11 Pop Culture Moments From 2020 That Didn’t Suck

2020 obviously sucked, ruining travel plans, weddings, fitness goals, dating, my New Year’s resolution to “stop watching so much TV”… so, basically everything. Thankfully, the only things that 2020 didn’t rob us of were some decent pop culture moments. 

For a pop culture junkie like me, moments like J.Lo and Shakira’s Super Bowl performance and Taylor Swift dropping folklore are literally what kept me going. And besides the pure entertainment value, these pop culture moments let me forget how annoying 2020 was, how bad I am at TikTok, and how I was about to re-watch Gossip Girl for the 17th time.

So in a year where almost everything’s been sh*tty, I’ve done something nice for you: I’ve rounded up the best, most memorable pop culture moments from this year, so we can reminisce on the few good things that 2020 gave us. 

Brad & Jen At The SAG Awards

Brad and Jen

2020 gave us plenty of reunions: the Lizzie McGuire and Community cast Zoom calls, Khloé and Tristain getting back together… and most importantly, Jen and Brad at the 2020 SAG Awards. The former couple reunited backstage at the event, where they were captured laughing, touching arms, and clearly enjoying the catch-up. The real hero? Whatever camera man or woman snapped that photo of Brad holding Jen’s arm. I plead the fifth on whether it’s my phone screensaver or not… 

Matt James Being Named The Bachelor

Matt James was announced as the first Black Bachelor in the show’s history, and it was about f*cking time. NGL, after hearing Matt would star in the upcoming season, I may have—okay, definitely—applied. And although I shockingly didn’t get cast, the next best thing will be to count down the days until 2020 is over, because we know starting early January that we’ll get to snuggle up under a weighted blanket and watch Matt James grace our screens for two hours every Monday night. Can 2021 come any faster, please??

Paris Hilton’s ‘This Is Paris’

As much as Paris Hilton never became irrelevant, for the past few years I feel like we haven’t seen much of her beyond the occasional Simple Life rerun. With her documentary This is Paris, we were given the deepest dive into Paris’s childhood, relationships, and work life like we’d ever seen. For a minute there, Paris was getting so much press it felt like the 2000s again. The only way Paris could top her 2020 resurgence is by making a 2021 RHOBH cameo with her newly-cast mother, Kathy Hilton (which I’m praying for, hard).  

‘Schitt’s Creek’ Sweeping the Emmys

schitt's creek

Early on in quarantine I decided the best use of my brain cells was to watch anything and everything on TV. One of those shows ended up being Schitt’s Creek, and I thank the Canadian Gods (or like, Eugene and Dan Levy) every day for writing and producing a show that birthed my new fictional BFF: David Rose. And besides getting praise from me, Schitt’s Creek was applauded on a larger scale when it made history by winning nine Emmys, the most any comedy has ever won to date. 

Elon Musk and Grimes’ Baby Name

I thought 2020 was going to be the weirdest thing about 2020, but Elon Musk and Grimes took that crown when they announced their baby’s name as “X Æ A-12”. They did end up changing their child’s name a month later to “X Æ A-Xii” (WAY more normal, right?), which led to speculation that the original name violated regulations in the state of California for having numerals in it. Either way, that child is going to spend at least a third of their life correcting substitute teachers during roll call.

Taylor Swift’s Surprise Albums

taylor swift evermore

Most people remember where they were, what they were doing, and what they were wearing during big pop culture moments, like when Michael Jackson passed away, or when Lady Gaga wore a meat dress to the 2010 VMAs. For me, that special etched-in-my-memory-forever moment is when Taylor announced the release of folklore, and then again when she dropped Evermore. I know Taylor won a People’s Choice Award in November, but can someone also give her a ribbon for being the most productive person ever during quarantine??

Shakira and J.Lo’s Super Bowl Halftime Show

Typically, the only reason I “watch” the Super Bowl is for the excuse to eat a plate (okay, plates) of nachos and jalapeño poppers guilt-free. This year, however, we were blessed with a whole new reason to enjoy football: Shakira and J.Lo slaying the halftime show with performances that I’m pretty sure made even Beyoncé shake. Given that this performance took place in February right before everything went to absolute sh*t, I’m personally thanking my lucky stars that one of the last major pop culture moments before lockdown was one that featured two female icons who proved they are as entertaining (and beautiful) now as they were 15 years ago. 

The Royal Exit

It’s like the universe was sending us a sign that 2020 was going to be a wild ride by making the first major headline something that shook the entire world: Meghan and Harry’s decision to step back from the Royal Family. In January, the couple stated that they would be splitting their time between the UK and North America and would be financially independent. And here I was, thinking that the biggest exit Meghan would take in her life was from Suits… who knew??

Jessica Simpson’s Memoir

Tell me you didn’t freak the f*ck out when you heard Jessica Simpson was releasing her memoir, and that it included deets about her and John Mayer’s relationship. And this tell-all did more than just out John as a stage-five clinger: it gave us insight into everything from her sobriety journey, to her surprisingly still successful business, to the inside scoop on her marriage to Nick Lachey. The best part of the memoir? The nostalgia it brought up about Jessica’s iconic shoe line. 

Gigi Hadid’s (Almost) Secret Pregnancy

 

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Gigi Hadid wasn’t the only A-list celeb to give birth during the COVID-19 times, but her pregnancy was arguably the most exciting based on the fact that she pulled a Kylie Jenner (until Mohamed Hadid inadvertently outed her and Zayn, that is). It made space for fans and the internet to speculate, investigate, and become detectives as they tried to figure out if she was expecting, when the baby was due, and who the father was. Truly, the perfect distraction we all needed in 2020. 

Finding Out Vera Wang Is 70

 

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Remember when the internet broke in May when we found out Vera Wang has flawless skin and abs at… 70? WTF! I’m pretty sure I would need, like, 20 hours of glam, a professional photographer, and Facetune to look even half as good as she did without makeup, just lounging around the house taking self-timer photos. 

