Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
This week: The Met Gala saw Hamilton once and now we have to deal with it; Jennifer Lopez & Barbra Streisand is a pairing that I never thought of but never want to live without; Drew Barrymore is in my inbox; daily wisdom from Rep. Maxine Waters.
Okay, first of all, I just need to let you know that somehow some mistake I've made in online clicking has resulted in all of the targeted ads I receive changing. Before: caftans that are too expensive but which I buy anyway in the interest of entering my Birdcage era. Now: Drew Barrymore selling me lawn care products.
To quote myself if I were a chaotic British reality star on Love Island, Ach'ally or whatever the show is called: I dun think so, babes. Licherally, whot is this? (I read this back to myself and I actually sound like Idris Elba, so just keep that energy ach'ally. Me=Idris Elba. It's canon, babes.)
I am so mad about the pivot in my targeted ads from Aspirational Clothing for Delusional Aging Gays to You Got Some Weeds in Your Lawn and You Liked the Movie Ever After Too Much. Do I have weeds in my lawn? YES. Did I like Ever After too much? There's no such thing as liking Ever After too much and I've filed a complaint with the FCC.
I literally posted two (2) photos of flowers from our yard and now my entire life is ruin't. I didn't even hashtag them! I was just like "Here's some flowers. Uh... enjoy!" I am very much #NotTrying on Instagram because visual aesthetics are not my ministry and I've made peace with that. And I've certainly never searched for any lawn care products because we are actively trying to replace our lawn with anything else--wildflowers, raised beds, a giant solar wall (as I wrote about in July). We'll do anything as long as it's organic and good for the Earth. (You're welcome, Earth).
(This whole bit, by the way, was supposed to be, like, one paragraph but, uh, obviously I have more to say. I'm sorrs, babes! I had to take Mucinex for the first time in 13 months and my brain is WILDING. I am not in the driver's seat.)
Can you just look at that bag of lawn food for a second though? Why is it screaming at me?! We've just met and we are already in conflict. I don't know how I feel about this size 99 font shouting words like "stressed" and "feather meal" at me. It's not even May yet and I am being accosted by text about the emotional state of my lawn in hot weather. We're all worried about global warming but can we not do an all-caps screed, my darling?
Also! I love that of all the words on the bag they felt it most important to define "molasses" for the casual reader. Don Draper was like "every idiot knows what feather meal is but if we don't help the customer understand this product as BBQ sauce for their depressed lawns, we're doomed." Anyway, if you buy this bag of syrupy feathers, let me know how it goes.
Let's move on to celebrity news and political shade, shall we?
The 2021 Met Gala Theme Is A Chik-Fil-A Uniform
As I'm sure you're aware, the 2020 Met Gala did not go on as planned, which is unfortunate because the theme was "About Time: Fashion and Duration", it was inspired by Virginia Woolf, and one of the hosts was supposed to be Meryl Streep. Anna Wintour was basically begging people to show up in The Hours cosplay to which I say "I'm am already in costume and waiting outside!" Can you imagine Rihanna showing up in a high fashion interpretation of the cake Toni Collette teases Julianne Moore about making? CAN YOU IMAGINE?
I both do and don't want to see Katy Perry dressed as the malfunctioning faucet in Meryl Streep's apartment and that's the power of the Met Gala. Of course, I would have spent the entire time worried that Jared Leto would show up dressed as Nicole Kidman at the train station and I'd have to be mad forever, so I guess it's all for the best.
This week it was announced that the 2021 Met Gala is happening, but in September not the first Monday in May, which is stressful because I have literally 30 weddings that have been rescheduled for September 2021 and also I think I want to go to a movie at some point that month and I just don't know that I have a lot of room for costume dramaturgy and the on-going antics of Jared Leto. Maybe next year babes.
Also, this year's theme is "American Fashion" to which I say, Anna Wintour, log off please.
Now, there are a lot of ways that this could go right. What's American Fashion? Clothing of indigenous people, absolutely. Do-rags and bonnets, yes very much so. Vera Wang wedding dresses, sure. Church hats, 100 percent.
