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 Breakdown Race Inequality

Cultural Appropriation vs. Cultural Appreciation: Know the difference

The Breakdown is a Tempest exclusive series that attempts to tackle issues, concepts, terms, and histories that are relevant and intrinsic to conversations about social justice. This is our version of a 101 on Social Justice, with a grassroot level approach that hopes to simplify and make political and cultural conversations accessible in a global level.

The debate around cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation has existed for a while. However, it gained significant momentum recently after the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement after criticism against how Black culture has been heavily appropriated in pop culture and fast fashion. Since May a number of celebrities, influencers, and brands have been called out for cultural appropriation on mass media. One such example is Reformation – a sustainable clothing brand – who was called out for the lack of Black models on their Instagram feed. The brand has since attempted to diversify its feed. On the other hand, rapper Bhad Bhabie came under fire for comparing herself to Tarzan and had to defend herself against accusations of appropriating Black culture.  

But there’s always a question when you see people donned up in clothes, ornaments, or participating in things that are not part of their culture. Are they appropriating another culture or is it appreciation? 

The academic definition of cultural appropriation is “taking over of creative or artistic forms, themes, or practices by one cultural group from another. It is in general used to describe Western appropriations of non‐Western or non‐white forms, and carries connotations of exploitation and dominance.” Appropriation involves enacting on certain parts of a culture such as clothing or hairstyle without a full understanding of the culture and reinforcing stereotypes or holding prejudices against its people. It can also involve not crediting the culture itself or its creators.

An example of cultural appropriation could be wearing a bindi. Buying a bindi from a tourist shop or a company that just produces the item does not give you the full perspective of the culture. In fact, in some ways, it creates a false perspective that it is just merely a decorative ornament. Bindi symbolizes different aspects of the Hindu culture and Indian women who wear it, do so with significance to their culture. 

Wearing a bindi or another piece representing a specific culture might get you positive attention or appreciation. However, when someone from the same culture wears an item from their culture but gets more negative remarks than positive is where it becomes problematic. For instance, wearing a ‘hipster’ headdress is not okay. The warbonnet headdress perpetuated by Hollywood projects the view that all Native American’s have the same culture. There are, however, approximately 500+ distinct tribes with their own cultures. Warbonnets or feather headdresses are not a fashion choice but a symbol of respect and honor that needs to be earned

People are straight-up told that their cultural practices are old-fashioned or conservative. Often times, they may be told to conform to the social norms, or worst case, they may become a target for hate crimes. Remember, when Zac Efron wore dreadlocks “just for fun”? To which, he was reminded that Black people get turned down on job interviews for wearing locs and braids. 

Cultural appreciation, on the other hand, involves appreciating and taking an interest to understand another culture. This involves sharing knowledge with permission and credit those who belong to that culture. For instance, when you purchase an item you buy it directly from the creators. You understand how the item is intended to be used and learn the value it holds in the culture.

Once, a friend of mine was invited to attend a sermon at the mosque. Despite being agnostic herself, she explained to me that she understands the significance of wearing a headscarf to the mosque and respects it. Therefore, she intended on bringing a headscarf to the mosque and cover her hair to show respect during the sermon.

Cultural appreciation involves paying respect to the artists and creators and understanding the origins of a culture. Remember, 2015 Met Gala’s high-risk ‘China through the looking glass’ theme? Rihanna was one of the few attendees of the gala who wore a dress that was crafted by an esteemed Chinese designer. It is not the perfect contextualization but at least a more suitable one. 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to know the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. Romanticizing and sexualizing certain cultural aspects whilst rejecting other aspects that do not interest you trivializes the culture. Appropriation perpetuates stereotypes and racism. It obstructs the views and voices of those who belong to the culture giving it to those who have appropriated it. 