Images: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Turner; verawang, gigihadid / Instagram; elonmusk / Twitter

Max Ehrich Has Moved Onto A New Target

Apparently they say that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else. Not sure if “they” have actually taken said advice, but after many failed walks of shame, self-lectures and a crippling self-esteem, I can assure you this is absolute horse sh*t. That said, someone should probably relay this information to Demi Lovato’s ex-fiancé, Max Ehrich, who has already moved on from Demi after like, two weeks, by projecting his night out with American Idol alumn Sonika Vaid all over Instagram right after he called the paparazzi on himself was photographed dramatically crying on the beach.

 

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For someone who is well-versed in the façade that is “I swear I’m doing fine” post-split look, this move is one of the final acts taken in hopes that your ex realizes what they missed out on (and don’t even get me started on those staged beach photos).

To make matters even more dramatic, Max dropped the truth about his feelings toward Demetria (or possibly Sonika?) this morning in a new song called “Afraid” and it’s just… more than I was willing to grasp on a Friday afternoon. He sings lines like, “I’m afraid to give up my heart / I’m afraid to be broken apart / So I play, I play safe / Holding my guard,” which is painfully ironic coming from someone who cannon-balled into this entire relationship with zero rationality.

 

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“AFRAID.” link in bio 🕊 avail on all streaming platforms 🤍 from the bottom of my hopeful romantic heart- infinitely grateful to be releasing the first song off of my music project🤍 x • • • special thanks to my team @aliextramile @deesamii for @eqdistro @extamileent producer @richmanmusic #brandonerickson @markgmorikawa @jordanmanekin & everyone over at Grubman, Shire, Sacks, Meiselas for believing in my project from day 1 years ago • • #maxehrichnewmusic #afraid #vulnerability #gratitude #music #piano #singer #songwriter #love #art #peace

A post shared by Max Ehrich (@maxehrich) on

Also, those hashtags are embarrassing. If you see me writing #peace #vulnerability, go ahead and delete my account.

Max’s photo and song most likely come in response to Demi literally leaking her own banger of a breakup song earlier this month called “Still Have Me”, where she basically sings, “I’d rather do this alone than put up with your sh*t for one more second.”

Meanwhile, Demi seems to be handling the aftermath of the split like a champ, spending time with family and friends, and was just spotted looking “cozy” (interpret that how you will) with rapper Mod Sun, aka both Tana Mongeau and Bella Thorne’s ex, according to photos obtained on Wednesday by The Sun. Earlier this week, they were seen riding around in the back of a black SUV and legit looking like they were having the time of their lives, which is likely the case considering these two have been friends for a while now. 

Apparently Demi helped Mod through some tough times when he was trying to get sober, so it’s likely the favor is simply just being returned. A source also confirmed to E! News that Demi and Mod are “just hanging out for now,” adding, “She has been trying to surround herself with good company to occupy her time and keep her mind off of the Max drama. She isn’t looking to date right now and is still healing.”

Oh, and the source also said, “Demi is a free spirit and loves going with the flow,” so like, whatever happens, happens? Sonika, on the other hand, is eating up this five minutes of fame, considering she’s already gone on the record to E! News, telling them that after meeting at a dinner with mutual friends, that she and Max have “just been hanging out since and having fun.”

Sounds like the exact script I use when I’m trying to hide the truth about my 2am regrets from my friends, but what do I know? Anyway, see you back here next week when Max announces he’s expecting his first child or something. 

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This Twitter Thread Explaining The Iconic Photo Of Britney, Lindsay, & Paris Is Epic

In these trying times, it’s important to find things that still bring us joy. For some people, that might be deep cleaning their kitchen or watching inspirational videos, but those things just don’t do it for me. But you know what does? Reliving the minutiae of celebrity drama from 2006. On Sunday night, Twitter 2000s expert popculturediedin2009 posted one of the most important threads ever, and we must talk about it. This is the story of the iconic photo of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan in the car together, and (no pun intended) you better buckle up.

Responding to another tweet thread purportedly explaining the photo, pcd2009 decided it was time to really get into the facts. What follows is an absolute treasure trove of 2000s relationships, feuds, and tabloid videos—truly a feast for any pop culture addict.

alright so i’m seeing too many of these threads detailing mid-aughts it-girl drama with few facts in sight so it’s about time i dusted off a history textbook (my extensive tabloid collection) and relayed the REAL gossip for you all https://t.co/rq1N78LkGl

— popculturediedin2009 (@pcd2009) April 6, 2020

For the most part, this story revolves around the complex relationship between Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Britney Spears is important too, but she’ll come in later. In 2006, Lindsay and Paris were both at the height of their tabloid fame, and they were both out partying like, every night. Lindsay was also only 19 years old, which is insane, but that’s a whole different issue.

Here are some other key players who you’ll need to know:

Stavros NiarchosA hot Greek shipping heir who originally dated Mary-Kate Olsen, before dumping her for Paris Hilton.

Brandon DavisA less-hot oil heir who hung out with the same crowd. He had formerly dated Mischa Barton, and had publicly called out Paris for using racial slurs.

Elliot MintzParis Hilton’s publicist, who literally looks like an Oompa Loompa. In 2006, it was basically his job to follow her around to clubs and fix whatever messes she caused. Like Olivia Pope, but sleazier.

