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17 Essays About TV, Music And Film You Should Read Right Now

From The Walking Dead to Tiny House fever.

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Why The Walking Dead Has Become Fanfiction’s Muse, by Bim Adewunmi

Jade Schulz for BuzzFeed News

"In these stories, black women get to be more than just platonic friends and trusted advisers. They are more than just cogs in the wheel to keep the story moving, and they get to sin and come back from it, with rich and complex redemption arcs. They also get to be playful and fun, and flawed. Importantly, they also get to self-define their sexiness, and are uncomplicatedly desired without harking to either hyper- or de-sexualisation. In these small ways, fanfiction (especially as written by black women and girls) is the perfect vessel to advance the much-needed view that black women’s lives are more complex than films and television would have us believe. In the larger picture, these fics are acts of radical self-love and self-determination."

Who Benefits From The Tiny House Revolution? by Doree Shafrir

BuzzFeed News

"If part of the American Dream includes owning your own home, then perhaps these tiny homesteaders are simply carving out their own space in an unforgiving real estate landscape. But as with anything real-estate-related in this country, even tiny houses come with their own set of privilege and class assumptions that end up dictating who gets to live in them and where they get to put them — and often shut out those who could benefit the most from the tiny house movement."

How Lifetime Became One Of The Best Places In Hollywood For Women, by Laura Goode

James Dittiger / AE

"Since Lifetime’s acquisition by A&E Networks in 2009, the channel has mounted a successful effort to legitimize itself — 12 Emmy nominations in 2013, and 17 in 2014. This new legitimacy has hinged on two strategies: Lifetime’s prioritizing the hiring of women to write and direct their stories, and its witty, postmodern self-awareness of its own tropes. Put another way, while Lifetime originated a whole genre of “women’s entertainment” in the 1990s, 20 years later, it created a meta-genre of entertainment that comments on the conventions of “women’s entertainment,” by Lifetime and others."

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Why America Will Never Stop Trying To Solve JonBenét Ramsey’s Murder, by Sarah Marshall

BuzzFeed News; Alamy

"Whether or not Patsy was guilty of loving JonBenét in a way that objectified and dehumanized her, the American public certainly was. Throughout the media frenzy surrounding JonBenét Ramsey’s murder, Americans did their best to invent a story that forced her death to make sense, and gave her a role as an angelic symbol of all that darkness will take from us, if we let it. A society can’t be sure of its skill at enforcing order and defeating monsters if these monsters do not claim the occasional victim."

Inside The Playlist Factory, by Reggie Ugwu

Oskar Omne for Buzzfeed News

"Building a better playlist is harder than it might seem. The algorithm that can judge the merits of new Gucci Mane, or intuit that you want to sing “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton in the shower, has yet to be written. Until that day comes, the job has fallen to an elite class of veteran music nerds — fewer than 100 working full-time at either Apple, Google, or Spotify — who are responsible for assembling, naming, and updating nearly every commute, dinner party, or TGIF playlist on your phone."

Why The Rom-Com Bitch Should Evolve Herself Into Retirement, by Bim Adewunmi

BuzzFeed News; MGM (2), 20th Century Fox, Polygram, Hollywood Pictures, Warner Bros, Type A Films, StudioCanal (2), Screen Gems, Revolution Studios, Focus Features, Overbrook Entertainment, Fox 2000 Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Apatow Productions

"To be a memorable and familiar rom-com bitch, or RCB, there are key elements that need to be in place: The RCB is often hard – hard-nosed or hard-faced, it doesn’t matter which (see Selma Blair as Vivian in Legally Blonde). And though she may be not very bright (our protagonist is always smart, in her own way), she’s always calculating (see Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain). Hers is the kind of smart that is cold and insufferable and unattractive to women (see Fiona in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Also, Selma Blair in anything). Where our heroine is a guileless, undercover but unassuming supermodel with a MacArthur Grant-level brain, the RCB has a conniving sort of smarts, and is perhaps cruel and/or catty (see Jean Hagen/Lina Lamont again!). She may be beautiful – and if she’s on the big screen, she likely will be – but that is not necessarily a requirement for the RCB. She is often white, and though that’s not a specific prerequisite, it sure appears that way, no? "

These Women Are Behind Some Of Your Favorite Lesbian Sex Scenes On TV, by Trish Bendrix

Netflix

“When you start to break down a sex scene that you’re gonna direct, you start realizing how much of what’s in your head is the male gaze,” said director Nisha Ganatra, who has worked on shows like Transparent, during a recent phone interview. “You almost can’t even imagine a shot that’s not the male gaze. You have to go through your memory and scrub all that shit out. … Luckily being a lesbian filmmaker, I can say ‘OK, how do I see these things?’ and it will inherently be the female gaze — once you free yourself from everything that has co-opted your own vision.”

