Rated Reads shares our pick of the best content from around the web. This week: how actors' names have been whitewashed and the Insta account transforming popstars into furbies.


Thandiwe Newton and the whitewashing of actors’ names

Film critic Christina Newland takes a look at the long history of actors being forced to Anglicize their names, in the wake of Thandiwe Newton’s earth-shaking interview with Vogue earlier this year. Newton stated that she after she had been credited as “Thandie” for her screen debut, she felt she had to stick with it.

“Smooth-syllabled, homogenous Wasp names ruled in Golden Age Hollywood,” writes Newland, “despite a talent-pool born with Italian, Jewish and Spanish surnames, thanks to the vast wave of immigration to the US at the start of the 20th century.”

With stars of the big-screen increasingly holding on tight to their original names and proudly sharing their heritage, this seems set for a more hopeful future.


This Instagram account transforms your favourite pop stars into Furbies

One of the more bazaar internet trends, Instagram account @furbyliving is harking back to the late 90s in an undeniably unique way – combining 2ooo’s must-have item, furbies, with pop-faves from the noughties up.

“From Howard Ratner’s iced-out Furby in Uncut Gems to the internet’s freaky obsession with Frankenstein Furbs, society has entered a Furby renaissance,” says Günseli Yalcinkaya.

The account’s star-studded line-up includes Britney Spears, Björk and Arca, who have even endorsed their furry-doubles on social media.


Good Housekeeping Russia campaigns for stronger laws on domestic violence with abuse survivor cover shoot

In response to Russia’s parliament changing the law to make domestic violence a mere misdemeanor rather than a criminal offence for first-time perpetrators, Good Housekeeping Russia has retaliated. Margarita Gracheva, whose husband severed both her hands, leads their campaign as their bold cover star. According to Lucia de la Torre, Gracheva became “a symbol of the country’s domestic abuse crisis”.

“The headline simply reads: ‘We need a law on domestic violence.'”


Why chickpea flour is so chic

Ever wondered what happens to the chickpeas that don’t become hummus? Well, The Economist’s Niki Segnit has been sent to find out.

There are two types of chickpeas, Segnit explains: kabuli, which is used for the beloved bougie dip, and desi, which when split is called chana dal.

“If spared the hummus treatment, both varieties may be ground into chickpea flour,” Segnit adds, “which largely mills away their differences. Desi flour is called besan or gram. It’s typically packed in faded-yellow paper bags with designs that suggest old posters peeled from a wall in downtown Jodhpur. Besan is used extensively in Indian cooking. It can be whisked up with water and vegetables to make soup, extruded into the crunchy noodles found in Bombay mix and beaten with chilli and spice into a batter for pakoras and bhajis.”


The first trans rocker Jayne County reflects on her wild life

To tie in with the release of her memoir, legendary Jayne County chatted to Huck about Andy Warhol parties, punk and her shocker of a play World – A Birth of a Nation (The Castration of Man).

Recalling Stonewall, County says: “There were a lot of drag queens who had on women’s clothes or they had on makeup or had it half-on. We called it ‘semi-drag’ back then. A lot of queens were actually out front in the riot. I marched up and down Christopher Street, we were just walking back and forth shouting “Gay Power!”. It was such a feeling of freedom. It felt like you were walking on clouds.”

County also dishes the dirt on the music scene, being “too far out” and how David Bowie used bisexuality for his own image.


From Lookbook.nu to Home Renovation: The Evolution of the Millennial Influencer

Hannah Ewens takes a look back at the lifecycle of the influencer industry. And so it begins: “Girls wanted to move on from the three fashion options available in the mid-2000s: emo-slash-scene remnants, Jack Wills or jeans and a nice top. We needed desperate help to express ourselves differently. That’s where the ladies of the internet stepped in, from the streets of Manhattan and the bricked wall outside a Leeds Co-Op.”

From hair bleach, to haul culture, to Instagram boyfriends, Ewens’ whirlwind tour of influencing is well worth a spin. She writes, “it’s been a paranoid era of self-growth. Who knows where millennial influencing will go, but it will probably never completely disappear.”

Stop Calling Racialized Writers “Raw”

Adnan Khan dives into the oeuvre of Prix Medicis prize-winning Haitian author Dany Laferrière, and why his books stopped being translated into English. “Laferrière’s notoriety turned him into an object of cocktail-party fascination,” Khan says, “someone whose celebrity was premised on the racial dimensions of his books rather than on his literary gifts.”

Khan argues that Laferriere’s “hostility toward one-dimensional conceptions of Black, immigrant, and Haitian life” nearly ostracized him from Canada’s literary society, while tales of trauma from writers of colour top the charts. The reason may be that 82% of Canada’s publishing professionals are white, prioritising only stories from Black authors that address identity in a particular way.

‘Minari’ and the Invisible Stars of Asian-Led Movies

Discussing Lee Isaac Chung’s masterwork Minari and the “invisibility” of actor Yeri Han, Shirley Li explores how Asian actors have long been ignored by Hollywood and denied them awards for critically acclaimed performances.

After the controversial decision to submit Minari as a foreign-language film – despite its truly American storyline – many of the film’s cast missed out on awards for acting. “As more creators of color break through and tell different kinds of stories, Hollywood’s snubbing of Asian actors is becoming especially obvious and newly urgent,” Li says. “The past year has seen an increase in violence toward Asians in America, after former President Donald Trump started calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus.””

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