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September 18, 2019 |

What it meants to be - and seem - healthy at Penn


My Battle with My Racial Identity was More of a War

Annabelle Williams, Editor–in–Chief Dalton DeStefano, Managing Editor Daniel Bulpitt, Audience Engagement Director Lily Snider, Assignments Editor Ethan Wu, Media Director

Chelsey Zhu, Katie Bontje, Isabella Simonetti, Denali Sagner, Chris Schiller

Film & TV Beats: Shriya Beesam, Samantha Sanders, Anna Collins, Jonah Charlton, Aashray Khanna, Deren Alanay


Sophie Burkholder, Special Issues Editor Allison Wu, Long–Term Features Editor Ryan McLaughlin, Word on the Street Editor Katie Bontje, Ego Editor Sam Kesler, Music Editor Srinidhi Ramakrishna, Developing Features Editor Bea Forman, Style Editor Shannon Zhang, Film & TV Editor Sophia DuRose, Arts Editor Sophia Dai & Eleanor Shemtov, Photo Editors Tahira Islam & Katie Steele, Copy Editors Kira Horowitz & Sarah Poss: Copy Editors

EOTW: Tanya Jain, Daniel Gordon

Dean Jones & Jackson Parli, Video Editors Alice Heyeh, Print Director


Post Malone, Brockhampton & Pitchfork, Sofar Sounds, Kacey Musgraves


Trying on Tattoos, Soup Roundup



Health at Penn


Hollywood & LGBT Representation, The Goldfinch


ICA New Exhibition


Ego Beats: Amanpreet Singh, Sonali Deliwala, Katie Farrell, Amy Xiang, Ananya Muthukrishnan, Margaret Dunn, Fernanda Brizuela Music Beats: Mehek Boparai, Melannie Jay, Teresa Xie, Petyon Toups, Julia Davies, Keely Douglas Features Staff: Zoe Young, Hailey Noh, Katrina Janco,

Arts Beats: Rema Hort, Sarah Yoon, Tsemone Ogbemi Design Editors: Gillian Diebold, Lucy Ferry, Jess Tan, Tamsyn Brann Design Associates: Isabel Liang, Christy Qiu, Joy Lee Staff Writers: Ana Hallman, Arjun Swaminathan, Tara OʼBrien, Hannah Yusuf, Sophia Schulz-Rusnacko, Jordan Waschman, Jessica Bao, Quinn Robinson, Layla Murphy, Anya Tullan, Hannah Sanders, Julia Esposito, Avery Johnston, Harshita Gupta Illustrators: Anne Marie Grudem, Brad Hong, Catherine Liang, Jake Lem, Reese Berman, Saranya Sampath, Jessi Olarsch, Christopher Kwok, Diane Lin, Jacqueline Lou, Isabel Liang, Sammie Yoon Staff Photographers: Hoyt Gong, Sophia Zhu, Diya

Video Staff: Sam Lee, Megan Kyne, Morgan Jones, Mikayla Golub Copy Associates: Kate Poole, Serena Miniter, Erin Liebenberg, Lexie Shah, Carmina Hachenburg, Luisa Healey, Agatha Advincula Audience Engagment Associates: McKay Norton, Rachel Markowitz, Kat Ulich, Brittany Levy, Jessica Bachner, Maya Berardi, Stephanie Nam Cover shot by Ethan Wu "For sale, baby shoes, never worn?" That kinda slaps.

Contacting 34th Street Magazine: If you have questions, comments, complaints or letters to the editor, email Annabelle Williams, Editor–in–Chief, at You can also call us at (215) 422–4640. ©2019 34th Street Magazine, The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. No part may be reproduced in whole or in part without the express, written consent of the editors (but I bet we will give you the a–okay.) All rights reserved. 34th Street Magazine is published by The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc., 4015 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa., 19104, every Wednesday.


oday I went to my English seminar on the 6th floor of Van Pelt, the seminar room with the great view of the Philadelphia skyline. The French doors were thrown open and a breeze pushed into the classroom. The doors were open because the room had been freezing, but as I sat right in front of them, I just felt invigorated by that first brush with fall, a sunny day with perfect weather and a beautiful view. Despite the fact that I had a midterm afterwards and felt criminally underprepared, the breeze felt so amazing that I almost forgot the sleepless night before and the stressful day ahead. And then I went to the windowless DP office to put this issue together. Sometimes I'm tempted think about my job at Street as giving something up — my Tuesday nights (which could otherwise be spent watching half–priced movies at the Rave), my free time (which could otherwise be spent lying in my bed while watching Netflix or doing homework), my sunlight exposure (okay, that possible deficiency is a legitimate concern). But my coworkers and I do this not because it’s an easy win or constant fun but because we love it and it feels important, because we care about each other and we care about reporting the truth, even when it gets tiring and the weeks start to blur


Style Beats: Diya Sethi, Karin Hananel, Sofia Heller, Mark Pino, Hannah Lonser, Hannah Gross

Sethi, Adiel Izilov, Sally Chen, Mona Lee, Emma Boey, Amanda Shen, Sudeep Bhargava, Adrianna Brusie, Kelly Chen, Eli Cohen

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together and you have writer's block and eking out a letter from the editor feels Sisyphean. On some level, I do it because I’ve never known a Penn without Street. And even as, this semester, I work to balance my life, get outside, cook dinner, etc., as I begin to detach from Street and hand over the reins, I’ll never stop feeling proud of the work we do — even if it means I’m sunlight–deprived for a little bit longer.


My Battle with My Racial Identity was More of a War But it was my fight to win, and there was never any room for your micro aggressions. Najma Dayib During freshman year, my friends and I would often sit on the cold floor of a cramped dorm, scarf down some Domino’s cheese pizza, and talk endlessly about our identities. I always possessed a somewhat textbook definition of what my identity was. It wasn’t until recently that I finally learned to accept all of its messy details and blurry lines. I was born in Nairobi, Kenya after my mother had fled Somalia to escape a civil war with a death toll that seemed destined to never stop climbing. After four years in Kenya and three kids later, my mother migrated to the United States and settled into the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Bloomington and all of the sparkling lakes and vibrant parks became my home for the past 15 years. Growing up was tough; I was a bright-eyed African immigrant growing up on Somali culture and Muslim values. I waged a long and fruitless war with these identities, consistently declaring battles within myself and my family. I rejected my mother’s homemade “canjeero” when I was a child and tried to separate from my religion as a teenager. These battles were all useless attempts to fit into a definition of “American” that I had constructed in my head, and the casualties were always the real pieces of myself. Of course, I fought off all of the guilt and sadness that stemmed from my attempts to live authentically like everyone else by reminding myself that I am “an American now.” That’s the box I fit in. It wasn’t until I went to South Africa that I finally flipped the page. All it took was a single conversation with my host mother for me to put my weapons and armor to rest. She asked me where I was from, and I responded, as I always have, that I was from Minnesota. She looked at me with confusion. “You’re African,” she insisted, and I returned the same look of confusion. I half-heartedly asserted, “well, yeah, technically, but like my family moved from Nairobi when I was really little so like not really.” This statement had us delve into a conversation on why I believed it wasn’t okay to be both. Why can’t I be African and American? This discussion triggered a ceasefire within me. I finally stopped the fighting and realized the truth: I don’t have to erase a part of

