This Week In Culture: June 6–12, 2020

Stories about cancelled shows, cancelled people, banned flags, and buried treasure all provided words to this week's list of timely vocabulary from the culture beat.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. commensurate
    corresponding in size or degree or extent
    Rowling’s decision to state her beliefs on trans identity brought a level of recrimination and condemnation commensurate with the size of her massive following.
    Variety (June 10, 2020)
    J.K. Rowling caused a scandal when she tweeted a number of statements expressing her belief that transgender people are not "real" men or women. This was especially hurtful to her fans who related to the young wizards' feelings of being different, and both Daniel Radcliffe and Eddie Redmayne immediately issued statements in support of trans and non-binary people. Observers worry that Rowling's statements might cause serious problems for the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
  2. distorted
    so badly formed or out of shape as to be ugly
    Since “Cops” made its debut in 1989, the group said, the network, the show’s producers and the advertisers “have built a profit model around distorted and dehumanizing portrayals of black Americans and the criminal justice system.”
    New York Times (June 9, 2020)
    Cops, the reality TV show that was about to begin its 33rd season, has been cancelled by the Paramount Network. As calls for police reform grow louder, producers decided that the show, which has been criticized over the years for portraying the police in an inaccurately favorable light, was no longer appropriate. Color Of Change, the group that got Cops cut from Fox in 2013, credited Paramount for their quick decision.
  3. ephemera
    something transitory or not of lasting significance
    Though the exhibition opened last summer to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, the digital component includes artefacts from the 19th century onward, including protest signs, the first trans pride flag, Aids-related lab equipment, oral histories, Billie Jean King’s tennis dress and ephemera from the collection of Frank Kameny..."
    Guardian (June 10, 2020)
    Though the Black Lives Matter protests have overshadowed it, June is also Pride Month. A number of online exhibitions highlight work by LGBTQ+ artists or explore the history of the gay rights movement over the years. From contemporary paintings to historical shows full of artifacts, this list covers a wide range of subjects and time periods. Ephemeros is Greek, and means "lasting only for a day."
  4. irrefutable
    impossible to deny or disprove
    "This is a larger issue than that picture (which is irrefutably terrible and sad), this is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed now," he tweeted.
    BBC (June 9, 2020)
    Adam Rapoport resigned as Editor-in-Chief of Bon Appetit magazine after an old photo of him in brownface surfaced. That photo, of him and his wife at a costume party, unleashed a flood of criticism and revelations of long-standing racist practices at the magazine. Employees of color were paid less than their white colleagues, and were not paid at all for video appearances that white employees were compensated for.
  5. occurrence
    an instance of something happening
    “Each year, we receive a number of rule change proposals from artists, producers and songwriters asking us to reevaluate our process,” Chief Awards Officer Bill Freimuth added, pointing out that they pay close attention to occurrences within the past 12 months.
    Rolling Stone (June 10, 2020)
    The Grammys announced that the "Best Urban Contemporary" category will be renamed "Best Progressive R&B." When used as a stand-in for a racial demographic, urban is a problematic word for an increasing number of people and this change reflects that. Rules were also changed, particularly governing qualifications for the "Best New Artist" category.
  6. prompt
    give an incentive for action
    On Wednesday, Twitter announced that it will begin testing a new feature that will prompt users to think before they tweet articles they haven’t read.
    The Verge (June 10, 2020)
    Twitter is rolling out a new feature, initially being tested on Android devices, that will suggest that you read an article before retweeting it. Because people will often share content based only on the headline, the company says this is an attempt to get people to pay more attention and dig deeper into the issues they're discussing online.
  7. reconciliation
    the reestablishment of cordial relations
    "That sort of reconciliation with the sins of our past is a crucial part of all this. … We all love our country, and it’s hard to come to grips with what we’ve put the African American community through.”
    Washington Post (June 10, 2020)
    Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that he thinks Colin Kaepernick will ultimately become like Muhammad Ali: seen by most Americans as a principled hero who took a knee for justice at a time when it was controversial and professionally costly to do so. The NFL released a statement saying that it should have listened to players years ago. Observers are watching to see if any team is ready to hire Kaepernick back.
  8. stance
    a rationalized mental attitude
    However, when pressed by reporters later, other drivers — including Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin — refused to take a hard stance on the matter, while saying they disagree with the racist symbolism the flag carries.
    USA Today (June 10, 2020)
    NASCAR has banned all Confederate flags from their events. Citing the flag's long history as a symbol of racism and hate, the statement said that the flag "runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry." The organization also rescinded a rule that required all drivers and their crews to stand for the National Anthem.
  9. trauma
    an emotional wound or shock having long-lasting effects
    “This work stirs the trauma back up for the very community that it is intending to reach, and also that there is a way in which institutions like MoCA put that pain and trauma on display disrespectfully and somewhat gratuitously — that there is a performative aspect to our presentation of it.”
    New York Times (June 9, 2020)
    Cleveland's Museum of Contemporary Art cancelled a show of drawings by Shaun Leonardo. The works depict acts and victims of police violence. The museum pulled the show, after some activists and museum employees objected, saying that it would be too painful for the community to see. Museum administrators later apologized to Leonardo, saying they handled the situation badly. Trauma is a Greek word meaning "wound."
  10. whereabouts
    the general location of someone or something
    Fenn posted clues to the treasure’s whereabouts online and in a 24-line poem that was published in his 2010 autobiography “The Thrill of the Chase.”
    AP (June 7, 2020)
    Ten years ago, an art collector supposedly hid a treasure chest full of gold and jewels worth over $1 million in the Rocky Mountains, publishing clues in his autobiography and on his website. Now he says it has been found, though he would not reveal the identity of the person. There's no room to go into the details here, but this story gets stranger the more you look into it. Some of it might be true, or all of it, or none.
Created on June 10, 2020 (updated June 15, 2020)

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