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THE POP CULTURE RAG VOL. 12

AVA DUVERNAY WILL HAVE ALL FEMALE DIRECTORS FOR NEW SERIES "QUEEN SUGAR"

Ava DuVernay has created and produced a new show with the Queen Oprah Winfrey herself. The sugar on top? Every episode was directed by a woman. Aaaaand cue the release of a million doves. 


The series-of-our-dreams is called Queen Sugar, and is based on the novel of the same name by Natalie Baszile. The drama  follows two sisters who inherit an 800-acre sugar cane farm from their father in Louisiana. DuVernay is a friend of Oprah’s and when she mentioned the project, Oprah suggested that it should live on the Oprah Winfrey Network (among everything else, O seems like the #ultimatebestie.) At ESSENCE Fest,  DuVernay discussed the project and how it was directed entirely by female directors--a true rarity in television. Even our fave shows starring a female lead, like Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock, are often directed by men. In general (including the aforementioned series) there isn’t anything wrong with a director telling a woman's story if it's done well, but with percentages like women making up only 9% of directors among the top 250 domestic grossing films, it's obvious there is a serious need for more women storytellers in Hollywood.  DuVernay hopes her show will not only bring a beautiful story to life, but will create more space and opportunity for female directors.

 


"Every single episode is directed by a woman. It isn't something that we see hardly enough," DuVernay told People. "If Game of Thrones can have all men for the last 3 seasons, Queen Sugar can have all women and show what a fantastic show can be made from our hands and our minds." Touchè!


We can’t wait to watch this highly anticipated show and see stories about women that are created by women. Queen Sugar is a powerful reminder to the entertainment industry that talented female writers, producers, and directors are like, there (they're around, you guys!) and ready to work, but everyone needs to take responsibility for the abysmal disproportion of women to men working in Hollywood.  

KRISTEN BELL WROTE A POWERFUL PIECE ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS STIGMA


Kristen Bell isn’t just our beloved Frozen princess--she’s also the Queen of breaking taboos (and as you know, Team THINX & our fearless leader Miki are allll about that.) Bell wrote a piece for Motto this week, and opened up about her experience with depression and the stigma that continues to cloud over the importance of mental illness awareness and receiving help.


“When I was 18, my mom sat me down and said, “If there ever comes a time where you feel like a dark cloud is following you, you can get help. You can talk to me, talk to a therapist, talk to doctor. I want you to know that there are options,” Bell wrote.

Her mother was encouraging and supportive of seeking out help, a practice that still isn’t often spoken about. Bell recalled a statistic from the National Institute of Mental Health, citing that 20% of American Adults face some form of mental illness. Despite this significant number, mental illness is often associated as being shameful or something that needs to stay hidden. Actresses Hayden Panettiere and Brooke Shields have both spoken out about the shame and fear in coming to terms with their postpartum depression, and actor Jon Hamm opened up to the Huffington Post about his long term battle. Bell didn’t speak out about her experience with depression for over a decade, and is ready to open up in hopes of breaking the taboo.

 

 


“There is such an extreme stigma about mental health issues, and I can’t make heads or tails of why it exists. Anxiety and depression are impervious to accolades or achievements. Anyone can be affected, despite their level of success or their place on the food chain. In fact, there is a good chance you know someone who is struggling with it since nearly 20% of American adults face some form of mental illness in their lifetime. So why aren’t we talking about it?”


We agree, Kristen--let’s start talking. Her advice? “Mental health check-ins should be as routine as going to the doctor or the dentist. After all, I’ll see the doctor if I have the sniffles. If you tell a friend that you are sick, his first response is likely, “You should get that checked out by a doctor.” Yet if you tell a friend you’re feeling depressed, he will be scared or reluctant to give you that same advice. You know what? I’m over it.”


Here, here. To learn more from the National Institute of Mental Health, click here.



