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Posted by Vivian Kane

Yesterday, the New York Times published an op-ed titled “I Voted for Trump. And I Sorely Regret It.” If you’re already rolling your eyes at that headline, oh just wait.

The piece isn’t just written by a Trump voter, by the way. It comes from Julius Krein, who, last February, founded American Affairs, a pro-Trump website designed to give his campaign “intellectual heft.” He’s been called, in all earnestness, “Trump’s wunderkind.” This man didn’t just cast a single vote for Trump, he worked hard to legitimize his entire campaign.

So now that Krein has finally realized his “optimism was unfounded,” you’ll have to forgive me for not giving one single shit.

Krein throws out some examples of things he couldn’t possibly have been expected to know would be bad for America, including Trump’s “needlessly inflammatory” statements on immigration. Funny, I seem to remember a whole lot of people foreseeing those as being dangerous. The same goes for those typical politicians’ “strict ideologies” he eschewed. We call those “The Constitution” and “civil rights & liberties.”

Krein wrote about the denial he was in before and since the election, which he sees so clearly now. “For months, despite increasing chaos and incoherence, I have given Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt,” he writes. “’No, I don’t really think he is a racist,’ I have told skeptical audiences. ‘Yes, he says some stupid things, but none of it really matters; he’s not really that incompetent.’ Or: ‘They’ve made some mistakes, but it’s still early.'”

Now, he concedes, “It’s no longer early. Not only has the president failed to make the course corrections necessary to save his administration, but his increasingly appalling conduct will continue to repel anyone who might once have been inclined to work with him.”

To which literally everyone who saw this coming from the very start replied:

You don’t get a fucking cookie for being sorry now that you contributed to the growing chemical fire that is the state of our country. You supported a candidate because he told you you would rise up by stomping down many, many others, and now you’re surprised that that vicious ideology is affecting your life too? No one is going to wipe away your tears and thank you for allowing us to see them.

What’s possibly even more amazing and maddening than these “I was so wrong” pieces are the “How could we possibly have known??” people.

I’m sorry, WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS? That’s a serious question?? Gee, let’s start with:

To anyone who actually feels bad for voting for Trump: good. You should feel bad. Because it was not unforeseeable, and you had to ignore a hell of a lot that the rest of us were standing here, waving our arms, and pointing at for a good long while.

If you’ve realized the error of your ways, that’s a fine start, but you don’t get praise or sympathy and the New York Times sure as hell shouldn’t be letting you believe otherwise.

(image: Shutterstock)

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Posted by Charline Jao

Rick and Morty and Community‘s Dan Harmon wants to make it absolutely, totally clear that he’s not a nazi. Also, “2/3 of the country doesn’t want to be political. It’s not politics to say you’re not a Nazi! It’s like taking a shit. You just do it or you explode! You die if you don’t shit and you die if you don’t say you’re not a Nazi. Fascism is a fucking cancer, it will eat your country unless your country kills it.” Is that clear enough for everyone? (via Pajiba)

  • A painful, but brutally honest read from a black man about how his relationship with his Trump-supporting mother led him to the realization that sometimes, blood is just blood: How Trump Ruined My Relationship With My White Mother.” (via The Root)
  • Deadline reports that Gemma Chan has joined Mary Queen of Scots and my interest in the film has just gone up 1000000%.
  • John Boyega, who is the actual worst at keeping secrets, reveals which celebrities have a cameo in The Last Jedi. The answer is pretty exciting. (via Collider)

Look at these awesome people standing up for what’s right and not eating cake.

  • Don Hertzfeldt World of Tomorrow is an animated masterpiece, and it’s getting a second installment. The title, is appears, is World of Tomorrow Episode 2: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts. (via Indiewire)
  • Ever wonder what a system error looks like on augmented reality? Check it out on Geekologie.

That’s it for what we saw today, what did you see?

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New Books and ARCs, 8/18/17

Aug. 18th, 2017 08:44 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

A very fine collection of new books and ARCs arrived to the Scalzi Compound in the last week, and here’s what they are! See anything you’d like on your own shelves? Tell us all in the comments.

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

Many of us were distraught by the news that Netflix had cancelled Sense8. I have a very personal connection to that show, and I know that it provided some much-needed representation for a wide swath of people. There has been talk among fans about the hope that another network or platform will step up to the plate and save the show, as has happened for so many others. Now, one has: and it’s porn site, xHamster.

