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So, we guess this means Beyonce and Jay-Z are OK then

The first couple of pop music took the world by surprise by dropping their first album together last..

The first couple of pop music took the world by surprise by dropping their first album together last weekend. As you'd expect, it's a statement.

There is arguably no couple better at controlling their own press than Beyonce and Jay-Z. When a video surfaced in 2014 showing Bey's younger sister Solange attacking her brother-in-law in an elevator, rumours of a strained marriage proliferated.

Rather than battle the tabloids, the spouses used the gossip to fuel the creation of two critically beloved, commercially successful records: Beyonce's Lemonade and Jay-Z's 4:44. And, in them, they offered just as many details about their private lives as they chose.

Beyonce and Jay-Z on stage in France for the 2014 On the Run tour.

Photo: Rob Hoffman

Now the couple have continued their domination of pop music, surprising the world last Saturday by releasing their joint album Everything Is Love, which is something of a sequel to those two solo records. Though they have collaborated for at least 15 years, this marks their first joint album, which they dropped under the name The Carters.

The record is a victory lap from a couple who have mined their relationship for universal truths and then presented them as art. It's a fierce love letter to success, to family, to blackness – but, most of all, to each other.

Artwork for the album Everything is Love by The Carters, aka Beyonce and Jay-Z.

Photo: Karl Quinn


Lyrically, it primarily focuses on two aspects of the Carters' lives: their marriage and their success.

Much like Lemonade and 4:44, Everything is Love is filled with details of Jay-Z's infidelity and the couple's subsequent reconciliation.

"If me and my wife beefing, I don't care if the house on fire, I'm dying … I ain't leaving," Jay-Z raps on 714.

In the album closer, Beyonce offers this meditation on their union: "The ups and downs are worth it/Long way to go but we're working/We're flawed but we're still perfect for each other, yeah yeah/Sometimes I thought we'd never see the light/We went through Hell with Heaven on our side/This beach ain't always been no paradise."

But many of their lyrics are straight-out boasting.

"My success can't be quantified," Beyonce sings on the expletive-laden NICE, adding that if she cared "about streaming numbers, would've put Lemonade up on Spotify." (Interestingly, though, Everything Is Love was briefly released exclusively on Tidal, the streaming service part-owned by the couple. On Monday, it was made available on other platforms, including Spotify).

Jay-Z complains that he didn't win any of the eight Grammys he was nominated for in 2017. But he also raps that he "said no to the Super Bowl/You need me, I don't need you/Every night we in the end zone/Tell the NFL we in stadiums too."

Woven throughout are references to police brutality and systematic racism, such as the chorus of Black Effect: "Get your hands up high like a false arrest/Let me see 'em up high, this is not a test."

Accompanying the album was an opulent music video for the track APESHIT that finds the couple lounging, wandering and finally partying in the Louvre in Paris, alone save for a group of dancers in nude bodysuits.

As the couple delight in their surroundings, the camera wanders to various paintings, most of them featuring white people.

The video is a study in juxtaposition: A juxtaposition between the fluid movements of the couple and the still paintings and statues. A juxtaposition between the black and brown dancers and the white faces lining the walls. A juxtaposition between art and reality.

The Washington Post

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Rachel Griffiths: female characters are finally getting real on screen

Almost a year into the #MeToo era, Rachel Griffiths believes the likes of Mystery Road, Wentworth, P..

Almost a year into the #MeToo era, Rachel Griffiths believes the likes of Mystery Road, Wentworth, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Top of the Lake show that female characters are finally coming of age on Australian screens.

In a spirited speech at the launch of a new state government scheme to support more women directors in television, the actor-turned-director said it was exciting to see female characters move beyond "the typical tropes of 'likable, f—able, adorable'" to "more complex depictions of female experience" recently.

Happy to see "more complex depictions of female experience": Rachel Griffiths (left) with Leah Purcell at the launch of #SheDirects.

Photo: Louie Douvis

While she acknowledged there were male directors who created fresh and compelling women characters, Griffiths said the "male gaze" often reduced them to colouring the characters of their male counterparts.

"[They are created to] make him hot, make him authentic, make him empathetic, make him fatherly, make him conflicted, make him grieve," she said. "In the male gaze, we are so often not the gatekeepers; we're not the ferryman. Sometimes the mentor but usually only ironically, like Judi Dench's M…

"Under-written and under-observed, brought into our sexual awareness precociously and prepubescent in order to accommodate the male libido.


"Often in television we're used by lazy writers and producers who can think of nothing more interesting this week than 'let's have her have sex with X' or 'discover she's a lesbian – for an episode'."

Griffiths, who is about to begin editing the Melbourne Cup drama Ride Like A Girl after finishing the shoot, endorsed Hollywood star Sandra Bullock's recent comment that it was time for women to "stop being polite" about gender equality. (more…)

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Rachel Maddow breaks down on air over Trump immigration policy

US television host Rachel Maddow has broken down on live air as she delivered the latest development..

US television host Rachel Maddow has broken down on live air as she delivered the latest developments in the Trump administration's controversial "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

Maddow, who hosts her own show on MSNBC, was reading from a breaking news release from the Associated Press that revealed government officials have been sending babies and toddlers to what are being called "tender age" shelters in the US.

The youngsters are some of the 2,300 children who have been forcibly separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border since the White House announced a zero-tolerance policy on migrant families in May.

"The AP has just broken some new news," Maddow started.

"Um, this has just come out from the Associated Press, this is incredible. Trump administration have been sending babies and other young children – oh, hold on," she said, her voice breaking.


Maddow attempted to get through the breaking news piece one more time before moving the show over to a guest. "To at least three – three tender age shelters in South Texas. Lawyers and medical providers… I think I'm going to have to hand this off. Sorry."

Maddow took to Twitter shortly after the segment aired to say sorry to her viewers. "Again, I apologise for losing it there for a moment," she wrote. "Not the way I intended that to go, not by a mile."

She also tweeted out what she had been trying to say in her live read, writing out what was presented in the AP story. "Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the "tender age" shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis…" she wrote.

"Decades after the nations child welfare system ended the use of orphanages over concerns about the lasting trauma to children, the administration is standing up new institutions to hold Central American toddlers that the government separated from their parents." (more…)

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Melbourne Writers Festival opens with an ode to joy from Andrew WK

Last year's Melbourne Writers Festival opened with a talk by Miles Franklin-winning novelist Ki..

Last year's Melbourne Writers Festival opened with a talk by Miles Franklin-winning novelist Kim Scott. This year things will be very different.

American musician, singer-songwriter and existentialist self-help guide Andrew WK will set the festival on its course under new artistic director Marieke Hardy, who says the program will expand "our concept of the way words are traditionally interrogated at a literary festival". Andrew WK will deliver a toast to survival, joy, resilience and existence.

American musician and existentialist Andrew WK will toast survival, joy, resilience and existence to open the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Photo: Peter Stoop

Other names featuring in an early announcement of some international guests at Hardy's first festival include the acclaimed American journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me, the Black Panther comics, and most recently We Were Eight Years in Power; David Neiwert, author of Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump; Ed Husain, author of The Islamist, a memoir of his time involved with radical Islamism, and The House of Islam: A Global History; Marwa al-Sabouni, the Syrian architect and author of The Battle for Home; and American young-adult writer Juno Dawson, whose work explores gender, sexuality and mental health.

Previously announced names include New Yorker writers Ronan Farrow and Emily Nussbaum.

The full program will be launched on July 17 and feature in The Age on July 21. The box office opens on July 20 and the festival runs August 24-September 2.

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