Link Lineup – End of 2020

Yes, this is a bit BTS heavy. Deal with it, darlings.


Welcome to the ‘omegaverse,’ the kinky erotica genre reimagining bodies

Speculative fiction around human mating cycles and otherworldly physiology date as far back as the mid-20th century, but in recent years, the omegaverse has spawned from writers in the Supernatural fandom. It’s since spread across the fannish world, appearing everywhere from the Overwatch fandom to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

What makes A/B/O so interesting isn’t just its out-of-the-box premise but how it challenges our understanding of human bodies and physiology in order to create deep, lore-rich erotica narratives. Just as the sci-fi writers of the 20th and 19th century encouraged us to rethink the present by looking to the future, A/B/O reshapes our grasp on sexuality in everyday life.

Ana Valens’ insightful writing on sex, kink, gender, and different internet sub/cultures has been a true highlight of 2020 for me. I have learned so much from her work! Ana is also a delight to speak with and so when I saw her talking about Omegaverse and looking for people to talk to, y’all know I was there. I’ve spoken about it a ton, but Omegaverse has actually become one of my favorite tropes/settings in fandom – as a writer and reader – and so I was happy to be one of the sources tapped for this incredible primer! 

The Astonishing Duality of BTS

This year might have looked very different for BTS if their bond hadn’t been forged in the crucible of those early years. “When life gets tough or it’s hard to find motivation in life, what keeps me going are the relationships and the energy I get from them—our members, the people around me and our fans are all so valuable,” Jimin told me. His sentiment is illustrated in the BE track, “Skit,” which documents the group’s reaction to learning of their first Hot 100 No. 1. The members yell and joke about skipping dance practice to grab a drink. The track ends with RM asking J-Hope, “Hope-ah, don’t you think this is what happiness is like?”

Lenika is such a lovely writer and her piece on BTS makes me extra proud to be a fan (of hers, of course, but also of BTS). I’m not just saying this because we’re twitter moots and friends in fandom, mind you.This is legitimately a beautiful piece with plenty of insight from the different members of BTS across their performances, their recent music releases (like BE, of course, but also Suga’s mixtape D-2). I love it so much and I’m so proud of Lenika for writing such a warm piece and for getting to interview BTS for it!

The Internet of Beefs

A beef-only thinker is someone you cannot simply talk to. Anything that is not an expression of pure, unqualified support for whatever they are doing or saying is received as a mark of disrespect, and a provocati/on to conflict. From there, you can only crash into honor-based conflict mode, or back away and disengage.

The connection to crash-only programming is more than cosmetic, but it will take some set-up before I can establish the conceptual bridge.

Online public spaces are now being slowly taken over by beef-only thinkers, as the global culture wars evolve into a stable, endemic, background societal condition of continuous conflict. As the Great Weirding morphs into the Permaweird, the public internet is turning into the Internet of Beefs.

The Internet of Beefs, or IoB, is everywhere, on all platforms, all the time. Meatspace is just a source of matériel to be deployed online, possibly after some tasteful editing, decontextualization, and now AI-assisted manipulation.

Sure, this is a long ass article that I am still picking my way through. However, if you’re in online fandom spaces, it will help you contextualize some of the weird shit you’re seeing in terms of super hot takes being launched into the social media stratosphere, people becoming BNFs in fandom for creating and sustaining beef and not for creating content, and so so much of stan twitter. This is an absolutely fascinating piece on internet beef – or just… the fact that the internet is made up of beef at all points – that will probably help you recognize that so much of the strange shit you see folks do on the internet… is in service of one beef or another.

BTS 2020 in Review: 23 Major Milestones and Moments

In 2019, Teen Vogue rounded up our favorite BTS moments from the year in a scrapbook collage of sorts: the historic moments, the funny memes, the style statements, the great music. In 2020, BTS’s story has only grown, as the Korean septet continued to smash barriers with music that was joyous, introspective, and pure comfort in a hellish year.