As reported by IndieWire, xHamster stepped up to the plate and offered to produce a new season of Sense8, seeing similarities in their sex-positivity and flouting of mainstream norms. In a statement, the site said:

“We’re huge admirers of the show, as are many of our fans. Obviously, for both us and the Wachowskis this would be a big move, and the logistics would need to be worked out. This isn’t just about switching a network, this is about switching the way a show is delivered, and thus how the show is produced and what is produced. Does it open up possibilities for the storyline if the show is moved away from a mainstream corporation and onto a platform that’s not sex-phobic? Does a mainstream audience feel comfortable moving to a platform known for adult? What we admire about the Wachowskis, and about the show itself is that it takes risks. I think that we’re a nascent network, and I’d love to hear what they would do with us.”

They also make the point that xHamster has more views than a lot of mainstream publications of any sort, and that the site would be a “natural fit.”

They’re not wrong about a lot of that. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that xHamster has more views than even Netflix (though we’ll never really know for sure, since Netflix is cagey about their numbers), so the show would likely get to more people as a result. They’re also not wrong about there being lines that even a streaming service like Netflix wouldn’t cross with regard to sexuality.

There’s a big part of me that would love for this to be how Sense8 gets another season: in a completely subversive way that goes around what has become mainstream television (streaming isn’t necessarily the adventurous place it was anymore).

However, a big part of what makes Sense8 so amazing is that it presents the sex and inclusion it presents as normal. It shows sex as it is between partners of all types. The orgies between the sensates, while hot, aren’t really done for titillation so much as they allow the characters to be vulnerable with each other in ways most people could never be.

Unlike porn, which is all about fantasy fulfillment and seeing who can do the most athletic and strenuous positions, the sex in Sense8 is grounded and real. The only thing that makes it “groundbreaking” or “shocking” is that we don’t usually see sex between certain types of people represented anywhere. It would be different if xHamster were starting its own streaming service for non-porn, sex-positive content. That could be interesting. But nothing like that was mentioned.

So, if I were Lana Wachowski, I’d be hesitant about accepting an offer from xHamster, not because porn is inherently disreputable, but because the fact that they both have open attitudes about sex doesn’t make them the same. Having a porn site present Sense8 would make it seem as though the sex on Sense8 were a fetish, or not real. Something to be consumed as a fantasy rather than a depiction and representation of something true.

This is likely all moot, as Netflix owns Sense8, and likely won’t give up the rights to it so easily. However, if anyone is going to deliver a new season of Sense8, I would hope that it is a platform or network that would seat Sense8 alongside other mainstream shows, because it deserves to be there.

What do you think? Does it matter how Sense8 S3 returns, or is it simply enough that it exist in the world? Let us know your thoughts below!

(via Indiewire, image: Netflix)

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Posted by Kylie Cheung

Welcome to The Week in Reproductive Justice, a weekly recap of all news related to the hot-button issue of what lawmakers are allowing women to do with their bodies!

Over the past few weeks, we’ve watched frightening Texas legislation move from the state House, to the state Senate, to the desk of the state’s radical anti-choice governor, who on Tuesday signed off on it. The bill will ban private insurance coverage of abortion for women even in cases of rape, unless women buy a supplement plan in advance, earning the bill the beloved colloquial title “rape insurance.”

The passage of HB 214 is unfortunate, but nothing new; there are 25 states with restrictions on abortion coverage in insurance plans as part of the Affordable Care Act, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations have spoken out against HB 214, but it remains unclear if a lawsuit will be filed.

In either case, while we should all obviously be keeping an eye on everything going on in Texas (which also just this week saw the death of a transphobic bathroom bill) plenty of other reproductive rights news unfolded this week in other parts of the country, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that—especially because not all of it was bad.

Oregon governor signs bill expanding abortion access

In some very welcome, much-needed good news, on Tuesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, signed off on a bill that will require health insurers to provide birth control and abortion to individuals without cost. The Reproductive Health Equity Act, called the nation’s most progressive reproductive rights policy in recent history, will additionally provide this crucial access to health care to undocumented women, which also bans discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming individuals by health care providers.

At a time when costs and lack of public funding constitute one of the most significant barriers to access abortion, and as trans and undocumented face an escalated amount of threats to their rights and safety, Gov. Brown’s signing of the bill marks a crucial victory, and serves as a reminder of what can be done if we elect more pro-choice state lawmakers and governors.

New study finds lack of abortion clinics is driving up costs

A new study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco has found that lack of clinics near women who seek and have abortions is driving up the costs of abortion after-care by 76 percent. This is because women who have abortions and want to confirm the end of their pregnancies have no choice but to go to emergency rooms, rather than make the long trip back to the clinic they had their abortion at.