Alice Heyeh my identity to accept another. And I was tired of pretending my mother’s canjeero wasn’t hands–down the best thing I’ve ever tasted. I left South Africa with a peace treaty. I came to the conclusion I'd been slowly accepting, but needed to hear: I am African. I am also American. But over the years I’ve realized that was never a good enough answer for anyone. People like to put others into boxes. I did it to myself until I understood that besides what country you are from, there is no definition of what an American is or what an African is. When my friends and I were breaking down the many parts of our racial identities last year, I sat on the floor, devouring the last slice of Domino’s cheese pizza wrapped up in my favorite white blanket, with a smile on my face. For once I was finally confident of my own. I am African, and I am also American. That was my identity. I had taken a while (arguably too long) to conclude that, but I now understood. So, when they turned to me after discussing their own identities and asked, “do you identify more as black or white?” I had never been more confused. I sat there in shock, questioning the very nature of their comment. I quickly decided it was a joke to avoid a tough conversation. Then they told me it was because I “talk white,” “act white,” and grew up in what they presumed was a completely white suburb. Those statements that I heard in my aftershock are what stuck. I understand far too well that I

don’t fit into anyone’s definition of an African immigrant. I also understand that I don’t fit into anyone’s stereotype of an African-American. I don’t speak in African-American Vernacular English (AAVE), I have only tried soul food a couple of times, and I don’t really feel comfortable using the N-word. With all that said, my lack of connection with the African-American community does not, in any way, shape or form, make me white. When I returned home to Bloomington this summer, I’d often be aimlessly driving around the city with my friends and remember that night freshman year. That singular comment, and the reasonings that followed, never left my mind. Sure, I made a joke of it at the time, but I now understand that was wrong. This one conversation showcases an issue that runs deep in this country: the stereotypes we have for every race, and what we do when someone doesn’t fit it. Allow me to clarify: I’m not white — not even a small bit. I’m happily East African and Minnesotan. I grew up on trips to Lake Nokomis, followed by a 15-minute drive with my family to one of many Somali malls in Minneapolis to get halal meat and some new hijabs. I love going to Caribou Coffee and the Mall of America with my best friend as she checks out the Crocs store and Lululemon. I love coming home to crush up some cardamom and get a kettle boiling to make black tea for my mother and me. I don’t sound white; I sound as though I came to this country at four years old, only knowing how to

communicate in Somali. I sound as though I started ESL classes as soon as I walked into kindergarten. By insinuating that because my neighbors are white, own two dogs and pickup trucks, I am somehow now white erases the identity I endured an all–out war to accept. It erases the years I grew up in Minnesota, where the largest Somali population in the United States resides. It erases the entirety of the first four years of my life. Quite frankly, it erases my mother risking her life numerous times in Somalia so that I could grow up at all. I am not a petulant child who needs to learn to take a joke when you try to erase my identity. I am merely asking to be seen as myself, and not as who my neighbors are. I sometimes think of what I would say if I could go back. Not only back to the floor of my friend’s freshman dorm, but also to every time someone stated I “acted white” or I was “an oreo.” I realize it was never really about the statements themselves but what they implied. To be completely blunt, every one of those statements used the words “white” and “good” synonymously. So if I could go back, I wouldn’t freeze up. Instead, I’d ask why they associate good traits, such as when I speak grammatically correct, with whiteness and bad traits with blackness. I’d ask questions endlessly, pulling on every possible thread trying to comprehend why they questioned my blackness. What does white mean? In what way would I not be black? Is race something you hear then, and not something you see? Because I

thought that I was black because I looked black. I’d ask for their understanding of race, and how they can make sense of associating me with whiteness when I am not. Finally, who even gave you the right to group people into broad categories such as race and then make judgments about them? What they would imagine a “black” person to sound like is repeating stereotypes. A black person who speaks with slang or AAVE is a black person. A black person who speaks with academic level grammar is still a black person. A black person who can switch between both is still a black person. To reduce or erase that because of some trait is erasing their identity. It disregards the racism I deal with every day. I am labeled as a black person in America. Maybe if I benefited from whiteness, I would identify with it. But no part of me knows what it is like to be white in America. We as a society need to get comfortable with the idea that regardless of race, people can talk and act differently. There is no way someone black is white because of a nonvisual thing. By saying that I am white, what one suggests is that I would be treated as a white person and gain from that privilege because of something as minuscule as the sound of my voice. The most ridiculous part of all of this, within all of the attempts of identity erasure, internalized racism, and microaggressions, is the fact that I have to write this. In reality, all the “I should haves” are irrelevant. The only thing I should have said to any person who has ever tried to fit me into any box or stereotype is to take a Sociology or Africana Studies class. Take any course that deals with critical race theory at all. Read a book about it. We have access to an elite education, so I should not have to explain this. You need to redefine your definition of race. Until then, all your statements are meaningless. Although your racial and ethnic background can connect you to an entire community, the perspective of race as a defining feature and a way to categorize someone is boring. It’s gotten old, and I’m tired of defending my identity. Your microaggressions are not bullets that will start a war within me. That war has ended, and your gun isn’t even loaded.

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Ego of the Week: Tanya Jain This student leader is changing the face of feminism at Penn. Hannah Yusuf 34th Street: What extracurriculars are you involved in? Tanya Jain: [The] majority of my involvement is in Penn Association for Gender Equity (PAGE). I’m currently the chair, and I’ve been in it for three years now. For the past few years, we’ve been moving more towards social justice–oriented groups that talk about gender as one of the intersections related to social justice. We’ve been trying to get gender–neutral bathrooms and menstrual products in all campus buildings, things like putting the cultural centers on Locust (because right now they are in the basement of ARCH, which is a very tiny space and not very convenient). We address sexual assault and reporting, and sexual violence in general—so helping them work on their reporting system in order to make it easier for people to report and to increase reporting, because the reporting of sexual violence is very low on college campuses. Most of what we’re trying to do is sexual harassment ability training for professors, because we see that a lot of professors aren’t aware of the mental health of their students. Next Saturday is the march against rape culture. Show up, it’ll be a fun time! In the spring, we do women’s week, which is a week long event with a keynote and panel. In the fall, we try to do an event or a series of events on body image. In my earlier years, I was involved with Penn Students for Justice in Palestine, which I think is a super important group because on Penn’s campus, it can be very overwhelmed by Zionist perspectives, or people who feel like Israel shouldn’t be critiqued. I just think people need to be 4

Hometown: Pasadena, CA Major: Health & Societies, Concentration: Gender & Health Activities: Chair of Penn Association for Gender Equity, Co–founder and Co–Chair of Radical South Asian Collective, Undergraduate Researcher at Rusio Lab on Boundaries of Anxiety & Depression, Refugee Clinic Volunteer at Service Link, Minister of Impact for Oracle Senior Society, and member of Sphinx Senior Society.

more comfortable critiquing countries, even if they feel strongly affiliated. Street: What are some other things you’d hope to see changed in the future in regards to sexual assault on campus? TJ: It’s a huge thing. There are a lot of changes going on. A lot of people on campus are talking about the space that fraternities have on Locust Walk ... Addressing the space fraternities take on campus, along with putting cultural centers on campus, is a huge part of what we’re looking at. Also, reporting—there’s a lot of underreporting. We’re trying to figure out ways to increase reporting. Administration has actually been really helpful with this. They created a more condensed reporting system, so now there’s just one office that you go to, whether it be sexual harassment, sexual violence, or stalking. This is much better than what it used to be ... But definitely a lot of work has to go towards fraternity violence on campus and space given to fraternities. Street: Why did you get involved with activism on Penn's campus? TJ: There’s a lot of different reasons. I always really cared about gender equity as my starting point for activism. My family is from India—not to say that gender equity stuff is much worse in India than it is in the US, because a lot of white feminists like to frame that picture, which I don’t agree with—but I will say that seeing a lot of my family in India and a lot of domestic violence, unequal households, and unequal distribution of power between men and

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women definitely shaped the way I think about where I want my activism to go and what focus I want to have. Addressing violence is a huge part of where my activism lies ... I was talking to someone, and they said that Penn becomes most meaningful if you go in really wanting to do a thing, or being really passionate about making a change or altering something. This is really true for me. A huge part of why I enjoy my experience at Penn is because I really know what my focus is and where my passion lies. Street: Why Penn? TJ: I was trying to find a disciplinary focus in public health, and I wanted to take courses in the criminal justice system ... Penn has really strong humanities in those realms, and I really like the health and societies major. Also, when I was visiting Penn, there was a protest going on. And it was about Penn! And I was like 'Wow, that’s so cool! A club at Penn is protesting Penn on the main walking area at Penn! If they can do that, protest culture must be really strong, and they must be able to raise their voice in really important ways.' So that excited me a lot. Coming here now, I definitely think that there is a protest culture, but not as big that I thought it was coming in. But that was definitely a large part. And then I wanted to get away from the west coast, because I come from Pasadena, LA, California. Street: What are the accomplishments you’re most proud of in regards to activism? TJ: PAGE’s work and shifting

away from white feminism to more women of color is super important to me ... The event we did on body image in the fall last year was basically a gallery and exhibition plus discussion during the opening that centered colorism and fatphobia. We collected a bunch of submissions from a ton of different people and we displayed it in Philo Hall, which is on top of College Hall. People came and were like, "Wow, these stories are super important and we don’t get to hear about them a lot." I liked that it was centered around women of color and the

