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So, who will be the star of Space Jam 2?

We thought it was LeBron James, but there’s also Blake Griffin

4:00 PM

So, do we have a controversy in Space Jam land? Because I’m totally confused.

First, it was surmised that the star of Space Jam 2 or whatever it’s going to be called, the sequel to the 1996 film that grossed over $230 million in the box office and was a cultural touchstone between cartoons and sports that we hadn’t seen since Bugs Bunny was striking out the side on one pitch, would be none other than LeBron James. This, of course, made a ton of sense. Nike guy, international superstar, etc.

But then Michael Jordan said that he wanted Blake Griffin to be the guy. This didn’t make any particular waves because it was just one man’s opinion, albeit the most important person in the original production. He actually told a basketball camp full of people that he preferred Griffin. To be fair, this is not a bad pick. But to sort of publicly take what amounts to an anti-LeBron stance was a tad odd, but that’s it. It’s just a cartoon.

Then this commercial dropped this morning. The new Space Jam 20th anniversary Air Jordans are coming out in a couple of days, so Foot Locker’s got a new ad out. Who does it star? Blake Griffin and Jimmy Butler. This is the closest thing we’ve seen to an official announcement that Griffin will not only be in the movie, but will be playing a significant role. We realize that James was a bit busy with winning an NBA title, but still.

If we’re being honest, it wasn’t until this commercial that it occurred to me this role is way better for Griffin than James. On some level, this is beneath James. But it is very much so in Griffin’s wheelhouse and that’s obvious based on the few seconds he’s on screen in this 90-second clip. The Los Angeles Clippers forward is funny. While James certainly has his comedic chops, I guess maybe there’s just a part of me that wants to see Griffin get this shot. Mainly, we just want to see his brother, Taylor Griffin, find his way into this movie as some sort of long-lost villain from Griffin’s past.

The only real question here anyway is who’s going to be on the soundtrack, because that’s going to be harder to live up to than the first actual movie.

J. Crew’s latest cover is adorable

and a reporter is reminded of black love

1:30 PM

Let’s just take a second to take in the newest J. Crew catalog. What a beautiful cover.

When it comes to what major marketers view as so-called wholesome holiday images, people of color are often not a part of the original canon. Just take a look at any movie based on this time of year, and unless it’s made specifically for us, very rarely is it about us or does it include us in any significant way. But aside from moving pictures, static adverts can have an equally if not more formative impact on views about our identities, depending on where they’re shown. Why? Because when it comes to America’s concept of family, we still haven’t accepted the basic presentation of diversity.

For J. Crew (the one-time apple of Michelle Obama’s eye), the brand that represents the WASP-iest of WASPs, every time a nonwhite person shows up in one of their pages it feels like news, even though they’ve been way better than many over the past few years. Not necessarily screaming headlines — but like, oh, that’s nice, they invited a black person to dinner this year — kind of way. Remember Armando Cabral? We like him. Liya Kebede is a favorite, too.

More specifically, though, this latest catalog feels like another addition to a collection of modern mainstream brands/publications that have taken a lens to people of color as, for lack of a better term, normal.

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The first one that comes to mind is the 2012 campaign from The Gap, featuring rapper Nas and his father Olu Dara. Of course, their respective careers have made them extremely famous and well-regarded in music and the arts, but at the end of the day, they are still father and son. Those images of a black man bonding with his black father were nothing short of profoundly impactful. Everyone noticed. The message in this particular frame didn’t hurt, either.

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Last summer, Los Angeles artist Kadir Nelson made waves with his cover of The New Yorker magazine that featured a black father with his three children, titled “A Day At The Beach.” At the time, Nelson pointed out that his work was not a specific response to the plague of black people being shot and killed by police officers in the U.S. It wasn’t just an attempt to humanize, it reminded him of his own childhood.

“The two were unrelated. It was not a response to what’s going on in the news,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “It was really just a celebration of fatherhood and particularly my experience as a father. When I was a kid, I really loved going to the beach with my family. Particularly my father was a really big swimmer. We grew up in Atlantic City, so the beach was really a big part of my upbringing. My family moved from Atlantic City to San Diego when I was a kid, about 10 years old. But the cover provides counterpoint to a lot of what’s going on in the country right now that we’re being bombarded with — these very unnecessary and tragic, heartbreaking experiences. I’m at a loss for words. These young men are losing their lives unnecessarily.”