The median cost to Medicaid for the emergency department visit is $941, while the median cost to go back to the clinic is $536.

The study notes that while abortion is objectively a safe medical procedure, women who have abortions understandably want to be sure that nothing went wrong without their knowledge.

Of course, the study is just looking at abortion after-care. The costs of abortion care itself are infinitely driven up by the presence of anti-choice laws that place medically unnecessary and expensive requirements on abortion clinics based on the erroneous idea that the procedure is dangerous and women will need to be rushed to the hospital. These requirements wind up shutting abortion clinics down by the dozen, forcing women to miss work and pay travel and lodging fees, on top of paying for their abortions—either that or put themselves in danger with unsafe DIY abortions.

For-profit corporations are taking advantage of Obamacare birth control exemptions

According to a new report by the Center for American Progress, for-profit corporations are exploiting a piece of the Affordable Care Act allowing religious institutions to be exempt from providing female employees with birth control.

The contraceptive mandate of the ACA provided 67 percent of women with insurance free birth control, and according to the National Women’s Law Center, in 2013, the contraceptive mandate saved women $1.4 billion on birth control pills and gave 55 million women access to low-cost birth control coverage. This latest report suggests that in actuality, the number of women who were able to benefit from the mandate was likely smaller.

Of course, it’s tremendously important to recognize that whether we give all women regardless of socioeconomic status access to crucial health care to control their bodies is a moral issue, but nor should we forget that this is an economic issue, too—one that decides women’s educational and professional futures, that determines their job stability and enables them to compete on an equal playing field with men.

Federal judge rules Arkansas can withhold Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood

As a result of the notorious 2015 sting videos edited to suggest Planned Parenthood “sells baby parts,” a federal judge has ruled that Arkansas can withhold Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood relies on federal funding to provide breast cancer screenings, STI testing, sexual health education, contraception, pap smears, and a number of other services. With limited access to birth control and sex ed, judging from what happened in Texas in the years after Planned Parenthood was defunded, expected unintended pregnancy rates—and with them, abortion rates—to soar.

It’s a shame that illegally obtained and heavily edited videos of Planned Parenthood workers explaining fetal tissue donation—a common practice that’s yielded the discovery of a cure for polio and was previously supported by Republicans until placed in the context of women’s health—could soon lead to thousands of low-income people losing access to crucial health care.

Arizona forced to reimburse Planned Parenthood for legal battle over unconstitutional bill

To end things on a (somewhat) positive note, on Monday, the U.S. District Court judge ordered the state of Arizona to reimburse Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers for the costs incurred by fighting the state’s most recent unconstitutional law, which required doctors to lie to female patients that medication abortion is reversible. (It’s not.)

This reportedly cost the state $600,000, which sounds like pretty good news until you remember that this came out of the pockets of Arizona taxpayers. This should all serve as a reminder of how fiscally wasteful the crusade on abortion rights is, on a state and federal level.

Just last year, the House doubled the budget of a committee investigating Planned Parenthood for the great evil of providing abortion services (friendly reminder for all the conservatives sitting in the back that abortion is, in fact, legal) and donating fetal tissue for medical research. Over the course of a year, the committee cost taxpayers $1.6 million.

It’s ironic that abortion opponents who decry seeing their tax dollars go toward the abominable “abortion business” (once again, for all the conservatives sitting in the back—the Hyde amendment already prohibits taxpayer dollars from funding abortion, a policy that’s done nothing but deny throw poor women and women of color under the bus) but are A-OK with these dollars being wasted on abortion-related witch hunts.

(image: Shutterstock)

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Posted by Charline Jao

Artist Ai Weiwei is capturing the “staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact” in his new film Human Flow, which looks all different stories and journeys from the 65 million people around the world who have “been forced from their homes to escape famine, climate change and war in the greatest human displacement since World War II.”

Filmed across 23 countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, and Turkey, the documentary promises to be a powerful and heartbreaking look at ways in which refugees are made vulnerable in the cruelest way. As we can see from the trailer, Human Flow will go not only into the personal tragedies that happen as a result of that displacement, but also the ways it fosters exploitation and radicalization.

The documentary is clearly aware of its painful resonance with the current moment as places like the U.S., where many like Trump deny refugees opportunity by painting them as threatening and violent. It calls on countries to open their doors to refugees who denied everything from a legal identity to health care and even, as the UN Refugee Agency solemnly puts, “even the dignity of an official burial and a death certification when they die.”

