While You Were Out: Misty Copeland Named ABT Principal Dancer, Top Gun 2 in the Works, Ben & Jen Call It Quits, and More

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Because of the Fourth of July holiday, this edition of “While You Were Out” is a Thursday feature of short notes and commentary from the week. Whether it’s something you’d discuss at the watercooler or at happy hour, you’ll find it on our grid, together with our opinion as to if it’s praiseworthy or cringeworthy. We’re pleased to bring you the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.

Misty Copeland Promoted at ABT!

Little girls in tutus have a new hero—one who is worthy of the title. This week, Misty Copeland was promoted to principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre (essentially the most prestigious ballet position in the country), which makes her the first African-American woman to hold that role. Copeland truly is the whole hero package: She overcame humble beginnings and refused to be told that she couldn’t become a ballerina because she was “too old” to start training at age 13 and didn’t have “the right body type.” Through hard work and exceptional talent, she became a household name in a culture that doesn’t tend to idolize classical artists.

Last year, an Under Armour commercial featuring Copeland became a viral sensation. Her combination of strength and grace pertains both to her dancing and her personality. In an interview with Time magazine, when asked what she wanted people to see when they saw her on the cover, she replied, “I want a younger child looking at me . . . to see themselves, to see endless opportunities, to see possibilities that maybe they never thought were something they could attain. I want them to see dreams through me.” I may not be a young child with hopes of becoming a dancer, but when news broke of Copeland’s history-making promotion, I spent a good hour watching online videos of her dancing, and I saw hope, beauty, talent, tenacity, and most importantly, dreams of a better tomorrow.

Monica Weigel

J. K. Rowling Announces, Corrects

This week Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling announced to the world that she will be teaming up with television writer Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany to introduce a previously untold chapter of the “Potterverse” as a play titled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which will debut at the Palace Theatre on London’s West End next year. Tickets will go on sale this fall.

The author says she believes the theater is the only medium in which this story can be accurately portrayed, and her devout following is hoping they’ll take what will undoubtedly be a smash hit on tour.

However, Rowling felt the need to set the record straight about the context of this story when several news outlets got some information wrong. In a hilarious yet serious tweet on Monday, the author gently reminded the world that this story will not be a prequel. Then she followed it with ten more. Her wit always shines through, even in just a few sentences, and she repeated over and over that the public shouldn’t be fooled. “Not a prequel. Not. A. Prequel,” she said. OK, I guess we should trust Rowling.

Hannah Allen White

Kacey Musgraves New Album Pageant Material

If you haven’t heard Kacey Musgraves yet, it’s probably because you don’t listen to country music. She crashed onto the country scene in a big way with her first major release Same Trailer, Different Park (2013), gaining fans with her gumption to test the boundaries of what country music talks about—including, yes, feminine power. Musgraves’ follow-up album, Pageant Material, dropped this week; it brings back her country roots, amps them up a bit, and mixes them with some rock influences that allow her to step out beyond the Nashville country scene and onto indie/alternative music platforms. This is a journey we’ve seen her taking over the past couple years as she’s grown her fan base at Austin City Limits and Bonnaroo music festivals.

What’s unique about Musgraves is how she lyrically encapsulates the frustration of every twentysomething while still producing a song that rings of maturity and joy. Pageant Material’s first single “Biscuits” says exactly what you wish you could say to your rude aunt or the girl who can’t keep her thoughts to herself on a regular basis. Musgraves’ second Spotify single titled “Family is Family” follows the same pattern—fun lyrics that invoke Ingrid Michaelson in her Girls and Boys days juxtaposed with the seriousness of what family really means. Overall, Pageant Material sounds like a more mature Musgraves who has really found her niche and voice in a country scene that needs less pop and more artistic risks. She falls in line with the greats, such as Tammy Wynette, while still paving her own way—bringing country music to millennials and back to Americana.

—Mercedez Rassi

Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers Have the Best Comeback to Sexist Tweet

Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers put together a brilliant comeback on last week’s Late Night with Seth Meyers to a Sports Illustrated writer who tweeted that “women’s sports in general [are] not worth watching.” Complete with the satisfying juxtaposition of footage of an awesome women’s soccer goal and a totally lame male golfing miss at close range, the pair nails the issue in one. As Amy says, “You guys put out a swimsuit issue every year dedicated entirely to women who aren’t in sports. Unless you think it’s a sport to cover both boobs with one arm. Really!?!”

The guy in question has since apologized for his dumb tweet, and the news that Monday’s Women’s World Cup soccer game was the highest-ranking cable broadcast on TV that day proved that quite a lot of people do enjoy watching women’s sports after all.

