#ThrowbackThursday: “The Fate of the Furious,” 2017

'The Fate of the Furious,' 2017 (Junkee)

‘The Fate of the Furious,’ 2017 (Junkee)

“Black Panther” smashed many records within its first week of opening. One of the records it broke was the biggest opening for an African-American director. Ryan Coogler now holds that crown.

The previous record holder was F. Gary Gray, who directed “The Fate of the Furious.” The movie made $98M last year. Gray has also directed the films “Set It Off” (1996), “A Man Apart” (2003) and “Straight Outta Compton” (2015) and music videos for TLC (“Waterfalls” in 1995) and OutKast (“Ms. Jackson” in 2000).

Female/POC Video of the Year Winners at the MTV VMAs: By The Numbers

Singer Rihanna performs "Umbrella" at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas September 9, 2007. Rihanna won the award for Monster Single of the Year for the song. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES)

Singer Rihanna performs “Umbrella” at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas September 9, 2007. Rihanna won the award for Monster Single of the Year for the song. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES)

When the nominees for MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs) were announced earlier this summer, acclaimed rapper Nicki Minaj pointed out the glaring absence of women of color in the Video of the Year category. She had a point: The video for her song “Anaconda” broke VEVO viewing records, racking up 19.6M+ views in 24 hours, and propelled a huge cultural impact. (I know you know of at least one person who dressed in one of Nicki’s outfits for Halloween.) To have Minaj’s video snubbed ignores all of those not-insignificant achievements.

I had a sneaking suspicion that the numbers were pretty dismal, not just for women performers of color, but also for women performers in general. I wanted to see exactly how skewed the numbers were, so I looked up the data.

First, some context:

31: Years the Video of the Year Award has been presented (this year will be the 32nd)

69: Number of solo musicians who’ve been nominated

16: Number of solo musicians who’ve won

67: Number of groups who’ve been nominated (including feature artists, not counting 2015 nominees)

15: Number of groups who’ve won (including feature artists)


Let’s look at the stats of the women:

13: years where women solo artists or groups won

0: years after the award began that the first woman artist was nominated (Cyndi Lauper in 1984, nominated during the Award’s first year)

6: years after the Award began that the first woman artist won (Sinead O’Connor in 1990)

4: times Madonna has been nominated

1: time Madonna has won (1998)


And the stats of women of color:

9: years after the Award began that a female group of color was nominated (En Vogue in 1993)

11: years after the Award began that a female group of color won (TLC in 1995)

1: times a women of color group won (TLC in 1995)

  • If you counted the “Lady Marmalade” group who won in 2001, which had Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliott, and Mya, the number goes up to 2.

1: time Missy Elliott has been a double-nominee in the category (2001)

2: winners that have won twice (Missy Elliott in 2001 and 2003, Rihanna in 2007 and 2012)

1: time that Beyoncé has won (2009)

2: times that Beyoncé has been nominated, not counting her 2015 nomination (2007 and 2009)


You don’t have to be a math genius to see that Minaj was correct about the institutional bias in the music industry with regards to awards, and that this should not be tolerated.

This year’s VMAs will air on Sunday, Aug. 30th.

#ThrowbackThursday: TLC at the MTV VMAs, 1995

TLC at the 1995 MTV VMAs (NY Daily News)

TLC at the 1995 MTV VMAs (NY Daily News)

In 1995 (twenty years ago!), pop sensation TLC won the Video of the Year Award at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs). This was pretty special for a couple of reasons: Not only were T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chili the first all-women group to win the award, they were also the first women of color to do so.

They’re still the only all women-of-color group to win the coveted award. (The next closest group was the “Lady Marmalade” quintet from 2001, whose three out of five members were women of color.)

When the Video of the Year nominations came out earlier this year, star rapper Nicki Minaj rightly called out the nominations for their lack of diversity. (Beyoncé was the only woman of color nominated this year, up for her “7/11” video.) Let’s hope the music industry heeds her call, and ups the diversity quotient in the future. It’s absurd that it’s two decades from TLC’s historic win, and we still have to have this conversation.

Caitlyn Jenner Gets New E! Docuseries “I Am Cait”

Caitlyn Jenner, 'I Am Cait' (Skynews Australia)

Caitlyn Jenner, ‘I Am Cait’ (Skynews Australia)

That was quick: Caitlyn Jenner announced that she’ll star in a docuseries titled “I Am Cait” for E!. (E! is also home to “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and its various iterations.) The docuseries will follow Jenner as she begins life as a woman.

