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What do we actually gain from prestigious award shows?

The image of statues toppling to the ground has become a familiar one in recent years. Many busts, figures, and iconography paying tribute to racist histories have been removed—sometimes by the people and sometimes by establishments. But when will our sights be set on film and entertainment, an industry whose institutions continue to give out tiny statues symbolic of a racist and sexist legacy?

The Golden Globes, Academy Awards, and Recording Academy have all come under scrutiny in recent years for lack of diversity, inclusion, and representation amongst its associations, nominees, and awardees. As institutions based in the United States, where white supremacy, systemic racism, and patriarchy are still upheld, each of these award ceremonies have historically failed to acknowledge and celebrate the work and efforts of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), women, and those from the LGBTQIA+ community.

In 2016, this inspired the #OscarsSoWhite protest, a hashtag created by April Reign after the academy awarded all 20 acting nominations to white actors two years in a row. Now, in 2021, the Golden Globes is facing similar backlash, only this time it’s the network that’s finally holding the award show accountable. NBC announced it will not air the Golden Globes in 2022 in order to give the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the group of 87 international journalists that presents the Golden Globe Awards, time to make meaningful changes.

One such change should be diversifying its ranks; the HFPA has no Black members, and it shows in how the HFPA conducts itself. This year, an HFPA member confused Daniel Kaluuya for Leslie Odom Jr. This occurred right after Kaluuya won Best Supporting Actor for his work in Judas and the Black Messiah. Another member, the President of the HFPA no less, was expelled from the group after calling Black Lives Matter a “hate movement.”

On top of blatant racism, the Globes have also been accused of sexism. Scarlett Johansson called for the awards ceremony to be boycotted, noting that she has faced “sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on sexual harassment.”

The HFPA also was sued recently by Kjersti Flaa, a Norwegian entertainment journalist. Flaa accused the HFPA of “institutionalizing a culture of corruption.” Specifically, she alleged HFPA members accept thousands of dollars in emoluments from studios, networks, and celebrities who are then awarded trophies in top categories. And this isn’t the first lawsuit of this nature filed against the HFPA. In 2011, publicist Michael Russell sued the HFPA after watching the association accept money, vacations, gifts, and other perks from studios and producers. These same studios and producers were then nominated and awarded Golden Globes.

However, Flaa’s lawsuit against the HFPA was dismissed by a judge, leading a current member to disclose to the Los Angeles Times: “The dismissal was disappointing. I thought it would shake things up…We are an archaic organization. I still think the HFPA needs outside pressure to change.”

This year, The Weeknd, Halsey, Teyana Taylor, Nicki Minaj, and Zayn Malik accused the Grammys of practices similar to those of the Globes. Following The Weeknd’s dismissal of the award show, Drake said, “I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards. This is a great time for somebody to start something new that we can build up over time and pass on to the generations to come.”

On top of alleged corruption, the Grammy Awards hasn’t consistently recognized people of color in its top categories. For example, the last Black artist to win Album of the Year was Herbie Hancock in 2008, and the last Black woman artist was Lauryn Hill in 1999, according to The New York Times.  In 2020, Tyler, The Creator joined Drake, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean in criticizing the Grammys for continuing to overlook Black artists.

“It sucks that whenever we—and I mean guys that look like me—do anything that’s genre-bending they always put it in a rap or urban category. I don’t like that ‘urban’ word—it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me. When I hear that I’m just like why can’t we be in pop? Half of me feels like the rap nomination was a back-handed compliment,” Tyler, The Creator said backstage after winning Best Rap Album for “IGOR” at the 2020 Grammys.

The Golden Globes and the HFPA also have a habit of snubbing people of color. Despite a variety of Black-led film productions released last year, none were nominated for Best Motion Picture Drama at the 2021 Globes. This includes Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Judas and the Black Messiah, and One Night in Miami. In addition, Minari, an American film, won Best Foreign-Language Film, proving once again how Asian Americans are viewed in the U.S.

