Writing on music culture, youth media, and digital phenomena. Contact: email@example.com
An Ode To Donna Summer's 1970s: How The Disco Queen Embodied Both Innovator And Vixen
As disco’s greatest champion, Donna Summer redefined what it meant to be a pop star in a post-Motown world. In celebration of Summer’s continued legacy, GRAMMY.com dives into how the singer’s 1970s oeuvre changed music and stardom forever.
There is perhaps no sound that defines disco better than Donna Summer's hypnotic "I Feel Love." Indeed, the 45-year-old track was crowned the greatest dance song of all time earlier this year by Rolling Stone. Amidst the 2020s’ ongoing disco resurgence — fr...
New Feelings: Nostalgia for Nostalgia
“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12,” types the grown-up protagonist in the final scene of the 1986 movie Stand By Me, “Does anyone?” I first encountered this movie on one of those nostalgic, “I was born in the wrong generation” types of cinema Tumblr accounts in 2012, when I was about that age. When I watched the whole thing, I found it wholesome and wholly unrelatable...
Examining The Millenium’s (Cyber)Space Age
The late ‘90s embraced a new space age as it saw the possibility for the millennium to either end the world in a crash of binary code or actualize the idyllic future the late 1960s and ‘70s had promised but failed to produce. Unlike the ‘60s space age, utopia was to be realized not by looking to the stars, but by means of an equally intangible future of extreme connectivity via the Web 2.0. This revamped idea of futuristic optimism was reflected in updates on ‘60s space age designs, modernized by the incorporation of “cyber” aesthetics...
Missy Elliott and the Beauty of Found Family
Missy Elliott worked to curate a personal and professional environment founded on sisterhood, and her then-novel outlook diffused across her friends and collaborators
The Time Has Come to Discuss Hilary Duff's 'Dignity'
A Hilary Duff-aissance was inevitable. "With Love," a single off her fifth album Dignity, has gone viral on TikTok for the lackluster (or interpretive, depending on who you ask) choreography Duff deployed when performing the song live. Chock-full of robotic arm movements, it's an accessible dance for the rhythmically challenged (and perhaps a brilliant deconstruction of pop star expectations in the wake of dancing Britney Spears-alikes that flooded the market of the time).
A woman of many fir...
Reconsidering Amanda Bynes, a Truly Underrated Comedian
One of the early-aughts archetypes that gets praised today is that of the teen comedienne—think Lindsay Lohan, Raven-Symoné, or any number of girls featured in the now mythical 2003 Vanity Fair profile, “Teen Engines: Riding with the Kid Culture.” But before any of them, there was Amanda Bynes. Twenty-five years ago, Bynes made her debut on Nickelodeon’s sketch comedy show All That, inadvertently kicking off a renaissance of tween and teen TV and film.
In an era of fervent 2000s revisionism, ...
‘Do Revenge’ Gets Wrong What the Best Teen Movies Get Right
The name on everybody’s lips is currently “Gen Z.” Perhaps the most over-defined, over-marketed, and over-exposed generation in human history, everyone wants a piece of us (word to Britney). When social media supplanted TV as the primary form of youth media, it rapidly eroded lines between different media-consuming communities. Now, wherever we go, the rest of the world follows—from our exodus from Facebook to Instagram as tweens, our affair with Snapchat as teens, and our dominance of TikTok...
When Disney Secretly Repackaged Riot Grrrl
Olivia Rodrigo’s latest single, “Good 4 U,” comes from a long lineage of teen girl pop rock—that 2007 Radio Disney sound, as fellow young rocker Willow Smith put it. The 18-year-old Rodrigo’s trio of singles have garnered praise for paying homage to her female Disney Channel predecessors, who similarly explored the emotional spectrum of girlhood through their music, chronicling its cheesy jubilance, frustration, pettiness, adventurousness, and confusion. For young girls in the 2000s...
We Exist: Dr. Kishonna Gray on the Gendered and Racialized Culture of Gaming
UChicago’s Weston Game Lab was pleased to welcome Dr. Kishonna Gray to speak about her work on intersectionality and social issues within digital media, particularly in the gamer community. Dr. Gray is a groundbreaker in the digital studies field, with work featured in publications such as the New York Times, Engadget, The Guardian, BET, and Sociology Compass. She spoke on how black bodies are configured inside of technological structures and the steps being made to create equity in these spaces. UChicago Arts sat down with her after the presentation to learn more about her work.
There and Back Again: Every New Beginning Comes from Some Other Beginning’s End
It’s reassuring to navigate life off of a script you’ve written for yourself. But it’s also okay to throw the script in the bin and step away for a bit.
UChicago Institute of Politics' Jukebox Ballot: “Stairway to Heaven”
An analysis of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" for the University of Chicago Institute of Politics' Jukebox Ballot project, featuring student writers reflecting on songs that express or challenge their ideas of patriotism.
Alone, Together: How Student Artists are Transcending Physical Limitations to Create
Though the current public health situation has scattered UChicago students around the globe, many RSOs (Registered Student Organizations) have carried on remotely. UChicago has a vast range of artistic student activities and the dedicated members of these organizations have found innovative ways to do what they love despite necessary physical limitations. Dancers, singers, and creatives of all creeds have utilized technology to stay connected with their peers and create collaborative art. UChicago Arts spoke to a few students about the remote artistic endeavors they’ve taken part in.
Multiplicity and Narratives of Confinement in “Faces of Resilience,” Presented by the Barnes Foundation and Mural Arts Philadelphia
A multimedia exploration of selfhood—and the journey to define it in the most confining and draining of environments—is the throughline of Faces of Resilience, on view at the Barnes Foundation from July 8 through August 22, 2022. Presented in partnership with Mural Arts Philadelphia, the exhibit features work created by members of the organization’s Guild restorative justice program...
Inside The Disney Channel Popstar Industrial Complex
In a span of 10 years, Disney established itself as the Motown of teen idols, turning sitcom starlets into chart toppers and vice versa. Their total saturation of teen media during their tenure on Disney Channel and subsequent popstar statuses are a result of the Machiavellian machination I’ve dubbed the Disney Channel Popstar Industrial Complex. After Hilary Duff established the blueprint in 2003, every Disney teen that could 1) even remotely act and 2) even remotely carry a tune has been relentlessly funneled through Disney’s movie, TV, and music industries.
Why I Love The Rankin/Bass Cinematic Universe
December: the apex of consumerist joy, the holy grail of awkward family interactions, the pinnacle of overindulgence. No matter how long or hard a year has felt, I anxiously await December not for the good food, gifts or holiday break, but because of the movies. To me, nothing says ‘tis the season like the claymation Christmas specials from Rankin/Bass Productions. With their big eyes, full hearts and intricate backstories, every holiday icon is made lovably relatable in the RBCU (Rankin/Bass Cinematic Universe, which I will soon be trademarking). What gives it the lofty and coveted...