The synopsis reads:

“Human Flow comes at a crucial time when tolerance, compassion and trust are needed more than ever. This visceral work of cinema is a testament to the unassailable human spirit and poses one of the questions that will define this century: Will our global society emerge from fear, isolation, and self-interest and choose a path of openness, freedom, and respect for humanity?”

The film opens in select theaters October 13th.

(via Indiewire, image: screencap)

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

A couple of days ago, we watched with heartbreak as Susan Bro, mother of Charlottesville activist Heather Heyer, spoke at a memorial service for her daughter. She spoke to the fact that she wanted her daughter’s death to count for something, and encouraged all of us not to let it have been in vain, but to fight injustice as her daughter no doubt would have continued to do. Bro is now putting that into practice.

In the above interview with Good Morning America, Bro explains that she received her first call from Trump during her daughter’s funeral, so she didn’t respond. She then spent the subsequent few days recovering from the exhaustion of that experience as well as getting things moving on a foundation she’s creating in her daughter’s name to continue the kind of activism of which Heyer would approve. During those days, she says she received “frantic” calls from the White House press team that she never got back to in her exhaustion and grief.

Something else she didn’t do as she dealt with her exhaustion and grief was watch much of the news. When she did, she was in for a shock. Eventually, she saw Trump’s hateful press conference from Tuesday, during which he equated the counter-protesters with white supremacists by saying that there was violence “on many sides.”

“Many sides” didn’t kill Heather Heyer. That was a white supremacist behind the wheel of a car that did that.

Now that Bro is all caught up, she has no intention of ever talking to Trump. “I hadn’t really watched the news until last night, and I’m not talking to the president now, I’m sorry, after what he said,” she explained. “I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters … with the KKK and the white supremacists.”

She goes on to say, “You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ I’m not forgiving for that.”

Amen. You can’t minimize a young activist’s death, equate her to racist hate groups, and then expect to be able to use her grieving mother to help you win political brownie points. That’s not how this works.

(via The Daily Dot, image: screencap)

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Posted by SB Sarah

Smart Podcast, Trashy Books Podcast
The transcript for Podcast 7. We’re back! And we’re talking about Romance! has been posted!

This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.

Click here to subscribe to The Podcast →

We’re back in the archives, adding transcripts to the older episodes. This one dates back to six years ago today! August 18, 2011, in fact, when I decided I was going to learn how to edit audio and produce the show, so we restarted the podcast. Enjoy!

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Posted by Daniel Ryan Alarcon

The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow didn’t exactly have the best start. It placed its biggest draws on its connection to DC’s Arrowverse, and that made sense as a spin-off of Arrow and Flash. Both shows have had problems throughout their runs dealing with cast bloat as more and more heroes have been added in. A new show with established side-characters as an ensemble cast anchored by Doctor Who veteran Arthur Darvill playing Captain Rip Hunter seemed like a pretty good way to give the parent shows some breathing room and allow for further development for these characters. With new additions from the comics filling in the gaps, Legends started with a lot of promise.

If the pilot was a running jump, the rest of the first season was a plunge into the mouth of a volcano. The Hawk-duo had some creepy Golden Age baggage with Hawkgirl’s “destiny” to reincarnate through all of history and fall in love with the aggressive and stand-offish Hawkman over and over. The team was frustratingly unable to do anything to antagonist Vandal Savage, so Savage had to be written as incompetent enough to give them ways to survive his counterattacks. There were plot holes in the main story big enough to drive a time-traveling spaceship through.

If you stuck around for season two’s start, you did so because of the characters that were left, and you probably would have wondered why you were still watching. You would have also quickly found yourself watching a show that put one of the most prominent portrayals of a bisexual superhero in media front and center.

With Hunter’s disappearance, Sara Lance, a.k.a. the White Canary, took over as team leader. “Our show is an ensemble, it’s definitely like a stew,” stated executive producer Phil Klemmer in an interview with Empire Magazine, “and I think it was pretty clear to us that Sara was emerging as a sort of de facto captain-in-waiting character.” One of Legends’ positives is that it’s a genre show that’s never shied away from keeping the audience well-aware that Lance is part of the LGBTQIA community and giving her substantive plotlines. When she hasn’t been telling closeted nurses in the 50s about how open and accepting the future is, the other characters are happy to step in and let you know of her sexuality. More than that, Caity Lotz plays Lance in a way that’s definitively bi. Sara comes to the show with a relationship with Green Arrow behind her. In season one of Legends of Tomorrow, there’s a romantic arc between Lance and Captain Cold that slow-boils up until they share a kiss right before his death. Lance’s same-sex relationships are never turned into exploitative grabs for views. Both the writers and the actor are comfortable with her sharing romantic screentime with women as well as men.

