Fashion and colonialism, Framing Britney, rosemary chickpea pasta, and more.
Digest #23 - February 12th, 2021
Hello lovely readers,
The hardest part of building The Seven is finding content that I feel perfectly balances. My method is usually something like: one recipe, one book, one show, one film, two other types of randomly interesting content, and one meme as number seven. But for the first time, I’m sharing three different things to watch—a film, a TV show, and a film-like documentary episode of a TV series—because each has had a profound impact on my thinking this week. As usual, I’d love any and all feedback on the content. You can hit reply to email me directly!
With love from Atlanta,
Fashion and Colonialism
I studied fashion history as an elective during my Arts degree at university, and found it absolutely fascinating, with a sociopolitical depth I hadn’t previously considered. From the deliberate nature of fashion used as a propaganda tool by the Nazi party, and Schiaparelli as an important impressionist artist in her own right, the intellectual importance of fashion is often overlooked. With this in mind, I signed up for Slow Factory Foundation’s Open Education Winter/Spring 2021 Semester.
The first class on Fashion and Colonialism was held today, and my mind is burning. We know the cotton empire was established on the subjugation and enslavement of African peoples, but do we all think about the fact that legacy continues today? Likely on most of our backs, right now. Modern fashion routes still use the exact same colonial trading routes, and colonial powers still oppress the same groups they did hundreds of years ago through much of the modern fashion industry’s practices. In practice, colonialism has deep roots in our economic systems. Cultural erasure happens every day when we see a very narrow type of Western dress as “appropriate” in professional, recreational and other settings. “Oppressive aesthetics” a term coined by Céline Semaan, who led this class and founded Slow Factory Foundation, affect us all. These are only a few of my takeaways, as there was so much content to process, and a lot of follow-up reading I’ll be doing.
Every Friday at 12pm US Eastern Standard Time (5pm GMT) the Open Education series will be diving into a new topic. Next week we are looking at Fashion and Waste. I’ve put the class schedule below. Taught by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color), and intended for BIPOC students. I encourage you to sign up and join me on this learning journey! You can also donate to help The Slow Factory Foundation continue this important work on their website.
"The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears" is a documentary that aired last Friday on FX in the US. It follows Britney Spears’ career from childhood, and the harassment and media pressure that led to mental health issues. Britney, a 39-year-old adult woman, has had no control over her own career, financial, or any other decisions, since in early 2008 she was placed into permanent conservatorship by a judge. She has to get approval for anything she does from her father, who had little involvement in her life before this appointment. It’s very sad stuff, and makes you question the entire media landscape, misogyny (Justin Timberlake, ughhhh) and complete disregard for mental health issues that created this situation. The media is the beast, but society fed it, and Britney has paid the price. As far as I’m concerned, #FreeBritney is a human rights issue. And if this is happening to a celebrity of her stature, imagine who else it might be happening to. You can watch it on Hulu, if you have it, or on Youtube (I won’t post the link because I don’t think it’s there legally, so you might want to hurry before it’s removed).
Rosemary chickpea pasta
I made this strangely delicious pasta for family night on Sunday as a matter of necessity. I was on the clock, hadn’t prepped in advance, and was facing the pragmatic cook’s core questions, “what’s in my pantry, and what can I do with it?” My salvation came from a can of chickpeas and a box of pasta. To get fresh rosemary, I sent my husband Alex and my son Leo off on a collection to our neighbor’s giant bush that grows in the street. Pasta, chickpeas, rosemary - check, check, check. I also threw in some vegetables I had on hand (mushrooms and butternut squash) to add some more nutritional value. Topping it off with extra grated cheddar and a bunch more garlic than the recipe called for, it was a winner. Leo loved it, which is my litmus-test for all recipes these days, and fundamentally all that matters, right? ;)
Destroying rape culture
Promising Young Woman is a 2020 film that premiered at Sundance to widespread acclaim. It stars Carey Mulligan as a woman seeking to get justice for her friend who was raped in college. Its name is a play on the way society and the media often describe (white, cisgender, usually hetero) men accused of sexual assault, i.e. as “promising young men” whose futures are being ruined. It’s a brilliantly written, acted, shot and directed film, that asks (and answers) a lot of tough questions about consent, power, misogyny, and rape culture at large. I consider it mandatory viewing, and I urge you to seek it out whenever you can!
I went into this discussion in a lot more detail for last week’s edition of The Sunday Chew. If you are a fan of The Seven and you’re curious, you can click the button below to try it out for a month, which gives you access to the full archive of The Seven as well. You can sign up for this offer by the end of the month.
My Mum recommended that Alex and I watch a show she found on Prime Video, and it was a real gem. Upload is set in the year 2033, where humans are able to ‘upload’ their consciousnesses into a virtual server, to live a kind of digital afterlife simulation in a software program run and maintained by tech support staff. When a software designer named Nathan is in an accident, his rich girlfriend coerces him to get uploaded to a snooty expensive community called Lake View. But as she’s paying the bills (and is still alive in the real world), he ends up under her control. Nathan and his customer service rep Nora (who is real, and very much alive) end up bonding, and working together to solve the mystery of his death, a suspected murder. I love science fiction that’s grounded in a kind of comical realism (/cynicism), and this show is very much that. The way that everything comments on modern society is very tongue-in-cheek, and I let out some very hearty laughs throughout. You know I don’t like to give away spoilers, so in short some of the best laughs come from moments like the uploads not being able to access their virtual minibars without paying (with real money) and ads are embedded into their daily experiences. I highly recommend watching it for something funny and relatively light, that still has substance and provokes thoughtful reflection.
North Korean abductions of Japanese people
I know this digest is pretty serious overall so far, but I genuinely cannot send the digest without sharing this completely absurd story I read this week. “Snatched from a beach to train North Korea's spies” written by Rebecca Seales and Hideharu Tamura and published this week by the BBC in Tokyo, absolutely blew my mind. It tells a tale that starts in 1977, when 13-year-old Megumi Yokota went missing in her quiet port town of Niigata in Japan. What follows is an unbelievable tale involving a string of seemingly unconnected disappearances, espionage, diplomacy, international pressure, faked deaths, and answers that still haven’t come.
“The Japanese government says that from 1977 until at least 1983, North Korean agents abducted 17 Japanese citizens. Some analysts believe the true figure could be more than 100.”
It’s a story that won’t be done any justice by my summary, so you need to read it yourself. But strap in.
“I am not a cat”
This video has blown up, and I know it’s been on a bunch of news programs internationally because it’s that funny. Can I also just make note that the invisible ‘m’ on Zoom also makes this more hilarious to me, because it’s like the cat-lawyer is looking at the word ‘zoo’. If you haven’t seen this somehow, you’re welcome. If you’ve seen it… watch it again. We all deserve a laugh.