Anyway, the December 2016 issue of J. Crew is a nice little reminder that black love and family celebration are real, and not just when we’re being hurt or otherwise discriminated against. I think I need to go see Almost Christmas now.

Daily Dose: 11/29/16

Ohio State University searches for answers

11:00 AMOur thoughts go out to Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer club, whose team was on a plane that went down on its way to a match in Colombia. There are only five survivors as of Tuesday morning. This image is heartbreaking.

A scary scene played out Monday on Ohio State University’s campus. What started off as an active shooter report, with social media posts showing students barricading themselves in classrooms and checking in safely on Facebook, turned out to be a very different story. An assailant drove a car into several people, striking them, then got out and started stabbing people. What’s crazy is that there’s a sense of relief that this person chose not to use a gun. ABC News has the details on what quickly became what’s known as a “run, hide, fight” situation.

Beauty pageants typically aren’t a place to find progressiveness. Between the very nature of the events, the types of people who choose to be in them, the folks who populate the surrounding industry and those who enjoy watching them, they’re not a place where you normally stop and think, ‘This is new and exciting.’ But in Minneapolis, one woman is changing that. Her name is Halima Aden, and she participated in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. She’s Muslim, and she found a way to make it work.

If you write for a living on the internet, you have thoughts about commenters. There are two main schools: the “never read them” side and the “reader engagement” side. Both have merits and both can be important, be it for maintaining your job or sanity, two things which often are not working in conjunction with each other, alas, in this business. Anyway, there’s also the matter of the commenters themselves. Why do you choose to do this? FiveThirtyEight asked 8,500 commenters this question.

College basketball is full of surprises. From time to time you get to see something so bizarre that you’re not really sure what you just watched, particularly when you move below the level of teams that have a chance to make it to the Final Four. So, Monday night, when a clip of Bryant vs. Brown crossed my desk, I assumed it was going to be some wild buzzer beater that involved a bunch of kids looking like they were still in high school going buckwild over a game nobody otherwise would know about. Alas, not the case. It was far more unfortunate.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Old heads love to tell you about why hip-hop back in the day was so much better than it is now. Be it because of the “realness” of the genre then vs. now, or the priority of lyrics over production or whatever. Listen to Questlove explain why that still needs to be a stance that matters.

Snack Time: Are you tired of looking at other people’s babies on social media? Well, people have been doing it for years, back before computers were even a concept anyone could fathom. Behold: the baby show.

Dessert: Were you looking for an extended interview with The Weeknd? You’re in luck.

Keeping up with Kanye

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the rapper

12:42 PM

Now that we have a better idea of what’s going on with Kanye West after his emergency hospitalization, let’s take a look at how things shook out over the Thanksgiving holiday. Dealing with one’s own family is enough of a pain, and now that we’re all back to reality, we’ll catch you up.

To begin with, apparently what we’re looking at with Yeezy is a mental health issue. Any armchair doctor could have taken that guess, but per TMZ, the situation at the hospital is a pretty stressful one. It started with the robbery in Paris of Kim Kardashian. Then, things spiraled from there and the election found him on stage ranting about Donald Trump and the powers that be in the entertainment industry. Now, he’s apparently concerned that people are trying to affect his relationship with his wife.

However, his art is still motivating people and creating spaces for people to succeed. Which is ultimately what he’s done better than almost any other rapper of his era not named Gucci Mane. At the Soul Train Awards, Teyana Taylor won an award for Best Dance Performance for her work in Fade, the Flashdance-inspired banger of a video that had people all over the country headed back to the gym well before their New Year’s resolutions guilted them into it.

In addition, Lil B has decided that now’s the time to come out with that Black Ken mixtape that we’ve sort of known about for the better part of a decade now, according to XXL. He released the original title track back in 2010, when Mr. West was just hitting the height of his powers. Who knows why, and it’s not like it takes much for The Based God to drop new heat, but there’s something particularly appealing about where this comes from.