Minari’s Youn Yuh-Jung wasn’t nominated for any categories, even though she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Other snubs included Meryl Streep, who wasn’t nominated but her Prom co-star James Cordon was; and Cristin Milioti, who wasn’t nominated but her Palm Springs co-star Andy Samberg was. The HFPA also confusingly nominated Sia’s controversial and ableist film Music for Best Musical/Comedy Motion Picture.

Headscratchers like any of the abovementioned choices only give more credence to former host Ricky Gervais’s analysis that the Golden Globes award is a “bit of metal that some nice old confused journalists wanted to give you in person so they could meet you and have a selfie with you.” Don’t get me started on how the Golden Globes and other award shows have failed to acknowledge, nominate, and award entertainment industry performers like stuntmen and women and voice actors.

All of these exclusionary efforts beg the question: who are these award shows for?

Historically, NBC has promoted the Globes as “Hollywood’s Party of the Year.” But if it’s a party for Hollywood, why is it televised for us? And I’m not the only one who’s wondering. Ratings for these shows continue to drop. This year’s Golden Globes ratings decreased by 63% (6.9 million people watched this year compared to 18.4 million last year), the Oscars decreased nearly 56% (10.4 million people compared to last year’s 23.6 million), and the Grammys decreased by 53% (8.8 million viewers compared to 18.7 million last year).

As moviegoers, television show viewers, and music listeners, we know awards and accolades don’t affect how we consume media. Films, television shows, and music will resonate with us whether or not it’s award-winning. We relate to content no matter what anyone else says, especially faceless associations who fail to check the racism and sexism that runs rampant amongst their ranks.

So again I ask: who are these award shows for? If award shows are important in recognizing creativity and excellence in an industry, then I have to agree with Drake and suggest we establish new institutions to do so. To the Golden Globes, Oscars, and Grammys I say good riddance and good day—because if these old institutions continue to fail to make room at the table for everyone, then why not start a new table with limitless chairs?

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It’s been a full decade and One Direction still gives me butterflies in my stomach

Somehow, someway, One Direction turned ten this week.

Yes, ten. And, at 21 years old myself, I’m not quite sure when time managed to escape mebecause in my head I am still 13 writing fanfiction in my room, hanging up posters from Rolling Stone of the band on a beach, and having my heart literally melt because of the way that Harry Styles shakes his hair out of his eyesbut it is right now, in this moment, that I feel as if I’ve crashed headfirst into unwarranted adulthood. As if the rug has been pulled out from underneath me. Damn.

Ten years is a very, very long time. A lot can happen within a single decadein fact, a lot did happen. We’ll get to more on that later, but it is important to say first that I am starkly nostalgic of those times, which now seem to be reminiscent of the most incredible joy and comfort. It seemed as if the mind, body, and spirit of every single Directioner somehow operated on the same wavelength—and heartbeat. I always loved the idea that we all, as a collective, validated one another’s thoughts or commentary and found community in adoration. Looking back, being part of a fandom like this one was surely a bit of necessary respite in a time of awkwardness, petty teenage relationships, and deceit. 

Of course, there are other things too. For starters, it is common practice to associate things like personal style, music, cinema, and clothing to be both obvious and meaningful stakeholders of culture—which certainly helps in the case of any band or musician. Think of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk or Elton John’s sunglasses. Those are things you will never forget, or that you will even cherish. The kind of things that you can point out from a mile away. The kind of things that seem to transcend time and place—that sort through all of the randomness and bring you back to that one perfect moment or feeling. For One Direction, at least to me, it’s their silhouettes and boyish laughs. But also, it’s their evolution from shaggy hair, varsity jackets, khaki pants, suspenders, and striped T-shirts to slick black suits, skinny jeans, assortments of tattoos, and wide brim fedoras all the while maintaining a charming sense of self. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking—she’s obsessed! And, while that is a true statement, I am not just saying these things as a fangirl. Trust me, I’ve fallen in ‘love’ with my fair share of boy bands (insert the Jonas Brothers, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Big Time Rush here) but nobody, and I mean nobody, compares to One Direction. So, although this might seem like a stretch for most people, One Direction defined a generation. And, they defined it in a way that moved way beyond the capabilities and limitations of music.