In the thread pcd2009 cuts to the chase, saying that the inciting incident that led to the iconic photo was in the spring of 2006, when Paris and Stavros broke up for the first time. Soon after that, he was spotted out with Lindsay, and was caught leaving her hotel room in the morning.

while they’d had their share of drama beforehand, the key stretch that leads up to the aforementioned ‘britney, lindsay, paris’ photo begins in the spring of 2006, as paris and stavros suffer their first (of many) breakups. pic.twitter.com/FP9KABHIIh

— popculturediedin2009 (@pcd2009) April 6, 2020

According to the thread, Paris and Lindsay already had their issues (partially involving Nicole Richie), and Lindsay hooking up with Stavros obviously didn’t help. A few nights after that, Paris and Brandon Davis were caught by the paparazzi leaving the club, and Brandon went off on Lindsay. In this infamous video, he calls her “firecrotch” over and over again, and also says she’s “really poor” because she’s only worth 7 million. Paris is smart and doesn’t say anything, but she’s laughing the whole time.

nights later, leaving janet jackson’s birthday party, paris – joined by elliot, her sister nicky and pal caroline d’amore – cackles maniacally as brandon unleashes a tirade on lindsay, dubbing her “firecrotch” and saying “she’s worth about 7 million” so “she’s really poor” pic.twitter.com/3VMnmiyMaB

— popculturediedin2009 (@pcd2009) April 6, 2020

My favorite part of this video is Elliot Mintz. He’s right there in a suit and tie, looking like he’d rather die than have to deal with this. At one point, Brandon pulls him by the tie, and I really thought Elliot was going to slap him. I hope this guy was getting paid a lot off money to put up with this bullsh*t every night.

The video went viral by 2006 standards, and Brandon ended up going to rehab because his family was so pissed. That is, after he was spotted wearing a “Team Firecrotch” T-shirt. Classy! After getting out of rehab, he allegedly recorded a song called “Firecrotch,” but it was never played in public, and sadly, there is no trace of it on the internet. This seems wrong. Like, shouldn’t the Library of Congress be preserving these important historical documents? I’m upset.

So that was the spring of 2006. Over the summer, things mostly just simmered. Paris and Lindsay occasionally ran into each other or made shady comments, but nothing really blew up. Then came fall. Paris reignited the feud by hooking up with Lindsay’s ex Harry Morton, and LiLo didn’t appreciate it. In what might be my favorite paparazzi video of all time, Lindsay clearly says “Paris is a c*nt,” then denies saying it just SECONDS later. God, I would literally give anything to go back to 2006 right now.

come fall, paris strikes again by getting cozy with lindsay’s ex, hard rock scion & pink taco founder harry morton (RIP), fueling lindsay’s now-infamous “paris is a cunt” comment as she made an exit from a party at the roosevelt hotel in early november. pic.twitter.com/RVkAZTKgZp

— popculturediedin2009 (@pcd2009) April 6, 2020

Around this time, Paris Hilton started getting close with our third major player, Britney Spears. And by getting close, I mean that they were getting wasted with each other every night, and were also clearly buying their fried blonde hair extensions from the same place. Looking back, it’s actually kind of wild how rough they look in these photos. Now, every celebrity has a glam team at the ready, but there’s not a hairstylist in sight here.

by then, paris had also acquired a new pet for her menagerie: britney spears, newly single after kicking k-fed to the curb and now partaking in nightly crotch-flashings with paris, to both our devastation and morbid fascination. pic.twitter.com/78C9UC424V

— popculturediedin2009 (@pcd2009) April 6, 2020

And now, we’ve finally arrived at the historic night. November 27th, 2006. The night when it all went down. At around midnight, Lindsay Lohan talked to the paparazzi in a parking garage. In the video, she eagerly shows them a bruise on her arm, saying that Paris Hilton “hit me last night, for no reason apparently,” and also that Paris poured a drink on her.

after a party in late november, a distraught lindsay approaches paparazzi to show a bruised arm, alleging paris had hit her. pic.twitter.com/6iyQkF3VCU

— popculturediedin2009 (@pcd2009) April 6, 2020

So that was midnight. Fast forward a few hours, and it was a very different story. Lindsay was hanging out at Brandon Davis’ bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel (I guess she got over the firecrotch thing?), and Elliot Mintz quickly arranged for Paris and Britney to get their asses over there. Later, Paris, Britney, and Lindsay all left the party together—you guessed it—crammed into Paris’ car.

In the paparazzi video, Lindsay tries to clarify her statement (from earlier that night) about Paris hitting her. With Elliot Mintz grabbing her arm, she says that Paris is “a nice person,” and that “everyone lies about everything.” Soooo she means that she was lying? Or that Elliot Mintz sent her a strongly worded text? Either way, this timeline is truly wild. Basically, the iconic photo of our three hot mess musketeers was a publicity stunt to defuse Lindsay’s claims about Paris, and I guess it worked? Everyone remembers the photo, but all of these paparazzi videos are actually blowing my mind. In a leaked email with Shanna Moakler from a couple weeks later, Lindsay says that the whole thing was “more of a photo-op,” and that Paris and Britney are “overrated.”

in a leaked e-mail exchange with shanna moakler (ex-wife of blink-182’s travis barker, whom paris hooked up with after their split, causing shanna to allegedly punch paris in the face at a club) lindsay reiterated the three musketeers act was a publicity stunt: pic.twitter.com/AhHddUxpxD

— popculturediedin2009 (@pcd2009) April 6, 2020

So what happened after that fateful night? Paris, Brittany, and Lindsay were never photographed all together again, and as we know, they all had their own separate issues going on. Lindsay and Paris both served short jail sentences in 2007, and I think we all know that 2007 wasn’t a great year for Britney Spears, either.

All in all, this thread is a wild ride, and I can’t get over these paparazzi videos. Of course, it’s fun to see Lindsay call Paris Hilton the C-word, but living like this looks like an actual nightmare. I would have a panic attack if there were photographers swarming my car at all times, so I can’t imagine what it’s like. But also, why were these people always driving themselves home from the club? I know Uber didn’t exist back then, but I’m pretty sure Paris Hilton could afford a driver. I digress. Thank you, pcd2009, for this incredible feud, which made me forget about coronavirus for a solid two hours. It’s the little things.