Not to mention that the parallels between Ye’s life and the concept of being a black Ken are definitely there. Even if Jay Z did already play the part for Halloween this year, there’s no way to really know if the two things would be coincidence or happenstance. Meaning, only the release will tell us how much Kanye might have affected Lil B’s creative process. The track Black Ken itself is a throwback beat with a flipped soul beat that West made so famous, so there’s a good chance.

Bringing it all the way home, however, are the goals of Rhymefest. You know him. Yeezus’ former co-writer who had a very public split with him back in February, and pretty plainly laid out exactly what was going on. He said in no uncertain terms that mental and spiritual help were what The Life of Pablo creator needed. Not only did he prove to be prescient on that, he’s also doing his best to make sure that Ye’s latest troubles don’t lead to the desecration of his memory overall.

Rhymefest bought Ye’s childhood home recently and plans to turn it into an arts center. Many people have long speculated that West was never the same after his mother, Donda West, died back in 2007. For an ex-member of his crew to find a way to repurpose what is effectively a memorial haunt is not only incredibly thoughtful, but also brilliant.

“I’m excited to announce the purchase of Kanye’s childhood home as a community arts incubator,” Rhymefest wrote on Instagram. “It will be the first of our Nationwide Lite-Houses. A state of the art recording studio, a curriculum space for @dondashouse and southside music museum. We want to show bright spots in communities that’ve been divested from, we know more lights exist here, they just need to be activated.”

While West’s wife and family are by his side, his boy has his back.

Daily Dose: 11/28/16

Cuban leader Fidel Castro dies at 90

11:39 AMHey y’all, hope your Thanksgivings went well! We recorded a podcast before the break, if you missed it. Download here or listen here.

Across the globe, Fidel Castro’s reputation was infamous. While he was lauded by some people for standing up for what some viewed as his country’s people, he was also notorious for the human rights violations his government imposed on them. As a politician, he was obviously a character. But his death marks an interesting point in Cuban-American relations, considering what President Barack Obama has done. Here’s a look at Castro’s life in pictures over the years and in Havana, and the crowds that are lining up to pay homage to the late dictator.

Donald Trump couldn’t make it through the weekend without something. After Jill Stein and others mounted campaigns to potentially recount votes in some states, the president-elect went on a couple tweet storms in which he not only claimed that “the people had spoken” — which, if you understand anything about the electoral college, is not true — but also lobbed the notion that millions of people illegally voted for Hillary Clinton. This is known as doubling down, in the business. ABC News’ Katherine Faulder explains.

Today’s a great day if you like shopping. The thrill of shopping online is that you can literally not move and outfit your entire place with enough useless junk to make you feel like you’re not alone through the holidays. In all seriousness, though, it is pretty fun. Today’s the biggest day for that nationally, but there are some downsides. No. 1, always beware the okey doke. There are no shortage of fools who will fall for anything, just because it’s on their screen. There’s a larger question here, though. With so many early deals, does Cyber Monday matter?

It was a rough day for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. While they were being handed their 12th loss of the season, courtesy the New York Football Giants, things went awry when Odell Beckham Jr. decided to openly taunt the crowd with a rather famous impression. Instead of his usual kicking net antics, he went full LeBron James, hitting his signature powder toss as well as big shot reaction. All of this happened in Cleveland. Meanwhile, after the game, head coach Hue Jackson legit shed a tear on the podium because he’s just had enough of losing.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Dylann Roof is the kid who shot and killed a bunch of people in a Charleston, South Carolina, church, then had a bunch of police officers take him to Burger King after he got arrested, because he might be hungry. Now, he apparently wants to represent himself at trial. A judge has granted him that opportunity. Major wow there.

Snack Time: We’ve all seen a lot of racist foolishness in our lives, but this one story from Richmond, Virginia, is just beyond insane. Apparently, two men walked into a CVS looking for cheese. What happened next is really odd.

Dessert: Remember those $66 collard greens? Well, someone reviewed them, and it was hilarious.