I spent A LOT of time on legal internet this week. Dwyane Wade protected his daughter, Zaya. Drake came for both Megan Thee Stallion and Serena Williams’ husband. Also, Bolsonaro was defeated. Highlights: Takeoff, the Supreme Court and affirmative action, Elon Musk and Twitter, touching moss, 20 years of “Lose Yourself,” canons, and Jazmine Sullivan.
The rapper Takeoff, a member of Migos, was fatally shot in Houston this week. He was 29. The group was family: “Quavo is Offset’s cousin and Takeoff’s uncle,” and “rap was Takeoff’s idea,” writes Craig Jenkins. The group created “songs [that] made you aware of the spoils and toils the lifestyle can lead to but left you to your own devices the way an action movie depicts its hero cleaving a rough, jagged morality out of a dearth of options.” Takeoff’s “refined craft” was instrumental in weaving these narratives, and “the Migo who put the group together was the glue, the one who held a song together and the fulcrum Quavo’s hook-man/front-man tendencies and Offset’s laser focus on impressing you with his grasp on tricky syllables rested on.” He will be missed.
The Supreme Court’s term began on Monday with the court holding oral arguments for two cases challenging affirmative action. The cases were brought by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), who purportedly represent Asian American and Pacific Islander students against admission policies they claim to be discriminatory at Harvard and the University of North Carolina.
Released last Sunday, this episode of Strict Scrutiny is hosted by Leah Litman, Kate Shaw, Melissa Murray, and guest Janai Nelson, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The hosts and guest discuss the cases and provide a legal history of affirmative action in preparation for the hearings.
Throughout the day on Monday, Elie Mystal, The Nation’s Justice Correspondent, live-tweeted both hearings, providing analysis and context along the way. Unlike his article on the hearings linked below, Mystal’s thread highlights the brilliance of how Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ketanji Brown Jackson countered the conservative FedSoc 6, the Justices that are members of the Federalist Society.
In this review of Monday’s hearings for The Nation, Mystal shares the widely held belief that the court will strike down affirmative action, writing that it will be a “victory for white conservatives,” and not AAPI applicants because “the specific concerns of that community hardly even came up during the marathon five hours of Supreme Court oral argument.” In fact, the group of AAPI students was organized by Ed Blum, who “failed to take down affirmative action in the past, most recently in 2016 through the vessel of Abigail Fisher, a white woman who sued the University of Texas over its admissions policies.”
For anyone who has followed affirmative action cases, it is clear that AAPI students were used to promote a conservative white agenda. The FedSoc 6 routinely ignored the facts of the cases, because “the conservative justices don’t have to care about facts, they don’t have to care about reality, they don’t have to care about the actual application of affirmative action, and they don’t have to care about constitutional law, because they have the votes to kill that which they dislike.”
Earlier this week, Elon Musk announced that Twitter plans to charge for verification. Initially, Musk intended to charge $20 a month for the blue check that comes with being verified, but “author Stephen King inadvertently bargained Musk down” to $8 per month. If this plan goes through, “the blue check would no longer be a way to mitigate the spread of disinformation, as it was originally designed to be. Depending on who is willing to give Elon Musk $96 a year and what they have to say, it may well amplify it.”
While this might not seem to have direct implications for people who don’t use Twitter, Sara Morrison explains the history of the blue checks, and how removing them “is a way to appeal to the right-wing base to which [Musk has] become some kind of savior.” If the proposal is implemented, people will no longer need to be vetted; Twitter will “require identity authentication” for new blue checks, as long as you are willing to pay.
In addition to announcing plans to charge for verification, Musk reportedly fired around half of Twitter’s staff as of Friday, November 4. Many of the fired staff reportedly worked in departments that moderated content. Stephanie, the YouTuber and lawyer behind the channel Wine n’ Chill, provides a legal analysis of the Twitter layoffs and of the class action lawsuit terminated employees filed against the company.
I can’t spend more than a few weeks in a city before I need to go and sit in the woods. I don’t always literally sit in the woods—sometimes I sit on sand dunes, lake shores, mountains, or other geologic formations. I touch all sorts of things on my excursions: moss, grass, sand, bark, leaves, and the occasional bone. My favorite thing to touch, however, is water. I love feeling its different temperatures and different currents run over my skin. I love the freshness of freshwater, and the brine of saltwater.
After touching moss a year ago, Nikita Arora wondered “When was the last time I had touched moss,” making her closely consider her relationship with nature and touch. Arora often sees nature, but doesn’t touch it, although “studies argue that activities that involve touching nonhuman entities with our bodies – walking barefoot or swimming, for instance – might help us nurture affective and ethical relationships with the nonhuman world.” Touching moss that day lead Arora into the world of touch theory, bryology, and to the realizations that “to be a human in the world is to be tactile, to always be touching and touched with every single pore of our bodies.”
I don’t remember the first time I heard Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” Growing up, it was just always everywhere—an indelible soundtrack to the 2000s.
Written for the semi-autobiographical movie 8 Mile, “Lose Yourself” has become “an underdog anthem that lives on through commercials and sports arena sound systems to this day.” Jake Kring-Schreifels looks back 20 years ago at the creation of both 8 Mile and “Lose Yourself,” and all of the places the song has shown up since first hitting the airways.
I watch movies mostly for escapism. I love to watch series and franchises—particularly action, sci-fi, and fantasy—because I can put something on without too much doom scrolling and know I’ll be entertained. Many franchises now are so expansive that even if I’ve seen all of their content before, they have something I haven’t seen in a few years. (Disclaimer: I’m also known to watch the same movie multiple times in a given month.)
Many of these franchises have massive fandoms—think Lord of the Rings, Marvel, Star Trek—and as they expand their canons “across film, television, and literature faster than many of us can keep up… mega-franchises are tormented by their most strident fans, melting down into paroxysms of toxicity through petitions, review bombing, and targeted harassment campaigns, among other odious tactics.”
Canon “refers to a fictional body of work and its established facts,” but for many, fandoms can almost function as an ordinance of the gods. While the definition of these boundaries might be simple, who enforces canon is not. As franchises continue to evolve, they have to increasingly contend with “new entries to the canon [that] subvert or ‘retcon’ the established universe,” and potentially deal with their toxic fandoms.
BABY! I remember in February when Jazmine Sullivan performed the National Anthem for the Super Bowl with Eric Church, I wanted to hear more of her. On Thursday, Sullivan performed the National Anthem for the fifth game of the World Series and all of my dreams became real. Singing acapella, Sullivan’s signature raspy voice, incredible range, color, and vocal dexterity shine.