Did Karlie Kloss really try?
And we're thirsting for the Bridgerton cast.
Happy New Year! Welcome back to Pop Cult. This week has been endless and it’s only the first week of the year! It has been very difficult to focus on anything other than the terrifying insurrection news coming out of D.C. We hope you’re all taking care and that this newsletter can help you turn off, if only for a moment.
In this letter, Hannah talks Bridgerton and Daysia shares the early aughts creators that are getting her through the feeling of utter despair that has permeated everything lately.
Daysia and Hannah
This Week’s Fixations
What’s taking up our brain space this week?
Hannah: Like most of the internet, I have spent the last couple of weeks caught up in the delightful, steamy series that is Netflix’s Bridgerton. It feels like the show was made for me: a combination of Gossip Girl, the drama of Downton Abbey, and the yearning of Pride & Prejudice (2005). The best part about Bridgerton is that while it is supremely bingeable and kind of ridiculous, it is the kind of show that was made with intention from the costume choices to the music. (I mean a string rendition of “Bad Guy” so crazy that it works.)
Plus, let’s be real, one of the main reasons I’m watching is to witness the hotness of Simon, the Duke of Hastings (played by Regé-Jean Page). The ultimate emotional bad boy, it’s not hard to believe that any woman wouldn’t do her best to try to solve his daddy issues (as much as I reject this concept, I get it), especially after that speech. Aside from Simon, I love Eloise (Claudia Jessie), a character after my own heart as she rejects society’s expectations and would rather be reading or figuring out how to go to uni. Although I was satisfied with the ending, I’m already looking forward to the next season to see what drama takes over the ton.
Daysia: There is no time in pop culture like the early aughts, which is when I first started cataloguing useless knowledge about celebrity drama. I was a mere child at the time, but I have distinct memories of reading my grandmother’s tabloids on our living room floor. However, I was too young to really remember the most deranged controversies at the time (except for Britney Spears’ Very Public mental breakdown). Events like the Paris Hilton-Lindsay Lohan feud, Mary Kate and Ashley going to college, Wilmer Valderrama’s peak creep behavior, and Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore’s marriage barely registered in my small, underdeveloped brain at the time they happened (for the best, obviously).
In the social media age, celebrities have a tight control over their images, standing in direct contrast to the first decade’s unhinged paparazzi culture. As Amanda Hess wrote in the New York Times, “What you see in those images — and what has evaporated from celebrity culture in the age of Instagram — is a fundamental antagonism toward the Hollywood machine.” They are absolutely unrelenting, often invasive, and mostly misogynistic. But, being in the tabloids back then could make you a star, even if you didn’t really do anything. It was the start of a new kind of fame. As long as you had the money, the connections, and an inflammatory attitude, you could be famous so long as you were snapped with the right crowd (read: Paris Hilton, Stavros Niarchos III, Brandon Davis, etc). Those socialites were the proto-influencers and you can see the throughline from early 2000s celebrity culture to today’s internet stars like Tana Mongeau. Only now, Mongeau and her cohort have a bit more agency over their narratives (or at least know how to capitalize off of controversy).
I’m rediscovering the madness of the time, and it is providing temporary smooth brain refuge from the current insanity that we are living through. If you love the early 2000s, I highly recommend watching mila tequila’s fantastic tabloid explainers, following hellotefi on TikTok, or listening to the Les Deux You Remember This? podcast. And speaking of the most bizarre moments of this era, remember Britney Spears’ 55-hour marriage to her childhood friend Jason Alexander (not that Jason Alexander!)? Well, Alexander was present at the insurrection on Wednesday so… that’s what he’s up to now if you were wondering (and just after the 17th anniversary of his marriage annulment from Spears, no less!).
While we’re on the topic of our crumbling democracy, Karlie Kloss, model and thee sister-in-law to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, weighed in on Wednesday’s events putting out a hollow, lukewarm tweet condemning the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol.
After someone told her to tell her in-laws the same thing, Kloss simply replied that she “tried” which, of course, led many to point out that, no, she did not ❤️. Kloss has hardly said anything about her in-laws throughout the past four years, much less actually condemned them. She has instead opted for the “civilized” approach, chalking it up to a matter of political difference (she told Andy Cohen that she’s “not the only person in this country who does not necessarily agree with their family on politics,” but not everyone in the country has a huge platform and is related to literal fascists). She has made a show of her blue politics over the past couple months, encouraging her followers to vote for Biden via Instagram posts. But as for explicitly calling out Jared and Ivanka, she has politely skirted around the subject in interviews and is planning on moving to a big house right down the road from them. As Megan Reynolds ponders in Jezebel, what does Kloss’ “trying” look like? That is something I’m sure we’d all love to know. Anyways, I think Tavi Gevinson put it best re: Karlie Kloss’ political performances so I will just leave that here:
Has Lorde dropped a new album?
In the meantime, enjoy the version of “thank u, next” that is featured in the first episode of Bridgerton.
Too Many Tabs
Our fave reads of the week
Did you miss the Baby versus Baybi drama? The Cut’s Claire Lampen will catch you up to speed on the two influencer frenemies who both named their babies… well… baby.
While we love the badness of a Ryan Murphy project, we know his recent works include a lot of flops that only we like. Vulture’s Jackson McHenry maps out the persistent conflicts that have plagued Murphy’s work throughout his career.
Everyone loves a comeback and back in November for i-D Douglas Greenwood ranked and created a playlist of the top pop comebacks of the 21st century.
Watching Bridgerton, especially episode 6, we knew there had to be an intimacy coordinator involved—and we were right! Kathryn VanArendonk interviewed Lizzy Talbot, the show’s intimacy coordinator, for Vulture.
Plus, Arnold Schwarzenegger forgets Chris Pratt’s name, there’s no evidence that Jeffree Star caused the Kimye split, and Doja Cat and Saweetie’s new song has us missing our best friends (and the club 😭).