From being accused of witchcraft for “corrupting” women in Salem to making out with Guinevere, season two not only continued on with this trend, but did so with a light carelessness that’s a breath of fresh air. Legends knows when to inspire with the character, but also avoids the pitfalls of only having Sara around to do morality plays about LGBT issues. The show allows her be her own character, with the genre-typical episode-long romantic interests that are gone by the start of the next story and her own faults and apprehensions that help move the plot along.

With her status as team captain, not only is all this magnified, but she also oversees the other Legends better than Hunter, something he outright states in the last episode of S2. Lance isn’t too high-and-mighty for the gaggle of unimportant-to-the-timeline-rejects around her like Hunter. Instead, she causes problems as much as she fixes them, often motivated by her self-doubt and grief over her sister’s death. This really makes the absurd scenarios that happen in season two that much more enjoyable.

Legends has improved so much from season one to season two because they’ve turned in towards the curve. Things are fun now after season one’s loftier plotlines about reincarnation, genocide, and doomed families failed to stick the landing. Legends has become a show about misfits blundering their way through history and doing their best to strangle the timeline back into place. In an interview with IGN about season two, Klemmer said:

“ [ . . . ] To me, why the Legends are so lovable is because they can’t quite get it together. It makes them so human because they want to be heroes so badly, and yet they always fall short. That’s why we’re going to change up the dynamics of the team a little bit and change up the dynamics of our villains as well.”

By pushing Lance to the forefront and allowing her to naturally fill that role as leader, the show runners have both helped shift the entire trajectory of the show away from its original path and naturally placed a bisexual character on the forefront based on her own arc. They’ve not let any potential backlash over her orientation dissuade them from making the best possible choice for their show.

It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to say that Lance will help deliver another season of entertainingly self-aware time-travel nonsense in season three. Hey, she’s a trendsetter. There’s another show planning to place a time-travelling bi woman as its lead really soon …

(image: The CW)

Daniel Ryan Alarcon is a fiction writer who gets into huge rants about comics at the drop of a hat, can’t help but get enthused by every new pen-and-paper system he comes across, loves cartoons in all forms, and is chomping at the bit to tear through the implications they all have when it comes to gender, orientation, and political themes. You can reach him at daniel.alarcon@spartans.ut.edu .

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Posted by Charline Jao

Riverdale dropped a new promo yesterday titled “Desperate Times” that makes the next, 22-episode season look like an intense and bloody crime thriller. There’s blood, a declaration of war, a figure some are identifying as the comics character Black Hood, and Archie ominously carrying a gun. Varchie fans were thrilled to see the two in a steamy scene, with few other ships getting much attention in the clip. But how reflective is this going to be of the actual season?

Now, Riverdale’s always been an interesting mix of genres and tones. The mixture of teen drama, horror tropes, and seriousness makes it such an unpredictable show that’s confusing at times, but also builds an incredible amount of intrigue. In some ways, that combination makes it difficult to muster any real predictions based on a teaser. Remember the first trailer for Riverdale season 1? It was all mysterious murder sexiness that built on the “Twin Peaks meets Archie” comparisons, with almost none of the teen drama and humor that dominated the majority of the later episodes. That gross subplot with Grundy took up so much of the first trailer, but unless she reappears in season 2 (please, no), that was mostly the show giving us a false lead on what to expect.

Still, I had an immediately uncomfortable reaction to seeing Archie with a gun. Read the room, Riverdale.

Of course, we were told that Riverdale would go darker in the new season…and maybe even monstrous (see below)? Is the Sugar Man going to be a Scooby-Doo-type villain or are they finally going to go supernatural? Will Sabrina appear and finally make true all the devilish allusion of season 1? (Seriously, does everyone who moves to Riverdale have to read a Gothic literature syllabus to enter?)

Roberto Aguirre Sacases has also been teasing episode titles on his Twitter, with titles like “Death Proof,” “When a Stranger Calls,” “A Kiss Before Dying,” and “The Town That Dreaded Sundown,” just to name a few. Those are some heavy allusions, but as we saw in season 1 which boasted titles like “Heart of Darkness” and “Faster Pussycats! Kill! Kill!” these seem to be fun references more often than promises.

Little of the promotional material so far is too telling, and I honestly don’t mind it at all. If anything, it just makes me more intrigued to see where the small glimpses we’re getting will fit into the full puzzle. What did you think about the promo?