Sophia Dai | Photo Editor

space was dominated by women of color. Also, putting on an event about Palestinian women at Penn was difficult. I was really glad it did happen. It is kind of sad that now Penn students in support of Palestine isn’t super big on campus and doesn’t have that many people. So I hope that’s a change that happens even after I leave. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

LIGHTNING ROUND Street: What is your favorite study snack? TJ: I eat a lot of chocolate. I like those Dove chocolates—the milk chocolate ones. Street: Favorite Netflix TV show? TJ: This is a hard one. I really liked Orange is the New Black. I had some problems with it in terms of the way they represent women, but I do like the show. Street: Favorite artist? TJ: I like Mitski. I’ll go with that. Probably not my favorite favorite, but one of my favorites. Street: Favorite feminist figure? TJ: Ooh! So many. Let’s go with bell hooks. Street: If you could be one statue/art piece on campus, which one would you be? TJ: I like The Tampons and I like that it’s called the Tampons. Street: Favorite class taken at Penn? TJ: I really liked my Race, Crime, and Punishment course I took in Freshman fall. It was such a good class because we went to different prisons and we got to talk to lifers. Street: There are two types of people at Penn... TJ: Those who boast about getting a lot of sleep and those who boast about getting no sleep.



Daniel Gordon: The Student Government Leader Who Always Finds Time For Others

Unwaveringly enthusiastic, Daniel Gordon shares his passion for school spirit, wellness, and Netflix. Katie Farrell I’m lucky that Daniel Gordon (C ’21) found a time in his Google Calendar to add me in—but he always has time for his fellow Penn students. College Chair of the 2021 Class Board, Power of Penn Student Campaign Committee member, Social Planning & Events Committee Connaissance Secretary, and Penn Peer Advisor for the classes of 2022 and 2023. These are only a sample of the activities on Daniel’s schedule dedicated to the Penn community. The thing that keeps him going? His love for wellness and school spirit. As a founding member of the Phi Chi Theta business fraternity, Daniel is committed to combining pre–professional excellence with a positive and productive environment. “We want people to succeed in the short term, but thrive in the long term,” he says. His inspiration to found the chapter was rooted in “wanting to start something new.” While Phi Chi Theta is still a

pre–professional space, one of its founding principles is to create a mentally supportive environment for all its members, which Daniel believes is extremely important, but often overlooked. “Wellness is at the center of [Phi Chi Theta],” Daniel adds. “On–Campus Recruiting is immensely stressful for everyone involved. But having a group of people to go through it [with] is an amazing thing," Daniel says. "We have a text group, we help each other out [with] deadlines and everything, and also just supporting each other during information sessions, letting each other know what classes to take. It’s a great community.” A supportive community is definitely where Daniel thrives, and it's often through supporting others that he finds the most fulfillment. Adorned in a Penn hat and a class of 2021 sweatshirt, along with a laptop marked by 2021 stickers, school spirit is a fundamental part of David’s life. He

Eleanor Shemtov | Photo Editor

also launched U–Night, an event for sophomore students. “First year students have convocation and the Econ scream, juniors have Hey Day, and seniors have graduation. Sophomore year was basically ‘no man’s land,'” Daniel says. As a member of the Class Board, he spearheaded U– Night with his co–chair, Charlie Curtis Thomas (C ’21). Last year it launched, celebrating the various achievements of sophomore year ranging from declaring a major to grasping a greater sense of one’s identity or finding a solid community at Penn. The first event was a success, bringing in about 1,000 sophomore students. He points to his favorite portion of the night: the Q&A portion. There were questions such as "Who is in the College?" and "Who feels like a leader on campus?" Students would turn on their given lanterns to answer yes. Beyond this one initiative, Daniel has worked to make

sector requirements more accessible for a variety of Penn students' interests, encouraged more interdisciplinary coursework, and consulted on financial aid and registration policies. It’s clear that Daniel thrives in a busy, yet organized, environment. He has approached his summers with not a "can–do" attitude, but with a "can–do–double" attitude. His freshman summer consisted of taking classes and working at a sports management agency. This last summer he worked at a think tank at the Lauder Institute in addition to an insurance benefits company. He spent the summer before his first year at Penn doing something pretty unconventional—working in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. He described the experience as one of the, “most random things I’ve done.” Based on a connection with a friend from the United Nations Youth Assembly, he pursued an internship on four different islands in

which he visited twenty different schools for the Minister of Education. One of his projects included suggesting newfound tactics for extracurricular programming. “It was an amazing experience. Definitely put me outside my comfort zone, going alone to a country and living there in the mountains and on the island for a month. But, it was really cool and a lot of fun,” Daniel shares. Daniel says that most people would never guess how he spends his limited down time. I like playing different games like Madden and Risk," he says, but his television obsession is perhaps even more shocking. “I’ve watched 80 Netflix shows from beginning to end,” Daniel adds as he pulls out his Netflix application on his bright blue iPhone and shows me an extensive list of shows across a wide array of genres. Unsurprisingly, he offered to help me with my own Netflix adventure: "If you ever need a recommendation, let me know."

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How Post Malone's Casual Likability Made Him a Star

Photo by Tore Sætre // CC by 2.0

A look back at the artist's pathway to fame as he releases his third album, 'Hollywood's Bleeding.' Mehek Boparai Austin Post created his first mixtape on his high school laptop using Audacity, a free audio editing software. Eight years later, his new album Stoney found its way onto the Grammy nominations list for Album of the Year. The bricks laid out on his path to success are common in the entertainment industry—building a way up from the bottom and relying on authenticity until a career takes off is nothing new. But there is something undeniably different about Austin Post, known as Post Malone, that is worth noting. How the teenager in a cramped white house in Los Angeles wound up as one of today's top selling artists is a story as crazy as the lifestyle he sings about. It began when Post decided to move across the country at 18. After attending college to satisfy 6

his parents’ dream of him having a normal career, he realized the lifestyle he wanted to live did not require a classroom. It meant producing music about what it's like to live in the city alongside close friends and writing about the experiences of being a teenager. The lyrics to “White Iverson,” the first song that gave him real attention in the industry, reflect this period of his life well. Riddled with colloquialisms common in the rap scene such as “Saucin', saucin', I'm saucin' on you,” the track also outlined goals Post had for his future; he rapped about fame he was sure to encounter eventually. Ironically enough, after being uploaded on Soundcloud in 2015, “White Iverson” gained traction quickly as an anthem for the aspiring–while–flexing generation.

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A song inspired by NBA player Allen Iverson made Post an all–star amongst adolescents. There was something relatable about his unrefined edges, a solace in his abandonment of the serious. Although he had already been working alongside a production team on his musical endeavors, going viral provided an audience for him that was eager to hear more about his life. By the time he released his 2016 double– platinum album Stoney, the artist had toured with Justin Bieber and collaborated with Kanye West on the critically–acclaimed album The Life of Pablo. Throughout both Stoney and his sophomore album beerbongs and bentleys, the latter of which received a Grammy nomination, it's his transparency that gives Post a magnetism like no other. He manages to fuse both hustle culture and the

atmosphere of a late–night party, and that gives him an interesting point of view on conventional rap tropes. The narrative outlined in “White Iverson” is fleshed out in tracks like “Congratulations,” where he sings “How could I make sense when I got millions on my mind?” The music video for the song has reached over one billion views on Youtube and displays the artist in his typical state, with his frizzy hair braided back and a lit cigarette between his fingers. Last week, he released his third studio album, Hollywood’s Bleeding, which features hits like "Wow," "Goodbyes," and “Sunflower.” He recently announced the lineup for Posty Fest, the music festival he founded last year in his home state of Texas, which features Meek Mill, Pharrell Williams, Doja Cat, and other acclaimed

artists. Even the undeniably bizarre festival poster imitates the relaxed nature around which Post has built his career. It's common for him to appear on stage with a red Solo cup in hand, like at this past year’s Firefly Festival, where he admitted to playing a few rounds of beer pong prior to performing. Whether or not you're a fan of Post Malone, there's no denying that he will continue to bring his cigarette smoke–shrouded experiences into his music— and that many will eagerly await it. As he continues to achieve the success he once dreamt about on “White Iverson,” it becomes clear that there is something endearing about his casual indolence, and that very quality will keep his music blasted at college parties and on countless night–out playlists for the foreseeable future.


