A New Art Project Grapples With The Alienation That Comes With Being Othered

Photo by Mel Taing, courtesy of Dominique Wynne

Talking with Dominique Wynne about her project "Black, Brown, Other"

In a new visual essay "Black, Brown, Other," artist Dominique Wynne has tapped four people of color, two of whom are also queer, to talk about their feelings of alienation, and how that feeling impacts their lives. The idea came from something that happened in Wynne's life: She was promoted at her job, only to realize that no one else in her company looked like her. As a Black woman, she tells me, "I was feeling out of place and alienated in my identity, and just my existence, and, most importantly, I felt like I didn't have anybody to talk about it with." That feeling of isolation, she knows, is something that all queer people and all people of color—and definitely those with intersecting identities—have felt many times. "I wanted to reach out to people of color and queer people and anyone who I thought might've felt like an 'other,' and get their experiences as well."

Alexis, Cassie, and Yess for "Black, Brown, Other" by Mel Taing, courtesy of Dominique Qynne

The result is an all-encompassing look at how otherness is forced upon minorities by people in positions of relative power, whether it be institutional discrimination or microaggressions. Wynne spent hours interviewing her four subjects about how they feel alienated because of their identities, and how this hurts them both professionally and personally; all of them feel constantly misunderstood by people who don't look like them.

By opening their conversations to a wider audience, Wynne hopes to show the individual effects of institutional inequalities and to offer all people an understanding of how it feels to be alienated. "I wanted to give non-people of color, non-queer people a look into a candid conversation," she tells me. "Those people will never get an opportunity to sit in on a conversation like that in their lives usually."

She got her subjects to open up about the complexities of their existence in a way that wouldn't have been able to happen were she not also a queer person of color. "It's so different when marginalized people talk to each other. We can talk so frankly. We can say what we want without fear, because we understand each other. It's this non-verbal, I feel you. I get you," she says. "And I thought that it would be beneficial for people who would never get that otherwise to be able to take a look at it, because it's through candid talk and really not filtering yourself and your emotions and your struggles.

Alexis for "Black, Brown, Other" by Mel Taing, courtesy of Dominique Wynne

Two of Wynne's subjects are white-passing, which offers its own advantages and disadvantages. "I have a lot of white-passing friends who have told me on occasion that being white-passing is something that's hard for them, and makes it hard for them to infiltrate POC spaces just based on the way they look," she says, pointing out the unique disadvantage of being unable to be immediately accepted by the people with whom you may feel most closely related. "I really wanted to challenge both people of color and non-people of color to see the ways in which we can alienate others, even if it's unintentional."

Yess, one of the subjects, notes that they have an accent and are therefore only able to pass as white when they are silent. In their portion of the essay, "they talk about having that privilege taken away as soon as they speak." Says Wynne, "That's the perfect example of how, no matter what, even if you are white-passing, as soon as someone who is not a POC sees you as an 'other,' that unconscious bias just switches back on. All of a sudden you are no longer blending in."

The same goes for people who pass as cisgender and straight but aren't, says Wynne. Two of the subjects use they/them pronouns, but most people don't automatically assume it. And, Wynne notes, something similar could be said about bisexual people who are in heterosexual-assumed relationships. As a bisexual person in a relationship with another woman myself, I am also acutely aware of how queer people treat me differently than they would were I dating a man. Friends and colleagues who identify as bisexual but are labeled "straight" by their peers get so discouraged by the constant misidentification that they stop their constant correcting, and don't speak up about it, because they've been led to think that they can't. Wynne describes the dueling ways in which bisexual people are treated:

One is, now that you're seen as being in a heterosexual relationship, you're protected under heteronormativity. But you also are outcast, or at least I think that bisexual women can be outcasts when in heteronormative relationships, because it kind of invalidates their sexuality and themselves as a queer person. It's kind of like you no longer fit into the queer space because you're dating a man even though you yourself are attracted to women.

It's often unintentional, the way others force alienation on us, and comes from a place of not understanding. "I think that unintentional mindset comes from never having experienced something like people crossing the street when you walk by," she says. "It's very hard to force the hand of someone who's never felt alienated or who has never been challenged to even have discussions with people who have." But by reading the narratives of these four individuals, it makes it harder to shrug it off, and more immediate and pressing an issue to change.

Ushshi for "Black, Brown, Other" by Mel Taing courtesy of Dominique Wynne

Wynne doesn't have a set answer for how to stop this alienation from occurring, just that it needs to happen. "I'm not sure how to do it, and I"m also not sure that minorities are responsible for showing allies how to stop the behavior," she tells me. Thinking back on all the times I've been forced to explain my sexuality and its validity, I wholeheartedly agreed. It's something that needs to be taken up by allies themselves, she offers: "There is nothing more powerful than someone who looks like you telling you what you did wrong. Because a lot of the times, minorities are immediately invalidated."

