The Internet Music Pop Culture

Social media embarks on a campaign to bully the Tramp Stamps off the internet

It was a quick rise and an even quicker fall for new pop-punk trio Tramp Stamps. After releasing their third single, “I’d Rather Die,” TikTok, Twitter, and even Tumblr showed up and showed out to do what social media does best: expose, ridicule, and shame. If you sift through the bullying, dogpiling, and trolling, you’ll get to the roots of the matter—which has nothing to do with three women trying to make it in the punk industry and everything to do with selling harmful ideologies of white feminism for capitalist gain.

The Tramp Stamps’ first song, “Sex With Me” was catchy, fun, and interesting enough to listen to after I closed TikTok. However, I probably only listened to the song a handful of times before my For You Page became overrun with call-out videos. It truly felt like one moment the Tramp Stamps were just a burgeoning band using TikTok like any other small artist. Then I blinked and they became mouthpieces for something far more insidious.

On April 9, 2021, the Tramp Stamps released “I’d Rather Die.” While the title might read aggressively to those unfamiliar with internet culture, I’d argue the title doesn’t give listeners enough warning about its content. The second verse is what led TikTok user ‘furbyrights’ to sum up perfectly: “Assault is not punk.” I’ll let them explain in the following video.

Another user ‘blacksupremac1st’ pointed out that the lyrics sexualize and fetishize people of color and queer women—because what else are you implying when you say that straight white men are boring to have sex with?

Then, internet users discovered that one of the band’s members, Paige Blue, is married to a— wait for it —straight white guy! So, on top of being incredibly problematic, the song is also hypocritical.

The band made a video clarifying “I’d Rather Die” is based on the fact that each member has had a bad sexual experience with straight white men who coincidentally had the same name. But intention versus impact is real. Just because the Tramp Stamps never intended to come off a certain way doesn’t mean that wasn’t the impact. Their video is pretty similar to a common strategy white people use to wiggle out of acknowledging white privilege, systemic racism, and internalized white supremacy.

No matter how the Tramp Stamps tried to defend themselves, TikTok, Twitter, and Tumblr were not having it. They were essentially bullied off of every platform.

On April 17, the band released a statement on their Twitter. In addition to refuting cancel culture, the group also decried the industry plant accusation as sexist and ageist. But you might be wondering, what’s an industry plant?

Complex defines industry plants as typically obscure artists who are signed by record labels, given a new sound and aesthetic, and then “jammed down the throats of consumers.” Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Post Malone, and more have all been called industry plants by various deep corners of the internet. However, I’m not a big enough music snob to care whether the Tramp Stamps are an industry plant or not. I’m more worried about how the Tramp Stamps and their label are trying to use white feminism as their ticket to song sales.

Koa Beck, in her book White Feminism, defines white feminism as “an ideology and a very specific approach and strategy toward achieving gender equality that focuses more on individual accumulation, capital, and individuality—accruing power without any redistribution or reconsideration of it.” NBC’s Marie Solis echoes this definition, describing white feminism as a fundamentally exclusionary ideology with a goal “not to alter the systems that oppress women—patriarchy, capitalism, imperialism—but to succeed within them” and exploit women and marginalized people in the process.

If white feminism and the Tramp Stamps were two concentric circles, their annulus is why many internet users have dubbed the band Riot Grrrlbosses, a play on Riot Grrrl and Girlboss. But, the Girlboss era ended – for good reasons.

White feminism—and the girl bosses it created—has not prioritized intersectionality, inclusivity, or even real feminism. Even though multilevel marketing (MLM) companies still try to use this two-dimensional brand of feminism as a profitable strategy, today’s consumers are savvier than that. Today’s consumers know social justice work like feminism doesn’t mesh with capitalism because capitalism is still used to exploit so many communities. For the Tramp Stamps to think they can apply #girlpower to their songs and then pat themselves on the back for being “progressive” and “feminist”—it just doesn’t work. And it’s quite lazy.

The Tramp Stamps situation is also frustrating because there’s plenty of pop-punk and punk bands who are actually doing more for the genre than just posing as do-gooders. Contrary to what Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine believes, there are so many bands, like Meet Me @ The Altar and Magnolia Park, keeping the punk genre alive for a new generation. And, if you scroll through the replies under the Tramp Stamps’ latest Twitter post, you’ll see even more bands like Pinkshift and Hoity-Toity making it known that punk is for literally everyone.

Should the Tramp Stamps continue their career, I hope they realize that so many music listeners want to support women in music. But it isn’t 2017 anymore, and the white feminist schtick isn’t going to cut it. Let this debacle serve as a reminder for any other girl bosses coming up in the music industry.