[…]

Whether you’re a 2013 ARMY or just fell down the rabbit hole this year, enjoy a chronological journey through BTS’s landmark 2020 (and an accompanying Spotify playlist!).

I have said this repeatedly: BTS made 2020 bearable for me. Beyond bearable actually. I have found so much joy in being in different k-pop fandoms, of course, but my main fandom is that of BTS’ ARMY and aside from a part of June and September, it’s a fandom that has been there for me. 2020 was supposed to be my year to engage with BTS & the fandom offline. Obviously that didn’t happen. However, despite (due to?)  the COVID-19 derailment, many of my high points across 2020 were only possible because of BTS. And so it’s been great to look back at everything they’ve done and released across this year!

In China’s Voguing Houses, Queer Millennials Strike a New Pose

The ballroom scene — a subculture where performers compete in extravagant dancing, lip-synching, and modeling contests — is quietly starting to take off in China’s major cities, creating a space for LGBT millennials like Zhao to cut loose and explore their identities safe from the prying eyes of more conservative friends, relatives, and classmates.

The Shanghai contest has attracted an eclectic mix of entrants — from elegant drag queens in body-hugging qipao dresses, to stout men in fishnet stockings. They shake and flex on the brightly lit runway, competing for the crowd’s approval.

I always love learning about queer communities around the world and this piece on China’s voguing houses is incredible. Cultures in conversation, queerness and community… this piece has it all. I wish nothing but the best for queer folks in the Chinese ballroom scene who find their thing in these beautiful spaces. 

The Best K-Pop Moments of 2020

Sleeq’s “Here I Go” on Mnet’s GOOD GIRL

On Mnet’s GOOD GIRL, a hip-hop competition show focusing on established female rappers and idol rappers in the industry, Sleeq reminded the audience that she’s a feminist first and foremost with her second performance on the show. “Here I Go” features the rapper standing barefoot on stage and delivering a powerful, queer, and feminist anthem; it may have missed the mark with the audience and her fellow cast members, but it clicked with a significant international audience that decided to get into the show because of her. When the walls behind her pulled back to reveal rainbow flags, I knew I was going to stan. — Stitch, Culture writer

2020 has been a wild ride for me. I never expected that I’d close out 2020 as someone who’s shown up in Teen Vogue three times. I… didn’t expect to get into Teen Vogue the first time. But here I am closing out 2020 as one of the writers tapped to talk about their best k-pop moments in 2020. I went with three things that stuck with me super hard – sleeq’s big song “Here I Go”, all the Megan Thee Stallion K-pop edits I saw, and a new entertainment company’s attempts at educating artists on cultural appropriation. Three of the things that stuck with me across 2020 for the better. I’m so glad for this opportunity and that I’m in such good company!

This Intimate Love Story Reflects Just How Far Taiwan Has Come On LGBTQ Rights

The film tracks the development of Jia-han and Birdy’s affection for each other. While Jia-han’s romantic feelings for Birdy grew as they went on different “forbidden adventures,” Birdy tried to avoid his feelings for Jia-han by dating an underclass female student, soon after their school started accepting girls. Birdy’s story reflects an unfortunate yet common decision many gay men in Taiwan made at that time. 

“Instead of exploring their sexualities under the new social atmosphere, some of my gay friends still chose to form families with women and had kids,” Liu said. “Each family’s tolerance for gay people coming out was still different and unfortunately, some gay men weren’t able to pursue their true happiness.”

I’m really looking forward to watching Your Name Engraved Herein. Queer histories, queer communtiies, queer cultures. I am full of love for my queer siblings worldwide. I love narratives where they get to just… exist. Where they get to be loved. I’m going to carve out some time to watch the film because this piece on it is truly just an experience that gets me hyped to learn more about an aspect of queer history elsewhere that I hadn’t known before.

