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While You Were Offline: Who Run the Web? Girls!

If there’s a running theme to this week’s roundup of things popping on the internet, it’s strong women and the reactions to them from the world. It’s entirely accidental, despite the fact that one of the pieces connects to a movie about the suffragette movement, but let’s take it as a chance to play this again and trust in the powers of the great web aggregator in the sky for bringing everything around to one coherent theme for once. (Adding in Ben Carson’s impressively appalling flubs of the week would’ve just ruined things on a number of levels.) Here, as always, is your pick of the things you might have missed in the last seven days on the world weird web.

I’m Val

What Happened: Who got the most headlines from the return of Saturday Night Live? Not host Miley Cyrus; Hillary Clinton. Apparently, bartending has its perks.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: While Nicki Minaj was dealing with the New York Times, her VMA nemesis Miley Cyrus was being overshadowed on Saturday Night Live by presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton (above).

The sketch launched a number of think pieces about its greater meaning: did it show Clinton could laugh at herself? Or perhaps she was attempting to “declaw” the show’s attacks on her? (The show was, after all, kinder to her than it was to Sarah Palin, according to some.) Maybe she was just embracing her image, or perhaps showing a different side of herself. Some complained that Hillary was trying too hard to be liked, while others wanted to make it known that it’s our fault that we don’t like Hillary more. (Thank God for someone focusing on the important issue: how great Kate McKinnon is at playing Hillary.)

Despite the discussion, Clinton has embraced the sketch, joking that maybe she should tend bar more often and breaking out her Donald Trump impression on demand during public appearances this week.

The Takeaway: The strangest aftermath of the whole thing, however, is the fact that her appearance might mean that other candidates might end up with free air time on television under current guidelines about fairness of coverage. SNL should respond by gratefully accepting any candidate’s request, as long as they have to show up and play in a sketch against a parody of themselves.

The Passion of The New York Times

What Happened: Nicki Minaj (and the collective internet hive mind) have no time for your pre-written narratives about her.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: From its headline alone—”The Passion of Nicki Minaj”—it was clear that the New York Times profile of Minaj had high ambitions; what was less clear was the way in which journalist Vanessa Grigoriadis’ lens would shape the article. Describing the rapper as part of “a national telenovela … feeding the public information about her paramours, ex-paramours, peccadilloes, and beefs, all of it delivered in social media’s short, sharp bursts,” the piece condemned her for her love of “drama,” for not being feminist enough (“we’re far today from the 1990s, when Queen Latifah proclaimed ‘every time I hear a brother call a girl a bitch or a ho/Trying to make a sister feel low/You know all that gots to go,'” Grigoriadis writes about Minaj’s use of the word, “this is good for business and either good for women or not good for women at all”), and for generally not being Grigoriadis’ idea of a pop star.

The piece quickly went viral for a couple of reasons: becauseMinajtalkedaboutherMileyCyruscomments at this year’s MTV VMAs, and because theprofilewasawkwardanduncomfortable. (It’s “one of the most condescending and intellectually offensive pieces of journalism written on a subject this year,” according to one critic.)

The disdain was also felt on Twitter:

Minaj, however, took the furor caused by the piece in her stride:

The Takeaway: The irony of a piece which disdainfully sniffs at the concept of “drama” causing quite so much of it itself is hopefully not lost on those responsible.


I’d Rather Be a PR Disaster Than a [Insert Option Here]

What Happened: Meryl Streep should apparently choose her T-shirts with more care.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: Meryl Streep is having a hard time of it lately; last week, while promoting her new movie Suffragette—in which she plays the historical figure Emmeline Pankhurst—she said that she was a humanist, not a feminist, because she is “for nice easy balance,” which brought her under fire … and then this week, she wore a T-shirt featuring part of a quote from Pankhurst that was somewhat ill-chosen, out of context.

The full quote of Pankhurst’s, was “Know that women, once convinced that they are doing what is right, that their rebellion is just, will go on, no matter what the difficulties, no matter what the dangers, so long as there is a woman alive to hold up the flag of rebellion. I would rather be a rebel than a slave.” The T-shirt, however, only features that last line. Which is, you know, a phrase that might have different connotations in America.

