Rated Reads shares our pick of the best articles from around the web. This week: has being a female pop star in 2021 become unbearable? Plus, a new Louis Vuitton video game and more.


Billie, Lorde, Lizzo: has being a female pop star in 2021 become unbearable?

In the aftermath of the extreme pressure and sexism loaded onto female pop stars of the noughties – Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and more – Laura Snapes in The Guardian argues that female pop stars are building walls to protect themselves from the harm of fame.

She writes: “increasingly it seems that the existential state of pop stardom – particularly for young women, subject to greater scrutiny than their male peers and often held to contradictory standards – is intolerable beyond any level of protection.”

So what are female musicians doing to protect themselves? Snapes looks at the lyrics of Lorde, Billie Eilish and Lizzo to claim that pop has never been less “aspirational”. Each artist is honest about the pain of fame: “It is Black pop stars such as Beyoncé and Frank Ocean who pioneered the art of self-preservation in the social-media age, disappearing and acting like cult icons despite their towering status to protect their vision. The likes of Lana Del Rey, Swift and Ariana Grande followed suit – but it’s difficult to see how Lizzo could adopt that tactic while still making music that extols pride and confidence, when to vanish would be to tacitly admit that self-assurance isn’t actually enough.”


Shon Faye: ‘Transphobia is a direct product of capitalism’

One of the most anticipated books of the year, ‘The Transgender Issue’, is heading our way – ahead of its release, Robin Craig chatted to its author Shon Faye.

“I started to notice that people tend to discuss ‘the transgender issue’,” Faye says, “and I’d just think, ‘that’s my fucking life!’. It epitomised everything I hated about the discourse I had been forced to participate in as a trans writer, which positions transness as this chin-stroking, conceptual problem by people who aren’t affected by actual trans issues.”

The pair talk trans rights in Britain, supporting sex workers, Stonewall and much more.



How the world’s most famous trunk maker inspired an ‘epic’ video game

You heard it right – sartorial giant Louis Vuitton has launched its own video game, titled, slightly unimaginatively, Louis the Game. In celebration of the brand’s 200th birthday, you can now venture around a birthday wonderland as mascot Vivienne in the quest to gather candles.

It’s not Vuitton’s first game, or the first of other major fashion houses for that matter. “’Luxury brands are turning to games to engage [customers] in new and entertaining ways at a time when the value of the gaming audience is becoming better understood,’ [founder of in-game advertising specialist, Adverty, Niklas Bakos] adds, noting that the gaming industry has three billion players globally. ‘[Louis The Game] also includes 30 NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens, created by digital artists, including Mike ‘Beeple’ Winkelmann – who recently broke the record for the most expensive digital artwork – thereby keeping up with the latest trend to hit the art world, too.'”

Precious Adesina in The Telegraph dives deep into the trend.


Sparks have melded pop and “high” culture for 50 years

Sparks have suddenly become the focus of attention, with both a documentary about the group “The Sparks Brothers” and their own kooky musical “Annette” out this month.

The Economist dips into their career, exploring how the elusive electro-pop group are “‘attempting to be both a ‘mere’ pop band and also to have some artistic aspirations'”.


Is menswear the queerest it’s ever been?

With dresses for men being paraded through this summer’s streets, José Criales-Unzueta questions whether we are entering a new age of men’s fashion. From casual-cool to soft boys, Criales-Unzueta believes we have reached “a no-holds-barred, ostensibly queer flamboyance.”

“Further proof of this cultural shift can be found in the renaissance in queer celebrities such as Lil Nas X and Troye Sivan, who are more overt and playful with their styling, as well as Gen Zers’ uptake of genderless style trends in the wake of a Y2K revival. ”

Whether the trend will stick remains to be seen, but at the moment we’re absolutely here for it.


Amia Srinivasan on why we should dwell on discomfort in feminism

Amia Srinivasan talks about her whopping new book The Right to Sex in Dazed, a non-fiction page turner that covers the politics of sex, rape, harassment, sex work and desire amidst the incel subculture and MeToo movement.

“’Women of colour, especially Black women in the US, have been trying to have more complicated conversations about the economy of belief as it relates to sexual assault for a long time, and their voices have not been adequately heard,’” she tells Brit Dawson.

Srinivasan talks about girlboss feminism and why feminism isn’t so clear cut, romantic and sexual marginalisation of groups and much more.

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