books and reading · pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Happy almost Halloween! It is my very favorite time of year and I am so excited about this weekend!  As a result, I have a whole bunch of links for you to peruse today.  These are the things I read and thought about this week.  Without further ado:

Why Do High School Shows Have So Much Trouble Graduating to College? (Vulture)

One of my internet favorites, Sarah D. Bunting, takes a look at why it’s so hard for TV shows set in high school to transition their characters and stories to college.  Bunting is a great writer and knows her TV, so this piece was totally fun to read:

The problem, I posit, is not college itself. Whatever you think about Felicity and its weird time-portal fourth season, it (and a flawless performance by Keri Russell) nails the petty aggravations, self-absorbed melodrama, and coexisting terror and exhilaration of campus living, from add/drop agita to inadvertent post-beer-pong infidelity. This was no easy feat. There’s story in them thar frosh hills, for sure — but much of it is about figuring out, then trying to become, who you are, an interior process that’s difficult to externalize entertainingly for a visual medium, and also isn’t necessarily a terribly likable one.

Drake: Rapper, Actor, Meme (NYT)

I’m pretty obsessed with Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and the subsequent internet memes that have resulted.  I think they’re hilarious and awesome and some of the best examples of what collaborative creative work can be on the internet.  This piece in the New York Times is excellent and interesting in that it examines Drake’s role in all of this, and his awareness of that role:

No celebrity understands the mechanisms of Internet obsession better than Drake. Online, fandom isn’t merely an act of receiving — it’s one of interaction, recontextualization, disputed ownership and cheek. For the celebrity, it’s about letting go of unilateral top-down narratives and letting the hive take control. For fans, it’s about applying personalization to the object of adoration.

There’s also some really interesting stuff here about art, and appropriation, and how Drake navigates all of this.  It’s a great read, and well worth your time, even if you don’t love Drake like I love Drake.

On The Babadook, It Follows, and the New Age of Unbeatable Horror (A.V. Club)

Two movies I watched this year and loved.  This piece takes a deeper look at the possible trend of unrelenting horror and whether or not we’ll see it continue in future movies:

With It Follows and The Babadook, there’s never much of a sigh-of-relief moment. In the former, a group of young folks who’ve been infected by the film’s “sexually transmitted invisible serial killer” disease trap their nemesis and make it bleed, but never actually see it die. In the latter, the top-hatted shadow-beast who haunts a widowed mother and her hyperactive son tacitly agrees not to be so annoying, but it doesn’t go away. And in both, the usual rhythm of slow-build, intensification, release is ditched in favor of persistent unease, punctuated regularly by shattering terror.

This is a great read for Halloween time and offers plenty of other horror suggestions if you’re looking for something spooky to watch this weekend.  But start with It Follows and The Babadook, for sure.  So great.

There Are No Innocent Black People (Concourse/Deadspin)

Shifting the tone completely, this piece is upsetting and important and provocative.  It details what happened at a school in Columbia, South Carolina this past week: a student was thrown around in the air while still in her desk by the school’s resource officer.  It was caught on video.  It is horrifying.  This article talks about the details of what happened and the officer’s response:

More important is the question of proportion. Fields is dubbed “The Incredible Hulk” at Spring Valley High because of his ability to bench 600 pounds. He’s also a trained police officer, who was dealing with an unarmed student who posed no threat. A cop working in a school should have tools available to them for dealing with children that fall somewhere on the spectrum between not doing anything and proceeding as if in an active shooter situation.

There’s more to think about here:

Given that blacks are presumed criminal from birth, it makes sense that even in school, punishment is distributed unequally. Black children are just 18 percent of preschoolers, but make up 48 percent of preschoolers who receive more than one out-of-school suspension. Black students of all ages are suspended at over three times the rate as white students; black girls are suspended six times more than white girls. Black kids account for 16 percent of all students, but as many are expelled as white kids, who account for over half.

The officer has been fired and is being investigated.  This is not the first time he’s been accused of using excessive force, nor is it the first time that racism has been leveled at him (one spokesperson from the deaprtment said he couldn’t have a racism problem because he’s been “dating a black woman for a long time,” which I’m not even going to touch).

Worth the time it’ll take to read, for sure.

What got you reading and thinking this week?

 

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