There is no denying the enormity of the impact and that One Direction had, whether you are a fan or not. It is clear as day. 

However, it is quite important to note that their career as a band was not always a linear feat. As most people know, they weren’t always a band. Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson each started off as solo artists, all under 25 years old, on the X-Factor UK. On July 23, 2010 Simon Cowell, the notorious judge of the talent competition, pulled the 5 boys together and gave them the chance of a lifetime. By the time they rounded out the competition, One Direction wound up in third place and backed by Cowell’s record label, Syco. Right off the bat their first singles as a band toppled charts across every single continent. Quite literally, their Na na na‘s could be heard world-wide, which is nothing short of a testament to the stardom that they soon would face. Not to mention the frenzy of fans, media, and paparazzi that quickly surrounded the boys which in hindsight seems like an all-encompassing storm. It was a non-stop cycle of album making, global touring, countless 24-hour long live-streams and video diaries commemorating their relationship with fans, along with goofy realness that made them immensely crush-worthy. 

Fast-forwarding a bit, One Direction managed to accomplish a ton while in the limelight. In 2011, the band’s debut album Up All Night shot to #1 overnight and stayed there, making them the first UK group to peak at #1 in the US with a debut album. In addition, they were the first group to debut at #1 with their first four albums in the US: Up all Night, Take Me Home, Midnight Memories, and Four. In 2012, the band performed at the Olympics closing ceremony in London. By 2013, the group produced and released two concert documentaries titled One Direction: This Is Us and One Direction: Where We Are. In 2014, Billboard announced One Direction Artist of the Year. Altogether, the band has sold more than 70 million records worldwide. In addition, they’ve taken home 16 MTV awards, 154 awards in other isolated categories, and have been nominated for 317 awards in total. Plus, they have sold over 8,287,195 tickets on their tours.

On March 25, 2015 Zayn Malik, 22 years old at the time, left the band during the One The Road Again tour citing a need for normalcy and some time out of the spotlight. Speculations have risen since then about the real reason behind his leaving the band, including episodes of discrimination based on his religion and music style. The other boys continued on and produced the Made in the A.M. album that same year. The band never toured with this album and announced that they too would be going on a hiatus in January of 2016. All 5 members have gone on to maintain remarkable solo careers while holding on tight to their roots in One Direction. The most successful being Harry Styles, an undeniable international heartthrob and sensation.

So far, there has been no serious mention of a reunion in the near future, but hey, miracles do happen! Based on their social media presence on the day of their 10 year anniversary, the boys seem as amicable, genuine, and grateful as they were a decade ago.

Within their record-breaking career before entering a hiatus, the quintet managed to reaffirm what a boy band means all the while establishing their unique and notable brand. These are heavy, even monumental, footsteps to fill.

So, no, One Direction is not just a measly boy band. At incredibly young ages, they were thrust into a world of not so subtle adoration and managed to produce worthwhile music for a loyal, dedicated, fanbase. They changed my life in the best way. Let’s give credit where credit is due and grant them the celebration that they so desperately deserve.

Happy 10 Years of One Direction! 


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Music Pop Culture

In the battle of solo careers, which One Direction boy REALLY reigns supreme?

When I was approached with the idea for this piece, my immediate reaction was, “I could never. It’d be like choosing a favorite child!” But then I thought, as a self-proclaimed One Direction scholar and a longtime (read: long-suffering) fan, who better to do the job? Besides, I’m sick of reading similar posts from stuffy music critics who never deigned to pay attention to the boys until after the hiatus.

For the sake of this article, I’ll  be ranking the boys based on their own solo singles. Singles released with DJs (i.e. “Just Hold On” and “Get Low”) will not count. I’ll also be ranking them from five (the lowest) to one (the highest). Here we go:

5. Liam Payne

Liam originally tried out for the X-Factor two years before the other boys. When he was denied, he returned with a vengeance.

