Culture

Olympic Glamour, Doge Grammar: The Week's Best Pop-Culture Writing

The most intriguing articles about entertainment we've come across in the past seven days

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Click the links in the article titles to read the full pieces, and let us know what we've missed:


Amy Sancetta / AP

The Toast
A Linguist Explains the Grammar of Doge. Wow.
Gretchen McCulloch

But what really interests me as a linguist is that doge speak is recognizably doge even when it’s not on an image at all. Let’s take a look at a particularly brilliant example from tumblr, although there are many shorter ones (check out this twitter or this subreddit):

What light. So breaks. Such east. Very sun. Wow, Juliet.
What Romeo. Such why. Very rose. Still rose.
Very balcony. Such climb.
Much love. So Propose. Wow, marriage.
Very Tybalt. Much stab. What do?
Such exile. Very Mantua. Much sad.
So, priest? Much sleeping. Wow, tomb.
Such poison. What dagger. Very dead. Wow, end.

In typical tumblr-collaborative fashion, this was written by a different author per line, a full list of which can be found here, but which I omit for ease of reading. It’s recognizably doge, but there’s nary a shiba nor a fluorescent font in sight. Various creative people on the internet have also come up with forms of doge that riff on different aspects of it, such as doge script (based on javascript), dogecoin (based on bitcoin), dogegit or this YouTube easter egg.


Ivan Sekretarev / AP

The Washington Post
I’m Black. I’m a Guy. And I’m Obsessed With Figure Skating.
Robert Samuels

Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to be a football fan. No one questions your blackness; no one assumes you’re gay. Maybe I’d still have all my original teeth.

But no, Mrs. Stern, my second-grade teacher, told her class about figure skating. I remember staring at the Newsweek article she tacked on the bulletin board and thinking the woman featured in the piece was the most beautiful I’d ever seen. Kristi Yamaguchi: my first celebrity crush and the reason I will forever be a dude who loves figure skating.


CBS Films

Al-Jazeera America
Hate Lena Dunham? You’ll Love Llewyn Davis
Raina Lipsitz

Llewyn is difficult but familiar; Hannah is a sloppy monster. The Coens have artistic authority; Dunham is uppity. Critics don’t hate “Girls” with such venom only because it’s female-centric. Other shows about women haven’t provoked this level of hostility. Although it, too, attracted negative attention, “Sex and the City” had solid ratings and a devoted following — in part because it was a fantasy. The characters lived in fabulous apartments, wore beautiful clothes and slept with handsome men. The characters on “Girls” have normal bodies and awkward sex and apologize for neither. Hannah spends a lot of time naked. She makes people uncomfortable — not because she’s a woman but because, as Gunn noted of Skyler, she doesn’t “conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female.” Hannah’s not there to titillate straight male viewers or model designer clothing. She’s just herself, fat tummy, questionable haircuts, weird outfits, solipsism and all.

Maybe some viewers really do hate Hannah because she’s a selfish brat. But there’s no better explanation than sexism for so many critics’ willingness to tolerate and even sympathize with Llewyn Davis and Ben Stone and Walter White — while openly yearning for Hannah Horvath to choke. And there are few standards more punishing than the one by which we judge female artists.


Karl-Josef Hildenbrand / AP

Deadspin
The Hater's Guide to the Winter Olympics
Drew Magary

Curling. Why don't they call it by its real name? ICE BOCCE. I feel like Putin should hire some of those frantic ice shavers to help clean the roads.

Cross Country Skiing. The worst. The absolute fucking worst Winter Olympics event there is. If any sport deserved wrestling's cruel fate (i.e., a traditional sport that got bounced from the Games strictly as punishment for not being compelling enough on TV), it's cross country skiing. We never win this event. We never even come close. The gold medal always goes to Bjorn Flugenblugen of Oslo, who treks 20 miles through a Norwegian forest every day just to get to the pickle store. I don't know why we're giving these GLORY VIKINGS a world stage for skiing on flat land just so they can go home to endorse their country's favorite brand of tiny, adorable pumpernickel bread.

Even when they add a GUN to this event, it's boring. You don't see any medal event for cross country sled paddling, do you? All sports should take place downhill: skiing, luging, skating, boxing. Everything is improved when done at speeds of up to 90mph. I demand more downhill skating.


HBO

The Los Angeles Review of Books
Pretty Girl Privilege
Anne Helen Petersen

Girls, for all of its flaws, does speak truth to (most) power. Networking doesn’t work, and if it does, it’s morally repugnant; cultural capital gets you nowhere; standardized good looks get you a degrading job at a gentlemen’s club.

Which is why I like Marnie — or, more precisely, Girls’ horrible treatment of Marnie.