(If you don't know about Dr. La Verne Ford Wimberley, who dresses up for Zoom church every Sunday, you need to. This will make your day.)
The problem with American Fashion is the same problem with much of reality: while the assignment will be given to all, only Rihanna will perform it successfully. Do I want to see Met Gala wild card Katy Perry in a Black lady church crown? Beloved, on God I do not.
This is the paradox of the Met Gala: in order to survive it, we must protect our eyes from Jared Leto, we must protect Katy Perry from herself, and we must get out of Rihanna's way.
I actually think "American Fashion" is a great theme because you don't have to do too much digging into it before it becomes clear that American Fashion, like American culture in general, is a product of our deeply diverse population and has roots in the cultural traditions of many nations. In a week when that one congresswoman from the Q Klux Klan made plans to start an "America First" caucus focused on "Anglo-Saxon political traditions", it's actually nice to remember that whatever America is, it's not all-white or all of any one thing. (Also! The sheer clownery of trying to start a political caucus in the Year of Our Lord 2021 based on the Norman Conquests? I am BEGGING you to log off!)
That said, we cannot have our celebrities out here cultural appropriating at the Met this September. To paraphrase renowned fashionista Reynolds Woodcock, I cannot start my fall with a confrontation. So here's some alternatives for American Fashion options, as a gift to all the celebrities who read this newsletter for sartorial guidance:
Lenny Kravitz's enormous scarf. BLACK AMERICAN EXCELLENCE.
An Olive Garden uniform. IRONIC.
90s Destiny's Child.
A bodega cat.
A non-denominational youth pastor.
The Music Man.
Steve Urkel's suspenders.
The Joker. Unfortunately, this is a great idea.
The Cheesecake Factory menu. Katy Perry, this one is for you.
The Angel from Angels in America. Rihanna, I humbly submit this for your consideration.
A Civil War reenactor. Jared Leto, stay AWAY from this one.
Jennifer Lopez's fur coat from Hustlers.
A-Rod Refuses to Forget His Troubles
Speaking of things Jennifer Lopez had on for a season but has since put away: the couple formerly known as J-Rod is no more. JLo and Alex Rodriguez released a joint statement to Today confirming that they were going to be just friends from here on out. While I remain very grateful to JLo and Lady Gaga for keeping our struggling celebrity nonsense economy going (as I wrote about previously) I will never stop laughing about writing up a press release on your breakup and emailing it to Hoda Kotb so that she can tell the nation. The news of the day is like "As you are aware, everything is very bad in very different ways and we're going to show a bunch of videos that will traumatize you probably forever. And also, sad news, two famous people changed their relationship status on Facebook." Good luck sorting this out, future historians!
Look, in the balance, I am very glad that the question of which millionaires are smooching is national news because without it, this newsletter would just be me finding various ways to scream about how furious I am and I'm not sure that's what you signed up for.
Anyway, the reason that I called you here today is that before the announcement on one of our national airwaves, ARod--formerly world's best IG boyfriend--posted a video to his Instagram where he panned over what looked like a shrine to his deceased relationship.
In the video, ARod films a sleek black sideboard from the Patrick Bateman collection covered with framed pictures of him and JLo that have the most intense stock photo energy I've ever seen. There's a box of tissues on the table for crying??And it ends with a shot of a sand heart with their initials in it. Oh! And he tagged JLo's account in the video. This whole thing feels like a cursed deleted scene from an unauthorized sequel to Coco. Obsessed.
Like, I think it is a joke but also I am quite serious when I say this is the most deranged thing I have ever seen. This entire video is a plot line from an episode of The Office and I rebuke it. The kicker is that, like a 90s teenager recording a morose voicemail message, ARod also has Coldplay blasting in the background for atmosphere. Babyyyy, what in the AOL Instant Messenger cry for help is this?!