In so many instances, too, people who don't deal with these problems get overwhelmed, and so avoid dealing with the situation entirely. We need to put changes in place on a small scale to make large-scale change. "People rely on broad terms and broad ways of change because it doesn't really hold them accountable for doing anything," she says. "I think that relying on broad solutions is really just a cop-out to not really doing anything at all."

What we should be doing, Wynne says, is "celebrating the differences and strengths without having to be silent and bear the burden of being different all the time. I want queer people and people of color to see this and feel heard, to nod along, and to join us in the exhale of not being silent anymore. And to know that I'm in their corner."

Screenshot via YouTube

And I need to see the rest ASAP

As excited as we already are for Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, to hit theaters next week, we just got even more desperate to see it. Why? Well, the first six minutes of the film were just released, and every minute is incredible.

The film opens on Molly (Beanie Feldstein) meditating and listening to a motivational tape telling her she's better than everyone else, and to "fuck those losers." Her room is decorated with pictures of Michelle Obama and RBG, so we know her head is in the right place. We learn she's the class president when she arrives at school with her best friend, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever).

It's there that we get a glimpse of the social hierarchy in which Molly and Amy exist—but somewhere down near the bottom, way below the popular kids, the theater nerds, the stoners, and even the annoying class clown.

The film officially hits theaters on May 23, but Annapurna Pictures is holding advanced screenings across the country today, May 17—we're actually holding two of them! So, if you're in L.A. or New York, check them out.

But also, you can watch the first six minutes of the film, below, and prepare yourself to watch the whole movie in a week.

BOOKSMART | Uncut First 6 Minutes

Photo by Rich Polk/ Getty

Her hypocrisy would be mind-blowing if it weren't so predictable

It's been just over two years since Tomi Lahren appeared on ABC's The View to assert that, despite her ultra-conservative bona fides, she holds one position more normally associated with the left wing: She's pro-choice. In that talk show appearance, Lahren made clear then that her pro-choice views were consonant with her self-identification as a "constitutionalist," further explaining:

I am someone that's for limited government. So I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government but I think the government should decide what women should do with their bodies." I can sit here and say that as a Republican, and I can say, "You know what? I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well."

Back then, we noted the hypocrisy inherent to that position, since Lahren was an ardent supporter of President Trump—who made no secret of his desire to appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and other judicial benches—and Vice-President Pence, whose anti-abortion views are even more ardent.

Since Lahren's appearance on The View, she has appeared in the anti-abortion film Roe v. WadeRoe v. Wade, which co-starred fellow execrable conservative troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, and, um, Joey Lawrence. Though the film has not yet been released, it is alleged to contain "several graphic scenes depicting aborted fetuses," and also the acting styles of Jamie Kennedy, so we're not sure for whom it will really be appropriate.

But while Lahren's role in that film would be enough to make anyone question just how committed she is to her alleged pro-choice stance, the recent news about de facto abortion bans in Alabama and Georgia has incited Lahren to speak out about her views once again.

On Twitter, Lahren opened herself up to "attack[s] by [her] fellow conservatives" and spoke out against the Alabama abortion ban as being "too restrictive." And, indeed, her "fellow conservatives" did quickly attack Lahren for not actually caring about human life, and for having too liberal a position on whether or not a woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy that resulted from rape. But then also, as Lahren must have known would happen, other people supported her for... not having one irredeemably monstrous position amongst her arsenal of irredeemably monstrous positions.

But, let's be clear: Tomi Lahren is not—no matter what she tweets—pro-choice, and neither is any supporter of the Republican Party. There is no doubt that there are Republicans who are in favor of safe access to abortion—particularly when it comes to themselves and their family members having said access. But by supporting the Republican Party, they are showing how little it actually matters to them, and showing what it is that they really prioritize over women's safety and freedom: namely, access to guns, bigoted immigration policies, the continued disenfranchisement of voters across the country. I could go on, but there's no need.

Lahren's tweet doesn't reveal in any way that she's an advocate for women's rights, all it reveals is her hypocrisy and that of anyone (Meghan McCain, hi), who would love to have a world created specifically for their needs, and who is willing to sacrifice the rights of the less privileged in order to secure their own. It is despicable and dangerous and incredibly predictable. But, at least, it might give Lahren something to talk about on the red carpet with her fellow anti-abortion movie costars, if that film ever gets more than a straight-to-video release.

If you want to find out how to help women have access to abortion, please visit here for information about donating and volunteering.

Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty also appear

Lil Nas X went all out with the visuals for his hit "Old Town Road," tapping all of his newfound collaborators and friends, like Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty, to star. The movie travels from 1889 Wild Wild West to the modern-day city outskirts, so saddle up and come along for the ride.

As the visuals start, Nas and Cyrus gallop away with a bag of loot, obviously having pulled off a heist. The trio of men on horseback that were in pursuit of them come to a halt, unable to catch up, and Chris Rock—the leader of the group—states, "When you see a Black man on a horse going that fast, you just gotta let him fly." Just as Nas and Cyrus think they're able to relax in stranger's home, it turns out the homeowner isn't so friendly. Nas jumps into a hole to escape, only to end up hundreds of years in the future on the other side.

