Weekend Reads: Joy Division, Community, Bandcamp, Racial Injustice, K-Pop Protests

Recommended weekend reading material for June 6, 2020.

Every week, I compile a list of interesting, thought-provoking, and enjoyable articles, blog posts, and reviews. I hope they provide you with some good weekend reading material.

Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (aka, one of the greatest songs of all time) turns 40 this year. Here’s a look at the song’s tragic and complicated history:

Given Curtis’ marital problems and his affair on the road with Belgian journalist Annik Honoré, its lyrics could arguably be read as autobiographical — its references to festering resentment and communication breakdown cut deep. “Understandably, the lyrics were interpreted by the press as being about a love affair gone wrong,” Deborah wrote in Touching From a Distance. “But as the last to know that our love affair had ‘gone wrong,’ I had taken Ian’s infidelity as part of his illness.”

Related: Joy Division’s Closer will be re-released on vinyl and streaming on July 17, along with remastered 7” singles for “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” “Transmission,” and “Atmosphere.” Watch the video for “Love Will Tear Us Apart” here.

As someone who is constantly seeking out (and writing about) new music, Jeremy D. Larson’s article about why we bother listening to new music was right up my alley.

The act of listening to new music in the midst of a global pandemic is hard, but it’s necessary. The world will keep spinning and culture must move with it, even if we are staid and static in our homes, even if the economy grinds to a halt, even if there are no shows, no release parties, and even artists sink even further into the precarity that defines a career as a musician. The choice to listen to new music prioritizes, if for one listen only, the artist over you. It is an emotional risk to live for a moment in the abyss of someone else’s world, but this invisible exchange powers the vanguard of art, even in times of historic inertia.

Community is streaming Netflix, so now’s the perfect time to meet its colorful cast of characters, beginning with Abed:

Abed’s character shows me how to be a better person. His unrelenting acceptance of people as they are, accepting without judgment, challenges me to become a better Christian, father, husband, teacher, and human being. I love that Community puts front and center a character who others might have added to the background as their token representation for neurodiversity.

Talk about making the most of a quarantine: Tony Goldmark figured out how to watch every single scene in every Marvel movie in chronological order.

Armed with a Disney+ subscription and a sudden surplus of free time, my goal was to list the exact order (or at least AN exact order) of when every scene from every movie takes place within the MCU chronology. I was mostly doing so for my own amusement and nerdy curiosity, but when I finally tweeted my results on Tuesday night May 26, it blew up.

Via Polygon.

Back in 1980, Hayao Miyazaki wanted to adapt Richard Corben’s ultra-graphic Rowlf, which appeared in the pages of Heavy Metal.

It’s difficult to see where a story about a bipedal dog who blows up demons with a tank would fit into the stable of Miyazaki classics at this point. However, looking back, it’s hard not to feel cheated out of seeing one of the most important animators ever, work on a completely different kind of story than he’s explored before.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Bandcamp is much better for musicians than any streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music.

On May 1, [75 Dollar Bill] put out a digital-only album, Live at Tubby’s, exclusively on Bandcamp. Documenting the group’s last show before the coronavirus hit, the pay-what-you-want release generated $4,200 from nearly 700 buyers in just two days. That’s more than 75 Dollar Bill have made through streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube over the last six years. “Streaming is a joke,” Chen tells me. “We might make $100 a year from streaming. On a recent statement of mine, the royalties for one track that had 580 plays on Spotify was zero dollars and 20 cents.”

If you really want to support your favorite musicians, don’t just stream their music. Buy it.

My friends at Christ and Pop Culture have released a list of videos, movies, books, and other pop culture that are helpful in understanding and lamenting racial injustice.

The recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, as well as the responses we see on our streets and newsfeeds, weigh heavily on our hearts and souls. Police brutality and racial violence exhibit some of our society’s worst sins. We need to see it, listen to the narratives, lament, and contribute to a new story. Pop culture is a powerful force for change, and these picks from Christ and Pop Culture staff members are a great place to start.

If you plan on participating in any protests, then be smart: secure your phone and the information on it so that it can’t be used against you. For example:

[Disable] face/fingerprint authentication entirely and set up your phone to use a long PIN or password instead. That’ll make it a lot harder for police to crack your security if they get their hands on your device (with or without a warrant).

If this seems a little paranoid to you, then just take a moment to stop and think about how much personal data your smartphone contains about you.

People using right-wing hashtags better watch out for K-pop fans.

K-pop fans have turned their energy and follower counts, normally reserved for stanning, to making popular right-wing hashtags unusable. As first spotted by The Verge, K-pop fans have started posting memes en masse, and fan-cams are hitting Instagram and Twitter hard to out-post right-wing influencers. It’s working.

Finally, I’ve become been very enamored with the indie sci-fi drama The Vast of Night, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

[T]he fun of watching The Vast of Night doesn’t come from what its story is about, but rather, how that story is told. For a film that may or may not be about aliens and military conspiracies, The Vast of Night feels surprisingly, and wonderfully, mundane, focused on the seemingly boring details of its two main characters and their town.

Read my full review.

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