As much as this whole display is "troubling" and "amazing" what vexes me the most is this part:
I'm sorry this photo is so blurry; I took it to the lab tech who shows up once an episode and yelled "Computer enhance!" but it didn't seem to work. What we have here is a diptych (thanks for the education, Columbia University Art History department!). On one side, Barbra Streisand (in a sailor blouse!) and Judy Garland singing the gay national anthem, the "Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again" mashup that singlehandedly birthed the concept of Glee. On the other side? Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu in Hustlers. I have put my top scientists on figuring out what in the Harold Arlen is going on in this photo. The driverless car that is my brain has put together many a dissonant image and said "Is this something?!" but I have never looked at a photo of the cast of Hustlers and thought "Ah, yes, what this reminds me of is a duet in which two divas blast each other to Mars with positive affirmations."
The question Hoda Kotb needs to be reading a statement on is whether Constance Wu is the Barbra or the Judy here. THIS IS A DEEPLY IMPORTANT QUESTION AND IF YOU ARE A-ROD AND ARE READING THIS NEWSLETTER (I KNOW YOU DO) I NEED YOU TO EMAIL ME ABOUT IT. If you're not A-Rod, feel free to scroll down and comment below on whether you think Constance is the Barbra or the Judy. Please show your work. We'll take this case all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to.
The picture also begs the larger question "What? Why? Why this?" but that applies to the video as a whole also. I assume this must be an inside joke between JLo and ARod, but the thing about inside jokes is that, like an asthmatic child who is allergic to grass, they should stay inside. (That child... IS ME.) I look at this photo pairing and I feel like Amy Adams in Arrival. Standing outside ARod's house holding an Etch-a-Sketch that reads "Yentl?"
Shut Your Mouth When You're Speaking to Rep. Maxine Waters
Finally, there are a lot of good medical interventions for what ails us as a society but I can think of no better tincture for improving your day than listening to Rep. Maxine Waters tell Jim Jordan to shut his pie hole (skip to minute 6:20 or thereabouts).
From the three point line she called out "You need to respect the chair and shut your mouth!" and my eyebrows jumped up to the moon!
First of all, I can't imagine having the Tia and Temerity to speak in Rep. Maxine Waters's presence before being spoken to. If I'm in the same room as her, my lips are zipped tighter than Billy Butcherson in Hocus Pocus. You're not going to catch me out in these congressional streets embarrassing my fair-to-middlin' name by giving voice to my own opinions. Jim Jordan, who has more things to be ashamed of than there are stars in the sky and more reasons to shut up than there are fish in the sea, decided that he wanted to use his one precious life to not only speak foolishness in front of Rep. Waters but to do so with an inane bad faith argument aimed at your mom's boyfriend, Dr. Anthony Fauci. During testimony before the House Coronavirus Criss Subcommittee, Jordan attacked Fauci for playing keep away with American freedoms like Fauci is the warden in The Shawshank Redemption and not a doctor just trying to get a nation full of toddlers from taking down the baby gate on the Met Gala stairs.
Apparently misunderstanding himself to be a judge on Shark Tank tasked with evaluating a new As Seen on TV product called The Fauci Ouchie, Jordan theatrically yelled at the clouds until his time expired. "People can't go to church, people can't assemble in their own homes with their friends, with their family," he said incorrectly. "People can't get petition their government to redress their grievances... It's been a year, I want to know when people will get those first amendment liberties back." Babe, what... is this even? People can't go to church? Then what is Dr. La Verne Ford Wimberley doing every week? Skittle me that! People can't petition their government? If that's the case, then how come I was able to send an email directly to Jim Jordan's office with the subject line "LOG OFF. IMMEDIATELY"?
The idea that safety precautions are some violation of first amendment liberties is absolute balderdash and he knows it. And it's especially galling to have him get up on this rickety soap box during a week when people can't even march in the peaceful protest or a church can't even shield those injured by police during said protests without an outrageous and severe militarized response. The National Guard isn't showing up at Jim Jordan's house to stop him from having an underwhelming super spreader BBQ with bland macaroni and cheese so what's all this noise? I'm over it. And you know who else was over it, was never under it, wasn't for it, and had formed all manner of weapons against it? Representative Maxine Waters. She was like "Shut your mouth, pull your mask up, and now your time's up. Next!"
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Random Thing on the Internet
Okay, but these suspenders were a serve, though.
"troubling" and "amazing",