Why BROC KHAMPTON Hates Pitchfork Exploring the relationship between artist and critic. Teresa Xie If you’ve ever attended a BROCKHAMPTON concert, then you’ve probably heard the chant “F**k Pitchfork” at some point during the show. This tense relationship between BROCKHAMPTON and the widely acclaimed music publication goes all the way back to BROCKHAMPTON’s debut album, SATURATION. Ever since BROCKHAMPTON was first formed, the rap collective has branded themselves as an “American boy band,” putting themselves into a genre akin to experimental hip hop. Led by rapper Kevin Abstract, members met through an online forum titled “KanyeToThe.” Currently, BROCKHAMPTON is made up of 13 artists including Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, Merlyn Wood, and Bearface. Pitchfork is a popular music publication that covers industry news and reviews new music, in addition to hosting an annual music festival in Chicago. The publication is known for rating albums on a scale from 1–10 and providing a critique reflecting that rating. Pitchfork rated BROCKHAMPTON’s debut album, SATURATION, a 6.5. Their second album, Saturation II, was rated 7.2, and Saturation III was rated 7.5. Additionally, their album iridescence was rated 6.6 and GINGER was rated 6.5. In Pitchfork’s review of SATURATION, they criticized the technical skills of BROCKHAMPTON members, simply citing that, “No member is a particularly good rapper, but

they make up for their weakness when they ride the pristine beats with exuberance.” To back this statement up, Pitchfork particularly targeted Kevin Abstract, comparing his “naivety” on slower tracks to his solo album, American Boyfriend. Meanwhile, the style of BROCKHAMP-

ion that their biggest problem with the band’s music was that they seemed like just a group of talented artists who were rapping side by side, and not staged together. Specifically for this album, Pitchfork cited that there wasn’t enough bass over the course of Saturation III. In

meling album…with its rappers and producers biting off more than they can chew.” Similarly, the opening paragraph of Pitchfork’s review of GINGER, the band’s most recent album, made note of Ameer Vann’s absence and called the album “compelling

Kevin Abstract (Photo by Trevor Dykstra // CC BY 2.0)

TON’s music was criticized in Pitchfork’s review of Saturation II, in which they stated that BROCKHAMPTON was still “awkwardly straddling the hip– hop and pop worlds.” Out of all of BROCKHAMPTON’s albums, Saturation III received the highest rating. The collection of BROCKHAMPTON Pitchfork reviews up until this album alluded to the opin-

response to their review, Kevin Abstract tweeted: “pitchfork stop reviewing our shit, damn.” Between Saturation III and iridescence, BROCKHAMPTON let go of one of their main rappers, Ameer Vann, following sexual assault allegations. In Pitchfork’s review of iridescence, they emphasized Van’s noticeable absence. iridescence was cited as the group’s “most pum-

but disjointed.” The criticisms of BROCKHAMPTON’s previous albums are repeated over and over again: The group is talented individually, but scattered. BROCKHAMPTON albums never seem cohesive enough for Pitchfork’s approval. BROCKHAMPTON fans on Reddit argue that Pitchfork often came out with reviews of BROCKHAMPTON’s albums

much too quickly after their release—sometimes just three hours later. Most importantly, there is general agreement among fans that Pitchfork just doesn’t understand BROCKHAMPTON’s experimental style, which features harsher instrumental tones and a wider variety of rap personalities than conventional groups. Recently, artists like Lana Del Rey have also made headlines for lashing out at their critics. When NPR writer Ann Powers described Lana Del Rey's lyrics in her newest album Norman Fucking Rockwell! as "uncooked," Lana Del Rey tweeted the article with her reaction. "Here’s a little sidenote on your piece – I don’t even relate to one observation you made about the music. There’s nothing uncooked about me. To write about me is nothing like it is to be with me. Never had a persona. Never needed one. Never will." Artists have a right to respond to criticism from music publications, especially if they feel like their work has been largely misinterpreted. Opinions regarding music are largely subjective, and a bad review from a well– known company could make or break an album's reputation. For established artists like Del Rey and BROCKHAMPTON, though, it can be debated how much effect negative criticism actually has on them. Regardless, with the digital age making music criticism more immediate and publicized than ever before, artists have to continue to learn how to navigate through it all.

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Sofar Sounds: Perfect for Students, Problematic for Artists The concert experience start-up fails to gives artists the recognition they deserve. Teresa Xie What happened to live music that felt real, that allowed artists to be heard without outside interference? What if we could go to a performance for under $20 on a whim, with a small audience and no distractions? The organization Sofar Sounds seems to have just the solution. The London-based start-up was founded in 2009 by Rale Offer, Rocky Start, and Dave Alexander. The idea was generated by its founders, who were irritated by the lack of intimacy at popular concert venues. One day, they decided to host a concert at Dave Alexander’s North London apartment, inviting only a few close friends to listen to his music. Soon after this experience, they set up gigs in major cities including Paris and New York City.

Ten years later, Sofar Sounds is established in more than 300 cities worldwide, featuring more than 500 gigs per month. Every Sofar Sounds concert features three local artists who aren’t announced until the audience arrives at the concert venue. The venue itself is usually held in niche locations, such as barbershops and breweries, all over a given city, and isn’t revealed until the day before the concert. Each act lasts between 20–25 minutes, and audiences are encouraged to put away their cellphones in order to be totally engaged. The biggest perk of Sofar Sounds for college students is its price, which usually ranges between $15-$20, and its accessibility in being able to buy tickets for shows just one week

in advance. In addition, concerts are usually BYOB. Around 40 out of 25,000 artists who have participated in Sofar Sounds sessions have been nominated for Grammys, including Billie Eilish, Bastille and Leon Bridges. Although Sofar Sounds does provide exposure of local musicians to an engaged audience, the organization has been under fire recently for its compensation towards employees and artists. At Sofar Sounds shows, performers are paid $100 each, with the CEO claiming that the main value is exposure for the artists. The audience, although small, is more invested in the performance than at an average concert. This pay rate for artists was a reaction to a 2017 KQED report that revealed many musicians only received

$50 per gig. Recently the New York State Department of Labor investigated the labor practices of Sofar Sounds, specifically in relation to the fact that the majority of those who “work” for the company are unpaid volunteers. The company also doesn’t usually pay the concert venue, which ranges from distilleries to living rooms. In an interview with Talkhouse, the New York State Department of Labor states that Sofar Sounds “is completely unlawful in every respect, the way the labor law is organized — all people that perform work are covered by the labor law. There is no such thing as volunteer work for a for-profit company.” Sofar Sounds seems to fail to properly compensate artists for

their performances. If the organization claims to be useful for local artists in terms of exposure, it doesn't really make sense to announce their names right before the show. In fact, local venues seem to get more long term exposure than the artists themselves. Sofar Sounds does post videos on Youtube, but most have less than 1,000 views. A more ethical alternative is to seek out smaller, DIY venues in the area, which pay their artists properly and maintain an intimate concert. The concept of Sofar Sounds is intriguing, because it breaks the norm of going to a concert for one specific artist. But the execution of Sofar Sounds needs to be improved by making sure it's giving artists both the exposure and money they deserve.

