Links We Loved This Week — 6/16/17

Do you know about the creepy surrealist Youtube star Poppy? This article about her is fascinating, but what really fascinated me was just watching her “I’m Poppy” video. (via Wired)

After some anxious sponsors backed away from the notorious Trumpian production of Julius Caesar, Alexandra Petri for the Washington Post cheekily identified reasons why pretty much no plays should be acceptable to sponsors. For example, in As You Like It, “Woman wandering in the woods to get away from the current regime is portrayed as some sort of hero.” VERY inappropriate.

Rebecca Solnit argues in Harper’s that the mythical Cassandra is the feminine inverse of The Boy Who Cried Wolf: from Anita Hill to Cosby’s victims to Trump’s accusers and in countless other examples, men can lie over and over again and be believed, while women can tell the truth time and time again and be dismissed.

A poet who wasn’t getting any traction on Instagram conducted a social experiment in which he posted the most banal, non-sensical lines he could think of–and he immediately got thousands and likes and followers, many of whom were not in on the joke.

The New Yorker‘s Doreen St. Felix walks us through Bill Maher’s awkward, graceless apology–and why we probably shouldn’t accept it.

Advertisements

The Pleiades by Ivan Bunin

It’s dark. Not caring where I go, which path I follow,
Past sleepy ponds I stroll.
Of autumn freshness, leaves and fruit the fragrance mellow
Drifts over all.
The garden’s almost bare, and through the branches whitely
The stars of evening show.
Dead silence reigns. Murk clothes the paths. It’s nighttime.
My steps are slow.

They’re slow, but wake the hush… High in the sky’s cool
darkness,
A princely diadem,
The icy Pleiades blaze diamond-like and sparkle,
Each one a gem.

On its face, “The Pleiades” by Nobel Prize-winning Russian author Ivan Bunin (translation from All Poetry) contains an inspirational (and somewhat unoriginal) message: when life seems dark, confusing, and/or pointless, look at the stars, and their transcendent light will lead you to your spiritual home. Continue reading →

The Ethics of The Game: How The Big Short Can Teach Us To Appreciate Mockingjay

As a 2008 college graduate who entered adult life in the middle of the country’s downward spiral into recession, I found The Big Short extremely depressing. In its detailed depiction of the machinations of the collapse, it reminded me at every turn of how much misfortune and fear were suffered by regular Americans due to the greed and blindness of the self-declared “best and brightest.” And its sardonic portrayal of how the system righted itself and kept going, without any significant reform, while everyone else suffered, reminded me of the great disappointment of the bailout. Reforms were gutted, while the banks deemed “too big to fail” got rescued with almost no consequences to themselves. Meanwhile, individuals all over the country got evicted. Filed for bankruptcy. Lived in fear.

The Big Short examines a slice of this vast injustice, but from a point of view so narrowly focused that it risks celebrating the exact culture it’s critiquing. Meanwhile, The Hunger Games—seemingly so removed from such pragmatic issues as credit default swaps—presents a luminous alternative to the shortcomings of The Big Short.

Fair warning: I’m going to assume everyone has had a chance to see these movies if they’re going to, and discuss them in full beneath the cut.

Continue reading →

Sylvia Plath’s “Two Sisters of Persephone” as the Opposing Sides of Femininity

Persephone is a liminal figure, evoking the duality of the seasons which, as a result of the pathetic fallacy, we associate with dualities of human nature: light versus dark, warmth versus cold, passion versus frigidity, humanity versus roboticism. In Sylvia Plath’s “Two Sisters of Persephone,” this duality is used to uncover the contradictions inherent in the societal ideal of femininity. Continue reading →

Euripides + Britney Spears = Feminist Manifesto in Rachel Cusk’s “Medea”

“Why are you watching me? Do you enjoy watching me suffer?… I am all the parts of you that you disown. I take on all of the punishment you abdicate. That’s why you’re here.”

Rachel Cusk’s modern interpretation of Euripides’s classic tragedy is a lot of things—consistently compelling, politically engaged, extremely loud—but subtle it is not. While I am nothing if not a fan of tendentiously feminist literature, sociopolitical themes are much more effective when they are a little more subliminal. In Medea, characters break the fourth wall to explicitly implicate the audience in Medea’s taboo desire to murder her children not once, but twice, and the lack of delicacy dilutes the play’s worthy message. Continue reading →