Absolutely uncalled for.
Harry Styles' new Rolling Stone cover story and interview just dropped, and it's thoroughly offensive.
Who gave Harry Styles the right to be so genuine, so talented, so enlightened, and so utterly adorable? I'm so mad. I emerged from the One Direction craze almost completely unscathed and even managed to sleep on Harry's persona despite being a fan of his new music—until Rob Sheffield just had to step into that Tesla with a pen and a wide-open heart.
"The Eternal Sunshine of Harry Styles" might be one of the most flattering profiles that Rolling Stone has ever published, but it's well-written and persuasive enough to feel genuine. It might even make you fall in love. Here are some of the most infuriating details.
Images by Ryan McGinleyRolling Stone
Transcendental Meditation and Psychedelic Adventures
Not only is Harry Styles a bonafide rock star—he's also on a spiritual journey. He practices transcendental meditation: that form of famous-person mindfulness pioneered by (my favorite filmmaker) David Lynch.
He's also into psychedelics. At one point in the interview, he and Sheffield go to Shangri-La studios, where Harry wrote a lot of his album while tripping, drinking, and enjoying the local ambiance. "We'd do mushrooms, lie down on the grass, and listen to Paul McCartney's Ram in the sunshine," he said (and I totally have not been listening to Ram the entire time that I've been writing this article).
While I've never felt the need to try psychedelic drugs, I tend to have the best discussions with people who have, and one would imagine that Harry would make an excellent conversationalist. He's probably an environmentalist, too (there's proof that psychedelics make people feel more connected to the earth!), and he most likely has some very interesting theories about reality and the universe that this author would absolutely not love to hear about, preferably while getting stoned on a Malibu beach at 4 AM or something.
Trying to Subsist on Coffee Alone
"Man cannot live by coffee alone," says Harry in the middle of the interview. "But he will give it a damn good try."
As I'm on my fourth cup of the day while writing this, Harry, we clearly understand each other. (I also blame the entirety of this article on the adrenaline shooting through my veins thanks to Dunkin's $2 cold brews).
He Reads Murakami for God's Sake
Apparently, Harry has a fabulous (or at least, my exact) taste in art. "In February, he spent his 25th birthday sitting by himself in a Tokyo cafe, reading Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle," writes Sheffield.
Forget Robert Pattinson's tired "date a girl who reads" refrain. Date someone who spends their birthday alone reading Murakami.
Harry also loves David Bowie, Joni Mitchell's Blue, and Stevie Nicks. I'm not saying this is anything more than a coincidence, but I happen to love David Bowie, Joni Mitchell's Blue, and Stevie Nicks.
Both Woke and Humble: Feminism, Black Lives Matter, and the Art of Genuine Allyship
On a serious note, if this interview is to be believed, Harry is the embodiment of a genuine ally. To be clear, "performative allyship" is that thing where people pretend to care about social issues, but they're really just trying to bolster their own image.
Sweet, self-aware Harry, though, seems to have transcended this entirely. "I'm aware that as a white male, I don't go through the same things as a lot of the people that come to the shows. I can't claim that I know what it's like, because I don't. So I'm not trying to say, 'I understand what it's like.' I'm just trying to make people feel included and seen," he said.
"I think ultimately feminism is thinking that men and women should be equal, right? People think that if you say 'I'm a feminist,' it means you think men should burn in hell and women should trample on their necks. No, you think women should be equal. That doesn't feel like a crazy thing to me. I grew up with my mum and my sister — when you grow up around women, your female influence is just bigger. Of course men and women should be equal. I don't want a lot of credit for being a feminist. It's pretty simple. I think the ideals of feminism are pretty straightforward."
This is gospel for our times. Harry clearly listens to women and cares about people other than himself. He respects his young female fans, something that is near and dear to my own heart. "They have that bulls**t detector," he added. "You want honest people as your audience. We're so past that dumb outdated narrative of 'Oh, these people are girls, so they don't know what they're talking about.' They're the ones who know what they're talking about. They're the people who listen obsessively. They f*cking own this sh*t. They're running it."
Regarding the Black Lives Matter sticker on his guitar, he said, "It's not about me trying to champion the cause, because I'm not the person to do that. It's just about not ignoring it, I guess. I was a little nervous to do that because the last thing I wanted was for it to feel like I was saying, 'Look at me! I'm the good guy!' I didn't want anyone who was really involved in the movement to think, 'What the f*ck do you know?' But then when I did it, I realized people got it. Everyone in that room is on the same page and everyone knows what I stand for. I'm not saying I understand how it feels. I'm just trying to say, 'I see you.'"
So, maybe I'm praising a white dude to the high heavens for doing a rather minimal amount of listening and acknowledging his own privilege, but the bar is pretty low, OK?
Pink and Green Nail Polish: Performing Non-Toxic, Vulnerable, Queer Masculinity
Harry Styles is basically the Keanu Reeves of his generation, and here's why. They're straight dudes, yes, but they're also emotionally vulnerable and in touch with their feelings.
Aesthetically, they embody a fluid, gender-queer kind of masculinity that doesn't fit inside binaries or restrain itself to labels. Harry arguably does this more visibly than Keanu and in this, he's doing vitally important work.
After all, toxic masculinity may be one of the most poisonous diseases ever to descend upon humanity. Think about how many genocides began because of toxic masculinity. Think of how many angry men have started fires or wars or committed murders because of their own vendettas against the world and themselves.
In the era of "social justice warriors," many men have responded by criticism by becoming even more toxically masculine—i.e. the incels or anybody on 8chan—and speaking of this, so many mass shooters in America share a vicious hatred of women that arguably stems from their own insecurities or traumas. Hatred of women and hatred of the earth have a lot in common, too. You could argue that toxic masculinity and its relatives—rugged individualism, cutthroat competition, and relentless greed—are root causes of climate change, and therefore are going to cause the end of the world.
But Harry is showing us that there is a different way. As Harry reveals, deconstructing masculinity and the binary prison that is gender is a positive, liberating thing for all people.
The Article Ended With Harry Hugging His Mom
At the end of the article, Stevie Nicks dedicates a performance of her song "Landslide" to Harry and his mom, and they hug for the entirety of the song. The sheer audacity.
The photos speak for themselves.
All photos via Rolling Stone
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The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.
Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."
This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.
Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality
Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.
But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?
Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?
When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.
After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.
Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.
Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.
Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.
For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.
We're glad they're on our side.
The world is up against a seemingly insurmountable threat, but luckily, we've got a crack team of heroes on the case.
Sure, there's already the girl with super strength, the guy who can fly, and the anthropomorphic, trash-talking animal tailor-made for merchandise. But this is a threat of intergalactic proportions, and we're going to need all the help we can get if we want to survive.
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