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Kacey Musgraves' Rainbow was Blinding at The Met Philly The country–pop star reminded us what "yeehaw" really means Sam Kesler

This past Wednesday, Kacey Musgraves blessed the stage at The Met Philly with her presence. The country– pop star has been on a streak of success following the release of her Grammy–winning album Golden Hour, and she proved exactly how her success came to be with her set at The Met. Featuring tracks off of Golden Hour and her earlier albums Same Trailer, Different Park and Pageant Material, her performance was a great sampler of her music and a perfect treat for her fans. Weyes Blood, the stage name of Natalie Mering, opened the night by playing songs from her 2019 album Titanic Rising, warming up the crowd with chill, soulful vibes. Primarily behind the keyboard for her performance, she sang while accompanied by slow, soothing

tones on guitar and synth. Her airy, sonorous opening set perfectly prepared the audience for a night of intense emotions. Musgraves' set began shortly after, shrouded in darkness while her band played her in with "Slow Burn," the tender opener to Golden Hour. Obscured on stage, her voice shone through, coupled with the speckled neon lights across the stage. From there, she moved through "Wonder Woman" and "Butterflies," two faster–paced, though just as sweet, songs about love and relationships. Although Musgraves' music was at the forefront throughout the night, her stage show also incorporated enough lights for your typical EDM set. During her more upbeat tracks, her silhouette was stark against the

LED backdrop that cycled through kaleidoscopic and psychedelic visuals while lasers cut through the air. On her slower tracks, light-up balls descended for a mellower ambiance. Musgraves has a natural talent for stage banter, grabbing a giant mask of herself from an audience member and holding it next to her own, or later explaining how one of her bigger songs, "Follow Your Arrow," was turned down for radio play due to its message, but still gained mainstream success. After playing through a high–energy group of songs, including "Lonely Weekend" and "Golden Hour," her band moved to the center of the stage and traded their electric instruments for acoustic, the keyboard player swapping his synth for a pedal steel, and the bassist

swapped his electric for an upright. The warmer sound that followed for the songs "Mother," "Oh, What a World," "Family Is Family," and "Love Is a Wild Thing," was one of the highlights of the set, as it showed a softer side to her music and took advantage of the amazing acoustics of the sizable venue. After the band returned to their previous positions, the set began to wrap up. Some of the energy of the beginning began to wane, but Musgraves responded with a cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" to enliven the audience once again, coupled with some crowdpleasers like "Space Cowboy," "Follow Your Arrow," and "Rainbow," the latter two receiving a huge response from the LGBTQ+ members of the audience. After

playing through a cover of Brooks & Dunn's "Neon Moon," Musgraves closed out on "High Horse," the country–disco takedown of toxic masculinity. Musgraves' music has a powerful quality of feeling entirely personal to each and every audience member, although drawn largely from Musgraves' life. She draws, too, from country, disco, and pop to create a show that feels universally loved. The show was enough to brush off the worries of the workweek and give audience members a reason to feel some resonance of hope. Her music even brought comedian John Mulaney down to the city of Brotherly Love for the evening. Although held in the middle of the week, Musgraves' performance felt like a perfect, lonely weekend.

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These Brands Can Help You Before You Get Inked

A Tattoo

These temporary tattoo brands seek to imitate the look of the real thing Jordan Wachsman We try on clothes before we make a purchase—why not do the same with tattoos before we commit to them? Temporary tattoo brands have been evolving, and don’t worry, their creations are nothing like those smiley faces your elementary school teacher gave out. These brands have designs to fit whichever tattoo style you prefer, and are the perfect way to help you decide whether you really want to go for that permanent design.


Inkbox created a temporary tattoo formula that looks extremely authentic, and also lasts for up to two weeks. They have over 4,000 designs to choose from, starting at $10. You can also customize them to match the exact design and shape you would get as a permanent tattoo. If you’re feeling creative, they sell bottles of freehand ink so you can draw the tattoo on yourself. They have content their website to teach you how to apply their tattoos and techniques if you're free–handing. Some reviewers say that these are not the easiest to apply, but that they’re the longest lasting temporary tattoos on the market. Their tattoos all come in muted colors, and are a good substitute for blackwork tattoos.


While these temporary tattoos aren’t long–lasting, they imitate a style that is difficult to achieve with the more time–resistant formulas. Paperself makes tattoos that look like watercolor tattoos, and their options are very colorful. If you are interested in a white ink tattoo, this brand also produces temporary tattoos that imitate that style. There is no option for customization, but if you are looking to try out ideas for different tiny tattoos, the Paperself designs can give you inspiration.

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Conscious Ink

This semi–permanent tattoo brand specializes in manifestation and healing tattoos. These temporary tattoos are meant to be “powerful transformational tools utilizing powerful words, inspiring quotes, and healing affirmations to support you on your personal journey.” The hope is that the impact of the tattoo becomes permanent even though it is on the skin only temporarily. With Conscious Ink, “each word has been meticulously chosen, as well as each color and color combination for its specific healing properties.” If you are considering a real tattoo of this type, it's important to test out how the message makes you feel before you ink it permanently, making these temporary tattoos the perfect tool.



Tattapic claims their tattoos are so realistic, that “even tattoo artists are fooled.” These tattoos are guaranteed to last for over a week, and are extremely easy to apply. Unlike Inkbox, these tattoos don’t absorb into the skin, but instead "fuse" with it, making for an authentic look. You can choose from pre–made designs, create one yourself, or even upload a picture that you want to turn into a tattoo. Tattapic users also have the option of color tattoos, so the sky is the limit.


Tattly temporary tattoos start at $2 and are designed by real, quality artists. There are countless different designers and styles to choose from, and their artists come from all over the world—even some from Philly. By browsing the different artists, you can see which designs you connect with and keep that in mind when you choose one for your real tattoo. Plus, these tattoos are non–toxic and made out of a vegetable–based ink.

Before you get your next tattoo, consider test driving it with the help of one of these great brands. Now when your judgmental aunt says, “you know that will be on your body forever, right?” you’ll have no doubts. S E P T E M B E R 1 8 , 2 01 9 3 4 T H S T R E E T M A G A Z I N E 1 1



The Pursuit of Healthiness What it means to perform and commodify wellness on campus. Katrina Janco At Penn, the pressure to be healthy—or at least look it—is palpable. On a typical weekday evening at Pottruck, it’s difficult to find an unoccupied elliptical. Fitbits and “athleisure” clothing, from Lululemon to Athleta, can always be spotted on Locust Walk. During lunchtime, the line of Penn students at sweetgreen goes out the

door, while just a few steps away, Bobby’s Burger Palace is a ghost town. Even though Sauda Salim (C ’23) is only a freshman, she’s already felt the pressure to project an image of being health–conscious. “When you go to the dining hall, and everyone else is eating salads and you’re eating

Zubaida Qaissi

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pancakes with Hershey’s sauce, that’s pressuring you.” While Janneke Evans (C ’22) is focused on being the best varsity

rower she can be, she still senses this pressure. “People do definitely feel like, ‘oh you need to be fit.’” At the same time, both

The Penn community often says we value health, but we especially value some health behaviors, and maybe don’t worry about somebody who’s overworking themselves, somebody who’s not sleeping, — Dr. Ramah McKay Sauda and Zubaida Qaissi (C ’20) found unhealthy sleep habits to be one of the most shocking elements of Penn’s culture when they first arrived to campus. Already, according to Sauda, the Hill study lounges are packed with students still studying at 3 a.m. During her fresh-

man year, Zubaida says, “I didn’t even question [how] everybody stays up to do their assignments, nobody has a normal sleep schedule, people skip class because they’re sleeping in. I absorbed it right away, just from how other people were acting,” she says, assuming that this was just the normal college experience. Throughout her time at Penn, Zubaida would pull all–nighters at least once a week, and felt almost delirious on a daily basis. “Once you pull an all–nighter, you’ve messed up your sleep schedule,” she says, noting that it unleashes a vicious cycle that makes it impossible to sleep normally. Oftentimes, health and morality become intertwined—everyone has probably heard someone apologize for being "bad" after eating a dessert. In the same way that people assert their own morality through