ZENDAYA SHUTS DOWN A RAPE JOKE ON TWITTER

 

Zendaya has really taken her Bad Blood character “Slay-Z” to heart--no terrible Twitter misogynist is a match for her.


After a Twitter user by the name of @ogxbenson asked the question “If the purge is real who ya’ll raping?” above a photo of Beyonce, Zendaya, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj, our girl Z sprung into action (we've created a new acronym for after reading a tweet like this-TATT. Too angry to type. You're welcome.)

 

Zendaya was quick to respond to the absolutely volatile tweet. “This is absolutely disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourself. Is this really what my generation thinks is ok?”

 

 

After the Twitter Troll (what is significantly worse than a troll? plz let us know), Zendaya responded again with “The only thing that’s lit is your immorality and inhumanity young man. I pay you find some sense.” Zendaya's response comes at a time where rape culture continues to thrive, and it’s important to follow the good ‘ol phrase from our friends at Homeland Security-- “If you see something, say something” (i.e. if you see someone joking about raping someone, let them know that it’s not funny & v. f’ed up.)


GWYNETH PALTROW RESPONDS TO BEING CALLED “THE MOST HATED CELEBRITY”


In 2013, someone at Star magazine thought it would be fun (?) to create a list of the most hated celebrities (whyyyyy.) Gwyneth Paltrow, actress & Goop founder, made the top of the list. We believe this probably happened because G.P. often says stuff like “I’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin” and “I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.” (Note to Gwen: no.) It’s true, Paltrow can say things that are a bit eyeroll worthy, but is it enough to make her the most hated celebrity? (Note to audience: also no.) 


Paltrow was asked about her notorious title on BBC News’ HARDTalk, and she was quick to share her thoughts. “First of all I was like, ‘I’m the most hated celebrity?’ More than, like, Chris Brown? What did I do? All I can do is be my authentic self, but I think there are things about me that make people draw conclusions", she said. " For example, there is the perception that I grew up very wealthy and that I was given, you know, that I was sort of raised with a silver spoon in my mouth, which inspires a lot of resentment.”

 


Whether you’re team Paltrow or not, she makes an excellent point. How is it that Paltrow was rated as the most hated celebrity for her wealth and pretentious/disconnected quotes, yet celebrities like Chris Brown, Sean Penn, and Woody Allen remain in the public eye without any consequences or extreme backlash? The hashtag #teamjohnny trended when Amber Heard filed a restraining order, yet people are still writing essays to figure out why the world hates Anne Hathaway (spoiler alert: no one can find a valid reason.) Paltrow is absolutely right--the fact that we continue to accept and support celebrities who are physically and emotionally abusive, but *hatee* (typically female) celebrities that just seem kinda unlikable shows how off our criteria is. No matter what you think of Gwennie P.--her response is totally on point. 

FERGIE CELEBRATES BEING A MILF WITH A CREW OF POWERFUL MAMAS


You knew we were gonna talk about Fergie’s new music video, right??? MILF$ (Mother I’d Like To...Follow. Because we’re in the social media age and the other one is rull dumb) is a tale about powerful working moms everywhere. Fergie had some help from some famous moms we love, like Chrissy Teigen, Ciara, and Kim Kardashian. There is public breastfeeding, a MILF mayor, and lots & lotssss of milk. 

 


Whether you hate to love it or maybe love to hate it, Fergie’s club banger does have a point. In June The New York Times (yes, our beloved NYT) published an article titled Mom Hair: It Exists. Now What to Do About It (not an Onion article--we swear!) The article is upsetting because even in 2016, in the age where the dad bod is the new 6 pack and dad hats are on trend, moms still get associated with being dowdy, frumpy, and out of touch. Fergie and her crew of beautiful working moms certainly don’t represent each and every mom out there (not everyone has a #glamsquad or can take time away each day to be up in the gym, workin' on their fitness) but they are certainly reminding the public that they are loud-and-proud mamas that can make that, ahem, Milf Money. Watch the video below:




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