Links We Loved This Week — 8/26/17

I could not be more excited for Claire Messud’s next book, coming out on Tuesday. Here’s a post from her about her mother’s library, on Lithub.

In other news, James Cameron (who once claimed his white-savior Fern Gully ripoff didn’t win Best Picture over his ex-wife’s gritty war film because he was… too famous and well-financed?) is still an idiot, but at least now we have Patty Jenkins to call him out.

In light of the “fake feminist” allegations against Joss Whedon, a sensitive essay from Indiewire about the need for fandoms to listen to women first and their idols second.

Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler is finally coming to TV, courtesy of Selma‘s Ava DuVernay! Read our review of the trilogy here.

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Q: A Cult Novel about the Protestant Reformation

Over in Italy this summer I picked up a book totally at random called Q. It’s a fat historical novel about the Protestant Reformation, written by four anonymous authors under the name Luther Blissett. Its protagonist is an Anabaptist theology student who becomes involved in various movements during the Reformation. The antagonist, a papal informer, is simply named Q.

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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.

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