Nobody is looking at you. Nobody cares about what you’re doing. People are going to do their business and leave. And that’s what I’m doing too. — Zubaida Qaissi

virtue signaling, people often take part in specific, socially approved behaviors that signal health. At Penn, this may take the form of $10 salad bowls or the pressure to go to Pottruck every night. At the same time, though, this pressure starkly contrasts with other behaviors at Penn that some students have witnessed—unhealthy sleep schedules, drug abuse, overworking, and binge drinking. And just because you “health signal” doesn’t mean you’re exempt from participating in these behaviors. This is because of the long–standing divide between how society views the mind and body separately, and what Penn values. “The Penn community often says we value health, but we especially value some health behaviors, and maybe don’t worry about some-

body who’s overworking themselves, somebody who’s not sleeping,” says Dr. Ramah McKay, an assistant professor of History and Sociology of Science. “And part of it is that it’s easier to signal health that aligns with other dominant cultural values. You get to pat yourself on the back morally, while still meeting these dominant cultural ideas.” The pressure to signal health reflects the world at large, according to McKay. “I think some of the signaling around health is a genuine attempt towards self–care, but a context where actually meaningful self– care is often quite diffi-

cult,” she says. Even though the health of one person may seem disconnected from wider society, McKay says, health has become a way to reinforce cultural values. Besides sleep, Zubaida finds that Penn’s culture normalizes various unhealthy behaviors. “I’m not against alcohol in any way, but I found many people being like ‘Oh, I can’t wait to get blackout [drunk] tonight,’” she says, which seems normal only at a place like Penn. This past spring, registered dietician and Penn Nursing professor Monique Dowd supervised students who conducted an anonymous health habits survey among nursing students. The finding she found

Janneke Evans

most surprising was how many studentswtook unprescribed and medically unnecessary medications such as Adderall. Students say that Penn’s culture also values things that aren’t proof of wellness, such as thinness, which causes needless distress. For Zubaida, this affected her ability to work out. “I used to have a lot of anxiety about going to the gym, about people judging me for going to the gym, and not being thin. It used to occupy my mind so much that I couldn’t go to the gym sometimes.” Many agree that Penn makes avoiding unhealthy behaviors like these difficult, though there are disagreements as to who is at fault. In particular, Sauda blames the student body for creating a culture where in

the middle of academic and social commitments, “going to CAPS is the least of your priorities.” While Zubaida acknowledges that Penn plays a part, she feels the pressure comes from all of society. “People want to be healthy, appearing to be active, and I do think there’s an element of kind of fitting into the image of a perfect student,” she says. At Penn, many of the ways people signal wellness are quite expensive. While a Pottruck membership comes with tuition, popular boutique exercise classes like SoulCycle or Orangetheory can cost hundreds of dollars a month. The rise of boutique exercise classes is a good example of how health has become increasingly commodified, where “being healthy is not only about

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ship comes with tuition, popular boutique exercise classes can cost hundreds of dollars a month. Some scholars argue this is one of the ways individuals signal wealth in a world where anyone can find a passable knockoff Chanel bag, but not everyone has access to fresh produce. The rise of boutique exercise classes is a good example of how health has become increasingly commodified, where “being healthy is not only about your own relationship to your own body, but being able to achieve and perform these quite expensive markers of being healthy,” says McKay.

of the word “organic” on food labels needs to meet a USDA–sanctioned definition, but not an FDA–sanctioned definition. There are debates about whether organic foods are actually healthier than their non-organic counterparts, though socially, organic food is typically viewed as inherently better.

Beyond the commodification of health, it creates unreasonable expectations for Penn students to conform to, particularly those who do not come from wealth. “The way Penn seems to work, it can become difficult to step out of such thinking, and so it becomes much easier to participate in, and thus maintaining [and/or] upholding this type of ‘culture,’” Zubaida says. She continues: “I think it probably makes the inequality many experience here more invisible in the dominant ways people perceive the campus environment. This in turn can make some people who do not participate, whether out of their own choice or not, stand out in some ways.”

Health trends also can be harmful because most of the messaging surrounding them is purely individualistic. Fitness slogans like Nike’s iconic ‘Just Do It’ imply the only obstacle to wellness is willpower.

When Janneke, who enthusiastically uses Sakara, an organic meal delivery service, learned that the FDA doesn’t classify food items as “organic,” she was shocked. It’s easy to assume that products marketed as organic are healthy by default. But in fact, the use

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These commodified health trends have a global reach, too, thanks to social media. Coming from Kenya, Sauda had learned about trends such as athleisure, Keto, detoxes, and weight loss teas, from Instagram before ever stepping foot in America this summer.

But the largest influences on health outcomes are environment and socioeconomic status—the social determinants of health. Much of this informed by systematic oppression — a recent analysis in Chicago found that residents of a wealthy, white neighborhood lived, on average, 30 years longer than residents of a poor, black neighborhood nearby.

Of course, personal health is of paramount importance. It is well-known that exercise produces endorphins, which can help reduce stress and depression, And if it’s something like dance, it could also function as a cre-

ative outlet. Some students found themselves exposed to positive health behaviors upon coming to Penn. In Kenya, Sauda had never filled out a depression screening survey. “No one cares about such things in Kenya, unless you go specifically for that,” she says. Even though she had gone into SHS with a common cold, the depression screening survey responses warranted a CAPS referral. “It was nice, very efficient,” she says of her first SHS visit, and her first medical appointment in America. “It’s good that people are like going all hard on mental health, making people come out and talk to mental health professionals.” Ultimately, many students find that health should be an individual journey. For instance, Zubaida’s primary health goal is committing to a normal sleep schedule. Beyond sleeping 7-9 hours, for Zubaida it means, “letting go of this constant anxiety that I’m not doing enough, letting go of the idea that sleep can be sacrificed for school.” Previously, she would pull an all-nighter at least once a week, and describes herself as not having had a sleep schedule. Now, she “[sacrifices] school for school, if need be,” though she has found it has helped her academics. As for her fear of the gym, eventually she realized that, “I had to slowly work on believing that, in reality, the most likely scenario is that nobody is looking at you, nobody cares about what you’re doing, people are going to do their business and leave, and that’s what I’m doing too.” Even if the world makes it difficult, perhaps it is possible to be well.

Where to Find The Best Soups in Philly


Fix your cold with an extra helping of chicken noodle. Karin Hananel

If there’s anything all of those post–NSO sneezes and sniffles in class show us, it’s that flu season is just around the corner. Aside from putting together a prevention plan, knowing where the tastiest, most healing soups are in the city definitely helps.

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen

If you’re in need of the closest thing to homemade matzo ball soup, Famous 4th Street Deli is the place to go. While your grandma probably doesn’t make matzo balls the size of a small child’s head like Famous 4th Street does, their signature is just as warming as hers. If matzo ball soup doesn’t do it for you, try their kreplach, which consists of meat–filled dumplings in a warm and salty broth.

Neighborhood Ramen

The internationally–minded foodie should head to Neighborhood Ramen for their incredibly popular ramen. While they don’t deliver or offer take–out, which might prove difficult when bed–ridden, a trip to Queen Village is a great way to get fresh air and get out of the germ incubator that is campus. With four ramen broths: chicken, pork, a mix of the two, and a vegetarian variety with mushrooms, there are lots of options. An added bonus? You can also make some of the dishes extra spicy if you’re trying to clear out those sinuses.

Cheu Noodle Bar

Wishing you could combine the flavors of Famous 4th Street Deli and Neighborhood Ramen? Enter Cheu Noodle Bar. With dishes that combine traditional Japanese flavors with Jewish–American influence like Brisket Ramen (which comes with a matzo ball!), their dishes are as eccentric and fun as they are warming and healing. Their Miso Ramen is a more traditional option. | 215.387.8533 4006 Chestnut Street

Dine-in, Catering & Delivery

Happy Hour: Mon-Fri 5-7 Lunch Special: Mon-Fri $9.95 Early Bird: Sun-Thur $11.95

Dim Sum Garden

This recommendation doesn't fit in with the technical definition of soup, but soup dumplings surely qualify as part of that group when they’re as good as these. Dim Sum Garden makes some of the most addictive and revered soup dumplings in the city, with lines going out the door for them on busy weekend evenings. The hype is justified, too. At first bite, the dumplings explode with piping hot and flavorful broth, making it a must–go for the sick and the unaffected alike.


Ask a Philadelphian for Stephen Starr’s most underrated spot and Jones will be it. They serve up great matzo ball and chicken and rice soup, but Jones’ tomato soup takes the cake. Creamy, thick, and infused with aromatic basil (best accompanied by a grilled cheese), it's the best reminder of childhood, especially when sick.