Images: Michael Caulfield Archive / Contributor / Getty Images; pcd2009 / Twitter

7 Thrillers To Read If You Finished Watching ‘You’

We live in a world that is streaming-obsessed. I know this because my credit card statement every month is nothing but Netflix, Apple TV +, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney + (and Seamless, and some more Seamless, and then a little Uber Eats so the Seamless people don’t judge me, I’m sure you understand). I basically get berated at work all day so that I can afford to watch High School Musical on repeat when I get home. And lately, the only thing streaming that people want to talk about is You. It seems all my friends are really into psychopaths, which now that I know this, makes a lotttt of sense. I mean, I thought they were into psychos, you know, like men who dip their pizza in ranch dressing, but it turns out they’re just turned on by good old-fashioned murderers. Cool. Never going to your boyfriend’s houses, though! I haven’t watched You yet, and the reason why is because I read the book You by Caroline Kepnes years ago and I have not slept ever since. It’s been fun! 

Although the book continues to keep me up all night, I was incredibly impressed by how well Kepnes captured the ramblings of a psychopath. Now that I think about it, she was almost too good at it, and I’d like to request the police do a wellness check on her spouse, just in case. Sorry if they break down your door, Caroline! But you brought it upon yourself! If you’ve watched the show AND read the book, you’re probably looking for some new material to make people slowly back away from you at parties. Thankfully, I would rather read a book than engage in actual relationships with a real person, and I’m ready to share my knowledge with you, my fellow anti-socials. So, if you’re craving more books like You, here are seven that I’d recommend you start reading as soon as possible. Before you start making human connections! 

The New Husband by D.J. Palmer

The first book is called The New Husband, and, frankly, any number of husbands is a terrifying thought, so sign me up. In this book, Nina Fitch’s second husband knows all her favorite foods, movies, and her son adores him. Definitely a psycho. Nina is a little gun shy because of what her first husband did to her (See! Husbands are terrifying!) so she decides to do a little digging. Sure, Nina. I can call stalking digging, too. When things aren’t adding up, the story gets more and more tense, twisty, and of course, there’s a shocking reveal. I shrieked! You have to get your hands on this one when it comes out on April 14, 2020. 

The Sunday Girl by Pip Drysdale 

Contrary to popular belief, The Sunday Girl is not about a twentysomething woman who goes to brunch with her girlfriends, gets day drunk, and orders a $40 uber home before passing out at 5pm. I know! I was also confused. The Sunday Girl is actually about a woman in an abusive relationship, who gets dumped by her boyfriend, and then he posts a sex tape of her online. I think we can all agree at this point he deserves what’s coming to him. And, what’s coming to him is a revenge plan straight out of The Art of War. Girl, I am SOLD. Find out what happens *please say she cuts off his balls, please say she cuts off his balls* when The Sunday Girl comes out on May 5, 2020

The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets

You is told from the point of view of Joe, the psychopath serial killer. But what if it was told from Beck’s point of view? In The Last Woman in the Forest, Les Becquets flips the script when her heroine Marian starts to believe that her recently departed man, Tate, was a serial killer. Marian goes on a mission to prove to herself that she was not, in fact, banging a dude who preferred his women in a ditch in the woods, but as she gets further along, sh*t starts getting terrifying and it’s possible Marian will end up as a skin suit for a different freak. I’m not going to reveal what happens, but I will tell you that Diane Les Becquets is an incredibly talented writer, who dedicated a lot of time to creating realistic and nuanced characters. This is not your run-of-the-mill thriller, it’s more of an intense, slow build that ratchets up the terrifying as it goes on. Just like life! 

A Good Man by Ani Katz

A Good Man! Ha! At least the title is funny, even if the rest of it makes you dependent on melatonin for the rest of your life. A Good Man is about Thomas Martin, a rich dude from Long Island working in Manhattan, who commits a horrific act and then when he can’t take it back, tries to convince himself that all he ever tried to do was be a good man. Ha! Funny again! Coincidentally, that’s what my ex said when I found him literally on top of another woman. He was also, in fact, not a good man. Another pro for this book is the fact that it has a pull quote on the cover from Caroline Kepnes, aka the author of You. If it’s endorsed by the woman who thought up Joe Goldberg, you know it’s the perfect kind of creepy. 

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Okay, if you thought you liked one attractive, charismatic psychopath in You, you are going to be thrilled when you meet the most f*cked up couple of all time in My Lovely Wife. Is the husband a murderer? Sure is! Is the wife a murderer? You betcha! Do they do it together as some kind of twisted sex game to keep the spark alive? Yes, ma’am! Should they have just gone to therapy? Probably, but it’d be less fun! This book is slippery though, so you never really know what’s going on until the very end, and that’s just how I like it, much like murdering young women is how the couple in this novel likes it. My Lovely Wife came out last March, and the best part is, if it really turns you on to murderous families, Downing has another thriller coming out on April 28th called He Started It

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

So, yes, Darling Rose Gold is definitely more similar to The Act than it is to You, but I figure to us crime fiends that’s basically tomayto, tomahto, am I right? Plus there are plenty of murderous people in this, so you’ll be fine. Growing up, Rose Gold believed that she was seriously ill. Turns out, her mom Patty (YOU WOULD, PATTY), just did everything she could to make people believe that, even intentionally making Rose Gold sick. Patty went to prison, but now she’s out and Rose Gold takes her in. Such a sweetheart! Or is she? In this book, you can’t tell who is lying, and you can’t tell who is winning their little cat-and-mouse murder game until the very end. And who among us hasn’t wanted to kill their mother every once in a while?! (Not me, mom! Please still pay for that trip to Ireland!). You’ll have to wait until March for this one, but I promise you it’s worth the wait. 

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule 

The Stranger Beside Me is the OG book about a handsome and charming man who preys on young women. And all you sickos are just as thirsty for him as you are for Joe! I know this isn’t a novel (it’s true crime, FYI), but I’d put all my money on the fact that Ted Bundy and Joe Goldberg are distant relatives. Let’s get these two on Ancestry DNA! 

