The UBC Phil Lind Initiative organizes events and discussions featuring prominent speakers from diverse fields to engage the public in informed debates on global issues – particularly those related to contemporary politics, society, and culture.
From music to movies, and novels to memes, this series examines how artists have wielded their creative powers to address critical issues such as climate justice and LGBTQ2+ rights. The latest talks explore the relationship between pop culture and American politics, uncovering the impact and potential pitfalls of this influential connection. Although the focus of “Pop Politics: Pop Culture and Political Life in the United States” is on the USA, parallels in Canada do exist. There is much to be gained by using a Canadian lens to look at the ways in which art shapes our political landscape and engages a new generation in the debates that define our era.
The 2024 Lind Initiative line-up kicks off with Brooklyn-based bestselling author and staff writer for the New Yorker, Jia Tolentino, whose talk “Who’s Afraid of Eating the Rich?” is slated for Thursday, January 25th, 2024, at 6pm. Tickets are free, but seats will likely fill up quickly – so pounce now.
From the Phil Lind Initiative:
Equal parts compelling and devastatingly insightful, Jia Tolentino’s writing takes us deep inside the constructs and consequences of the age of social media, reality television, and the “feverish, electric, unlivable hell” that is the internet. Author of the instant New York Times bestselling collection of essays Trick Mirror, Tolentino’s work deftly mixes reporting, research, and personal history to shed light on the realities of our hyper-digital society.
Her Phil Lind Initiative talk—Who’s Afraid of Eating the Rich?—will focus on the recent waves of TV shows and media that make the argument, with varying degrees of sophistication and subtlety, that extreme wealth is unjust, immoral, and corrosive to the human soul. What does this mean, when income inequality is only worsening and poverty itself is almost entirely absent from media and pop culture? Is critique in this case a release valve, a sign of unrecognized popular radicalism, or a form of elite capture? How might this change the way we think about our affective relationship to capitalism today?
Lauded as “an expert in the sweet spot where contemporary politics and youth culture meet and make out” (Vulture), Jia Tolentino is a staff writer at the New Yorker and formerly was the deputy editor at Jezebel and a contributing editor at the Hairpin. She grew up in Texas, received her undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia, and got her MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan. In 2020, she received a Whiting Award as well as the Jeannette Haien Ballard Prize. She lives in Brooklyn.
“Tolentino writes with an inimitable mix of force, lyricism and internet-honed humor. She is the only writer I’ve read who can incorporate meme-speak into her prose without losing face.” – The New York Times
Other talks in the 2024 series to look forward to include: Suleika Jaouad & Jon Batiste on February 15th; Viet Thanh Nguyen on March 14th; Xiuhtezcatl Martinez on March 21st; and Sasha Velour on April 18th. All events take place beginning at 6pm at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC, and tickets are free while quantities last (max two per order). Details here.