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Hollywood's Hollywood's LGBTQ Problem: Problem: LGBTQ Poor RepresentaRepresentaPoor tion and and One– One– tion Dimensional Dimensional Portrayals Portrayals How Hollywood exploits the LGBTQ community, and how it should change. Anna Collins Two weeks ago, Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame said that she was told to hide her sexuality if she wanted to get a role in a blockbuster superhero movie. To quote her: “I have fully been told, 'If you just like do yourself a favor, and don’t go out holding your girlfriend’s hand in public, you might get a Marvel movie.'" This comes on the distant heels of publicity about Avengers: Endgame, which made headlines for its alleged monumental step in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: its first gay character. This character is portrayed by the film’s director, Joe Russo, in a two–minute cameo where the unnamed “grieving man” mourns the loss of his (male) partner and discusses how he’s moved on after the life– changing snap of Infinity War. Russo’s grieving man (listed as Gozie Agbo in the credits) comes as one in a series of so–called “gay firsts” in Disney content. Two years ago, Disney got buzz for having its first suggested gay character on screen—Lefou in Beauty and the Beast, who does nothing more than be in love with

the villain, Gaston, for the entire runtime, then dance with another man during the final ballroom scene. Disney also got buzz last year for announcing they would feature their first “out gay character in film,” to be portrayed by Jack Whitehall in the upcoming film Jungle Cruise—though, of course, he doesn’t actually use the word “gay.” More recently, Disney had its first character to say the words, “I’m gay,” in its history: Cyrus in the television show Andi Mack. All of these, which have been written as major steps in the media, say nothing about how these gay characters are portrayed—only that they are portrayed, and that this, in itself, is a huge step. These portrayals aren't necessarily bad—Cyrus’ has particular merits since he appears on on a children’s television show and can serve as a form of education—but they’re far from the nuanced depictions that they ought to be. Despite this, many (speaking their minds in the comments section) were outraged at Kristen Stewart’s comments, SEE LGBTQ PAGE 18 S E P T E M B E R 1 8 , 2 01 9 3 4 T H S T R E E T M A G A Z I N E 17


Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore / CC by 2.0


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citing the acts of supposed gay liberation by Disney as evidence to prove a lack of homophobia in Hollywood. It seems ironic that Stewart got attacked for being out and public with her girlfriend and then got attacked for mentioning this prejudice— it has become an unspoken rule to gay actors in Hollywood that, while homophobia may be discussed in the general sense as a prejudice to overcome, you can’t name names or call out companies. The issue, of course, is that homophobia is far from eradicated. The one–dimen-

sional portrayal of these characters does not actually do anything significant for the depictions of gay people— it is the touching, nuanced depictions, such as in Brokeback Mountain or Moonlight, that make real changes in the public perception of gay relationships, not bit characters that Marvel permits five minutes of screen–time. Additionally, just portraying gay characters is not the same thing as lifting up the voices of gay people. A more recent change in LGBTQ film criticism is the insistence of filmmakers to not just put gay characters on the screen, but to let gay actors depict them and to have gay talent

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behind the camera as well. Even the best portrayals of gay characters in the past decade are primarily portrayed by straight actors. While a couple of decades ago, putting a gay character on–screen was in itself a major statement, large corporations must now understand that there’s more to it than just putting an LGBTQ character on screen as the main character’s best friend. Yet, even in looking at the list of Disney’s upcoming or recent headline–making gay characters, it is clear that there is only one kind of gay character that Disney is ready for: the white gay man. It's not surprising that Stewart was told to hide her rela-

tionship with her girlfriend. While Hollywood pretends to care about the stories of gay people and their lives, it mostly only profits off of these narratives while not actually casting and hiring the people they're supposedly representing. Even more so, Hollywood only cares about the stories of very specific people, excluding the wide breadth of experiences of all LGBTQ people, such as trans women or people of color—that make works like Moonlight and Sean Baker’s Tangerine even more important pieces of media to hold up. In recent months, Marvel Studios has apparently talked extensively about putting a gay superhero into the MCU.

Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie in the Thor franchise, has pushed for her own role to be written as a bisexual one— Thompson herself is out and bisexual, and has apparently been gunning for this since she was first cast. Fans have been clamoring for Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel to be gay, too. Yet, it is still the case that no existing Marvel movie has an openly LGBTQ major character. Hollywood has come far in its acceptance of gay people, but, as Kristen Stewart has pointed out, it still has a long way to go. Until gay people are able to write and portray the roles sculpted after their lives, the way these characters are written will always fall short.


'The Goldfinch': Just Okay 'The Goldfinch' made headlines for being a disappointment, but is it really all that bad? Anna Collins

The Student Side Hustle Because not everyone can be an Instagram model


Last week, The Goldfinch made headlines for making headlines. The film, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), has been anticipated for months—it is based on the Pulitzer–winning novel of the same name by Donna Tartt, stars the greats such as Ansel Elgort and Finn Wolfhard, and had a fantastic trailer released in July. Director John Crowley was launched to fame with the Oscar–nominated film Brooklyn in 2015, and with such a star–studded cast and reliable source material, The Goldfinch was apparently setting itself up for an Academy Award nomination. However, it has not lived up to such expectations. Critics trashed the film right out of the gate. They questioned the film's pace and writing, particularly as it is an adaptation of an already–long book. Elgort has been described as “an empty vessel, good looking but stiff and emotionless,” and Wolfhard a “Slavic androgynous Bette Davis.” The movie already

has an abysmal 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating what will ultimately be a critical failure. So, is The Goldfinch really that bad? The answer is no, but it’s not that good, either. The truth is that the novel, like its film adaptation, is good but flawed. It is adored for its tenderness and sweet, languorous descriptions of rooms and people and the Amsterdam landscape, but it drags and has a rushed ending. Unfortunately, these latter issues are only exacerbated in the film and make it worse than its source by far. But where exactly did the movie go wrong? The Goldfinch opens in a different place than its book—it starts with a twenty–something Theodore Decker (Ansel Elgort here, Oakes Fegley at age thirteen) in Amsterdam, washing the blood from his white shirt. This, as readers may know, is actually the end of the novel. Despite the fact that this creates a flashy start, it loses a key tenant of SEE GOLDFINCH PAGE 20

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age thirteen) in Amsterdam, washing the blood from his white shirt. This, as readers may know, is actually the end of the novel. This creates a flashy start, but it loses some key tenets of Tartt’s book: Theo’s endless, floating narration, the chronological order of his peculiar odyssey, and the fact that you shouldn’t know where he ends up until you get there. Unfortunately, this grave error is repeated throughout the movie, perhaps out of anxiety that the audience might get bored from seeing three child actors carry the first half of the film— it cuts backwards and forwards at least three times to remind us: Ansel Elgort will be here soon, don’t worry! After an older Theo is done having a mental breakdown on the floor, we jump to a younger version of him dealing with the aftermath of his mother’s death at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, staying at the Barbour’s house (led, stiltedly at first, by Nicole Kidman). Theo eventually moves from the Barbour's house in New York to the endless stretch of Las Vegas with his deadbeat dad (a hit–or–miss Luke Wilson) and his girlfriend (an underutilized Sarah Paulson). In this first half of the narrative, the film reveals its impeccable attention to detail. In the book, Tartt describes the world of Theo with ceaseless precision, cataloging the way antique furniture feels, the way New York hums in frightening noise, and the loudness of quiet and the quiet in noise. The film, too, is remarkably grounded, every space feeling so carefully decorated—the Barbour’s cluttered but cool home, the con-

straining and messy home of Theo’s dad, and the tiny hotel room in Amsterdam. However, amid this detail is a lack of firmness in Theo’s character. Without his narration guiding the film, he seems impossible to pin down, coming across as both proud and deeply self– conscious, trustworthy and a liar. In the film, we get the bad parts of Theo’s narra-

ical fashion, first introduces Theo’s mother, then leads us through the day leading up to her death. A freak terrorist attack occurs at the museum while Theo and his mother are separated, shattering countless pieces of artwork and killing his mother. In the film, the explosion is seen in a fragmented blur, and Theo’s last poignant moments with his

about a single character coping with loss, showing that loss should be pretty high up in the list of priorities— yet Crowley hesitates to display it because he enjoys the flashiness of the smoke coming into the museum and the quick cuts away from it more than Theo's emotional development. Despite the differences between their forms, how-


tion (his self–righteous view of himself ) and lose the good parts of it (the parts where he serves as a guiding voice for the audience). Peculiar, too, is the movie’s constant stringing along of the plot’s key event—the death of Theo's mother in an explosion—and failing to show its audience said event that has deeply affected our main character. The book, in its chronolog-

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mother are quite literally the final scene of the film. Doing this disrupts the narrative flow and creates genuine confusion. Characters come up to Theo and apologize for his mother’s death without us quite knowing what happened, and even the inciting incident of the film—Theo stealing the titular painting—isn’t shown until after it's mentioned or referenced half a dozen times. For a film

ever, the best part of the movie is also the best part of the book: young Theo in Las Vegas. Boris (Finn Wolfhard) is a Russian bad– boy who further leads Theo down the path to drugs and alcoholism in a hazy, months–long whirlwind. Theo’s relationship with Boris is ostensibly his most important one in the film, and their chemistry in both time periods is electric.