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Bye Bye, Bannon

Aug. 18th, 2017 11:13 am
cactuswatcher: (Default)
[personal profile] cactuswatcher
Bye bye, Bannon,
Bye bye, Bannon,
Bye bye, Bannon,
I'm sad to see you go.
(That last line is a genuine example of fake news.)
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Posted by Jessica Lachenal

You know those stop lights that honestly just last forever and a day? Like, you’re on your way to work (or worse, on your way home), and you’re sitting there and it just will not change? Everyone else has gone, but you and your poor lane? Stuck there, forever. I hate those. But I guess if you’re going to be stuck at a stop light, it may as well be one where you’re being entertained by James Corden, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and a wonderful musical cast as they perform Hair.

In case you weren’t aware, Hair is about the hippie countercultural movement that sprung up in the 1960s and 70s. What most people remember about it is the fact that its nude scene sparked a controversy that impacted theater going forward. So, you know, you can totally go from that to Corden and Miranda dancing around in hippie gear at a live Los Angeles intersection.

They performed just about all of the hits from the musical, singing, “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “Hair,” and “Where Do I Go?” which is the song to which the nude scene is set. Their re-enactment of the scene is about as surreal as it gets for your every day driver, I suppose, as they come out in coats and strip down to show that they’re ostensibly wearing nothing at all (nothing at all). Obviously the important bits are blurred out, but everything else? Flying high and fancy free, my friend.

It’s especially funny when during this scene, Miranda jumps on the hood of a car at the stop light and just really … goes at it, you know what I mean? I have to wonder, like, did he know this person? Was this person really as frustrated as the video made him seem? I mean, I know I’d be very much in a “what the hell is going on here” mindset, but in the end, I can’t really fault the guy. Did they apologize afterwards? Did they have a plan if this guy might have had a problem with road rage?

Anyway, it’s a bit funny to me that just about everyone watching looked more confused or bored than anything. There were a few laughs, but nobody was dancing or getting into it. Folks just really wanted to get to where they’re going, I suppose. Maybe that’ll teach you to not drive past CBS’ lot ever again.

(via Vulture)

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

Trump Chief Strategist/former Breitbart head Steve Bannon is finally on the way out, and we could not be more thrilled.

We’re still not sure exactly what went down, and there are conflicting reports depending on whose buddies you believe:

So, basically, they’re privately arguing over who broke up with who, but the public face of it is that it was a mutual agreement, according to a White House statement. But with Donald Trump, these things never stay private for long, so expect it to very publicly be hashed out soon, especially as the pro-Bannon wing of Trump support grows restless with Trump not quite being awful enough for their standards on his own. It already seems like some pro-Trump media, unsurprisingly starting with Breitbart, is poised to turn on him.

I think this is where the “moderate” Republicans truly learn the meaning of The Scorpion and the Frog. Trump is likely to find that particularly backstabby, as the only way I can make sense of the purported timeline:

As well as Trump’s public statement earlier this week that Bannon is not racist, is that his goal was to part with Bannon on terms that wouldn’t make it appear as though he blamed Bannon for the white supremacist part of his support. I hope he can be baited into explaining as much publicly, since baiting him into firing Bannon in the first place seems to have worked:

Meanwhile, there’s also legitimate concern that Bannon’s removal won’t result in a huge rift, and he’ll instead take to propaganda operations outside the White House while freeing Trump from the optical nightmare of actually employing him. It’s also worth noting that Bannon’s departure is good, but the White House doesn’t deserve any credit—which they’re no doubt hoping for—for removing him while Trump’s own bigotry remains.

Whatever the case, we’re going to take this moment to savor his removal.

(image: vnews.tv / Shutterstock.com)

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Posted by Vivian Kane

While Saturday Night Live is still on hiatus, Weekend Update is back with special weekly installments, because what SNL apparently thinks we need to get us through the summer is news delivered as smugly as possible. Last night, Tina Fey dropped by, which I’m sure I wasn’t alone in hoping would balance out the Jost and Che. I was wrong.

A lot of the positive reactions to Fey’s segment have been along the lines of “It was hilarious! She spoke truth and ate cake!” Which … yes, she did both of those things. There were some really great classic Fey lines, going off on Nazis, the theft of this entire country from Native Americans, “Yard Sale Barbie” Ann Coulter, and the danger of independent militias. And the entire rant revolved around eating about half a sheet cake.