The Stranger Beside Me is written by Ann Rule, and her writing style is so sweet and sincere, you’ll feel like your mother is telling you a comforting bedtime story, except that bedtime story includes the dates and times that dozens of women were murdered. The Stranger Beside Me has been out since 1980, so while you’re waiting on some of these other books to be released, you should definitely spend your time with this master class in true crime. And just remember, Ted Bundy is dead so you can’t send him nudes in prison, FOR GOD’S SAKE.

And those are my recommendations! If you read any of these, please let me know what you think. And if you think you’re not a reader, just throw one of these in your bag to check out on the subway just in case. Candy Crush will still be on your phone when you go to the bathroom later! 

Images: Beth Dubber/Netflix; St. Martin’s Press; Source Books; Berkley Books (3); Penguin Books; WW Norton 

Betches may receive a portion of revenue if you click a link and purchase a product or service. The links are independently placed and do not influence editorial content.

Scooter Braun Is Trying To Gaslight Taylor Swift

In July, Taylor Swift caused something of a rift in the music industry and public opinion when she opened up about Scooter Braun’s company buying out Big Machine Records, the old label under which Swift recorded her first six albums. The reason anybody cared was because this meant Braun’s company would now own the masters to Taylor Swift’s first six albums, which affects her ability to earn money off the master recordings. (Like, royalties, basically.) It also means she does not have control over how those recordings are released. That second bit became especially relevant yesterday, when Taylor Swift released a very open statement accusing Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta, the founder of Big Machine Label Group, of forbidding her from performing her old songs.

Don’t know what else to do pic.twitter.com/1uBrXwviTS

— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 14, 2019

In the statement, she claims that she will be honored with the Artist of the Decade award at the American Music Awards, and wanted to perform a medley of her hits throughout the decade. Makes total sense. But, she alleges, “Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.” She continues that, in addition, Netflix had been filming a documentary about her life, but “Scott and Scooter have declined the use of my older music or performance footage for this project, even though there is no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film.”

She claimed that Scott Borchetta told Taylor’s team that she would be allowed to use her music only if she agrees to not re-record “copycat versions” of her music next year, and if she stops talking (sh*t) about him and Scooter. In other words, as Taylor ominously puts it in her statement: “be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”

This morning, Big Machine Label Group released a statement that straight-up denies each of Swift’s accusations. The statement says, “At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special. In fact, we do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere.” Which is cool, but (deliberately or not) avoids the issue of did Big Machine say Taylor could not perform certain songs? The question is whether or not she was permitted to perform, it’s whether she was permitted to perform the songs she does not own the masters for.

Furthermore, they also claim, “Since Taylor’s decision to leave Big Machine last fall, we have continued to honor all of her requests to license her catalog to third parties as she promotes her current record in which we do not financially participate.” This directly contradicts Taylor Swift’s assertions that Scooter Braun et. al. are basically holding her music hostage and preventing her from doing what she wants with it.

But in their statement, Big Machine Label Group takes it one step further and completely throws Taylor under the bus. “The truth is,” it reads, “Taylor has admitted to contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company, which is responsible for 120 hardworking employees who helped build her career.” This is attempting to make Taylor look greedy; she is worth an estimated $360 million, and yet she is being accused of screwing over “hardworking” little people. This statement to me is suspect. Taylor Swift has the money—I’m inclined to believe that if she is withholding money and assets (aka songs), she has a good reason for it.

Then, they go on to say that they have tried to come to a solution with Taylor that benefits both parties, and thought they were getting somewhere, until Taylor nuked it yesterday with her statement enlisting her fans to go apesh*t on Braun and Borchetta. They said that in a more fluffed-up PR way, but it’s clear the message they are trying to convey: they are just innocent, hardworking people who are trying to work with Taylor, and she is the one standing in her own way. They claim, “Taylor made a unilateral decision last night to enlist her fanbase in a calculated manner that greatly affects the safety of our employees and their families.” Which, like, okay. Taylor Swift does have a rabid fanbase, but it’s not like she’s got actual hitters out here. Worst case scenario, I feel like Scooter Braun is going to have a lot of angry teenagers in his mentions and DMs.

But the statement ends with the real knockout punch: “Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist.” When I read that, I audibly bellowed out, “oooooh!” with my hand over my mouth like I was at a f*cking rap battle. (My coworkers looked concerned.) This is what we in the business refer to as a callback—in this case, to Taylor Swift’s infamous response to the Kim/Kanye feud of 2016 when, after losing the battle against the Wests in the court of public opinion, Taylor said, “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative.” I’d bet that this was a very deliberate choice in words, meant to call into question Taylor’s credibility, and remind people that, at least according to the story Kim and Kanye told, which many people believe, Taylor Swift has attempted to manipulate facts to sway public opinion in her favor before.

Frankly, it’s hard to know what to believe when we are receiving two completely contradictory accounts. I always like to say that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, but there doesn’t seem room for much of a middle ground here: you either did forbid someone from performing at the AMAs, or you didn’t. You either blocked their Netflix special, or you didn’t. Maybe I lack imagination, but I don’t see how both scenarios could still hold truth.

Given her history, I have to believe that Taylor is telling the truth. She knows better than anyone what can happen to one’s career when they are perceived to be caught in a lie; to deliberately manufacture a false tale of victimhood would surely blow up in her face, and Taylor and her team would have to know this. If she was not being prohibited from performing at the AMAs and doing a Netflix special, then surely she would just do those things? Aside from news stories and an outpouring of support from people who already support her, Taylor Swift would have nothing to gain by making this up.

So then, it’s my opinion that this statement from Big Machine Label Group is nothing short of a hit job. Forget trying to spin Taylor’s story—they are upending it. They’re denying it ever happened. And by doing so, they’re trying to call her sanity into question. If Taylor’s account is true, then this statement is pure gaslighting—both her, and the public.

