Currently, Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift are two central artists in the pop-music sphere. Grande is at the pinnacle of her career, following the release of “thank u, next”, and Swift is in the inactive stage between album cycles after a whirlwind several years as one of the front runners in the pop industry. With both sharing enormity in their successes, it is natural to wonder if they also share the traits that made their music so relevant.
Gabriela Brimmer, a Mexican woman of Jewish descent, was born with cerebral palsy in 1947 when there was little concrete knowledge of the condition. Her family was told she would categorically not live past the age of ten and would likely never manage to communicate. In fact, Gaby lived until fifty-two, published numerous poems, and co-wrote an autobiography and a film about her life. With support from her life-long caregiver Florencia Sanchez Morales, Gaby learnt to point to letters on an ‘alphabet board’ and eventually type on a typewriter (which she nicknamed ‘Che’ after Che Guevara) with her left foot- her only mobile body part. She received only a limited education from an elementary school for disabled pupils- a marked disadvantage considering the stigma around disabilities in the 1950s which caused under-funding and few appropriate resources. However, Gabriela and her family soon began to campaign for public high schools to accommodate Gaby, who passed their entrance exams with almost no suitable teaching. To overcome stubborn school authorities who initially rejected Gaby, her mother Sari shared works of Gaby’s poetry until they grudgingly admitted her as a student. After graduating high school, she was accepted into the National Autonomous University- easily one of the most selective and respected universities in Mexico, to study sociology on a social and political sciences course. Florencia accompanied her loyally, interpreting her communication during lectures and helping her move around campus, even carrying her and her wheelchair up flights of stairs.
The 1990s were a period of global change. Characterised by decolonisation, the collapse of the Soviet Union, double denim and the rise of the computer, it is undeniable that the “decade that never ended” was a pivotal turning point in global geopolitics, pop-culture popularity and technology. Stepping out of the polarising Thatcher years, England in the nineties was typified by new wave culture attributed to a fresh sense of progressive multiculturalism and globalisation. Marathon bars became Snickers, Game Boys conquered children’s toy charts, and Macaulay Culkin and the Crystal Maze dominated screens across the country. Yet, while these features paint a clear picture of the politics, style and culture of the nineties, nothing defines a decade more aptly than what was being listened to. In a time before streaming and instant downloads, the idea of physical business meant the music industry was governed by competition– after all the purchase of a record required a lot more effort for the consumer then the one click, dehumanised transaction that dominates the music industry in the 21stcentury. Grunge, hip-hop and the rave-scene swept across the nation, and two bands fought it out for the top spot in a battle that would define the decade: Blur versus Oasis.
With Holocaust Memorial Day having just passed, it is a unique time worth reflecting on the effect which WWII had on science and technology. The thousands of potential scientists who were killed during the Holocaust lost their opportunity to leave an impact on the world, while women such as Lise Meitner faced new difficulties in her already challenging field. Lise was an Austrian Jew who suffered greatly both due to her gender and religious upbringing. Nevertheless, Meitner allowed herself to create a lasting impact in the field of physics, with Albert Einstein himself praising her as “the German Marie Curie”.
Charlie Brooker is a Prophet