Sophie Caldecott

Top Gun 2 . . . Yes, It’s Coming

Fans of Top Gun, rejoice! Plans to make a Top Gun 2 have been confirmed, and word on the Hollywood streets is that Tom Cruise will reprise his iconic role as Maverick in at least some capacity. The movie will focus on the role of fighter pilots in a time when the use of drone warfare is on the rise. The script is currently being written, so it’s not clear whether the sequel will revisit the beach volleyball court and dive bar or include moments of contemplation on the back of a motorcycle, but it is sure to contain more epic flight sequences, tons of aviator sunglasses, and a killer soundtrack.

MW

Fifty Shades Q&A on Twitter Backfires Big-Time

When Fifty Shades of Grey author E. L. James took to Twitter on Monday to host a Q&A session about her novels, the result was one huge PR disaster. Critics used the hashtag #AskELJames to attack the author’s writing skills and the franchise’s unhealthy attitude toward relationships and romance. One Twitter user wrote, “Do all these negative tweets sent to you seem abusive to you? I think it’s romantic enough to be turned into a novel!” Someone else asked, “Which do you hate more, women or the English language?” In short, to quote another Twitter user: “Whoever planned out the #AskELJames tag has obviously never, ever met Twitter.”

SC

Presidential Candidates Fail at Social Media

This week also showed presidential candidates attempting to use social media to spread their influence, with often laughable results. Chris Christie’s campaign publicized the hashtag #TellingItLikeItIs, for instance, before nearly half of all tweets cited negative scandals associated with the New Jersey governor. What can be great fun for the rest of us serves as a reminder to those spearheading PR campaigns; a little more foresight could go a long way.

Mary Rose Somarriba

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Announce Divorce

The couple released a statement Tuesday—the day after their tenth wedding anniversary—saying that they had “made the difficult decision to divorce.” They stressed their family’s need for privacy during this tough time, as well as their “commitment to co-parenting” their three children. A Hollywood couple getting a divorce is hardly news, but this one struck me as particularly sad in light of Ben Affleck’s wise words on marriage in his 2013 Oscars speech: “It’s good. It is work but the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.” It was so rare and refreshing to hear a celebrity talk about marriage in such a grounded way, so it’s really sad to see the cynics proven right. Whatever the situation is with their marriage (and celebrity marriages do have unique challenges), I hope people can still value those words and remember them when they hit rough patches in their own relationships: Marriage is good, but it takes work.

SC

Mysterious Church Fires Continue to Rage Across the South

A fire broke out Tuesday night at the Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville, South Carolina.

Though the cause of the fire has yet to be determined, this incident follows a series of churches burned in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina in predominantly African-American communities. Investigators have confirmed that several of the fires were deliberate, and they are happening less than a week after Dylann Roof allegedly shot and killed several people at a predominantly black church in Charleston, South Carolina, just sixty-five miles from Greeleyville.

HAW

Baltimore Strip Clubs Targeted in Trafficking Raid

This week in Baltimore, three strip clubs were raided in an FBI-led case targeting sex trafficking in the establishments. Kya Mack, a dancer and bartender who works at one of the strip clubs, told Baltimore local news that she doesn’t know why police targeted the clubs, but she is aware that sex trafficking happens in the area. In her words, “I can’t say they are doing it at the clubs, but they are doing it on the street.” It’s good to see federal investigators gaining steam in combating this growing nationwide problem wherever it occurs—whether on the streets, in strip clubs, or on porn sets. Because when it comes to sex trafficking, it may often be hidden and disguised, but that doesn’t diminish our obligation to combat it. After all, slavery has been abolished in this country.

MRS

Wife Pens Article at The GuardianA Letter to . . . My Ex-Husband, Who Preferred Pornography to Me

In an article from The Guardian that went viral this week, a woman penned “a letter to . . . my ex-husband, who preferred pornography to me.” In it, the writer describes what it was like to find her husband grow an obsessive passion that fatally damaged their intimacy. The anonymous writer ends the article with some thought-provoking words for her ex: “. . . relationships require effort and consideration of others’ needs, and the women you spend [the] most time with ask for nothing. You are actually happier in your relationship with porn.” Ouch.

MRS

Good News of the Week

There are few things as cute as baby elephants, amIright? Well, we have a story about saving baby elephants. This week in Kenya the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Voi Elephant Keepers received a call about a distressed elephant caught in a water hole, so they rushed to the scene to help. The only problem was that the baby’s entire herd was standing ominously by, clearly agitated by the infant’s predicament. The banks were too deep and the mud too slippery for them to get her out on their own, though reports say that they took turns trying. Soon rescuers arrived and used straps to help pull the baby out until she could climb the rest of the way herself. Yay, team!

HAW

Shouldn’t You Be Watching Fireworks Somewhere?

All of us at Verily would like to wish you a very happy Fourth!