Hot Takes: Rihanna’s Baby Bump, Khaby Lame & Nikyatu Jusu’s ‘Nanny’ & More

all the hottest takes from around the world

Somehow, we’ve already made it through the first month of 2022.  The pandemic has seriously made time feel meaningless, because January seemed to fly by in just one blink. Looking back on the past month could possibly give us an indication of what’s in store for the rest of the year.

2021 was a very eventful year in the best and mostly the worst ways. It’s clear that we won’t be getting a break this year. January turned out to be a very hectic month. So far we’ve already gotten a pregnancy announcement from the coolest couple alive and a major partnership between Hugo Boss and Khaby Lame. More seriously, we’ve been shown that the lack of value placed on black women’s lives continues to be a major issue. This week I’ll be giving my hot takes on everything thats been going on in pop culture. Enjoy.

What I’m listening to.

During my sad girl hours (most hours), I like to go to Youtube to listen to Lana Del Rey’s unreleased music, making myself even sadder because I can’t add them to my Spotify playlists. In January, I listened “Say Yes To Heaven” on repeat and ket myself feel like an ethereal fairy in my less ethereal sweatpants. I particularly enjoyed the fan-made music video from the account cherryparadiso which used clips from films like Russian Ark and commercials like Sofia Coppola’s Marc Jacobs to make a an airy video that’s perfect for the song.The dreamy song sometimes makes me idealistic enough to hope our problematic ‘goddess of sadness’, as Georgia Miller puts it, will one day release all these songs as an album, although those hopes are definitely misguided.

What I’m watching

Recently I heard positive things about the HBO max series the ‘Sex Lives of College Girls’ and decided to give the first episode a try. This ‘try’ turned into a binge session where I watched the entire thing in one sitting. This is owed not only to my significant lack of impulse control, but also to the genuine quality of the comedy series.

The show follows a group of very different college roommates as they navigate sex, love and ambitions at their prestigious fiction New England College, ‘Essex’. We follow the aspiring comedian Bela, the WASPy high strung and secretive Leighton, the politicians daughter and soccer star Whitney and naive small town girl Kimberly as they go through their first college semester.

The (sometimes overly) sex-positive, Indian-American Bela made the strongest impact on me, with her character getting some of the best and most ridiculous lines and a particularly relatable, complex story to me as a woman of colour with ambitions in the entertainment industry. Leighton who sometimes felt like a gossip girl cosplayer in the best way (apart from her questionable choices in grandmotherly blazers) was also a standout with actress Reneé Rapp delivering her lines with such an over the top aggression that it made the character strangely endearing instead of Karen-like. The revelation that —spoilers for the first episode— Leighton is a deeply closeted lesbian also allows us to empathise with why she is so guarded. Kimberly is a character that I was fully prepared to dislike, as her micro-aggressions towards her black co-worker Canaan, barraging him with questions about the black experience upon first meeting made her appear irritatingly oblivious. She was quickly put in her place by Canaan however and quickly seemed to learn her lesson. Pauline Chalamet played the character with such sincerity even when putting her foot in her mouth that it was hard not to find her endearing. Whitney, the black daughter of a popular senator is seems like the most composed out of the 4 roommates. Her affair with her soccer coach makes it clear that she has some messiness of her own. She was actually the character that felt weakest to me, surprisingly as she seems like the easiest to like. It felt like the show wasn’t always sure what her role was, her characterisation flip flopping between a socially aware cool girl, an awkward and eager to please girl and a more neutral ‘straight man’. In a show where the other leads are so clearly defined it makes her fade Ito the background in group scenes especially, which is unfortunate for the only black lead.

Besides the issues with Whitney, the show does deal with a range of diverse storylines effectively. It handles serious topics ranging from sexual assault to internalised homophobia with care and without being tonally inconsistent with the rest of the show, unlike with other HBO shows like the Gossip Girl reboot. It doesn’t shy away from going deep, while still providing the audience with much needed escapism, that often made me wish I could trade university experiences with these girls.

If you’re looking for your next 6 hour binge, line this show up.

Tiktok roasting sexist podcasts

Tiktok has recently introduced a new filter allowing people to have more masculine features. Many women have began to use use the filter to mock a specific subset of toxic males.  Specifically the type of pick up artist or motivational speaker who goes on podcasts to discuss their views about women and dating.

An example of such men would be the Fresh & Fit duo who give dating advice to men on Tiktok before eventually being banned from the app, but still have an active podcast. The type of men who call women ‘females’ and spend most of their time criticising women, making it confusing why they would even want to date women. The parodies use similar speech patterns and show how little originality there is in this space. Tiktok has unfortunately given a different platform these types of men. It has also given a platform to Tiktokers to call them out.

