The Pop Culture Rag Vol. 21

Sep 14, 2016
Pop Culture


Actress Alexis Arquette passed away on September 11th at 47 years old. Arquette was a part of the famous Arquette family, and appeared in movies like Pulp Fiction, The Wedding Singer, and Of Mice And Men. Arquette came out a transgender woman in the late 90’s, with support and encouragement from her family (including siblings David and Patricia Arquette.) Arquette is important, and inspiring, and groundbreaking. She could be funny and self deprecating without sacrificing her integrity, and was brave and resilient when opening up to a public that wasn’t entirely accepting. Arquette was an advocate in the LGBTQ community. Arquette refused to play characters that mocked or cheapened trans visibility in film.

Arquette was open to the public regarding her transition, and spoke to Newsweek regarding her surgery. "I decided to document my transition partly because I wanted clarification for myself, but primarily because I wanted to challenge some of things that transgender people have to go through if they want to transition with a doctor in America." Arquette starred in a documentary about her transition in the 2007 film Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother.


Arquette was one of 5 siblings, all of whom are in show business. On Sunday, Patricia released a statement on behalf of all of her siblings, championing their sister for her bravery in a world that, as a whole, still isn't safe or welcoming to trans men and women. Patricia encouraged fans to donate to organizations that support the LGBTQ community in honor of Alexis. “We learned what real bravery is through watching her journey of living as a trans woman,” Patricia wrote. “ We came to discover the one truth — that love is everything.”

You can read Patricia Arquette's full statement here


It’s fashion week here in NYC, which, for us mortals, typically means getting distracted at work while going through all of those slideshows and  muttering “wait-how would I wear that?” (except for this year-- we were p. busy putting on a show of our very own!) This year, however, Opening Ceremony put on a show called “Pageant Of The People,” and it has folks talking about more than just clothes (but I also really loved the clothes, tbh.) 

The show had a lot of our favorite faces modeling, including Aidy Bryant, Rashida Jones, Jessica Williams, and Sarah Mcbride (we could go on, the line up was A+++) and hosted by two Portlandians, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. The theme was Olympics meets pageant, and the models answered Q+A’s mainly pertaining to social justice and immigration issues.  After the show, there was a voting registry available to the guests.

The designers, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, penned a letter in the program, regarding their mission and purpose of their collection. The two designers, who are openly pro-gay rights, pro-immigration, and pro black-lives matter (as they told the New York Times) encouraged their audience to find synchronization in fashion and politics.


“On the surface, fashion has little to do with politics. Yet when we get dressed, we make decisions about which aspects of ourselves to present to the world,” they wrote. “When we asked our friends about the issues that matter to them, detailed in the following pages- immigration, economic inequality, police brutality, and gender discrimination, among others—we were struck by how many of them hinged on the ability to express one’s identity freely.”

They quoted McBride, the National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign (& first transgender person to speak at a national convention), in their program: “Being American means having the freedom to live openly and authentically as the person you know yourself to be.” A powerful statement, trend-free. 


As we dried our tears after grieving the departed SNL cast members Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah, a beacon of light entered our lives. Melissa Villaseñor is probably the most talented impressionist we’ve ever seen, and she’s the *first* latina to ever be a cast members on the series. Brb, we’re high fivin’ a million angels rn. 

Villaseñor originally appeared in season 6 of America's Got Talent, where she made it to the semifinals. She went on to do voice work on “Adventure Time”, “Family Guy” and “Trip Tank.” Currently, Villaseñor has a web series where she does spot-on impressions of celebrities (Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, and Sarah Silverman are some of our favorites) for Más Mejor, a comedy studio launched by Broadway Video (a production company launched by S.N.L. So yeah, Lorne is always watching.)


Since the show’s first season 41 years ago, S.N.L. has only featured 2 latino cast members, Horatio Sanz and Fred Armisen. This is a hugeeee deal y’all, because as we all know, representation matters. When THINX posted an article on Facebook celebrating Melissa Villaseñor and her new job, a woman commented on the article and said that her daughter wanted to be the first latina on S.N.L., but now she will have someone to look up to, someone who helped pave the way. This is important. Villaseñor has an audience already waiting for her, eager to see what type of hijinks she’ll stir up-- but this time, it will be live. 


Solange Knowles has brought up the issue of safe spaces, microaggression, and the idea of “belonging” this week, after a terrible experience at a concert with her son and husband.

Knowles brought her son and his friend to a Kraftwerk concert, an EDM band, in New Orleans. During the show, she Tweeted about her demeaning experience. The tweets, (which have since been deleted), detail Knowles being heckled and lectured by a group of white women telling her to “sit down” (because she was dancing at a concert--how dare she!) When Knowles continued to dance, a woman threw a lime at her back. Although Knowles attempted to use this experience to speak out about safe spaces for black men and women, Twitter quickly started to ridicule her, calling her dramatic and criticizing her for calling the concert a “white space.”


2 days after being harassed at the concert, Knowles penned a piece for Saint Heron titled “And Do You belong? I Do.”  The deeply moving article goes through the entirety of the experience, beginning with The Tone she’s recognized since childhood and ending with the media’s reaction to Knowles concert story. Ultimately, Knowles is never truly allowed to take up space for herself. The Tone she describes is a menacing one, it’s authoritative and undermining. It is white. 

“[The tone] usually does not include “please.” It does not include “will you.” It does not include “would you mind,” for you must not even be worth wasting their mouths forming these respectable words. Although, you usually see them used seconds before or after you,” Knowles writes. “ You don’t feel that most of the people in these incidents do not like black people, but simply are a product of their white supremacy and are exercising it on you without caution, care, or thought. Many times the tone just simply says, “I do not feel you belong here.” Imagine.”

Knowles reminds us that not only is it still challenging for black women to find literal safe spaces, but it’s just as challenging online. Knowles shared her story to create conversation and awareness, yet she was painted as over dramatic and angry through headlines. If we do not create a space for black women to share their thoughts and experiences, it's worse than silencing. It’s suffocating. 

“We belong. We belong. We belong.” Knowles concludes. 

“We built this.” 


It has been 3 years since Lady Gaga’s Artpop, and while there was Cheek to Cheek, a jazz album collaboration with Tony Bennett in 2014, it’s been a longggg time since we’ve gotten a glimpse at mega-pop-star Gaga. Gaga recently opened up about why she took a break from her widely celebrated pop star persona, and how her struggle with mental illness worsened while she was in the public eye. 

After Artpop, Gaga has revealed that she went through a depression and was overwhelmed by fame. "When my career took off, I don’t remember anything at all. It’s like I’m traumatised. I needed time to recalibrate my soul,” she told The Mirror. 

“I openly admit to having battled depression and anxiety and I think a lot of people do. I think it’s better when we all say: ‘Cheers!’ And ‘fess up to it.”


Gaga is not the only pop star opening up the mental health discussion. Selena Gomez recently cancelled her upcoming “Revival” tour to focus on her anxiety and depression after being diagnosed with lupus. 

Whether you want to “fess up to it” or not, public figures openly talking about their mental health is opening up room for discussion and acceptance (let’s not forget that it’s reported that 20% of american adults face some form of mental illness.) Perhaps, along with the next Gaga album, we will get a pop star that takes more time and space for herself. It’s up to us, the media and consumers, to support and acknowledge that less face time is better.

© THINX Inc. All Rights Reserved. 2016

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