Talking of the upcoming planned white supremacist rallies, Fey said, “I would urge people this Saturday, instead of participating in these screaming matches and potential violence, find a local business that you support, maybe a Jewish-run bakery, or an African-American-run … bakery. Order a cake with the American flag on it like this one, and just eat it.” Which she proceeds to do. That part alone was at least physically impressive.

There’s a lot of debate of debate over whether it’s best to counter-protest Nazi rallies, or if they’re specifically trying to bait the left into violent photo ops. Either way, the idea of “sheet caking,” of staying home and yelling your fears and anger “into the cake,” is not a helpful suggestion. And sure, I know it’s “just a joke,” and that Fey is a comedian, not an activist. But that justification just feels lazy when the comedian in question is talking about actual Nazis on an ostensibly political show. And most definitely not when that comedian is someone a lot of women look up to–specifically a lot of white women, who, as a group, have consistently and historically been given endless permission for complacency.

If you are asking the question Fey starts with–”What can I do? I’m just one person. What can I do?”–there are a lot of answers. Here are just a few of the many available out there on the internet (add your own below if you’d like!): Here’s a good list for how to help those in Charlottesville. Here’s another. Here’s a really fantastic crowdsourced syllabus for white people (and non-black POC) who strive to be real allies. And here’s an idea for fighting racism with comedy that doesn’t involve staying home and doing nothing.

(image: YouTube)

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Posted by Charline Jao

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s autobiographical rom-com The Big Sick starring Zoe Kazan and Kumail as the couple was a delightful and moving love story, but it was also a great treat for stand-up comedy fans. With the story centering around Nanjiani during his earlier days of comedy (and the New York scenes featuring lines from his actual stand-up routine) and guest stars like Aidy Bryant, Bo Burnham, and Kurt Braunohler, the film is full of great banter and short clips of stand-up.

It makes you wonder, then, how many jokes didn’t make it into the final cut. Well, Nerdist shared an exclusive video titled “The Other Stuff” from Amazon Studios which is four minutes of unseen material from The Big Sick, mainly comedian bits and dad jokes. Awesome.

Funny enough, my favorite bits here come from Ray Romano’s Terry whose terrible humor is a running joke in the film as Nanjiani tries to react with a straight face.

Terry: Here’s my favorite joke. Two hippos in the middle of a swamp. Nothing’s going on, it’s just quiet. They’re just up to their nose in the swamp. And then one just looks at the other and says, “I just can’t get it through my head it’s Thursday.”

And then there’s this one:

Terry: Here’s a joke. Ask me the secret to comedy.

Kumail: What’s the secret to com-


Kumail: [laughing] What did you say?

Also, Anupam Kher as Kumail’s dad Azmat has some great comedic instruction for his son and it is golden. Just, more dad jokes in everything please. What did you think of “The Other Stuff”?

(via Nerdist, image: screencap)

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

If anyone can watch this documentary from the events in Charlottesville and still walk away talking about the sins of “both sides,” we’re in big trouble.

The whole goal of the white supremacist gathering was, as described by one interviewee, to show off the power and scale of their movement. Frankly, if we only let it serve as that kind of demonstration to their sympathizers and not everyone else, things are only going to get worse. Everyone who opposes these ideas needs to wake up, right now, and realize that ignoring this is not an option. It never has been, really, and a collective ignorance of the racism still alive and well in our society is what has allowed it to thrive and resurface like this.

Around these events, there’s no benefit to a “both sides” argument for anyone but the white supremacists. That’s what the white supremacists want. You can see them in the video, rattling off talking points that you’ve probably heard from their allies who claim that they don’t go in for the full-on KKK/neo-Nazi aspect of this set of politics, before dropping in the some full-blown, explicit racism that underlies their rationale. There is no way of siding with those beliefs without accepting the bigotry they’re based on.

Only one side drove into a crowd with a car and killed someone. Only one side is fighting in favor of hatred. (For the millionth time, being against hate isn’t a form of hate to anyone who’s not being pointlessly obtuse.) We have to be clear about why that’s not OK. Whether or not the white supremacist rally was legal is entirely beside the point. Does anyone really want to be the character in a period piece who’s like, “Well I’m not racist personally, but it’s the way things are, you see”? Because we sure seem to have a lot of “both sides” apologists signing up for the role.

We all know that’s the wrong side of history to be on, and yet when it’s the present, too many people seem to suddenly lose perspective. Hopefully, this documentary can help restore that perspective.

