Opinion: Niamh Cullen

Culture Vultures: Niamh Cullen and Emily Anderson review the week in Pop Culture - 26th February 2021

So… in a time of serious and depressing news, we think it is not just important, but vital, to tune out for a brief minute and indulge in the ridiculous circus of the pop culture world which, despite the universe’s best efforts (and our pleas), simply refuses to stop rising to the occasion. Buckle up!

Unfortunately, we won’t get a Kimye painting by North West

As predicted by one Azealia Banks, albeit five years early, island hopping icon Kim Kardashian West and her hubby Kanye are calling it quits after six years of marriage.

The announcement follows news of a separation in early January, as well as several years of stories surrounding the couple drifting apart, often understood to be rooted in the unpredictable mental health of Kanye.

After four children, one monastery-inspired house and a fabulous feud with Taylor Swift, it seems that Kim can no longer “ride for her man”, as she once famously said.

And I am sad! I am slightly upset! Sorry!

Image: Eva Rinaldi from Wikimedia Commons

Kimye, like Michelangelo or BBC Three shows from 2011, are (were) creators of long-lasting cultural moments. Their imprint on the very shape of the Hollywood couple is irreversible.

The success of Kimye is rooted in the Wests’ knack for branding, which at one point in their relationship involved every single Kardashian sister wearing Yeezy at every moment of every day, like a fun, rich cult.

The Kardashians have surely exceeded any level of fame they could have dreamed of, partially driven by the beguiling, sporadic love affair between the Rapper and the Reality Star. Makes a nice novel title, if they ever feel obliged.

Their relationship was defined by both terrifying excess (the time that Kanye bought Kim a million dollars in stocks comes to mind) and an ability to be fairly quiet as a duo. When was the last time you saw Kimye speak to each other on camera? Precisely.

So rich that the need for conversations dissipates. Dreamy!

While all this divorce talk is happening, a new Michelangelo in the shape of seven-year-old North West is taking centre stage. “A North West classic!” Kim tweeted the other day, attaching a Bob Ross quality landscape painted by her child prodigy. I’m glad North and her siblings are creatively engaged during a tough time.

People are disbelieving that a seven-year-old could have such talent. Hello? Her parents are Kimye (now Kim/Ye). The innovation, the genius, the very audacity is in her DNA. (EA)

The ‘W’ in W Magazine stands for "We want celebs to look ugly, you're welcome..."

So, has anyone else seen the photo shoot released for W Magazine's pre-awards season spread? Because we need to talk about it.

Yes, the magazine is known for their rather ‘out there’ spreads, often depicting stars in rather different contexts to glossy fashion magazines. The approach to their ‘Best Performances’ yearly shoots are always oddly surprising and unique, choosing a more artistically driven approach.

However, this year's shoot by Juergen Teller is really taking the biscuit. A quick google of his work will tell you he CAN take nice pictures, visually pleasing and thoughtful. But the ones that have just dropped for W Magazine - OOF.

In one of the shots it was revealed that Teller took the picture in one take. You can tell.

The majority are set around this one tree, with actors and actress leaning on or wrapped around it, or posed up against it. This tree isn’t in a beautiful field somewhere, instead it looks like a street outside a carpark.

The energy it exudes is Year 9 photoshoot on a summer day out at the cinema where you and your mates are wearing 3D glasses with the lenses popped out and a Hollister hoodie, posing up a storm before someone's mum comes to drop you all home before it gets dark.

Sure there’s probably artistic worth in the shoot with its mundane context being a “radical” idea to challenge our conceptions of celebrity shoots and humanising the stars. But at the end of the day, half of the celebs look like kidnap victims pleading to the camera to be freed.

Its main worth derives from the fact it makes you laugh at celebs looking clownish, and that’s something that can really lift the spirits in my opinion. (NC)

What is Joe Biden’s plan for making sure the clubs open on June 21st?

Twitter this week has been a ride.

Every rollercoaster has a peak, and this week that fell on Monday, when Boris Johnson made his announcement about the “roadmap out of lockdown”. Many people, including myself, expected to be somewhat underwhelmed.

That was until the PM looked at the camera, straight faced, not an inch of laughter in his eyes, and told the nation that clubs (clubs) might open on June 21st. Naturally, everyone went into a I’ve-not-seen-my-mates-since-Christmas-Eve fuelled overdrive.

Image: Long Truong from Unsplash

The announcement only applies to England and is (importantly) reliant on the continued dropping of COVID cases and the continued success of the vaccination scheme.

But wow, what a moment! What an injection of Sarah Tonin! What a reason to get up in the morning and do more than 15 minutes of work!

Of course, lest we forget the last time the pubs (not to mention the C-word) opened. That went really well.

But amazingly, deliciously, fabulously, it looks to be something of a summer of beers and sunshine (BBC weather app permitting). The only way is up! (EA)


Emma Watson is retiring. Only she actually isn’t. Basically we don’t know.

Image: Mars Films from Wikimedia Commons

Rumours started up in the week that the star of indie films like Bling Ring and Perks of Being a Wallflower (and not much else as far as I can recall) was retiring, with a statement allegedly emerging from her people claiming she had gone ‘dormant’.

Instead she was focusing on a life away from the spotlight and allegedly enjoying being engaged.

A following statement was released claiming she was still an actress and has not in fact retired at the haggard age of 30.

This brings us onto the retirement of Daft Punk, who despite recent success with ‘Get Lucky’ (which if rumours are to be believed will be the song of the summer), are retiring from the music business. We wish them and their Top Gear helmets a fond farewell. (NC)

So, another week of culture, come and gone. Here’s to another week of spice and intrigue. Until next time!