When Simon Cowell wiggled his fingers and created 1D just before boot camp in 2010, the other boys always remarked how Liam was the most serious about the entire process. I take you on that quick trip down memory lane to say this: Liam Payne was always going to make solo music. There was never any doubt in my mind. So, I expected more from him. A lot more. “Strip That Down,” while catchy as hell, is incredibly cliche.

Not to mention the lyrics, “I used to be in 1D/But now I’m free” sounds like he decided to have a go with a Songwriting For Dummies book.

4. Niall Horan

I feel guilty for saying this but…I didn’t expect much from Niall.

He’s very happy-go-lucky and was an even bigger 1D fan that I am, but I never expected him to go solo. When he released his first single before the other boys (minus Zayn of course) I was beyond surprised. That being said, “This Town” did nothing for me. It was too reminiscent of Ed Sheeran. It was extremely “white boy sings a generic love song while playing acoustic guitar.” I got my fill of that particular genre during my college years, thank you very much.

His second single “Slow Hands,” though? Well, that’s a certified bop.

3. Louis Tomlinson

Louis’s voice has always been a polarizing topic of discussion within the fandom.

The general consensus is that he’s an awful singer. I, however, am firmly not in that majority. I love Louis’s voice. I spent my formative years listening to pop punk bands and Louis’s higher pitch reminds me of all the front-men I grew up listening to. I’ve been hoping he’d start a pop punk band since 2012. “Back to You” is not the emo anthem I dreamt about, but I still love it a whole lot. His voice works well with upbeat pop music, and his single caught and kept my attention longer than Liam’s and Niall’s.

There was a solid week straight where I watched the video about twice a day. 

2. Zayn Malik

This is the big one.

Zayn had to put out a legendary album if I was ever going to forgive him for the utter devastation he caused me after essentially breaking up with the other boys (in the middle of a tour!) via text. Luckily, with Mind of Mine, he delivered a truly classic album. I’ve always felt a specific kinship with Zayn because he was the only person of color and because, like me, he was raised on R&B and reggae music. Since he had such incredible formative musical influences, I was confident that his solo music wouldn’t let me down. Unlike Liam, Zayn was able to live up to my high expectations for him. Now all I need from him is an actual tour.  

It’s been two years, Zayn. I’m waiting. 

1. Harry Styles

I’ve been a Harry girl from day one, but I’ll be honest with you, I was scared to listen to his solo stuff.

Unlike Zayn, all of Harry’s musical influences are the opposite of my own. He loves Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles and The Rolling Stones….basically the kind of music my white friends put on and are horrified I don’t recognize. In many ways, Harry’s self-titled album is exactly what I expected. It’s grandiose. It’s ambitious, and I can trace each specific influence on each track. But I love it. It’s been incredibly satisfying to watch the goofy and weirdly polite boy I’ve loved for the last six years slowly take over the world.

He sounds great, his live performances have been amazing, and if I get to watch him prance around in neon and floral-print suits, can I really complain?

Listen, I’ll always love my 1D boys. It’s just…now that they’re solo, I love some of them a teeny bit more than others.

Race Inequality

32 amazing moments #curryscentedbitch took Azealia Banks by storm

Azealia Banks’ Twitter is an absolute hot mess right now.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Twitter beef – it all started when Azealia Banks called out Zayn Malik for allegedly using her music video “Chasing Time” as a “mood board” for his own, “Like I Would.”

Several Tweets and insults later, and a full-out feud had taken over everyone’s timeline. Banks proceeded to attack the singer, employing various racial slurs and cuss words as she went along. Banks took things even further with the following tweets:

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It seems Banks lacks any sort of cultural-sensitivity, in all meanings of the word.

Jasmeet Singh (also known as @jusreign on Twitter) started the trend #CurryScentedBitch in response, throwing a positive spin on Azealia’s offensive tirade.

The hashtag completely took off within a few hours, with the desi community coming together to simultaneously squash the stereotypes and completely slay our timelines.


































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Tips & Tricks Surviving the Holidays Culture Family Humor Life

28 moments every young Pakistani knows all too well

1. You tell your American friends that the lota in your bathroom is used to water the plants.

“You know…for all the plants I grow behind the toilet.”