(featured image: screengrab)

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

I was a huge fan of Daredevil S1, but the best part of a much weaker S2 was the introduction of Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), A.K.A. The Punisher. While Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) was being a whiny hypocrite about how killing people is wrong while basically leaving people for dead all over town, The Punisher provided a refreshing, handling of mother-effing business. Now, more than ever, we need a Punisher series.

The teaser above doesn’t give us very much in terms of actual plot or other characters in the upcoming Netflix series. What it does give us is a glimpse into the journey of the character. “All the things that I’d done,” he begins in voiceover. “Memories, they never hurt me. But the past…is more than memories. It’s the devil you sold your soul to. He’s comin’. He’s comin’ to collect.”

Watching this trailer, I couldn’t help but think that this is exactly the kind of hero we need right now. A regular person with special training, but no superpowers. Someone who looks at the horror and injustice of the world and rages with very human fury and takes action when others won’t.

We live in a world where the high road feels like a luxury none of us can afford, and while we might individually work within ourselves to be true to higher ideals, it can be really cathartic to have a hero to watch who has completely run out of fucks to give, and just wants to kill bad guys with zero reservations about it.

What do you think? Are you excited for The Punisher on Netflix?

(via Nerdist, image: screencap)

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Posted by Charline Jao

Members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities are taking a strong stance against Trump for his hate-mongering, with a mass resignation issued in a joint letter this morning. “We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions,” it writes.

The committee, established in 1982, advises the White House on cultural issues. The letter explains, “We were hopeful that continuing to serve in the PCAH would allow us to focus on the important work the committee does with your federal partners and the private sector to address, initiate, and support key policies and programs in the arts and humanities for all Americans.”

However, in light of Trump’s inaction and lack of condemnation for the hate that drove the white nationalists in Charlottesville, they group issued the letter “[effective] immediately.” “Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions,” it states.

Members include artist Chuck Close, actor Kal Penn, writer Jhumpa Lahiri, and others dedicated to promoting arts and culture. The 17 members were appointed by President Obama, and Politico points out that they haven’t yet met under Trump. The letter is truly a thing of beauty, and waking up feeling like I was screaming into the void of an apathetic, uncaring universe tearing apart my nation, it provided a small bit of hope and solace to hear an official agency condemn Trump in such powerful and true rhetoric.

Please read the whole thing, as it speaks to everything we feel when we see his terrible news conferences and goes into strong detail about ways that Trump has undone and actively gone against the important work the committee promotes. The PCAH cites their patriotic oath, and in their resignation they uphold it. This passage, especially, really says it all:

Speaking truth to power is never easy, Mr. President. But it is our role as commissioners on the PCAH to do so. Art is about inclusion. The Humanities include a vibrant free press. You have attacked both. You released a budget which eliminates arts and culture agencies. You have threatened nuclear war while gutting diplomacy funding. The administration pulled out of the Paris agreement, filed an amicus brief undermining the Civil Rights Act and attacked our brave trans service members. You have subverted equal protections, and are committed to banning Muslims and refugee women & children from our great country. This does not unify the nation we all love.

It ends: We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.”

[UPDATE 8/18/17 12:09 PM] If you didn’t think this could be any better, the first letter of each paragraph spells out “RESIST.” How did we miss that the first time around?

(Image: PCAH)

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

Wonder Woman was, by all accounts, a massive hit, which has had us closely following whether or not its director, Patty Jenkins, would return for the sequel that Warner Bros. is suddenly very eager to get off the ground. As you’d expect, that level of success gives Jenkins a powerful negotiation tool, and she’s now reportedly close to closing a deal to bring us the next installment in the franchise.

Deadline reports that negotiations were in final stages last night, so barring any unforeseen circumstances, we’re going to get our wish of seeing Jenkins’ vision for a sequel. With Jenkins’ negotiations in their final stages, it seems pretty likely that previous rumors about that vision—which she was said to be working on with Geoff Johns while her deal was pending—are true.

That would see Diana coming to the United States in the 1980s for some Cold War action when the sequel debuts on December 12, 2019, which sounds pretty great to us. Either way, we’re also just happy for Jenkins, who absolutely deserves the “historic” payout that Deadline is reporting. While there are no hard details, they’ve learned that the deal she’s about to land is in line with that of any other director who’s hit success of this level, and it’ll leave her as the highest-paid female director around.

From the start, we’ve been critical of the idea of considering Jenkins a “gamble,” compared to how readily male directors are handed blockbusters like this. That’s what makes it so great to see her finally get her due, and we can only hope that it helps pave the way for a change in who’s perceived as a “gamble” in the first place.

(via Deadline, image: Warner Bros.)

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