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The Internet TV Shows Celebrities Pop Culture

The end of The Ellen DeGeneres Show won’t end misogyny, but it may set a new tone

Growing up in the early 2000s meant spending Saturday mornings in different check-out aisles around town. What I remember most about these check-out aisles is the tiers of gossip magazines guiding our way toward the exit. While my parents paid for groceries and whatnot, I would read the salacious headlines and stare at the flash photography illuminating disgruntled celebrities in the backseats of their SUVs. Today, these magazines look very different, and finally, one of the last remaining pillars from this era is being knocked down: The Ellen DeGeneres Show will air its last season in 2022 after a 19-season run.

You might be wondering how we jumped from gossip magazines to The Ellen DeGeneres Show. On paper, the two sound unconnected because of their obvious differences. The former tends to be highly criticized for its sexist, racist, and generally off-color coverage of celebrities, while the latter is a beloved household name that has survived the competitive television circuit since 2003 thanks to its “be kind” brand. However, like most brands, Ellen DeGeneres’ has long been all talk and no action.

While plenty of headlines have covered the show’s internal problems, namely its toxic workplace environment, I’d like to turn our attention to what was presented to the public. I’m talking about the interviews that were deemed acceptable to be filmed and broadcasted for audiences to watch every day at 3 pm.

Quite a few of these interviews reveal how Ellen DeGeneres has long been the tolerated, and even esteemed, equivalent of the nosy, disrespectful paparazzo loitering outside of celebrities’ houses trying to capture them at their worst moments. Many of the celebrities who were caught by DeGeneres’s camera lens and then poked fun at on live television were women.

In 2008, Mariah Carey went on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and was grilled by DeGeneres on whether she was pregnant. In the interview, Carey immediately replies to the inquiry with, “Don’t discuss that.” DeGeneres then pressures Carey into drinking Champagne—knowing full well that someone who is pregnant will most likely decline any alcohol.

In 2020, Carey spoke out about this interview with Vulture, stating: “I was extremely uncomfortable with that moment is all I can say. And I really have had a hard time grappling with the aftermath. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone because I had had a miscarriage. I don’t want to throw anyone that’s already being thrown under any proverbial bus, but I didn’t enjoy that moment.”

DeGeneres’s need to get the scoop on Carey’s pregnancy is a disgusting ploy similar to those of story-hungry paparazzi. It’s no longer fashionable to hide in people’s bushes to catch them in the act, and yet DeGeneres made a career out of doing exactly that. Her audience has found this funny for almost two decades, but it’s not funny to disrespect people’s boundaries and privacy, especially in regard to sensitive topics like pregnancies.

Sofia Vergara is another celebrity who was treated cruelly by DeGeneres. In 2017, DeGeneres thought it would be funny to “teach” Vergara English words, even though Vergara clearly speaks English. Over the years, DeGeneres continued to make comments about Vergara’s English in various interviews, which only upholds racist misconceptions white America believes about people who have learned English as their second language. To echo what the internet has already said, white Americans like DeGeneres only speak one language—English—and yet are fully comfortable making fun of people who have learned multiple languages simply because they speak English with an accent.

Years later, Vergara said she was always in on the joke, but that doesn’t mean DeGeneres’ comments weren’t still hurtful to many communities. The fact is these jokes should not have ever been made, especially if DeGeneres believes in “being kind.” It’s not kind to belittle your guests, nor is it kind to condescend to them for achieving something you haven’t even achieved. These jokes also take away time and energy that could have been spent acknowledging Vergara’s accomplishments as an actress. DeGeneres’s treatment of Vergara foreshadowed her treatment of Hasan Minhaj—whose name she should have known how to pronounce before inviting him onto the show.

Other celebrities like Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift have been put on the spot about their dating lives—which is never any of our business, let alone Ellen DeGeneres’. I’d even argue that DeGeneres is one of the reasons why Swift was ridiculed so heavily for her love life back in the day. Dakota Johnson and Katy Perry have had to call DeGeneres out on-air. And Celine Dion had to sit and defend her son’s hair to a woman who should know better than anyone why gender stereotypes are archaic.

Now, DeGeneres might be calling the allegations against her misogynistic—”I have to say if nobody else is saying it, it was really interesting because I’m a woman, and it did feel very misogynistic,” she said—and yet she fails to acknowledge her own misogynistic behavior.

This could be because misogyny has become more of a mainstream term, which can dilute the severity of the issues the word was coined to address. Simply put, misogyny is any hatred, mistrust, or prejudice against women. What misogyny looks like today is often more pedestrian than we’d care to admit. Misogyny is ingrained in societies around the world, and thus ingrained in us. Women can be just as misogynistic as anyone else and can even speak out against misogyny while still upholding it in their words, actions, and comedy.

How Ellen DeGeneres treated many of the guests on her show is misogynistic. Instead of supporting women celebrities, she’s often made sure to use them as the butt of her jokes. While this does complicate her legacy, it’s not without reason. She was a trailblazer for the LGBTQIA+ community, and yet she didn’t always represent the inclusive values of this community and that’s something she’s going to have to account for.