2. When your family goes out to eat, your parents still choose a Pakistani or Indian restaurant.

I mean, it’s not like you eat that food everyday or something.


3. At least half of your family suffers from high blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes.

Is it genetics or the super unhealthy saalan? The world may never know.


4. Your mom uses ghee.

Like, for everything.


5. No guest ever leaves your house hungry.

Your mom will stuff them full out of love.


6. When you tell people you’re Pakistani, they think you’re Middle Eastern.

Let’s have a little geography lesson, shall we?


7. People mistake you for being Indian all the time.

Do we seriously need a history lesson, too?


8. Your curfew is completely fair and reasonable.

Just kidding. If you leave to go to a party at 11 p.m., your parents expect you back home by midnight.


9. Your parents only allow you to sleep over at your desi friends’ houses.

All your other friends’ houses are unsafe and their parents cannot be trusted.


10. You’re not allowed to have guy friends.


11. You call new Pakistani immigrants FOBs (fresh off the boat).

And the FOBs call you an ABCD (American-born confused Desi).


12. You go to the nearby Arab halal market to buy meat and the local Indian grocery store to buy vegetables.

The Pakistani halal meat and veggie market ceases to exist.


13. Your parents are always telling you to clean the house in case some random auntie or uncle comes over uninvited.

And sure enough, they usually do.


14. You’re constantly discovering new cousins you didn’t know existed.

Your parents seem to find a new relative to add to the tree at every brown gathering.


14. You are proud to tell people that Malala is the first Pakistani to win the Noble Peace Prize.

There’s a 100% chance that Malala is cooler than you.


15. You are also proud to tell people that Zayn Malik is Pakistani.

There’s also a 100% chance that Zayn is hotter than you.


16. Your parents go easy on your brothers in terms of chores, curfews, punishments…

…and now that I think about it, pretty much everything else in life.


17. Your mom drops mad cash on Pakistani clothes but refuses to give you $20 to spend on jeans.

On the plus side, you have an endless supply of shalwar kameez to wear.


18. Your parents will haggle over anything and everything.



19. Your parents want you to live with them forever and never move out.


20. You call your parents Ami, Abu, Ama, Aba, Baba, Papa, Mama, some variation of the sort (but never Mom or Dad).



21. Aunties hug you and kiss you on both cheeks while greeting you with an extra “Mashallah.”

Even when the last time they saw you, you were the size of a tomato. (Or that’s how she described it to me, anyway.)


22. Your parents talk to you in Urdu, and you respond to them in English.

The best you can do is some broken form of Urdu-English.


23. Your mom watches overly-dramatized Pakistani soap operas in her downtime.

Featuring terrifying and manipulative mother-in-laws, spoiled rich daughters, obsessive and psychotic men…you know, the usual.


24. Your parents think yelling into the phone when talking to relatives in Pakistan will help them hear better on the other side of the world.

Because, logic.


26. 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. is chai time.


27. Your parents have mentioned marriage to you at least a thousand times.

Probably a thousand times this week alone, actually.


28. No matter what people say, you’re proud to be a Pakistani.


Music Pop Culture

1D? More like NO DIRECTION because that’s my life now

If you are anywhere on the spectrum of Zayn fan–from wild-eyed and weak-kneed at his every high note to mildly-interested defender of his ice cream swirl hair, to someone who has only googled his angelic face and voice once or twice as a pick-me-up- then you know that yesterday was a dark and tragic day.

One Direction is no longer a band, but just an amalgamation of four attractive white British and Irish guys with varying quality of voices, senses of humor, and social media savvy (I’m looking at you, Liam “Literally just get off Twitter, please” Payne).

If you don’t know what happened, it doesn’t matter. None of us really do. I’m sure there will be one or two or 12 million thought pieces and nightly news specials chronicling every real and speculative detail. The only thing that matters is that Zayn is gone from the band and they might as well just call themselves “four-guys-who-need-help-with-all-the-high-notes (4GWNHWATHN).” Zayn, I know you want to be a “normal 22-year-old” (AS IF Zayn could ever be “normal” when he’s the most perfect human ever to grace the Earth but ok, Zayn you can try) and I can’t blame you for wanting some time away from what is the harshest glare the spotlight has to offer.