With Halloween just around the corner, here is a quick reminder that culturally appropriated costumes are offensive and should not be worn. Wearing costumes that are cultural stereotypes literally reduces an entire culture and its people to a costume. Need I remind you of Scott Disick’s costume of a ‘Sheikh’ or Julianna Hough who darkened her face to portray a character from Orange Is the New Black. A good idea is to do some research and find out whether or not your costume is racist. Bear in mind though, if you need to do a lot of explaining as to why your costume is not racist, then it is a sign that you should reconsider. (Here is a handy guide of “costumes” you should NOT be wearing)

The bottom line here is that there is a fine line between appropriation and appreciation. We live in an increasingly globalized world and it is important to be mindful of our words and actions. Certain behaviors are never appreciative and should be avoided. It is a learning process but one that is not too difficult. Keep educating yourself because, at the end of the day, we all learn and grow everyday.

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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!

BRB Gone Viral Pop Culture

Don’t Play Yourself: Cam Newton gets his NAACP card revoked

Welcome to another edition of Don’t Play Yourself, a weekly column dragging the rich and famous for embarrassing themselves. Every Friday, I’ll collect this week’s players and decide how thoroughly they played themselves.

After watching people fall over themselves to end up on this list last week, this one was turning out to be a bit of a let down with only David Simon thinking The Wire meant he could say the N-Word and Anthony Weiner doing what he usually does except worse. But then the heavens opened and Cam Newton became determined to have his NAACP card revoked, new SNL cast member Melissa Villasenor forgot to delete a few tweets, and Woke Bae Jesse Williams started (maybe) peddling conspiracy theories.

Cam Newton


First of all, what the fuck is this font? Why are you typing this Uncle Tomfoolery in hieroglyphics? It would have taken less time, and not have strained my eyes, if you just typed “All Lives Matter” in Times New Roman, Cam.

Now that we got the Wingdings out of the way, it’s clear that Cam Newton, the highly publicized and highly criticized Carolina Panthers quarterback, is trying to walk an unwalkable line between remaining palatable to Kate Upton and other white people and being likable to his fellow black folk. But this line is, as I said, unwalkable. Because Kate Upton and her ilk are the same ones who criticized him for dabbing on the field, the same people he identified as likely being unnerved by a black quarterback. The point is: there’s no pleasing them. But Cam is trying. Between this and declaring America “past racism” and demanding black people “do right by ourselves,” he’s determined to gain white approval by having his NAACP card revoked.

Well, you got your wish, Cam. We’ve snatched your card, cut it up, and thrown it into several different disposal sites so you can’t try to piece it back together. To apply for a new one you’ll need to undergo an evaluation at the front office by Colin Kaepernick, Richard Sherman, and the entirety of Black Twitter.

There’s something deeply sad about Cam learning the hard way that there’s no way for him to be everyone’s favorite quarterback, but if his solution is implying that we, the people being brutalized and murdered, share equal fault with the people brutalizing and murdering us, I’d rather he just do right by himself and shut the fuck up.

Did Cam Newton play himself?

David Simon

Okay so there used to be a show called The Wire about the drug dealers, drug users, and cops in Baltimore. David Simon was the creator and showrunner. Full disclosure: I’ve yet to see The Wire. It came out back when we didn’t have an HBO subscription and the internet barely existed, and now you can’t stream it anywhere but HBO, and I’m not paying for that. So I’ve never seen The Wire, but I’ve heard about it. Over and over and over again. The cast was incredibly talented and incredibly black (Idris Elba was in it!), and loving it convinced white people (like David Simon) they had an in with black people.

Which leads us to these stupid tweets, Simon’s attempts at criticizing Sean Hannity moderating a town hall with Donald Trump on issues important to the black community (yes, it’s absurd). These tweets were about as counterproductive and nonsensical as that townhall, another something supposedly being done in the interest of black people, much like Simon publishing these tweets. Except when Simon was informed the N-word wasn’t his to use, he explained why it was. To black people. He tried to explain the N-word to black people because he’s black like us, you know. Maybe blacker because he created The Wire.