Images: taylorswift 13 / Twitter; Getty Images

Is 2019 The Year Of The Scam?

We’re mere months into 2019, and already this year is shaping up to be messier than my IG stories after 12am. If you haven’t been paying attention, then I’m of course referring to the unprecedented amount of scam scandals that have fed my will to live the media cycle over the past few months. First, the Fyre Festival documentaries dropped, and I’ve never felt more alive than I did watching a bunch of rich millennials resort to looting and petty thievery for a roll of toilet paper. Then Aunt Becky got caught bribing colleges because her daughter wanted to go to frat parties at USC, and now HBO just dropped a new documentary about disgraced CEO/Silicon Valley “It Girl” Elizabeth Holmes. While these scams aren’t a great look for humanity as a whole, let me just tell you, they are GREAT for my Friday night binge-watching. But all of this makes me wonder: is 2019 the year of the scam?

To be fair, most of the aforementioned scams didn’t actually take place in 2019. But while most of these scandals started hitting the news cycle in 2018, we’re seeing the fallout from said scandals right now in the form of bingeable documentaries and docu-series. I guess it’s like the old saying goes: “one person’s trash catastrophic f*ck-up is another person’s treasure.”

So the question remains: Why is 2019 acting like my ex who texted me “you’re the one who got away,” and then once I responded in kind, followed up with “oops wrong number”, leaving me feeling bamboozled, hoodwinked, and led astray? What is it about this particular year that is making scammers come out of the woodwork left and right?

 

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Fyre Festival is a metaphor for my love life @sarafcarter

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Well, I have some theories.

*clears throat*

*stands on soap box*

First, I think we have to talk about the giant heeto in the room: our President. Trump’s Presidency opened doors for a lot of sh*t to come out, and I fully believe one of those doors was scamming. I mean, the man was just investigated for scamming the American people out of a democratic election, for god’s sake!! Then there’s the fact that everything that comes out of his mouth and Twitter feed is about as factually accurate as my Outlander fanfic. It’s no wonder people think they can just lie their asses off, cheat people out of money, and not have to answer to any consequences when our own president freely admits he doesn’t pay his taxes (and that’s one of the less illegal things he’s accused of doing).

Take Elizabeth Holmes, for example. For those of you who don’t know who she is, let’s just say her scam is more dramatic than any plotline Shonda Rhimes has ever concocted. Lizzy—I’m going to call her Lizzy from here on out because I know a Lizzy and she’s also a goddamn mess, so this feels fitting—is the disgraced founder and CEO of the biotech company Theranos. Her whole thing was that she claimed to have invented a blood-testing technology that from one “pinprick’s worth of blood” could test for hundreds of diseases simultaneously. This claim made her a casual billionaire, even though her technology DIDN’T EVEN WORK. Sh*t hit the fan for our girl Lizzy when a reporter actually, like, did his job and realized that she was sitting on a literal throne of lies. I mean, what does it matter if this “world-changing” technology works or not as long as you’re making billions, amiright, Lizzy?

the first red flag should have been the name Theranos sounding like a villain in a Captain Marvel movie

— Danny Murphy (@kashmeredanny) March 19, 2019

It’s this sense of bald-faced lying and entitlement that got Lori Loughlin in trouble as well. I think I speak for all of us when I say that the college admissions scandal is the gift that keeps on giving. And  by “gift that keeps on giving” I am of course referring to Olivia Jade, Aunt Becky’s daughter and the reason she bribed a college at all.

Look, do I think Aunt Becky went into this scandal thinking, “Well, if the leader of this country can be a scam artist, so can I”? No, I don’t. But I do think there’s this underlying understanding in our country that as long as you’re white and rich, you can get away with a lot, including lying and fraud.

And since my therapist says I can’t blame Trump for everything bad that happens (blergh), I guess we as a collective people have to take some responsibility for all of this. We’ve become a country that prides itself on being ostentatious, outrageous even. The more insane you act, the more followers you get, and then the more sponsorship deals you land and the more money you make.

Nobody understood this philosophy of “acting ostentatious = getting money” better than fake socialite and real scammer Anna Delvey. Through the powers of white privilege, sheer confidence, and determination (and check fraud), she was able to convince Manhattan’s richest millennials that she was one of them. Just by flashing cash here and there, she got people to cover her bills for fancy dinners, parties, and even a $60-grand vacation. Her friends never questioned that she was rich and could pay them back, because she seemed to constantly have cash—until she didn’t. But Anna wasn’t content to just live the high life; she upped the ante even further and tried to start a “foundation” (that was really just a glorified art gallery/Magnises clubhouse). She attempted to raise $25 million for her fake foundation, and she got pretty close! She even got linked up with respected venture capitalists, who vouched for her finances even though they knew next to nothing about her. All they knew was that she wore designer clothes and seemed to know what she was talking about, and they filled in the blanks about her net worth and legitimacy. And she almost got away with it!

To me the craziest thing about this Anna Delvey story is the fact that the Vanity Fair girl had a credit card limit of OVER $60K

— Betches (@betchesluvthis) June 1, 2018

And look at Billy McFarland, the creator of the greatest music festival there never was. Do I think Billy went into Fyre Festival thinking this would all just be one big scam? Maybe not consciously, no. That doesn’t change the fact that he did actually scam people out of a lot of money. Like the chill $2.8 million he’s been ordered to pay back to all the people he duped into showing up at his 2017 Hunger Games. And if you’re thinking to yourself “Well, Billy got what he deserved in the end”, I ask you, did he really? Sure, he got a six-year jail sentence, but he also gained infamy and a prominent feature in a Hulu documentary (which he got paid for), and that, my garbage friends, is priceless. Think about it. The Fyre Festival happened TWO years ago and we’re still talking about it, talking about Billy, who he is and why he is the way he is. And while I don’t think Billy went into Fyre Fest thinking he would gain infamy in quite this way, I do think that quest for fame and likes is what drove some of his actions.