As a dear friend and fellow 1D fan said, “Aside from death, terminal illnesses, environmental crises, nuclear war, other atrocities against humans and animals, and anti-feminism, this actually is the worst thing that could ever happen. EVER.”

In all seriousness, the one thing that has been chronicled time and time again is that Zayn has always “struggled with fame” (according to news media outlet after tabloid after online forum). The way the media–and Zayn himself/the representatives themselves–have phrased his struggle has been rather unforgiving, and they don’t get at the crux of why Zayn left the band.

In my opinion, it feels a lot like discrimination or at the very least, lack of respect for one of the most famous (and best) singers in the world. From the beginning of One Direction’s time on the X-Factor,  Zayn has often been made to be the “odd one out” of the group, the least talkative on the press junket, doing his own thing or leaving the crowds behind when he could, even skipping interviews with the press to be with family.

There is one example of what feels a lot like discrimination that I want to highlight: the recent One Direction TV Special from December 2014.The boys were at Disneyworld in Orlando, FL, singing some of their past hits and sharing tidbits about their favorite times on tour. One of the segments features Liam as a “host” of sorts, asking the other band members questions from fans, all while riding a roller coaster at high speed. This makes the answers hilarious, of course, because Liam has trouble reading the cards and his fellow band member has to scream loudly as he grasps for an answer.

But there’s a band member missing, and that’s Zayn. And it’s not the first time, either. As one-fifth of arguably the most famous band in the universe, management, the TV studio, whomever was in charge, chose the ONE activity that Zayn simply didn’t want to do because, like me and at least four other people I can name off the top of my head right now, he just doesn’t like roller coasters (should we also start a band? “the anti-roller-coasters”?). It’s literally just a preference. It’s just a thing he didn’t feel comfortable doing. And so, he was excluded. Is anyone surprised that, much as he loves his bandmates, he doesn’t feel supported in his moments of stress by his band’s management? If I were Zayn,  I probably would have thrown my hands up in the air in frustration and left the band right then and there. As it stands, he just makes an adorable expression:

Further, while Zayn loves singing, we have to remember that being a part of One Direction was first and foremost his job. He showed up to work every day, and in many ways had to put on a facade for others–one that hid any part of him that was different (which can be taken to mean any part of him that was Desi, that was Muslim, that was shy, that was not the same as his fellow bandmates, that was not the same as what everyone wanted him to do and be). And yet, we watched as he was still disproportionately targeted by the media, by Islamophobes, by racist haters, even to the point that back in 2012, he left Twitter for a short time after the most Islamophobic nonsense ever propagated caused him as he put it kindly “abuse.”

It would seem that One Direction is in many ways literally a case study of how marginalization happens: where it’s all fun and games until someone leaves the band. I would never doubt that Zayn and his bandmates are all truly the best friends they say they are, but it’s clear that you can be in a group of five of the most famous people in the galaxy, and if you have something that is different about you, you can still feel forced to be like everyone else.

On a parting note to Zayn, I just want to quote his uncle, who tweeted recently:



Especially the last line:  “Stress and feeling depressed can kill. People need to understand, his health is more important.” I think this is a good time to talk about mental health and the stigma behind it. It got so bad for the best band member in the universe that he quit what we all think of as a dream job just to keep going every day. “i’m just sad. i’m sad for us, i’m sad for the boys for losing their best friend, i’m sad for all of the potential wasted, but most of all i’m sad for all of the pain zayn must have been in and how lonely he must have felt in stadiums full of thousands of people to need to leave it all behind” (from Tumblr User niallerthecreator).

Maybe this is a wake-up call to all of us to question the environments in which we put our favorite movie, TV, and music stars. Zayn is neither the first casualty of the international media nor the last, but he was definitely the best.

This piece was written with help from Sidrah Baloch and Sanam Anwar.