Here’s a tip: If you unsubscribed to the mailing list before the “Non-Black People Can’t Say The N-Word” newsletter went out, you’re not cool with us.

Did David Simon play himself? White nonsense always plays itself.

Anthony Weiner

Is Anthony Weiner alive if he’s not getting caught sexting somebody? The answer is clearly no since the man can’t draw breath without landing in the news for sending pictures of his penis to women. Less than a month after getting found out again (really, I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve talked about this man’s need to photograph his penis and send it to people), The Daily Mail reported that Weiner knowingly had a months-long sexting relationship with a 15-year old girl. 

This requires no more explanation. Let’s just get to it.

Did Anthony Weiner play himself? Apparently he’s unsatisfied with embarrassing his wife and family on the national stage, but now he wants to embarrass them and upgrade his bad habits to criminal. #FreeHuma

Melissa Villasenor

By now we all know that when you start a new job, as Melissa Villasenor soon will as SNL‘s first Latina cast member, you gotta scrub that Twitter feed. Now when EYE scrub mine I’m just going to be removing some steamy ruminations on celebrities I don’t know but would like to sleep with, lots of F bombs, and other people’s Vines. Oh hell, I’ll just leave them. Gives me character. This isn’t the case with Villasenor, who first drew some side eyes when two thousand tweets suddenly disappeared from her timeline following her casting announcement, and then ended up being dragged on Twitter when these very racist ones were discovered. 

Now, I am offended by these tweets (the one about Beyonce is nothing short of blasphemy), but these were posted five and six years ago. I can personally attest to being a very different person five years ago. Present day me would have hated five years ago me, trust me. No one comes out of the womb woke, no matter how much we may wish we had so there’s a decent chance that Villasenor’s changed and learned better over the years. Not that her response of blocking everyone who calls her out and simply deleting the offending tweets is very promising.

That being said, why would you delete some of your tweets but not all of them, Melissa? Thousands of tweets disappeared but these got left behind? Girl, what did you delete and why didn’t these make the cut? Did they just slip your notice? How many racist tweets did you have? Or did you just think these weren’t that bad (they are)? 

Did Melissa play herself? Yes. This is poor strategy. For one thing, you can’t be all offended at being called out for this. Really, the BeyHive is gonna follow you with that (straight garbage!) Beyonce statement. At the very least, if you’re gonna delete tweets, you need to delete tweets

Jesse Williams

Okay, so what are you talking about? You’re on Twitter, sir. Twitter is all Cliffnotes. You can’t tweet a vague ass maybe reference to Birth of A Nation‘s Nate Parker PR troubles being a conspiracy and follow it up with another vague ass tweet, that may or may not be referring to the first, almost 24 hours later.

Look, Grey’s Anatomy is back. I’ve given this show almost half of my life, and now every time I see Jesse’s pretty face I’m gonna think, “Wow, does this dude think Nate Parker raping a woman is part of a conspiracy?” I don’t have time for Shondaland to be tainted like this. I want to give Woke Bae the benefit of the doubt (he is Woke Bae: Hollywood Edition), but “they” have been referenced by many seemingly woke baes since the rape allegations against Parker surfaced, as a malevolent force interested only in keeping the black man down. Nevermind Nate Parker’s own role in risking his prospects.

I have no doubt Jesse Williams is aware of the conversation around BOAN and I’m equally convinced he knew, or should have known, what a vague tweet about “they” would sound like (a lot like “Bill Cosby was about to buy NBC”). So why say it? And if it was a misstep then why not just say that? And if we misinterpreted why not just say that? This ambiguity is not good for me, Jesse Williams. Not good at all.

Did Jesse Williams play himself? Not sure yet. I’m gonna need Jesse to tell us what the hell he’s talking about, and if he’s played himself right off his Woke Bae mantle, I’m just gonna turn my full attention to Colin Kaepernick, Woke Bae: Football Edition.