Famous Last Words: Madonna & Britney's Toxic Tribute

So it’s my lifelong dream to create a word. A word that becomes so ubiquitous the OED has no choice but to put it in the dictionary. And I’ve invented that word, with the help of some friends, and that word is: sumpique (adj.). It’s technically an amalgamation of two words — sumptuous and unique but, nonetheless, it’s a word.
Now to use it in a sentence: Britney and Madonna’s Instagram interaction this week was truly sumpique. That’s right folks, the two divas came head to head this week in an inspo-off, paying homage to each other in a series of self-authored musical moments. It started off on December 1st, notably World AIDS Day, with her Madgesty singing Britney’s "Toxic", strumming her guitar, in a somewhat tasteless misuse of the song to pay homage to those lost to, and those still fighting, HIV and AIDS today.
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While, of course, the song is a banger, when applied to a virus as heavily stigmatised as HIV and AIDS, ‘toxic’ takes on an entirely new and pretty unhelpful message. In response, Britney sung Elvis’s "I Can’t Help Falling in Love" in a 360-round shot above the caption “I was really inspired yesterday by @madonna’s post. She’s right… silence = death!” While they are effective words, there was literally no mention of World AIDS Day, or ACT UP! — the radical activist group who coined the term, who are still fighting to end HIV and AIDS today. While the basic gay-boy inside me is screeching at Bri-Donna’s objectively sumpique interaction, the point was sorely missed.
Another sorely missed point this week was the absence of the inimitable Kesha on the cover of TIME’s Person of the Year issue. In a similar, but much more successful, vein to Bri-Donna, the focus was pulled onto the ‘silence breakers’ — notably Tarana Burke, Selma Blair, Taylor Swift, Ashley Judd, Adam Iwu, Dana Lewis, among others, who spoke out against sexual assault and harassment in their respective industries.
Parts of the internet were overjoyed with this array of brilliant women, while others were up in arms: to omit Kesha, an artist who has been narrating the experience of sexual assault in the music industry for the past two years — before the vital #MeToo campaign became widely used — caused much fury. 2017 has been a year of silence-breaking across the board, and while the cover is certainly missing Kesha, it’s also missing countless other women who were instrumental in leading this revolution too. That said, however, if last year’s person of the year was Trump, 2017’s selection hopefully depicts a change in who is leading the conversation, and what that conversation is. TIME finally caught up with the times.
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Speaking of silence breakers — after news of Kevin Spacey’s binning from House of Cards following numerous allegations of sexual assault against him, the world is wondering if Robin Wright will finally get equal (if not better) pay for her now top-billing role as Claire Underwood in that it-could-be-reality show all about murderous presidents. After four seasons of receiving less pay than her male counterpart (played by Spacey) and another season being lied to about it, the world is calling for better pay for Robin now that she’s stepping up. For seasons, viewers have been explaining that Wright is the main reason they keep coming back, and her battle to get equal pay is yet more testament to Hollywood’s exploitative treatment of women. Now the finale of the whole show lies in her hands, one can only wonder if payroll will finally recognise her value.
And while this week has been about people speaking up, someone who needs to pipe down is Ed Sheeran. Truly not sumpique. Bleakpique (so bleak it’s unique to him, adj.). Not only did he tarnish Beyoncé's flawless record in their truly heinous collaboration this week (I mean my ears are bleeding make it stop), he also landed himself on the top spot of the most played videos on YouTube this year, as well as being named as the most streamed artist of 2017 on Spotify. World, how did we get here? I’m so confused. His voice sounds like a whoopee cushion. He’s where culture goes to die, and offensive, patronising readings of intravenous drug users or women from Galway go to thrive. Are we not better than this? What about Solange? What about Kesha? What about Kelela? It’s time to take a long look at ourselves and ask if this is really what we want.
Something we do really want, however, is the next Bridesmaids. While it was confirmed that the iconic Kristen Wiig x Annie Mumolo penned masterpiece is not quite coming back for second helpings, Wiig did however reveal this week that she and Mumolo are working on another feature together — this one named Barb and Star go to Vita del Mar. While nobody knows any more details, we can all breathe a little more easily in the knowledge that fi-nal-ly the makers of the film I once watched back-to-back five times on a rager of a hangover are set to return. Truly sumpique.

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