Shrug Emoticons, Coldplay Failures: 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.


How YouTube and Internet Journalism Destroyed Tom Cruise, Our Last Real Movie Star 
Amy Nicholson | LA Weekly
"Cruise bouncing on that couch is one of the touchstones of the last decade, the punchline every time someone writes about his career. There's just one catch: It never happened."

Michael Bay: Futurist
John D'Amico | Smugfilm
"Michael Bay is one of the best in the world at depicting motion, and the Transformers series, for all its storytelling incompetence, may be his masterpiece in this regard."

Godzilla: The First Post-Human Blockbuster
David Ehrlich | The Dissolve
"This is the rare live-action summer blockbuster in which, by design, not a single one of the human characters in the movie has anything resembling a complete emotional arc. And while it’s difficult to argue that Brody wouldn’t have benefited from some memorable dialogue and a more charismatic performance, the lack of a compelling homosapien protagonist helps clarify the film’s true trajectory."

Can Conservatives Be Funny?
Frank Rich | New York
"If Rupert Murdoch could find right-wing comics who are funny, you’d bet he’d make a home for them on the Fox network or FX, alongside his liberal staples Louie, Family Guy, and Glee, rather than ghettoize them on Fox News. Most liberal moguls would snap them up too."

The Life and Times of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 
Kyle Chayka | The Awl
"In addition to symbolizing despair, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ can be wielded as a Zen-like tool to accept the chaos of universe. Meditate on its wide eyes and upturned mouth; that’s not the expression of a quitter, it’s the carefree face of #blessed, radical openness."

Are We at Peak Superhero?
Mark Harris | Grantland
"In its zeal to go big, S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t simply lose viewers; it locked them out. The cost of that approach may be starting to sink in."

HIV, Hepatitis C, And More: New York's Amateur MMA Scene Is A Disaster
Jim Genia | Deadspin
"The problem is that while these fights are nominally regulated by private organizations, some of them are, in practice, not regulated at all. That's why fighters can compete in New York with HIV, hepatitis C, and other conditions that would prevent them from getting in a cage anywhere else in the United States."

Coldplay’s X&Y Was Its First Very Bad Album—and Its First No. 1
Sonia Saraiya | The A.V. Club
"It wasn’t just that
 X&Y was a disappointing album, but rather that it felt like Coldplay was changing the rules."

Sexism and the Lies of the Level Playing Field
Jonathan Liew | The Telegraph
"You do not need to dig very deep to discover the extent to which inequality is ingrained in our country’s most popular sports."

When Single Parents Collide on a Safari
A.O. Scott | The New York Times
"Blended is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It will make your children stupid."

Presented by

Spencer Kornhaber is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers pop culture and music. He was previously an editor at Patch.com and a staff writer at OC Weekly. He has written for Spin, The AV Club, and RollingStone.com.

Ashley Fetters is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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