Great Essays About Celebrities You Should Read

From Blac Chyna’s rise to the end of Brangelina.

1. How Blac Chyna Beat The Kardashians At Their Own Game, by Sylvia Obell

BuzzFeed News

“And so the Kardashians, a family often accused of stealing black men, black features, and black culture, got beat at their own game by a black woman. And not just any black woman, but a video vixen who was never supposed to see the inside of the country clubs the Kardashians frequented growing up.”

2. Michael Chabon Is An Underdog On Top Of The World, by Doree Shafrir

BuzzFeed News/Ross Mantle

“Today, Chabon is 53 and one of the most venerated and successful living writers in America, a brilliant storyteller with a litany of nerdy interests (comics, rockets, science fiction) that he weaves into his books in a manner that seems effortless. His new novel, Moonglow — a fictional memoir about Chabon’s family — has already been nominated for the Carnegie Medal of Excellence, and was called “elegiac and deeply poignant” in Michiko Kakutani’s New York Times review. He has four children and a happy marriage and a beautiful Craftsman home in Berkeley, California, and a full head of salt-and-pepper hair. You kind of want to hate him.
He is a true, unrepentant nerd, who has only ever been looking for his people.
But it is hard to hate him.”

3. Chris Evans’ Version of Masculinity Is What We Want Right Now, by Bim Adewunmi

Charley Gallay / Getty Images

“Blue-eyed and reassuringly wide, old lady–escorting, NASA-interested, occasionally scandalous but, whisper it, just a teensy bit regular. The American Ideal.”

4. How Steph And Ayesha Curry Became The “Good” Black Family, by Israel Daramola

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“To be the Good Black Family is to be subject to the pressures and whims of a fickle American public. It’s also an impossibility. The Good Black Family, like the Huxtables, like the Johnsons, even like the Obamas as they are portrayed in pop culture, doesn’t really exist. Any display of normal human emotion — anger, defensiveness, sadness — immediately dismantles the illusion. The way the Currys have been publicly positioned only proves this point.”

5. Why Do We Keep Trying To Solve A Problem Like Mariah?, by Pier Dominguez

Getty Images

“Critics gloss over Mariah’s messy attempts to represent her contradictions, including the liminal nature of her biracial identity and her knowing, winking hyper-femininity. These aspects of her persona are central to understanding both the success and failures of the art of being Mariah, from the hip-hop collaborations, to the Glitter flop, to her reality television era. They are integral to appreciating why she matters, why she is overlooked, and how she paved the way for pop divas as disparate as Ariana Grande and Katy Perry.”

6. Kristen Stewart’s Complicated Appeal, by Shannon Keating

IFC Films

“Regardless of how she personally identifies, Stewart is among the most famous women who date women in the world — and the way she navigates expressing that identity, whether on the red carpet or in front of the camera, says a lot about how much the film industry has and hasn’t done to make room for queer female sexuality in Hollywood.”

7. Drake Belongs To Black Women, by Hannah Giorgis

Roc Nation

“Drake is still arguably the most powerful genre-bending artist in the current pop culture landscape, a sex symbol whose bulked-up, bearded ascent into Heartthrob Status came as a destabilizing surprise. RiRi included, the black women who bring him to his knees are beholden first and foremost to themselves, regarding his public affections with a sense of amusement. Because to be a black woman in the entertainment industry or elsewhere is to have to work twice as hard for that recognition. When men like Drake dish it out so generously, if also nauseatingly, it’s noteworthy despite its prickly bits.”

8. The Slow Fade of Tom Hanks, by Anne Helen Petersen

TriStar Pictures, Columbia, Dreamworks, Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Buena Vista, Touchstone, Universal, Paramount

“To call Hanks “a classic Dad” is to speak of a specific, goofy, white middle-class Dad — a trope built on the pillars of white privilege, asexual masculinity, and nostalgia for a straightforward history of great men. It’s a place of spectacular safety, of seeming simplicity and straightforwardness. That Dad is also a Boomer Dad — who, like Hanks, came of age in the ’80s, ruled the ’90s, and who could still do little wrong in the 2000s. And today, that Dad is exhausted: Trying to keep up with multiculturalism and globalism and new understandings of what it means to be a good guy, it’s all so much.”

9. What Does A Queer Pop Star Look Like in 2016?, by Shannon Keating

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

“Even in 2016, when we all want to believe that out celebrities won’t be penalized or pigeonholed for their queerness, there are precious few openly lesbian and queer women making waves in mainstream music. Remember when Jessie J said her bisexuality was just a phase? Or when Demi Lovato released “Cool for the Summer,” co-written with four male songwriters, which relegated a fling with a woman to “just something that we wanna try” and made sure to emphasize in interviews that the song was about nothing more than experimentation?”

10. How Alicia Keys Changed The Conversation About Her Image, by Niela Orr

Mark Davis / BuzzFeed News; Getty

“Keys’ makeup- free campaign is probably a genuine gesture; still, it has increasing resonance for her career. It is both a noble personal and political choice, and, as it plays out publicly, also a subtle signifier of how notions of purity and cleansing can be conflated in Hollywood and used to cause and absolve shame (Think of how actors are praised for undergoing drastic physical transformations for movie roles, or the way celebrities who choose to get plastic surgery can be mercilessly ridiculed). To call back to Keys’ Maybelline reference: Maybe she’s born with it, or maybe she’s carefully constructed a literal facade that subtly alludes to her likability issue.”

11. Brangelina Is Dead; Long Live Angelina, by Anne Helen Petersen

Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

“Jolie’s ultimate skill and unrivaled savvy has always stemmed from treating her image not as the defining core of her life, but an accessory of it. Her life isn’t the accumulation of her roles, her husbands, or even her children. Which is why, even as she slowly disappears from the movie screen, her image remains such a nexus of disdain and adoration — and, as in 2005, the most compelling and controversial vision of what it could mean to be a woman today.”

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