He Was An Architect: Little Richard and blackqueer grief

That he had to renounce relation to blackqueerness, to Princess Lavonne and to the feelings he felt, is a grief thing. Grief not for the dead but for the renounced imaginative faculty, the submission to rather than sitting with and moving through the terror provoked by attempting to practice imagination towards a lovingly blackqueer world. Grief organized around an emptiness that does not have to be, yet is. Grief because even after attempts to sever connection, relation is still real, and there, and possible. I feel grief because of those who refused to carry him, to be carried and transformed by him. I hear it in his voice, in the way he talked about his conversion, in the grain and sound of his melancholy when stating that his queer relationality was unnatural. It is the sound of heartbreak.

2020 has been a year filled with grieving. For celebrities, for this lost year, for ourselves and our families. I think that this piece about Little Richard – who passed away earlier this year and, long before that, had essentially rejected his own queerness. This is a piece that hurts, that you hold close anyway because it’s so important. I hate that we live in a world where Little Richard died, never being able to be himself fully.

Japanese Hip-Hop: A History (feat. ☆Taku Takahashi)

A someone who discovered Japanese hip-hop in the late 90s with groups like m-flo and RIP SLYME, I couldn’t be more pleased with the rise of the genre once again. With so many overground and underground acts breathing fresh life into the hip-hop scene in Japan, there’s an almost nonstop selection of new tracks to listen to week after week. This resurgence isn’t showing any signs of stopping too, so with any luck it’ll become one of the mainstay genres in Japan for good this time around.

m-flo’s Taku Takahashi has been on my mind a long time. I grew up with m-flo, one of the first Japanese hip hop groups I’d ever been introduced to, and I learned to rap along with them (and later Home Made Kazoku and various folks who’d go on to collaborate with Namie Amuro and Koda Kumi, my main ladies). As a teenager, all I wanted to do was be good at what they were doing because I was in love with the use of language and lyricism. Over the years, I drifted and I didn’t keep up with what Japanese hip hop artists were doing. This hip hop history pulls me back in with a quickness. Like other hip hop histories outside of the US, this also doesn’t negotiate with or even really mention blackness as a foundation for the history… However, I think it is incredibly useful for someone looking to do work on Japanese hip hop if they’re willing to fill in the blanks and look at blackness in these artists’ work!

Life Was Not a Peach

Some have asked me what I, personally, would like to see as the denouement to this story. What does restitution look like to those of us harmed by Dave and what he built? Yes, it was different then, and our culture has changed, and I understand that he is working toward becoming a better person. I also believe that he owes a tithe beyond an apology. (Releasing every former employee from any nondisclosure agreement that prevents them from talking about what they experienced at Momofuku might be a start.) For all that Dave has edited in and out of this narrative, what he cannot change is the trauma left in his wake. The one thing he can offer up that is commensurate with the scope and scale of the grief he has caused is the space he occupies in restaurants and in culture: He can cede it to someone who will use it to change this toxic industry that has broken so many of us.

I didn’t have beef with David Chang before I read this piece. I’d sideyed him for some of the things he said in Ugly Delicious and the vibes I got from how he talked about food and his friends on that show and other appearances, but he wasn’t a dude that I saw and wanted to shout at on the regular. It wasn’t an aged beef like how I have permanent slapping hand syndrome with Eddie Huang (and, as you all know, TK Park). He was just on the back burner. A low simmering sort of thing to the point where I even still have his book on my wishlist. But I won’t be buying it. In her coverage of David Chang’s autobiography, Hannah Selinger details the toxic masculinity that permeated the boys club of his restaurant and the harmful way that he repackages himself and rewrites his own history. She talks about how the attitude he held and the way he talked down to everyone was abusive, far from the affable “bro” persona he puts on on his shows. Eat A Peach attempts to rewrite his history – on purpose, he absolutely says he’s doing it and shows you the process – but Selinger lifts up the tablecloth to show the mess that’s underneath.

About Zeenah

Zeenah writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.
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