The 'Only' Profession to 'Celebrate What It Means to Live a Life'

Yesterday I praised Viola Davis’s Oscars speech for being memorable without being explicitly political—for simply talking about her job in a moving and well-written way. Twitter quickly let me know I missed something. On social media and conservative-leaning news sites, Davis’s speech had in fact sparked outrage. After explaining that she felt her mission was to “exhume … the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who…

"The 'Only' Profession to 'Celebrate What It Means to Live a Life'"

Corinne Found the Perfect Way to Rebel Against <em>The Bachelor</em>

This post reveals “plot” points of episode 10 of The Bachelor season 21. According to the fabricated lexicon of The Bachelor, the show’s characters do not participate in a mere televised dating competition. They have been brought together, instead, on an emotional adventure that the show refers to, infallibly, as “a journey.” The Bachelor’s insistence on its own vague Campbelliness is ironic for several reasons. The biggest is that, while the show does offer a…

"Corinne Found the Perfect Way to Rebel Against <em>The Bachelor</em>"

Viola Davis's Urgent Call to 'Exhume the Ordinary'

Viola Davis’s acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress began with a thanks to the Academy and this observation: “You know, there’s one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered.” Pause. Some viewers may have felt a queasy pang. Was the Fences actress about to give a sequel to Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech? Was the next line going to be “this room,” so as to stand up for the presidentially denounced…

"Viola Davis's Urgent Call to 'Exhume the Ordinary'"

What <em>Moonlight</em>’s Win Says About the Oscars’ Future

The manner of Moonlight’s Best Picture win at the Oscars may have been bizarre and shocking, but in toppling expected favorite La La Land, Barry Jenkins’s film set a number of milestones. It’s the lowest-budgeted film to win the prize since Delbert Mann’s Marty in 1955; if adjusting for inflation, it’s the lowest ever. It’s the first movie centered on an LGBTQ character to be named Best Picture, and the first whose cast is entirely…

"What <em>Moonlight</em>’s Win Says About the Oscars’ Future"

Five Ways of Seeing Five Minutes of 'Real People' at the Oscars

If the last-minute twist at the Oscars was seen to echo all the last-minute twists in American culture lately—the Super Bowl, the election—a silly five-minute segment earlier in the night should be noted for what it captured about the country’s ongoing tensions and tastes in iPhone peripherals. Host Jimmy Kimmel’s team arranged for a sightseeing bus of supposedly “real” tourists to walk into the room, expecting a museum exhibit about the Oscars but instead finding…

"Five Ways of Seeing Five Minutes of 'Real People' at the Oscars"

'<em>Moonlight</em>, Best Picture': The Oscars and the Rare Power of Shock

Last year, the comedian Marc Maron brought the author Chuck Klosterman on as a guest on his WTF podcast. The two discussed many things (including Klosterman’s then-new book, But What If We’re Wrong?, which he was there to promote), but one of them was sports—and the particular thrill that they offer to audiences. Sporting events, Klosterman argued, promise that most dramatic of things: an unknown outcome. Unlike other widely watched events—the Super Bowl halftime show,…

"'<em>Moonlight</em>, Best Picture': The Oscars and the Rare Power of Shock"

The Shadow of Trump at the Oscars

President Donald Trump was 3,000 miles away from the Academy Awards on Sunday night, but his presence loomed larger in the Dolby Theatre than anyone else in the room. From Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue to acceptance speeches to the ads punctuating the ceremony, it felt at times like the Oscars were more focused on delivering an extremely public rebuke to Trump than they were on celebrating the art of filmmaking. The question is how effective…

"The Shadow of Trump at the Oscars"

The Magnificent Harmony of <i>Sunday In the Park With George</i>

Sunday In the Park With George, currently playing in a limited run at New York’s Hudson Theatre starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is blissfully free of politics—a two-and-a-half hour respite from contemporary anxieties, a holiday on the banks of the Seine, bathed in sunlight and glorious harmony. And yet, without ever straining to, it makes one of the most persuasive cases imaginable for the power of artists, and how deeply integral their work is to a well-ordered…

"The Magnificent Harmony of <i>Sunday In the Park With George</i>"

Andy Warhol and <em>Get Out</em>: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

30 Years After His Death, Andy Warhol’s Spirit Is Still Very Much Alive R.C. Baker | The Village Voice “How much responsibility does a mirror bear for whatever beauty or ugliness it beholds? Warhol loved both the heights and depths of American culture, and reflected it back at us through his work, which remains resonant to this day. Here is the spin he put on the concept of American exceptionalism in the 1985 America book:…

"Andy Warhol and <em>Get Out</em>: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing"

<em>Girls</em>'s Powerful Insight on Trauma

Why do the girls of Girls act that way? That’s the question underlying five years of baffled cultural responses to Lena Dunham’s epic of questionable decisions, cruelty, narcissism, and grace. Girls has never given a straightforward answer to the question. Despite unflinching confessional dialogue and occasional backstory development and sharp cultural satire, Hannah Horvath and her friends still have an air of Athena, sprung into existence fully formed. Asking why these girls spill drinks and…

"<em>Girls</em>'s Powerful Insight on Trauma"