Forget trying to figure out the logistics of time travel, and just embrace the hilarity of Nas' horse also having wound up there, and in peak racing condition. He impresses the locals not only in the race (with Vince Staples losing money in a bet against him) but with his sweet square dancing skills. Once he and Cyrus (yes, he time traveled too) trade out their old-timey duds for some fresh, rhinestone-adorned outfits, they enter a room playing bingo with Rico Nasty in it. Diplo is playing the washboard, I feel like I'm losing my mind, and this is probably the best music video I've watched this year.

Watch the movie for "Old Town Road" again and again, below.

Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (Official Movie) ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

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Screenshot via YouTube

They really "don't care" about how this was edited, do they?

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber used the name of their song as inspiration for the "I Don't Care" music video, and have presented what is essentially a long blooper reel of the pair messing around with a green screen.

The visuals show how dedicated the two are to proving just how much they don't care, because I'm pretty sure they did the editing on this video as well. They dance around in costumes, as an ice cream cone, a panda, a teddy bear, and more. I have a clear vision of Bieber and Sheeran raiding a costume shop just an hour before setting up a tripod and going to town on this one. They also juxtapose their faces on top of a ballerina, a skydiver, and a corn inside the husk.

Blink, and you'll miss the funniest moment of all in the video: Ed Sheeran gets married to a cardboard cutout of a young Bieber with swoopy hair.

Watch the visuals for "I Don't Care" below.

Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care [Official Video]

Photo by Jena Cumbo

Her new LP, 'Take Me to the Disco,' is her most personal work yet

Meg Myers isn't afraid to admit she's still figuring out who she wants to be. Originally from Tennessee, Myers moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to dedicate her life to her music career. In 2012, she released her first EP, Daughter in the Choir, which set the groundwork for the releases of Sorry (2015) and Take Me to the Disco (2018). Well-known for her poetic lyrics, crude vocals, and cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," the honest singer-songwriter makes a point to tell me that self-acceptance is a process. After listening to her deeply personal LP, Take Me to the Disco, I know she's not wrong.

In the middle of producing her new forthcoming music, the star opens up to NYLON: "I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art. Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free." It's clear that it is this fearlessness to self-reflect that not only makes her body of work so authentic but also what motivates her to continue to grow.

Below, we speak with Myers about her new music, self-love, and her ever-evolving relationship with creativity.

The Great Eros Pants, Chae New York top, Schutz shoes, and Via Saviene rings. Photos by Jena Cumbo

How did moving to Los Angeles influence the artist you are today?
I feel more safe here. I've been tapping more into my truth and expressing myself on a deeper level here. Growing up, my family was very chaotic, and I never knew what was about to happen. I have four brothers and a sister, and we grew up basically as best friends, making fun out of the chaos and always creating some type of art from it. I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art.

Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free.

What are some of your biggest influences?
I think all the barbecue and shrimp and grits [in Tennessee] really adds a smokiness to my music.

My queerness gives me a lot of material to create with. It's allowing me to be more playful and not take every little thing so seriously.

Silk Laundry jumpsuit, Wild Vertigga T-shirt, and Nakamol earring.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Tell me about your new music. Why is it different than anything you've ever created?
This EP is going to have a lot of similar vibes to my last album, because I wrote it at the same time with the same producer about a lot of the same struggles and self-discoveries as my past music. I'll share more with you on my third album.

I'm such a fan of your cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." Why did you gravitate toward that song to cover?
It's such a powerful song! Kate Bush is magic. It's almost like I've been being guided to cover that song for a long time. I don't know how to explain it in words, as they can feel so limiting, and this song is beyond words to me. It's just a deep inner knowing, and it makes my heart flutter.

Chae NewYork blazer; Saku top, The Great Eros bottoms, and Inch2 boots.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Are there any other songs you feel really connected to?
I would love to collaborate with Active Child. The songs "Hanging On" and "Johnny Belinda" are also otherworldly to me. I've been listening to this band called Walk the Moon a lot. I also love Phoebe Bridgers. I have a crush on her. I generally listen to instrumental music and classical. If you look up 432hz music, it's incredibly healing, and solfeggio frequencies have helped me with a lot.

What does self-love mean to you?
It's been a process for me. It's been quite the journey. Right now, I would say [self-love for me] is about accepting myself, and having love for all the experiences that have led me to where I am. It also means being grateful for growth. It's also been about learning to be in the present moment. It's been learning to trust myself and not listening to what others think I need to be doing. As I learn to do this, I also learn how to love others deeper. All this being said, it's a process.

Chae New York blazer and Saku top.Photo by Jena Cumbo

What advice do you have for someone struggling to find happiness right now?
Spend some time in solitude if you can, or with a really safe person who you feel you can express yourself freely with. Find someone who has no expectations of you and is supportive. In that present moment, ask yourself, What feels good to you? What do you feel like doing? Use your imagination. Daydream. Find what it is you enjoy doing. I promise you can unlock magic inside yourself. It just takes patience.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.