 

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Fyre Festival hero Andy King has seen the memes, and he has a message for the fans – link in bio

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It’s certainly what drove him to continue scamming people WHILE HE WAS OUT ON BAIL. And you know what? People are eating this sh*t up. They’re buying memorabilia from the festival, using memes of Andy King’s face to lament bad dates, and they’re doing this because they love the scam. It’s hilarious and ridiculous and even though it hurt a lot of people and screwed a lot of people over, we still want to be a part of it. That’s why we will listen to The Dropout podcast and watch the HBO documentaries. It’s why we watched two documentaries on the same topic, and read an article in The Cut that was about 9 days long. It’s because we love a good scam—so long as it’s happening to other people.

So, there you have it. 2019 is officially the Year of the Scam. But the scam year didn’t just happen over night; it’s been years of buildup to get us to where we are today. Trump’s presidency may have opened the door to let people get away with way more sh*t than they would have previously (*cough* white supremacy), but with that came the equal and opposite reaction of calling people out on their sh*t—whether that be your racist uncle at the Thanksgiving table or the people running our country. And you know who we’re especially calling out in 2019? The rich and powerful. With the exception of Elizabeth Holmes, all these scammers were rich and famous or scheming to be rich and famous, so we don’t feel bad for them, not really. In fact, we actively root against them. We don’t want to just watch the mighty fall, we want to watch them crash and burn and then keep the burning carcass of their worst mistakes alive for all eternity in the form of a very shareable meme.

Which brings me to my second point: the media. Ten years ago, if the Fyre Festival—or any of these scandals, for that matter—had happened, it would have been a blip on our radars. Before Instagram and social media and news story roundups sent directly to your phone, I used to get my news from, like, The Today Show. And that’s only because my mother refused to see the merit in letting me watch reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air while I trying to down my Eggos before school! I might have heard about the Lori Loughlin thing, but only if my mom called me up to personally tell me about it. Now, though, it’s impossible not to keep up with these stories. You can watch the Fyre Fest disaster play out in real time, then head over to IG where someone has inevitably made a meme out of someone else’s misfortune. Just when the scandal might die down, bam! Any streaming service suddenly has the rights to the story and has made a movie out of it. And don’t forget the podcasts! My point is, there have definitely been stories about scam artists in the past, but 2019 has amped up the stage for their scams. We’re not just consuming stories anymore, we’re immortalizing them.

So whether the Year of the Scam came to be because of our country’s leadership, the timing of the media, or if it’s just because the American people are flaming piles of garbage who live for messy drama, I can’t definitively say. I can say that if you need me, I’ll be on my couch watching whatever train wreck Netflix recommends to me next. That’s just how the cookie crumbles, people!

Images: @natcpod, @betches / Instagram; @kashmeredanny, @betchesluvthis / Twitter

Scarlett Johansson Didn’t Audition To Date Tom Cruise

Sometimes you’ve got to take a break from the fiery wreckage of American politics to gossip about religious cults. And praise Xenu, we’ve got ourselves a Scientology story! On Wednesday, Scarlett Johansson denied auditioning to be Tom Cruise’s girlfriend back in the pre-Katie Holmes days, when the “church” allegedly conducted a top-secret version of The Bachelor to find a Scientology-approved lady for Cruise to love. 

Johansson’s denial comes after a former Scientology security guard named Brendon Tighe went on “Megyn Kelly Today” to spill all sorts of tea about the super problematic church. Tighe claimed that he saw Johansson’s name on a list of women auditioning to date the Mission Impossible 27: These Movies Are Still Happening star. According to Tighe, Johansson’s audition went about as well as my recent Hinge dates (aka v. poorly). 

But Johansson made it very clear that she never wanted Cruise to jump on a couch for her. “The very idea of any person auditioning to be in a relationship is so demeaning,” Johansson told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. “I refuse for anyone to spread the idea that I lack the integrity to choose my own relationship. Only a man aka Brendan Tighe would come up with a crazy story like that.” You go, ScarJo!

Even though the Black Widow herself evidently wasn’t a part of any auditions, a 2012 Vanity Fair story did report on the church’s efforts to find a new girlfriend for Cruise after Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz got sick of his dianetics bullshit. And if you need a distraction from the news, you should absolutely read the whole thing, because it is bonkers. Apparently, before Katie Holmes won the dubious distinction of Cruise Wife #3, Scientology higher-ups selected a British-Iranian actress named Nazanin Boniadi to be Cruise’s girlfriend. When their relationship didn’t work out, the church made Boniadi “scrub toilets with a toothbrush on her hands and knees, clean bathroom tiles with acid, and dig ditches in the middle of the night.” Uh, and I thought my break-ups were rough.

In conclusion, Scientology is garbage, ScarJo is awesome, and maybe no one should date Tom Cruise ever again.

So This Is What The Normal People Do: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Recap

To keep it absolutely 100, this week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale was boring as fuck. Are you seriously going to follow up June chopping her own ear off and Emily murdering a random woman in the colonies with…Canada? Canada is literally the less interesting version of IRL America, and we’re not even a totalitarian religious patriarchy (yet). I was happy to see Moira and all, but her plot line is now a snooze-fest that not even some aggressive bathroom finger-banging can improve.

Also, this recap marks the switch from calling our leading lady “Offred” to “June” because like, feminism and shit.

At The Old Boston Globe

June is still chilling at the Boston Globe office, where journalists were rounded up and killed for doing their job. Luckily, this is all fiction and would never happen IRL and the relationship between the government and the press has never been better. (Note to readers: do not Google “White House Correspondent’s Dinner.”)

