Links We Loved This Week — 8/11/17

Vulture has a list of Taylor Swift’s best comebacks from her testimony in a sexual assault trial (for those who missed it, she is accusing a man of reaching under her skirt and groping her butt during a photo shoot). I think my favorite is when someone asked her why the front of the skirt doesn’t look mussed: “Because my ass is located in the back of my body,” she answered.

Here’s an interesting article in the Washington Post about the culture of songwriting, competition, and collaboration in real-life Nashville. Makes you wonder what might happen if Scarlett and Gunnar’s best early songs had been put on hold by Rayna or Juliette in the first season and never released!

The New York Times has a long, in-depth profile of one of my very favorite living authors, Claire Messud, who writes about angry and disappointed women in a beautiful and precise prose style. I learned that like me, she’s never learned to cook, which just makes me more sure that she is my hero.

The new season of Rick and Morty is shaping up to be truly incredible, and Film Crit Hulk has a wonderful meditation on/appreciation of the devastating third episode.

Links We Loved This Week — 7/28/17

We link to Roxane Gay a lot… but that’s because she says such interesting stuff! This week, read her editorial on why she’s not going to bother watching a show about an alternate universe where slavery still exists. (Not that it’s the same thing AT ALL but her sentiments seem to be very similar to how I feel about movies with female sex robots.) (via New York Times)

Rebecca West was a brilliant modernist novelist, but she also apparently wrote a travel book about Yugoslavia that has fallen out of the fame it once held. I personally had never heard of it; it’s going on my to-read list after reading this passionate essay by James Thomas Snyder. (via LA Review of Books)

Sigourney Weaver said at Comic-Con that she based her villainous Defenders character on rich Trump supporters she knew in New York. She described these men in great detail, including the delightful quote: “Your objections to what they’re doing because of the planet makes them giggle secretly inside. They’re just like, ‘Oh yes, pish posh.’”

Subjectivity and the male gaze: in defense of that controversial scene in 13 Reasons Why

SPOILERS FOR 13 REASONS WHY ABOUND!

The controversies surrounding 13 Reasons Why have been numerous and well-enumerated; critics claim that the show glorifies teen suicide by presenting it as a suitable revenge for bullying, that portraying teen suicide at all (especially using attractive young actors) is irresponsible, and that Hannah’s rape scene is triggering for victims. But arguably the biggest point of contention is Hannah’s suicide scene, which is incredibly disturbing. It’s one thing to hear about a child slitting their wrists, it’s another thing altogether to see it happen in graphic detail.

But does the graphic nature of the scene automatically make it irresponsible? I’m not a mental health professional, so I can’t comment about whether the show is responsible about suicide on the whole. But in regards to this particular scene, I tend to agree with 13 Reasons Why writer (and suicide attempt survivor) Nic Sheff, who wrote in Vanity Fair that they included as much detail about the act of suicide as possible in order to shatter the “myth and mystique” surrounding suicide, and especially to “dispel the myth of the quiet drifting off.” For those who are worried that the show “glamorizes” suicide, if nothing else, that scene definitely showed viewers that there is nothing glamorous–or peaceful–about the act itself. Continue reading →

Everything new is old again

The Handmaid’s Tale, the novel written by Margaret Atwood, is a devastating and sui generis entry in the annals of dystopia, which stands alongside 1984 and Brave New World in the originality of its exploration of the psychology of a totalitarian society. The Handmaid’s Tale, the TV show being serialized on Hulu, is not.

The show so far is wonderfully acted, both from expected quarters (Elisabeth Moss) and… less-expected (Yvonne Strakovsky, Alexis Bledel). The direction is excellent, and the action is genuinely moving and traumatic. The third episode’s scene of a riot, filmed in slow motion, set to a vaporously slow cover of “Heart of Glass,” was truly haunting.

For all that, though, the show has lost the heart of what made the novel so brutal and revelatory.

Continue reading →

The Contradiction: Some Thoughts on Lilith’s Brood

Lilith’s Brood, a science fiction trilogy by Octavia Butler, tells a post- and pre-apocalyptic story, where a few humans survive a nuclear apocalypse only to face the end of their species in a very different way.

(Some spoilers after the cut, which I figure is probably OK since these books have been out in the world almost as long as I have.)

Continue reading →

Links We Loved This Week — 7/7/17

The New Yorker released the first English translation of Italo Calvino’s short story, “Adventure of a Skier.” We loved it, and wished that more New Yorker stories were as weighty yet enjoyable as this one.

The Onion‘s Spider-Man review (via Indiewire) hilariously objectified Tom Holland the way movie critic David Edelstein slobbered over Gal Godot. “Superbabe in the woods” will never be a thing.

Why is Jane Austen so popular? Big Data can give us the answer by analyzing her word choices. (via NYTimes)

Stephen Greenblatt wrote a powerful article for The New Yorker about how Shylock can teach tolerance even while exemplifying anti-Semitism.

Have you read Roxane Gay’s book Hunger yet? If you weren’t already planning on reading it, we dare you to read this adapted excerpt in The Guardian and not put it on your Amazon wish list.