Ellen DeGeneres is out of touch—and has been for almost the entirety of her show’s run. Her approach to her guests turned the worst aspects of paparazzi culture into something acceptable despite its misogynist implications. Women and their experiences should never be ridiculed in front of mass audiences. That’s bullying, and if her brand is really about “being kind,” then this should have been obvious to Ellen DeGeneres years ago.

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Press Pop Culture

Best of The Tempest 2018: 9 Stories from Pop Culture

It’s been a peculiar year in the realm of entertainment. We’ve had such big, progressive victories and such big setbacks and anachronisms in terms of representation, transparency, and inclusivity. Many LGBTQ+ artists thrived, and 2018 was dubbed 20GAYTEEN by singer Hayley Kiyoko. It was the year of Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians, and yet big name studios are still out there producing films that are imbued with racism, sexism, homophobia, and fatphobia as well as often promoting rape and hate.

We’re still light years away from consuming the egalitarian entertainment we deserve. I knew that very well when I became Pop Culture Editor at The Tempest. I understood that I would have to look closely at many media products that would make me mad, which I would rather ignore and avoid at all costs, but I gladly accepted the challenge. I believe our mission is to shed light on everything that is going on, and that includes denouncing the many injustices that occur in the entertainment industry. We can’t possibly stay silent about the things we deem wrong, because silence is complicity.

But we also don’t like to only see the glass half empty, and we love to admit that there are many things to praise and to celebrate. Without further ado, I present to you 9 of my favorite Pop Culture stories we published in 2018, a mix of the good and the bad.

1. Why are blockbuster films pretending that lesbians and bisexuals don’t exist?

Why are blockbuster films pretending that lesbians and bisexuals don’t exist?

Despite the good representation that television and the music industry gifted us with this year, blockbusters are still actively promoting the erasure of female queerness as well as employing queer bait. This is a trend that needs to stay in 2018.

2. What time is it, Hollywood?

What time is it, Hollywood?

What about what happens behind the camera? This article explores some trends of the entertainment industry from the inside out, because actresses are not the only people we need to protect. Let’s say #TimesUp to all kinds of discrimination.

3. Dislikeable female characters aren’t inherently feminist – but that’s okay

Dislikeable female characters aren’t inherently feminist – but that’s okay

There is a big misconception in fiction and in critique: that a female character who dares be different and dislikable is automatically a great feminist heroine. She’s not, and that’s okay.

4. Why I’m boycotting J.K. Rowling and her “Fantastic Beasts”

Why I’m boycotting J.K. Rowling and her “Fantastic Beasts”

We are tired of people giving J.K. Rowling a free pass for everything just because she wrote a beautiful book series 20 years ago. For a while now, she has been twisting things to appear “woke” instead of honestly admitting that as the times progressed, she also wants to be more inclusive. There is no need to say that she was planning plot twists all along when in reality the implications of that make her way more problematic. Read why in this piece!

5. Bollywood item numbers are more dangerous than we think

Bollywood item numbers are more dangerous than we think

If you don’t know what an item number is, you need to read this piece. If you do know, you need to read this piece. It’s eye-opening and I will never look at a Bollywood film the same way again.

6. This director’s approach to diverse female characters completely changed my movie-watching experience

This director’s approach to diverse female characters completely changed my movie-watching experience

Contrary to what some haters will have you believe about feminists, we do celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of men, when they deserve it. This article is a clap on the back of an Oscar-winning director for an amazing film that contributed to making 2018 better.

7. Yes, The Bold Type is unrealistic… just not for the reasons you think

Yes, The Bold Type is unrealistic… just not for the reasons you think 

You may or may not know this show, which was a true revelation for its honest representation of working (and woke!) millennial women. However, the show has been accused of portraying a utopistic world of equality (but it really doesn’t, the protagonists deal with misogyny, racism and homophobia every day). This article cleverly responds to that claim, contextualizing it particularly within the journalism world (where the main characters spend most of their time) that we know too well.

8. Karma has finally come for Chris Brown, and we can thank women for that

Karma has finally come for Chris Brown, and we can thank women for that

Abusers deserve to be held accountable for their actions. After the tidal wave that was the #MeToo movement, it’s good to see that celebrities are still being taken down after abusive behavior.

9. My mind tells me to read, but my body is overwhelmed and overworked

My mind tells me to read, but my body is overwhelmed and overworked

A constant struggle in the transition to adulthood is that we are burdened with too many responsibilities and we have too little time to do the things we actually want to do out of sheer pleasure, like reading. It does not help that books have gained a very strong competitor for our time and attention, the “monster” that are streaming services.

We’re ready to kiss 2018 goodbye. In the hope that 2019 will be a more satisfying year for women, people of color, and all oppressed minorities, happy new year from the staff of The Tempest!