Anyway, June has gone full serial killer in her boredom, hanging up newspaper clippings for some sort of personal scrapbooking project she’s working on. Guess you gotta pass the hours somehow.

June during this scene:

Nick: You didn’t wake me up.
June: Because If I wake you up then you leave.
Me: Ugh June don’t be so clingy guys hate that.

The old timey sea captain from episode 2 returns to tell June it is time to GTFO.

June: Hold on one sec I left my makeup bag upstairs.
Old Timey Sea Captain: Looks like you’re gonna be rocking a natural look then.

Flashback To The Dark Women’s March

Here we get to see The Handmaid’s Tale’s version of the Women’s March, which takes place at night and instead of wearing pussy hats everyone throws the name of their rapist into a fire. Sounds fun.

June: My mom told me they were burning the name of their rapist.
Me: When I was your age my mom told me babies were made when a woman swallowed a watermelon seed.

Meh, Canada

Since being a sex slave for a patriarchal government, Moira has scored a sweet Canadian internship. Nice!

Moira: So let me show you to your –
Random Guy: — I watched my gay lovers hanged and had to clean their lifeless bodies.
Moira: Umm…therapy is down the hall.

Apparently there are trauma counselors available to all Gileadean (Gileadian? Gileadite?) refugees so I guess the Canadian healthcare system has not skipped a beat throughout all of this. Good to know.

Flashback To June’s Chill Mom

The main point of this episode is to let us know that June’s mom was a hardcore feminist activist who didn’t think June’s job as the editor of a website was cool enough. As the editor of a website let me just say: I did not like this episode.

June and her mom have a classic mother-daughter relationship. June wants her mom to lay off her back. June’s mom wants her daughter to wake up to the rise of religious totalitarianism in her country. Typical coming-of-age shit

June: Hey mom! I just got promoted!
June’s Mom: I just got rocks thrown at me while serving as an abortion escort. Nice blog tho.

June: So about my wedding
June’s Mom: What part of “the country is being taken over by a hyper-religious anti-woman fascist state” don’t you understand?

June’s Big Adventure

June is taken to another random location that was probably used for mass murder. Seriously, who is booking June’s Airbnbs? Nick?

June is sure putting a lot of trust in random men for a woman who was forced into being a Handmaid, just sayin’.

Random Man: Come with me, I’ll take to you to the airstrip now and then you’ll be in Canada faster than you can say “Degrassi Next Generation.”
June: Amazing can’t wai —
Random Man: Lol jk the safe house was compromised.

Rather than being left alone at her nightmare loft, June throws herself in front of Random Man’s car, demanding he take her with him. Can you blame her?

Random Man’s House

Random Man’s Wife As Soon As He Gets Home:

So this is what life is like for normals (apparently called “Econopeople”) in Gilead. TBH, I didn’t realize there were just like, regular people in this world. Especially regular people with kids. June alludes to the fact that this is the life she would have lived if she hadn’t been deemed a sinner and I need like 150% more information about this family and their weird lives before I am satisfied.

The only thing we know for sure about the norms: everyone wears grey, and church is 10 hours long.

Random Man’s Wife: I would rather die than be a sex slave and give up my baby.
June: What part of “sex slave” don’t you understand?

June is left alone while the fam is at church, and she takes the opportunity to fuck with all their stuff. They don’t show her taking a shower and using all of Random Man’s Wife’s expensive hair and skincare products, but you know she totally did.

June To The Strangers’ House:

During her snooping, June finds the family’s hidden Quran and prayer mat, which she promptly lays out and uses like she’s a babysitter taking advantage of the family’s string cheese supply.

June: How could they not be back by now? This is so rude!
Me: Uhh you just sat on their prayer mat for funsies.

Flashback To Aunt Lydia Doing A Powerpoint About Global Warming

So we finally found the one thing that Gilead is low-key right about, and that’s global warming. I guess once a country has finally subjugated all the women in it’s population, they can finally focus on environmental regulations. Nobody tell them Mother Earth is a woman.

June During Most Of The Powerpoint:

June sees her mom on the powerpoint and realizes she’s has been sent to the colonies. Then she starts crying in class like she’s me sophomore year or something.

Me During This Scene/The Whole Episode:

I’m gonna go ahead and predict right now that June’s mom is still alive in the colonies where she runs an underground women’s college/lesbian abortion clinic for former handmaids.

June On The Loose

June decides her new buds are taking too long because they might have been kidnaped or whatever, and decides to grab her map, her backpack, her trusty pal boots and – oh shit sorry that’s Dora the Explorer. My b.

June does have a map tho…

June On Her Way To The Airstrip: 

Ya girl throws on some ugly ass clothes, leaves the house, and within 2 second she is through an entire corn maze and back at the exact spot where she lost her daughter years ago and then to the airstrip where she will get safe passage to Canada.

Me watching this go down:

Meanwhile, In Canada

Moira is working through some of her past trauma by fingering random ladies in the bathroom of a bar.

Now we see Moira’s true and terrible fate: while she can give amazing orgasms, she is not yet ready to receive them.

Moira lies about her name to her freshly fingered friend because she’s just cold like that. Then she goes home to her new weird Canadian family which consists of herself, Luke, and Erin, a mute woman we all vaguely remember from season 1 who Luke saved from Gilead.

Erin (speaking for the first time maybe?): Blessed be the Fruit Loops
Moira:

Me:

June’s Red Eye To Canada

June gets through security and makes it to her flight and she is finally saved! Hooray! June and her baby are on their way to Canada and everything is fine and there is no more Handmaid’s Tale. Whew. I, for one, was exhausted. Can’t wait for the finale next week where June, Luke, and their new baby create a happy and healthy life in Little America!

Lol Jk their plane is shot out of the sky and June is pulled out of the plane by a government agent. Gotcha bitch.

TBH, Hulu really dragged out this very long “escape” that we knew wasn’t really gonna happen. Underwhelming.