Where is Pop Cult going next?
A note about Substack and the last edition to be published on the platform. Don’t worry, Pop Cult will still publish elsewhere.
It has been a dark week in many ways—both within pop culture and outside of it.
First, we want to let you all know that we are moving our newsletter off of Substack. The platform, as pointed out by Jude Ellison Doyle, is increasingly courting an array of transphobic bigots. It’s true that no company is perfect, but Substack is not simply hosting controversial figures. It is actively selecting problematic, oft-hateful writers and paying hefty advances to them with help from the cuts they take from marginalized creators. We do not agree with this nor does it align with our values, so we have decided to move our newsletter off the platform.
Next, in light of Tuesday’s tragic murders of six Asian women in Atlanta, we want to share some links and threads for educational resources and donations we’ve seen:
Finally, this week we’ve got a mix of serious news (Armie Hammer) and some lighter content (Hannah’s pop culture blindspots) to cleanse your feed.
This is the last edition of Pop Cult to be published here at popcult.substack.com. What changes for you, our subscribers? Nothing really. We will continue to send this newsletter to your inbox every Friday afternoon, just using a different service. Our archive will live on Substack for now, at least until we can migrate it onto the new service. Thank you for reading Pop Cult and here’s to a new era!
Daysia + Hannah
This Week’s Fixations
What’s taking up our brain space this week?
Daysia: Alright, Armie Hammer. Let’s get into it. Warning! Discussion of sexual assault ahead.
What appeared to be the long-anticipated “exposé” of Armie Hammer dropped in Vanity Fair last week, but it didn’t really stick. Why? I think it’s a combination of the prolonged wait for an article, the narrative of the article itself and the fact that Hammer is, objectively, a flop (both as an actor and as a person of interest, he is exhausting at best and a menace at worst).
In early February, I had seen blind items on the Instagram account @deuxmoi claiming that a bombshell on Hammer was going to drop within days. This was after stories about the cannibal kink and other allegations of abuse had circulated around the internet. He’d already stepped away from the JLo project Shotgun Wedding and was dropped by WME. Days passed, nothing came.
Then VF released their feature on March 11. Was it supposed to be the Armie Hammer exposé? It felt positioned that way. The first half of the article focuses on Hammer’s dark family history which obscures, rather than exposes, the harm that Armie has done himself. There is a dizzying amount of characters to keep up with, to the degree that I lost track of who was who, who did what, and why it mattered. The narrative seems to be that Armie comes from a line of kinky, controlling and dangerous men, which is why he is the way that he is. The author writes:
“Armie may not be the first Hammer accused of darkness, but he could be the first to suffer public consequences.”
Intergenerational cycles of violence are very real and hard to break, but they aren’t an inevitability. The simple fact that Hammer comes from a family full of shitty men does not excuse or explain away any of the sexual and emotional abuse he has done to women himself.
Ultimately, the point was missed; Hammer has gotten away with a lot of bad behavior and bad acting for over a decade because people gave him many second chances. He is an old-fashioned vision of a Hollywood leading man. He came from a wealthy, privileged family. He was primed for and expected of greatness. It was easy for Hollywood and the world to give him a pass for all the weird, dark and chaotic things he’s said and done over the years. Now, there are no more chances left to give.
The real news came yesterday when Variety reported that a woman named Effie accused Hammer of rape and physical abuse. He is currently being investigated by the LAPD. After years of trying to make Hammer an A-list star and after months of undermining Hammer’s abusive and predatory behavior with cannibalism punchlines, it appears that we may finally see the end of Armie Hammer’s strange grip on Hollywood.
Hannah: First, I want to thank Daysia for taking on the burden that is Armie Hammer—the man is exhausting. Switching gears from thinking about someone I know way too much about (mostly against my will) to pop culture that I don’t really know anything about. Earlier in the week Daysia sent me this TikTok about cultural blindspots and I couldn’t agree more: there is just too much pop culture and I don’t have the energy to try to learn about it all. I used to feel bad and guilty for not understanding common pop culture references but now I don’t. I like what I like and that’s enough for me. Sure, I’m always open to watching/listening/reading new things but if I don’t think something is for me after I give it a chance I’m going to move on. My time is finite and valuable and I encourage you to think of your time in the same way.
So here are a list of (some of) my pop culture blindspots that I don’t see myself doing anything about (at least in the immediate future): Lost, Pulp Fiction, The Godfather, Orange is the New Black, The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, Citizen Kane, Mank, and The Sopranos.
Has Lorde dropped a new album?
No. We missed her at the Grammys though.
In the meantime, Justin Bieber’s new album Justice is out and… we hate to admit it but the track “Die for You” is a banger. Can’t say much about the rest of it though.
Too Many Tabs
Our fav reads of the week
Refinery29’s Connie Wang wrote about Asian representation as a red herring for progress and how, despite its value in certain contexts, it is not the ultimate solution for racial violence.
Vulture critic Craig Jenkins reviewed Lana Del Rey’s new album: “keeping the same energy is core to the Lana Del Rey experience.”
Not stories, but pop culture TikToks that’ll make you lose your mind— dream socratic seminar with chaotic celeb love connections, JLo is dispelling those breakup rumors with this overly-produced edit, and JB probably has a short fuse.
Plus… David Dobrik allegedly exploited a young woman’s assault for content, the danger of making marginalized groups punchlines, a new documentary on Brittany Murphy’s legacy, watching movies that reflect our reality and this is the best photo from the Grammys.