There are Marnies all over contemporary media, they just get everything that we’ve been conditioned to expect their looks, class, and education level meriting: outrageous success, perfect happiness. In Hollywood films, all these Marnies lack is a man — which they conveniently gain by the end of the three act structure. Katherine Heigl’s a Marnie; Jennifer Garner’s a Marnie; Jennifer Aniston is very often a Marnie. They’re not classy by birth (Marnies aren’t Gwyneths, after all: Jessa is a Gwenyth) but by try.


AP Photo / Wong Maye-E

BuzzFeed
What Does Pussy Riot Mean Now?
Miriam Elder

The six weeks since Masha, 25, and Nadya, 24, were suddenly released from prison as part of an amnesty issued by President Vladimir Putin have been a whirlwind. When they were first arrested in February 2012 after performing an anti-Putin punk anthem in Moscow’s main cathedral, they were unknowns, disguised by balaclavas in a video that would become the single best-known piece of art to emerge from post-Soviet Russia. One chaotic, revelatory trial and lengthy prison sentence later, they find themselves being flown first-class to Singapore, Holland, Ireland, Sweden, and now New York. Berlin is next. They’ve met government ministers and rock stars, drag queens, and Stephen Colbert.

Nadya and Masha entered prison at the height of a promising era. Moscow had risen up against Vladimir Putin. Protest was alive; change appeared to be around the corner. Pussy Riot took this further than anyone, adopting striking visuals and a form of protest Russia had rarely seen. Wearing bright clothes and masks, they would storm sites — Red Square, churches, fashion runways — and shout and dance around while someone filmed. Though often referred to as a band, they never actually played instruments during these guerrilla performances. They never had plans to put out an album — that would be against their anti-capitalist ethos, they said. Their arrest signaled the beginning of the end. But they don’t seem to have realized this. In the two years since they were arrested, a small handful of opposition activists have issued reports on corruption, environmental catastrophe, and decline in freedoms, upping their output in the lead-up to the Sochi Olympics. It lands in a void.


NBC / Margaret Norton / AP

The AV Club
Jay Leno Was Good at Being Bad
Matt Wild

And about that material: At the end of the day (or night), Leno’s monologue material was no better or worse than other late night hosts. Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, O’Brien, and Jimmy Kimmel all have been hitting the same beats as of late: Chris Christie is fat, the NSA is watching you, Justin Bieber is a doofus. (Only Craig Ferguson pushes the late-night monologue into willfully wild and wooly places, an approach that can grow a bit tiring.) Each host relies on similar hoary bits, each mines lame jokes out of obscure polls and dopey sex surveys, and each freely indulges in “stuff we found on YouTube” filler. But at least Leno delivered that material with the confidence of a veteran stand-up who still lives or dies on the laughter of his neighborhood Chuckle Shack. Call it hacky, or call it old-school professionalism.

And it’s that professionalism—however detached, however uninspired—that I think made Jay Leno such a success. During a typically undistinguished show from November (with musical guest Blake Shelton!), Leno shrugged off a bombed monologue joke with a snarky aside: “I know it’s stupid, but I only have a couple of months left, so I don’t care!” The way he eased into the next joke with a chuckle and yet another “Hey, did you read this?” showed that, in a small way and even in the end, he clearly did.


Rodrigo Abd / AP

Slate
Don't Listen to Woody Allen's Biggest Defender
Jessica Winter

The last third of the piece is in keeping with the first third: not a “closer examination” of the molestation accusations but a grab bag of tendentiousness and disingenuity masquerading as “context.” Weide’s got cutesy anecdotes about Allen’s teenage daughters, the ones he adopted with Soon-Yi Previn. He reminds us yet again that Ronan Farrow may not be Allen’s biological son, which for Weide is a twofer: a proof of his mother’s licentiousness and, bizarrely, a pretext for excusing his father’s sexual relationship with Ronan’s sister.

In fact, the real subject of Weide’s piece isn’t Dylan Farrow or even his main man Woody Allen. It’s what Weide sees as Mia Farrow’s hypocrisy. She’s a hypocrite because she’s friends with convicted rapist Roman Polanski. She’s a hypocrite because her brother is a convicted child molester—“a more mischievous part of me,” Weide writes, wanted to tweet about Mia’s brother’s abuse of children during the Golden Globes. She’s a hypocrite because she approved a clip from The Purple Rose of Cairo for Allen’s Golden Globes tribute, and then publicly complained about the tribute. “This woman needs to get over herself,” Weide writes of Mia Farrow.


Alexandra Wyman / Invision
for The Hollywood Reporter / AP

Salon
Too Poor for Pop Culture
D. Watkins

“What the fuck is a selfie?” said Miss Sheryl.

“When a stupid person with a smartphone flicks themselves and looks at it,” I said to the room. She replied with a raised eyebrow, “Oh?”

It’s amazing how the news seems so instant to most from my generation with our iPhones, Wi-Fi, tablets and iPads, but actually it isn’t. The idea of information being class-based as well became evident to me when I watched my friends talk about a weeks-old story as if it happened yesterday.

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