Where Did Drake's Jamaican Accent Come From?, by Sajae Elder

BuzzFeed News; Getty Images

"Much of Toronto's slang is steeped in patois. Words like ting, wasteman, and yute are unequivocally Jamaican but have also become important mainstays in Toronto vernacular. This doesn’t automatically give Drake, or anyone, the green light to make use of another culture at his convenience — particularly a culture that has been historically abused and vilified, even in a space where we have so much influence. The use of patois toes a precarious line between appropriation and appreciation, but in Toronto, culture is currency."

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Why Chance The Rapper's Black Christian Joy Matters, by Tomi Obaro

Dave Kotinsky / Getty Images

"Chance’s Christianity is one of inestimable joy. It’s buoyant, it’s grandiose, it’s infectious. On Coloring Book, his latest project, faith, and the inspiration he derives from it permeate the album. Even on songs that have nothing to do with Jesus, the gospel imprint is undeniable. Listen to the pitched-up choir singing sotto voce on “No Problem.” Hear the chorus of Chris Tomlin’s Christian Contemporary music standard (now almost listenable) on “How Great.” Note Kirk Franklin’s lush harmonies in the second half of “Finish Line, Drown,” and the interpolation of the Fred Hammond jam “Let the Praise Begin” in “Blessings.”"

How Two Can Play That Game Flipped The Script For Black Hollywood, by Bim Adewunmi and Hannah Giorgis

Gluekit for BuzzFeed News; Everett

"In the 15 years since Two Can Play That Game was released, its stars have witnessed a sea change in Hollywood for actors of color. The film’s stars have gone on to successful careers and collectively have picked up NAACP Image Awards, a Peabody Award, and an Oscar. ShondaLand and its stable of wildly successful shows have taken over Thursday night network television; Empire and Black-ish own Wednesday. Issa Rae co-wrote and starred in her web series, The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl, and parlayed its success into Insecure, a TV series premiering next month on HBO. On Black Twitter, romantic dilemmas sound like lifts from Two Can Play That Game: “You find a thong in your man’s bed, you only wear Calvins tho, wyd??” Fifteen years later, it’s only fitting that the film lives on in a medium as ubiquitous as the game itself: memes."

The 7-1/2-Hour O.J. Simpson Doc Everyone Will Be Talking About This Summer, by Anne Helen Petersen

ESPN Films

"By situating the trial amid 50 years of abuse and distrust between police forces and the black community, O.J.: Made in America makes it impossible to think of the trial in a vacuum — as disarticulated from issues of race and masculinity, or as unconnected to the current tensions that structure the Black Lives Matter movement. “Everything,” director Ezra Edelman told me, “is about everything. [O.J.] is everything! It’s race, it’s class, it’s gender, it’s the criminal justice system, it’s the media, it’s sexuality, it’s all of these things.”"

Can Meek Mill Bring About A Post Rap Beef World?, by Niela Orr

BuzzFeed News; Getty

"If Meek Mill, the man who for months was the internet’s joke, can fail to really engage in beef, and more importantly, survive the onslaught, that’s truly extraordinary, and hasn’t been done before."

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What Girls And Broad City Teach Us About Female Friendship, by Tomi Obaro

Walter Thompson / Comedy Central

What’s significant about Broad City and Girls is the way they center friendship among the twentysomething set (now the largest living generation in the country), when so much else during that age is transient: jobs, identities, apartments, paramours. As the hype over these shows has ebbed, their most recent seasons have doubled down on this premise. They make a case for the primacy of friendship above all else, even when — especially when — it’s under threat.

A Seat At The Table Contemplates Black Life’s Contradictions, by Bim Adewunmi

screengrab / Via youtube.com

"Solange’s voice is never raised up to a yell. It’s often whisper-soft on A Seat at the Table; as a co-producer, she covers the whole record in sweet harmonies and melodies. Solange knows there are no hard and fast rules to making music. Just as racism does not always look like two deadly gunshots to a 12-year-old playing in a gazebo, anger has never had to have a discordant sound. It can sound like a beautiful, delicate thing, like the soaring strings that feel pulled out of you and make you want to break down on “Cranes in the Sky”. "

How America's Next Top Model Put Identity Front And Center, by Emily Jensen

Evan Agostini / Getty Images

"In addition to teaching us all how to smize and not rest on pretty, the show trained a generation of viewers to expect diversity onscreen. For years, Top Model managed to put forth conversations about race, gender, and sexuality, illuminating the complexity of those issues just as often as it exploited them. "

Tomi Obaro is an associate culture editor for BuzzFeed and is based in New York.

Contact Tomi Obaro at tomi.obaro@buzzfeed.com.

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