Rihanna’s bundle of joy

For years, people have been obsessed with the singer Rihanna’s romantic life. With this came multiple rumours about the artist being pregnant, even more frequently than there have been for most celebrities.

On Monday, for the first time, the the rumours were actually proven correct. Rihanna and musician A$AP Rocky announced the pregnancy through a photoshoot. The announcement shook up the internet, with many people ecstatic for the couple. However, many people were critical of Rihannas choice in the father. Many people have insulted his looks and career in comparison to Rihanna. Even a publications like Forbes used the headline “Singer, billionaire, and beauty and lingerie mogul Rihanna is expecting a baby with her boyfriend rapper A$AP rocky”, with many noting the difference in which they were both described.

A lot of male celebrities female partners have been harshly criticised on the internet, with both Selena Gomez and Hailey Beiber receiving death threats for their connections to Justin Bieber. This is one of the rare celebrity couples where the man receives more hate. This still feels very cruel and unfair to A$AP Rocky , even if it is Rihanna.

It is also very condescending to Rihanna, with the implication that she somehow doesn’t know her worth. Overall, it seems like the internet has a serious problem drawing boundaries when it comes to famous couples.


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Missing black woman syndrome

On December 12th 2021, two black women died in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Tiktok influencer, Lauren Smith-Fields was found dead in her apartment after a Bumble date. The cause of death was declared to be cause by intoxication from “Fentanyl combined with prescription medication and alcohol”.

Her family was not informed of her death. Her mother and brother went to check up on her at her apartment and were simply greeted with a note that said “If you’re looking for Lauren, call this number.” When her family spoke to the detective involved about the white man that she had been on a date with, he dismissed her concerns calling the man a “really nice guy”.

Brenda Lee Rawls

On the 14th of December, Brenda Lee Rawls family found her body at a medical examiners office. This came after a hectic search when they were informed of her death by a neighbour and not the police, with them having to call the police and various hospitals before finding her body. Rawl’s sister has said, “It’s almost like they’re not aware of her death, or they just don’t care and that made us angry,” “She was raised and born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, paid her taxes, voted and they treated like she was nothing. Like she was roadkill.”

The lack of care in which these two situations were handled make it comparable to the media frenzy in Gabby Petito’s case. “Missing white woman syndrome” occurs when the media white woman who are missing or endangered a large amount of focus when compared to other demographics. Now we can see the opposite happening when it comes to black women.

Black women are often seen as disposable and less valuable, with black deaths are just statistics and nothing more. Cardi B had to tweet about Lauren Smith-Fields’s death before the investigation was reopened. There has been some action taken with the detectives involved in both cases being suspended, but it feels insulting that it has taken so long, with uproar from the internet, for these cases to be treated with any empathy.

Nikyatu Jusu’s “Nanny

At the 2022 Sundance film festival the Sierra Leonian-American director Nikyatu Jusu made her feature film debut with the horror film Nanny. It follows a Senegalese nanny as she works for a wealthy New York family.

The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the film festival, making Jusu the second black woman to win this award. While this is a fantastic feat on Jusu’s part, it is unfortunate that in Sundance’s 44 years of operation this is only the second win. there is still much further to go in the support of black women behind the camera.

Jusu has described Nanny as a ‘dark but hopeful love-letter for mothers who have been systematically excluded from the American dream’. From the rave reviews to the compelling premise, this seems like a movie to watch out for.

Khaby Lame and The Success of Black Creators

The Tiktoker Khaby Lame has scored a massive campaign with Hugo Boss, also co-designing a capsule collection with the label. Just two years ago, Lame was a factory worker who quit his job when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. However, since he took to TikTok during the stay-at-home induced lockdowns, Lame has emerged as one of the app’s most followed creators–all while being mute.

Tiktok and social media in general allows major career growth for many creators. It is good to see a black creator benefiting from the app. This is especially true after criticisms have been given to popular white creators who benefit from the trends and dances started by black Tiktokers, without crediting them and eventually getting far more exposure. Addison Rae in particular was criticised when she used creator Jalaiah Harmon’s “Renegade” dance in an appearance on Jimmy Fallon, an event that she has apologised for.

This brings to mind recurring issues in which black people create styles and trends that are not praised until they are seen on a white person, as seen when Kylie Jenner was praised for making wigs cool, or with the entire Kardashian clan ‘popularising’ facial and body features that are more associated with black women. The success of creators such as Khaby Lame is hopefully a sign that black creators are finally getting their due.


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Featured image credits/NATIVE