“Clearly the intention was to honor Pankhurst’s words and not to make an allusion to the Confederate States of America and slavery; but people are going to see what they’re going to see, and people saw that connection pretty quickly,” Vulture explained. “White women did not experience slavery, and their use of the word “slave” is incredibly offensive to those who were enslaved,” wrote one critic, while another put it more strongly: “Pankhurst’s work was clearly and unapologetically on behalf of white women and white women only. That is a historical fact that should be kept intact for the film. Her once powerful sounding words, are more like nails on a chalkboard in today’s embrace of true feminism, intersectional feminism.”

Twitter, understandably, weighed in:


Soon enough, the story wasn’t about Suffragette the movie, but quitehowtonedeafStreep (orherpublicist) wasinwearingthatT-shirt. Not the best way to promote a movie, really.

The Takeaway: In an attempt to reframe the conversation, Meryl Streep turned her attentions to sexism in the places that count: the Catholic Church and movie review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. Yup, this promotional tour is going really well so far.

No, You See, Judging People But in a Positive Way

What Happened: A week after the internet en masse rejected “Yelp for people” app Peeple, Peeple … disappeared. Kind of.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened:Week Two of Peeple-gate brought an entirely unexpected twist to the tale. You might remember Peeple, the prospective app described as being “Yelp for people” that would let you rate your interactions with everyone around you, and if you do, you’ll remember the sense of horror that idea was greeted with. This week, however, everything changed.

Part of what changed was that the social media accounts dedicated to the app disappeared, leading more people to believe that the entire thing was a hoax—but that’s apparently not the case (or, at least, if it is a hoax, it’s a hoax that’s still going).

Indeed, while the official Peeple accounts might have disappeared, founder Julia Corday has been very vocal on an unexpected platform: LinkedIn. First, she posted about her experience at the heart of the Peeple hurricane, writing that it “will not be a tool to tell other humans how horrible they are,” and inviting people to “be part of the positive revolution.”

Then, as a fount of positivity, she railed against Twitter for not dealing with threats she’d received quickly enough. “We have only ever had @peepleforpeople and have removed it off of Twitter as we felt that Twitter is a place for abuse not business and they don’t do anything to protect it’s [sic] users. All of our fake Twitter accounts are up and abusing all of you using Twitter and for that you will have to address Twitter,” she wrote, positively. “Be the change you want to see in this world.”

Finally she posted that Peeple was hiring—and might have learned some lessons recently, too: “We are humbled to admit that previous versions of Peeple’s policies were ill conceived and after listening to the outpouring of feedback that was shared with us, both positive and negative, we’ve made significant changes to those policies and the platform overall,” she wrote, noting that the platform will now be opt-in with comments open for review and accounts deletable at any time. Why those things weren’t in place from the outset, it’s difficult to say, but, you know: let’s be positive about this, right?

The Takeaway: Quite how long it’ll take Corday and others to realize that no one wants to use Peeple to be positive remains to be seen, but if we have to deal with this thing existing in the real world (and that’s still uncertain), at least these changes don’t seem like the worst idea in the world.

Twitter Is Here For You, Selena

What Happened: Promoting the upcoming release of her new album, Selena Gomez reveals a long-held secret, and overwhelms Twitter.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter

What Really Happened: Here’s a moment of unexpected warmth and kindness from the internet. Twitter users might have seen the hashtag #WeAreHereForYouSelena trending on Wednesday; it was actually the top trending hashtag internationally for a number of hours. But that hashtag, and many of the tweets therein, didn’t really explain what it was actually about:


But why such outpouring of love and support? Because earlier that day, Selena Gomez revealed that the reason for her break from the music business was because she was undergoing chemotherapy after being diagnosed with lupus. “That’s what my break was really about,” she told Billboard, responding to rumors that she had disappeared because of drug addiction. “I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re assholes.’ I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.”

So, of course the Selenators (that’s what Selena Gomez fans are called, apparently) supported their queen in force, and the event called for a music fandom crossover:


Fandoms, even when you use somewhat creepy manga images to express support, this is still kind of wonderful.

The Takeaway: Perhaps I’m just biased—spoilers, my sister has lupus, so it’s more than just a House-related punchline to me—but isn’t it weirdly uplifting to know that the most popular sentiment on Twitter for a while was something so un-ironically positive? Oh, internet, occasionally you make me feel as if my heart isn’t just a lump of coal after all.

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