“I cannot help but feel that the fates and Airbnb have brought us together for a reason. I like you, Elfriede. I like the way you think. And that was before I stumbled on your folder of financial records!”—Nathan Helleroffers a wry take on the Airbnb review, in Shouts & Murmurs.
“Yet, what has given ‘S.N.L.’ the ability to be at once mediocre and vital is the fact that it still airs live on network television. Even if some of the show’s funnier bits are now pre-recorded, it’s one of the last examples of mass entertainment, other than sports and political debates, where it truly feels as if anything absurd or hilarious or amazing or awful might happen.”—Ian Crouchon the show’s nine lives
"As a work of art, ‘Dear White People’ counteracts and counterbalances its tendencies in order to melt its aesthetic identity into something forcedly charming and likable. Its lack of serious political confrontation … leaves its sympathetic viewers thinking that their sympathy is enough, that the mere existence of the film, and their enthusiasm for it, is a mark of social progress."
Photograph courtesy Ashley Beireis Nguyen / Sundance Institute
“For some viewers, the idea that her flaws were there on purpose, that they were the whole point, remains hard to swallow. But ‘relatability’ is a trap—it’s a cage for artistic ambition. When it comes to role models … we may simply be looking for love in the wrong places: instead of looking to the show, we should look to the showrunner.”
Above: Mindy Kaling in “The Mindy Project.” Photograph by Isabella Vosmikova / Fox / Everett.
“Beethoven is a singularity in the history of art—a phenomenon of dazzling and disconcerting force. He not only left his mark on all subsequent composers but also molded entire institutions. … The musicians’ platform became the stage of an invisible drama, the temple of a sonic revelation.”
“Bursts of flavor combined with short inhales of the scent to make the experience even more ephemeral than I had anticipated. It was there for a tiny, magical second, and then it was gone before I could really appreciate it—not unlike the flower it came from.”
“Before the Internet, the social cost of this obstacle was minimal. … But today, when everything can be made available to the entire world at minimal expense, it seems absurd to hold enormous amounts of content hostage to the threat of legal action from the odd descendant.”
“Everything (except feeling, which is passionately and directly confessed) is controlled and put under precise formal pressure. Her sentences, which have an unsettling candor, launch a curling assault on the reader, often twisting in unexpected ways.”—James Wood on Elizabeth Harrower’s writing, in this week’s issue.
“It’s more about power than it is about jazz, and the fetishistic closeups—of blood and flying sweat, as well as of tears—suggest a blend of boot camp, football coaching, and pornography.”—Anthony Lane on the new movie “Whiplash”
Gamergate: A Scandal Erupts in the Video-Game Community
As the content of video games has begun to expand, some gaming fans are intent on shutting down new perspectives. Simon Parkinon Gamergate:
"At their best, video games promote empathy and understanding by allowing us to experience virtual life from another’s perspective. Those who stand against honest debate and dialogue may think that they are protecting a beloved pastime, but their actions compromise its vibrant future."
Above: Anita Sarkeesian, whose criticism of misogyny in video games has made her the target of violent threats. Photograph by Jim Wilson / The New York Times / Redux.
“[Lage’s] left hand is like a tool. The fingers spread and move crablike up and down the neck or leap across strings and frets. … Eldridge twitched and rose up on his toes and stamped his feet while he played, as if an excess of energy needed to be shed. He looked like a fidgety stork.”—Alec Wilkinsonon a performance from the “superlative guitarists” Chris Eldridge and Julian Lage.
“A study that ran earlier this year in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, using Ellie, found that subjects talking to a ‘virtual human’ felt more at ease disclosing sensitive information if they trusted that it was acting autonomously rather than masking a real person—because, they said, they believed that the machine was less likely to judge them.”
“Actually I am recovering from getting very drunk last night, and if I do nothing I feel everyone in the office is looking at me, so I have to write letters as there is nothing on at the moment.”—The novelist Anthony Powell, writing in a 1927 letter. Read Ed Park's reflection on the writer’s work.
"Sixty-four days after Michael Brown was killed by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, a group of demonstrators began streaming out of the Wellspring Church and into the drizzling rain on South Florissant Road. … At the head of the assemblage, a line of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish clergy locked arms and began singing ‘We Shall Not Be Moved.’ "
Above: Professor Cornel West with clergy members and other demonstrators in Ferguson. Photograph by Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty.
"The piece tapped into a question that has been in the atmosphere lately: What’s wrong with people? … Shouldn’t the ubiquity of the threat prompt an abundance of caution? Are people dumb or ignorant, or do they just not care?"
"What are we to make of Pharrell Williams’s latest video for ‘It Girl,’ which features the hip-hop star singing, ‘Hold my hand, and moan again, I’ma hold that ass’ to images of what appears to be a prepubescent cartoon girl? … The confusion shouldn’t be surprising."
“To have real control—to be more than the appetizer-maker to the queen—Dr. Luke needs to discover and develop his own superstars, so that he can participate in every aspect of their career. That’s what he hoped to do with Kesha, but things weren’t going exactly as planned.”
Above: Dr. Luke, who has created more than thirty Top Ten singles, with Becky G, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Kesha. Illustration by Daniel Adel.
“As the Cramblett case illuminates, un-learning race is not an abstract exercise; it is a difficult task that requires, among other things, a firm grasp of the distinction between skin color and race, between what is biological and what is social.”—Matthew McKnight on the Ohio sperm-bank controversy.
“Despair is a much more dangerous feeling than fear, because fear is an intense feeling and, even if it can be momentarily paralyzing, in the end it calls for action, and, surprisingly, it can also create solutions. But despair is a feeling that calls for passivity and acceptance of reality even if it is unbearable, and it sees every spark of hope, every desire for change as a cunning enemy.”—Etgar Keret, in an exchange with Sayed Kashua on Israel’s condition.