Adele’s music is like a pint of salted caramel gelato – it’s comforting, addictive, and perfect to consume when you’re feeling nostalgic about an old relationship. But people’s love of her overall aesthetic/vibe/sound (and I get it, I do) tends to overshadow their actual discernment about her music. Her new single, for example, was good, but it wasn’t amazing. It just kind of sounded like another Adele song, about Adele’s signature topic, sung in her signature choir-contained-in-a-single-person voice.
Part of this is obviously because she waits several presidencies to put out each new album, and by the time we get her latest stuff we are so starved for emotional release that we can’t make clear judgments. But I’m afraid that our collective need to cry with/on/to Adele is depriving us of the more diverse and interesting music she’d make if we demanded it.
People project such an insane cocktail of motives, conspiracies, spirituality, and backstory onto Beyonce that it’s almost hard to keep track of what the prevailing Beyonce fan narrative even is. Somehow, when it comes to B, the obvious narrative of “micromanaged, extremely-talented daughter of cutthroat parents becomes worldwide pop phenomenon through hard work, a little Machiavellian band politics, and white-knuckle grip on public image” does not suffice. Literal three-second clips of her being mildly rude to her assistant become viral stories with headlines about how she is The Ultimate Queen.
Her watching on serenely as her sister assaults her husband becomes further evidence of her Queen-ness. Her militarily-controlled personal brand is somehow endearing. Old clips of her being an asshole towards/about her bandmates are charming. It’s just… a lot. But it’s making her camp a lot of money, so the world spins madly on.
Society seems totally willing to give every child star a pass on their coming-of-age turmoil, except when it comes to Justin Bieber. Lest we forget, the boy got famous by recording himself singing and dancing on YouTube as a child, and like most child stars, was backed by sketchy-at-best parents who seem to have managed him into “enormous success” and not so much into “stable adolescence.” Yes, he’s been a dick, but he’s also been pretty alright for someone with his background, and makes undeniable jams on a consistent basis. He receives a degree of hate that is disproportionate to his sins, and not enough appreciation for being a mostly-functioning adult.
People hate Kylie Jenner so much and on the one hand, yes, that girl is a problematic tortilla chip dipped in a big bowl of privilege salsa, but come on. That girl also never stood a chance, as her authority figures were encouraging her to get aging soap star surgery from middle school onward. The only emotion that Kylie should conjur in any of us is vague pity, because there seem to be only negative things brewing on that horizon. She may have the ultimate Instagram aesthetic, but she doesn’t seem to have functioning parents.
Honestly the only truly irrational opinion that people seem to hold about Johnny Depp is that he’s a good actor. Like I really don’t know where this rumor started, but despite him putting out a few good films, he tends to hit in the “artistic merit” department like one out of every 10 at most. I know that people who love the Tim Burton googly-eye aesthetic are going to give him a pass on pretty much everything else, but normal people have to band together and demand that he be removed from the echelon of movie star he currently sits in.
It’s honestly way easier to name 10 terrible Johnny Depp performances than 10 excellent ones. Also, his relationship to Amber Heard chipped away at the remaining good will he was still hanging onto. Now that his life has descended to Woody Allen plotline, we can get rid of him.
When it comes to Kanye, people fall into one of two camps. Either they absolutely love everything he does and get almost religiously defensive if you attempt to criticize an action, or they are constantly posting derisive and often racist memes about him on social media because they hate him so much. Now, it’s obvious that Kanye is not a harbinger of endtimes, not even after his marriage to the temporarily supreme Kardashian. But he’s also a human being who is not always capable of perfectly navigating his level of fame and critical respect, which is normal.
But people want to ascribe Illuminati-levels of forethought onto every single move he makes, even the ones that are admittedly made while extremely drunk. And even if there was no booze involved, can we not remember that rant he delivered to Khloe after that awards show? Like, people can love Kanye and also admit that he sometimes gets a little too into his own storyline, not to mention gets a weird pass on a lot of his misogyny/slut-shaming, I assume because of artistry. But people can also dislike him without going into a frothing rage at the mention of his name. Everyone can just generally calm down.
I was really hopeful, somehow, that Clinton’s gender wasn’t going to result in the “SLAY QUEEN”-ification of her campaign in the form of GIFs, listicles, and memes, but here we are. Bernie Sanders, for all the good he’s done, has not been able to eliminate the media’s desire to turn Hillary into the Lena Dunham/Taylor Swift/Margaret Thatcher hybrid they have so badly wanted to create.
The thing is, Clinton is a woman, yes, but her record and general demeanor (that of a vaguely malevolent robot) is not anything we should be YAAAS-ing over, nor should we turn her one or two moments of actual pathos into Blingees. Yes, she performed well under pressure at that Benghazi hearing, but does that really mean she’s back in pop culture’s good graces uncritically? Can’t someone make a sassy Scream Queens meme out of Bernie Sanders instead?