Overall, The Goldfinch does a good job at focusing on the relationships of the film: Theo and Boris, Theo and Pippa, Theo and Hobie. Elgort portrays, with a sad little curl of the lip, the sensation of longing and hoping, only to have it all come crashing down. He is one of the best members of the cast, especially in a scene with Pippa where he shows her old antiques. It's clear that screenwriter Peter Straughan (of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy fame) knows exactly which parts of the 700–page book to focus on. However, some things do come too conveniently— Theo sees his unrequited love, childhood best friend’s brother, and evil adversary all within the same afternoon. Tartt’s book is filled with such sweet laziness, but the movie feels like it’s in a hurry to hit all the emotional points—and for what? So much is left unexplained that when we get to the sloppy ending, we still haven’t even processed the type of trouble that Theo is in. Despite all of its downfalls, I still enjoyed The Goldfinch. Perhaps because it was so fulfilling to see a book I read two years ago transferred to the screen, or perhaps because it was so technically beautiful and well–shot. Critics are railing harshly against it, likely because it’s very clearly Oscar– fodder, but it’s far from a disaster. The Goldfinch was good, but not too good—it had the same problem as the book and created some new ones, but it did a good job at portraying its characters and relationships. Most of all, The Goldfinch seeks to be a faithful adaptation of its complex, dizzying source material, and even though it didn't fully succeed, it captures at least some of its incredibly detailed world.

'arms ache avid aeon'


Brings ACT UP–era Activism to the ICA Four core members of the art collective 'fierce pussy' showcase work old and new. Sophie Burkholder

The quiet, mostly monochromatic art now residing in the first floor gallery space of the Institute of Contemporary Art doesn’t immediately incite its viewers to protest. That is to say, when compared to the '90s–era work of the art collective fierce pussy, these newer works are both less explicit in their motivations and more detached in their directions, and not simply because the ICA provides no description in its labels. No, the new exhibition arms ache avid aeon: Nancy Brooks Brody / Joy Episalla / Zoe Leonard / Carrie Yamaoka: fierce pussy amplified, which opened last Friday, brings us the art from four members of that collective. This new exhibition holds a tone distinct from the protest pieces of fierce pussy’s early days, one that now shares a refreshed and nuanced iteration of their fiery old resistance. The collective fierce pussy, formed in response to the AIDS pandemic, with all of its members also being involved with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). Due to the low budget and technology access of many of fierce pussy’s members in the '90s, the collective is most famous for their early work with wheat paste, stencil, and sticker media. With a specific focus on issues of lesbian identity and visibility, fierce pussy was once a fluid group of many members, but today only Brooks Brody, Episalla, Leonard, and Yamaoka‚—four of the original core—still actively produce and exhibit art together. The installation at the ICA

is the fifth chapter of one such exhibition, with chapters one through four having been shown at the Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art & Design over the last year. Each chapter updated the works displayed, including art both old and new from each artist in a way meant to put their work, practice, and lifestyle in amplified dialogue. While there is still an underlying urgency in the art of the fifth chapter, the exhibition at the ICA is more a proponent of the slow movement, allowing us to contemplate the resistance within abstraction. Consider Yamaoka’s A is for Angel, a 1991 work that inspired the title arms ache avid aeon. The four words come from discarded typewriter correction ribbons, and their repurposing by Yamaoka brings a unity to their abandonment—a metaphor that fits well with the deletions of our lives and cultures, both today and during the origins of fierce pussy. While perhaps this piece delivers its message more clearly with context, all pieces in the exhibition reflect some sort of resistance, to rules both implicit and explicit in artistic and philosophical thought. Most of these rules have to do with the ways we typically perceive the ideas of time and space. Certain pieces in the new exhibition, like the massive iteration of one of Episalla’s foldtograms (her term for a folded photogram), challenge the notion of photography as a two–dimensional art by fusing several photograms together into a floor–


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to–ceiling sculpture that piles and twists out onto the floor of the gallery itself, forcing viewers to walk around it. Even when more traditional demonstrations of photography present themselves in the exhibition, in this case by Leonard, certain conventions are still amiss. Her photographs of WWII–era photographs in Misia, postwar purposely leave a glare over the center of the image, concealing the main subject of the original photograph. But, as Leonard once explained about this piece, and others in which she employs similar light–focused techniques, “It’s not that one sees less here, but that different information becomes visible.” Her subversion of the notion of standards in photography are even further emphasized by a stack of 47 copies of Tom Maloney’s The Picture Universe, a photography book from 1961, with the unique deterioration of each copy mirroring the inevitable differentiation from the sameness of such standards over time. We can see both these manipulations of space and time as well as a combination of the two domains in the exhibition's display of Brooks Brody’s work. Her piece West/South, 90° Line is a 20–foot–long rectangle of polychromatic lead, embedded into the wall of the gallery space around eye level. This allows us to simultaneously see it bend into the corner of the gallery, and unbend in our own minds as a straight rectangle, warping our perceptions of both the work and the space it inhabits. Brooks Brody also demonstrates this complexity in Cement Shoes, a pair of black heels filled with concrete. Particularly under the lens of fierce pussy’s original mission, the heels can be seen as a symbol of limitation and restriction, and the heavy concrete within them gives a tangible form to that social oppression. There is also a more explicit sense of resistance in Yamaoka’s Archipelagoes, a continuing series of pieces in which the artist 2 2 3 4 T H S T R E E T M A G A Z I N E S E P T E M B E R 1 8 , 2 01 9

prints the names of quarantine or detention centers on chemically altered gelatin silver prints. Though the words alone may be phonetically alluring, the distortion of these prints, and the spaces between the words, serve as a grave reminder of the evil power behind them. This emphasis on words also exists in pieces like Yamaoka’s Outlaw, in which an excerpt from Jean Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers is partially whited–out, so that only a brief passage about the heightened pleasure of secret sexual acts is clearly visible. The conclusion of the exhibition is a survey of fierce pussy’s early work of the '90s. Copies of wheatpaste posters that directly address their viewers with questions like, “Are you a boy or a girl?” or “What is a lesbian?” stand in stark contrast to the more enigmatic conceptual art in the preceding galleries of the exhibition. The early work of fierce pussy is undeniably cruder, its protest messages exciting in their biting clarity. But visitors shouldn’t let this collection of posters, clippings, and photos push the former abstractions out of their minds.The foundations of these two domains are one and the same. Perhaps an excerpt of an old conversation Leonard had with the late artist David Wojnarowicz, a fellow ACT UP member, may shed light on the connection between the new and old art of fierce pussy. In struggling to find ways to clearly communicate her ambitions in her early artwork, a young Leonard spoke to Wojnarowicz about her guilt in creating prints of clouds that were “so subtle and abstract, so apolitical on the surface,” not unlike her contemporary experimentations with photography and framing. But instead of admonishing the cloud prints, or even suggesting ways to make them more political, Wojnarowicz replied with this: “Don’t ever give up on beauty. We’re fighting so that we can have things like this, so that we can have beauty again.”


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