Rated Reads shares our pick of the best articles from around the web. This week: Sally Rooney speaks out about unwanted fame and Halsey makes music about pregnancy.


Sally Rooney on the hell of fame: ‘It doesn’t seem to work in any real way for anyone’

With advance copies of Beautiful World, Where Are You being auctioned for millions online, Sally Rooney’s return could not be more eagerly anticipated. She gives an exclusive interview to Emma Brockes in The Guardian:

“’As far as I can make out, the way that celebrity works in our present cultural moment is that particular people enter very rapidly, with little or no preparation, into public life, becoming objects of widespread public discourse, debate and critique.’ It’s irrelevant whether or not fame was part of their plan. ‘They just randomly happen to be skilled or gifted in some particular way, and it’s in the interests of profit-driven industries to exploit those gifts and to turn the gifted person into a kind of commodity.’”

Five on it: Halsey is reinforcing the power of pregnancy in music

“There is almost an unspoken expectation that, in an industry that so values sex appeal as a primary marketing ploy, there is no place for performing whilst visibly pregnant,” writes Kayleigh Watson in gal-dem, “yet that assumption undermines any value of the art itself and instead places it onto bodies.”

She explores Halsey’s new album ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’, with the artist revealing: “’Me as a sexual being and my body as a vessel and gift to my child are two concepts that can co-exist peacefully and powerfully. This cover image celebrates pregnant and postpartum bodies as something beautiful, to be admired.’”

How Gen Z is putting a fresh spin on a centuries-old fashion

Zinara Rathnayake looks at how the sari has been thoroughly updated for the modern age. “Speaking to BBC Culture, Mukulika Banerjee, social anthropologist and co-author of The Sari says that there is certainly a correlation between wearing a sari and ‘feminine’ beauty. Women would transition to wearing a sari after their marriage, and the garment was a symbol of their femininity. ‘A sari is seen to be transformative in self-presentation in a way that a suit is for a man.'”

Rathnayake delves into the history and how brands are taking on tradition: as Aiza Hussain comments, “Narratives around saris embedded in religion, marital status, colour and body shape exist till this day, and this is what we are trying to combat. We want to normalise saris. After all, these six yards of loose cloth can be for anyone and everyone.”

Sean Durkin on The Nest, a horror movie that isn’t a horror movie

After a decade, the director of Martha Marcy May Marlene has made a comeback. Sean Durkin explains why his latest, The Nest, isn’t really a horror movie:

“’I’m using genre elements of hauntings to get to the core of the emotional journey,’ Durkin explains. ‘For Allison, it’s a haunted-house story. She’s moving into this place. She’s isolated. Her family is changing around her. She’s discovering things about her husband and her way of life that are based on a lie.’ Meanwhile, Ben begs Sam to let him stay in her bedroom as he’s terrified of ghosts. ‘That was something I felt as a kid. I had a vivid imagination and would run down dark hallways at night, trying to get to bed.'”

Bloodlines: a history of Black horror

It’s a good time for horror movies, with another major release, Nia DaCosta’s Candyman revival, in cinemas this week. Kelli Weston takes us through the history of Black horror, from Get Out to I Am Not a Witch.

She writes: “The truth is horror has always been the most innately political genre, instinctively primed to translate subterranean cultural anxieties, and as such, operates as an archive of technologies of otherness.”


Why is everyone arguing about micro-sexualities?

James Grieg in i-D unpicks the debate over micro-labels in the queer community, arguing that attacking micro-labels “plays into a wider hostility towards young queer people”.

“Every time someone goes viral with a TikTok explainer of a micro-identity, you can be sure to find a prominent transphobe or right-wing pundit denouncing it as an omen of the collapse of Western civilisation,” he writes.

Mocking micro-labels is just one part in the whole of an attack against queer identity, Grieg suggests.

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