I've often use the phrase 'Knowledge is Power', and one of the ways I obtain this knowledge is by reading long form journalism on the internet. I think, on average, I read about two longform pieces a day. Instead of cataloguing my favourite pieces in my annual list of pop culture. I've decided to highlight two of my favourite internet writers and then link to some of my favourite articles of the year; a reading list if you will.
One of the problems with literary crushes, is that they remain just that. There is no way to consummate the love properly, there is minimal chance of having a dialogue on the pieces they have written, even less of a chance that you will see them in person to have a conversation on their work. Nonetheless, I can say these two women below have given me more joy than just about anything else this year.
Anne Helen Peterson
Anne Helen Petersen (AHP) has a doctorate in Media Studies from the University of Texas, and is a former visiting professor at Whitman College. Her speciality is the study of 'gossip', as an academic tool to observe the power structure within society. Often incorporating semiotics, gender theory, and film studies scholarship, Petersen turns what might be naively described as a superficial and superfluous subject into a wider exploration of societal trends. Earlier this year AHP left her academic position to take a job as a features writer for Buzzfeed, where she has written some of her best work to date. Some of her best pieces this year have included an analysis of why Gone Girl's theatrical adaption didn't capture the magic of the book, why the leak of the Jennifer Lawrence naked photos does not constitute a 'scandal', why romance novels by Nicholas Sparks (and particularly their screen adaptions) are important, why Angelina Jolie is the Queen of the publicity game, an examination of Zac Efron's evolution from 'teen idol' to a 'bro' and a look at the history of Entertainment Weekly. I first discovered AHP last year, when she began writing a series of articles entitled The Scandals of Classic Hollywood, which she turned into a book. I can't wait to read it over summer.
Charlotte Shane is a sex worker and proud of it. I first read an article of hers about three months ago. Shane's writing was frank and candid, but never smutty. She intelligently broke down common misconceptions about the sex industry (it is not always dangerous or glamourous). Instantly after finishing the piece I went searching through the the interwebs to see if I could find more of her work. I then discovered her Tinyletter account, Prostitute Laundry. I get an email, usually 500-1000 words a piece, roughly two times a week. The email contains a little vignette, each connected by a larger linear narrative. They are the best thing I've discovered this year. While these emails often contain vivid descriptions of sex acts, their power lies in Shane's ability to examine what men need from sex (and why some pay for it). Getting you to sign up to the Tinyletter account is my Christmas gift to my readers. I'm also addicted to her twitter feed, which is full of positive political discussion around gender and sex work.
My Favourite Pieces I've Read This Year
20 Years Later: Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan the Spectacle of Power & Pain
The Other Side of the Story: a teacher/student sexual relationship from the student's POV
The Master A sexual abuse case at exclusive New York private school, Horace Mann
The Guilty Man: Michael Morton was wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years, how he was set free
The Father of the Sandy Hook Killer Searches for Answers
Understanding the Academy Awards
Is Tony Abbott an Echo of Early Australian Prime Minister Joseph Cook?
An Unlikely Ballerina: A Profile of Misty Copeland
1994-95 One of TV's Last Great Seasons
Difficult Girl: Lena Dunham talks about her experiences in therapy
I'm Chevy Chase and You're Not: Chevy Chase's career on Saturday Night Live
How OJ Simpson Killed Popular Culture
Escape From Jonestown
On and Off The Road With Barack Obama
Murder By Craigslist
How Much My Novel Cost Me