TV Features

This Haunts Me: Amanda Bynes as Nickelodeon's "Ask Ashley"

The two public images of Amanda Bynes, that of the early aughts and the face-tattooed version of today, seem irreconcilable.

All That

Growing up in the simpler times of the '90s, we had candy commercials featuring anthropomorphic humans, toys that jeopardized children's lives, and Nickelodeon raising latchkey kids to become the well-adjusted millennials who would later invent Instagram.

Alright, so maybe times were tougher than we thought. Maybe we should've seen today's tumultuous issues coming. From the climate crisis and political division to historic economic crisis and coronavirus panic, it's easy to idealize the past, but the '90s were actually bonkers in their own right. For instance, look at Nickelodeon's sketch comedy series for kids, All That.

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CULTURE

The Hollywood Appeal of NXIVM's "Sex Cult"

Keith Raniere's pseudo-philosophy ranged from hedonism and nihilism to neurotic obsessions with weight, body hair, and training people out of empathy.

File:Allison Mack (2018 crop).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

TW: This article discusses emotional and sexual abuse.

In 2006, when Allison Mack was a lead actress on CW's Smallville, she accepted an invitation from co-star Kristin Kreuk to attend a meeting for a "women's empowerment" group called NXIVM (pronounced nex-ee-um).

Over the following decade, the Albany-based organization became known as a cult that practiced sex slavery and branding under the guise of mentoring young women.

This week, Mack faces sentencing after pleading guilty to charges of federal racketeering for her senior role within the organization, which included recruiting women for "labor and services" under orders from Keith Raniere, NXIVM's leader and co-founder.

On October 28, 2020, Keith Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison for his involvement with NXIVM. What was the appeal of Keith Raniere's cult, and what led to its deserved downfall?

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Culture Feature

This Haunts Me: "Jen from Appleton" and the Epic Bath and Body Works Rant

Sometimes you've just got to get yourself that Winter Candy Apple and Iced Gingerbread.

I hope Jen from Appleton, Wisconsin is doing well these days.

As for Angela, the star of the best Bath & Body Works rant of all time (and there are surprisingly many on YouTube), I hope she's living a Winter Candy Apple-scented life to the fullest.

In 2012, the aspiring vlogger posted a rant about her dire mission to acquire two coveted candles from Bath & Body Works: Winter Candy Apple and Iced Gingerbread. The outstanding 11-minute video recounts her harrowing journey to the store in APPLETON, WISCONSIN (it's very important the store is called out for their heinous treatment of Angela).

After the video was discovered and spread across Tumblr, it was recognized as a cultural masterpiece of our time, a treatise on the frailty of the human condition and our undying perseverance to end our own suffering at any cost.

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Twelve years before Justin Bieber dropped his debut album, My World, and shook the tween universe with his side-swept bangs, there was Aaron Carter.

The younger brother of Backstreet Boy's heartthrob Nick Carter, Aaron was responsible for some of the most iconic hits of 2000, from "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)" and "That's How I Beat Shaq" to his overplayed cover of The Strangelove's "I Want Candy." Carter arguably "paved the way" for today's tween pop stars like Bieber to become cultural phenomenons.

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Culture News

Yeah, but Which Brand Has the Healthiest Chicken Sandwich?

Wendy's, Popeye's, Burger King...or Chick-fil-A?

Burger King's Ch'King sandwich

The #ChickenSandwichTwitter war of 2019 embodied some prime late-stage capitalism in action.

Social media accounts for a bunch of fast-food brands are trying to get you to buy their lousy chicken sandwiches by memeing at each other, and it's working. Their "cool" marketing bullshit is absolutely going to make you want a chicken sandwich.

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TV Features

This Haunts Me: Mariah Carey Taking a Bath on MTV's "Cribs"

It was 2002, and Mariah Carey wanted a bath. Now we'll never be clean.

Before TikTok, before Snapchat, and before YouTube, there was MTV in the early aughts: a lawless land of velour tracksuits and diamond grillz, tiny dogs and spray tans.

And then there was Mariah Carey, who had barely survived 2001 after channeling her lifeforce into the beloved film disaster Glitter, along with the critically panned soundtrack of the same name. And yet, Carey persisted–and took a bath in front of millions of viewers on MTV's Cribs.

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