The eight-part series will premiere on July 26th, and will air in 120 countries.

This is the second docuseries announced on the life of a transgender woman this year. The E! show follows TLC’s previously announced “All That Jazz,” which will focus on teen transgender activist Jazz Jennings.

Josh Duggar Scandal: How Much Child Sexual Abuse Occurs Within Religious Cults?

Josh and Anna Duggar and their children (E! Online)

Josh and Anna Duggar and their children (E! Online)

Last month, eldest son of the “19 Kids and Counting” Duggar clan Josh Duggar admitted he’d sexually molested five girls when he was 14 years old in 2002, some of which were his sisters. (When these incidents took place, Duggar had five sisters, who ranged in age from four to 12.)

More revelations came out over the days that followed: Duggar was sent away to a friend who had a home remodeling business after he admitted what he’d done; he didn’t receive any counseling, contrary to what had initially been stated, and Duggar was given a minor talking-to from Arkansas State Trooper Jim Hutchens, who’s now in prison for child pornography. After the allegations came to light, a judge ordered the incriminating documents be destroyed, apparently on behalf of one of the alleged victims.

The Duggar family is part of the Quiverfull movement, a worldview that purports to be about Christianity and living Biblically. Earmarks of being Quiverfull include having lots of children (supplying Christian soldiers to prepare for the upcoming spiritual battle), dressing modestly and shaming victims of sexual abuse.

Until now, the fact that the Quiverfull movement is a cult has flown under the radar. But now it’s come under the scrutiny of a full-fledged public spotlight.

I wanted to find some statistics on sexual abuse, especially child/incestual sexual abuse, within cults. Unsurprisingly, I was unable to find anything. No long-range studies have been done. This makes sense: Cults usually want to cover their tracks, and make themselves look like they aren’t cults at all and are completely normal. In terms of gathering information, it’d be very hard to infiltrate and gain members’ trust to get an accurate picture of what occurs within one. Even if a member did admit to something, they might see it as totally normal.

Unfortunately, the statue of limitations on Duggar’s heinous acts has now expired. But now we have some idea of the long-ranging detrimental effects of the Quiverfull movement. There are better ways to help victims of sexual abuse and molestation, regardless of their personal viewpoint.




Trans Teen Jazz Jennings is the New Face of Clean & Clear

Trans teen activist Jazz Jennings (The Mary Sue)

Trans teen activist Jazz Jennings (The Mary Sue)

2015 continues to be a big year for the trans community as they make strides towards heightened visibility. Now, the community can add one more mainstream accomplishment: teen models.

Fourteen-year-old Jazz Jennings was named the new face of skincare line Clear & Clear last week. She’ll be fronting their “See the Real Me” promotional campaign, and tells her personal story in a video in an effort to encourage others to share their stories via social media.

Assigned male at birth, Jennings is the first trans model to represent the brand.

Jennings had already made a splash 10 years ago, when she became the youngest-known person diagnosed with gender dysmorphia. As she’s grown up, she’s been very active in advocating for LGBT rights, specifically for teens. Jennings has also written a book “I Am Jazz” detailing her story, and she was named to “Time”‘s Most Influential Teens List in 2014.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from Jennings as she grows up and continues to accomplish great things. And we won’t have to wait long: Cable channel TLC will air a docuseries on her titled “All That Jazz.”



How Many People Experience Same-Sex Attraction (SSA)?

TLC's 'My Husband's Not Gay' (Salon)

TLC’s ‘My Husband’s Not Gay’ (Salon)

With TLC’s special “My Husband’s Not Gay” premiering recently, same-sex attraction (SSA) has come to the forefront of discussion in sexuality. SSA is just what it sounds like: a person is attracted to someone of the same gender, or sex. However, someone with SSA may or may not act on the attraction, and may or may not identify as homosexual, gay or lesbian.

“My Husband’s Not Gay” follows three (hetero) married couples and one single man. All the men featured admit to struggling with SSA. The couples and man reside in Salt Lake City, Utah, and cite their strong Mormon faiths as to why they have a traditional male-female marriage (or, in the case of the single man, why he wants one). Since conservative Christianity, and Mormonism in particular, has traditionally frowned upon homosexuality, these men have made a decision to honor their faith and not their attractions.

I wanted to find some stats on SSA, but couldn’t find any information that weren’t connected to any religious sites (of the “pray the gay away” stripe). Apparently, no university has done a study with people who experience SSA but who do not identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. (Kinsey Institute, get on this.)