Megan Garber
Megan Garber
Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic, covering culture.
Kara Gordon / The Atlantic

Arch Enemies

A new company is bringing the engineering savvy of rocket science to the design of the high-heeled shoe. Can stilettos that are actually comfortable to wear change centuries’ worth of symbolism?

  • Damir Sagolj / Reuters

    When Algorithms Take the Stand

    A case soon to be decided by the Wisconsin Supreme Court considers the proper role of mathematical prediction in the courtroom—and beyond.

  • Carlo Allegri / Reuters

    The Trump Campaign Just Became Literature

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a new short story: a Virginia Woolf-inflected ode to Melania Trump.

  • HBO

    Veep Goes Tragi-Karmic

    The show that has so steadfastly refused accountability for its cast of bumbling characters experiments with comeuppance.

  • The Uninspiring Story Behind the Most Inspiring Speech in Movie History

    “Don’t forget,” Llywelyn Jones, a reader of my story on the original Independence Day, writes, “that President Bill Pullman’s speech is essentially Henry V’s Saint Crispin’s Day speech.”

    It’s a very good point: President Whitmore’s iconic “we will survive” speech joined a canon of Inspirational Fictional Speeches that includes ones written not just by Shakespeare, but also by the writers of Braveheart and Gladiator and Invictus and Remember the Titans.

    What’s especially notable about the Independence Day version of that genre, though—a version that has been celebrated and meme-ified online in the decades that followed the film’s 1996 release—is that the words of the speech were motivated by more than audience inspiration alone. According to the DVD commentary provided by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day’s director, co-writer, and executive producer) and Dean Devlin (its co-writer and producer), the speech’s language was also inspired by ... legal concerns.

  • Columbia Pictures

    The Shallows Is Torture Porn, With a Shark

    The Blake Lively vehicle, the harrowing tale of a surfer stalked by an angry cartilaginous fish, jumps the … yeah.

  • 20th Century Fox

    The Last of the Great Escapist Blockbusters

    Independence Day, Roland Emmerich’s 1996 alien invasion fantasy, was supremely silly, which is precisely what made it awesome.

  • Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters

    The Paradox of ‘Pretty’

    Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives takes aim at a culture that tells women they should be beautiful, and that they should never feel beautiful enough.

  • HBO

    Justice for Sansa Stark

    The death that offers both justice and catharsis has been, for one character in particular, an elusive thing. But Game of Thrones found a way to achieve both.

  • Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

    The Most Contentious Meal of the Day

    The current debates about breakfast are nothing new; the morning meal has long been a source of medical confusion, moral frustration, and political anxiety.

  • Jonathan Alcorn / Reuters

    Hiddleswift: Celebrity Romance as Fan Fiction

    Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston were photographed frolicking on a beach. That’s all. But the frenzy that followed speaks to culture’s ongoing desire to fill in the gaps.

  • CBS

    BrainDead: A D.C. Satire ... With Alien Bugs

    The creators of the much-loved The Good Wife have created a sci-fi-laced political satire that involves exploding brains, space ants, and a hefty dose of pessimism. 

  • Judy Garland: Icon for Misfits

    Wikimedia Commons

    Today is Judy Garland’s birthday. She would have been 94; instead, she died at 47, in 1969, of a barbiturate overdose. Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm to a family of Vaudevillians, and she was blessed with a voice that could sear as much as it could soar—a combination that made her not only a Hollywood star of the brightest order, but that also hinted at the deep pain that would accompany that stardom in her life. Garland was deeply insecure, and made that way by a studio system that regarded her as a commodity. She was plagued by gossip rags. She dared to loud and brash during a time that valued women of a more demure order. She struggled to find a romantic partnership that could withstand her celebrity. She turned to alcohol, and to drugs, looking for escape, until finally she could escape no more. 

    Despite everything else Garland accomplished in a life that was far too brief, it was perhaps her well-publicized personal trials that made her endure as an icon: In her movie roles and in her songs and in her very person, she managed to convey both the heights and the depths that come with being human: the transcendence, the messiness, the frustrations that come with occupying a world that moves too quickly and also not quickly enough. 

    It was because of all of that that Garland became an icon, in particular, for the gay community—a person whose influence has been so strong and enduring, the writer Michael Joseph Gross had it, that it “has helped to shape popular notions in this country of what it is to be gay.” 

    Gross considered, and then reconsidered, Garland’s meaning for the gay community in the August 2000 issue of The AtlanticGross

  • Ramon Espinosa / AP

    The Joy of Instagram

    A new study finds that documenting experiences, far from detracting from them, makes them even more enjoyable.

  • Paramount

    Hillary Clinton, Tracy Flick, and the Reclaiming of Female Ambition

    The woman president has long been a feature of American pop culture. The woman candidate, though, is rarer—and even more fraught.

  • Lifetime

    Mirror Mirror: Brilliant, Scathing UnREAL Is Back

    Lifetime’s sleeper hit, in its new episodes, shifts its acerbic focus from feminism to race.

  • Meng Viren / Getty

    When Newsweek ‘Struck Terror in the Hearts of Single Women’

    Thirty years ago, the magazine declared that single women over 40 are more likely to be killed by terrorism than to get married—prompting a nationwide crisis whose anxiety still lingers.

  • Ending the 'Sorry' Cycle

    Tim Green / Flickr

    Every once in a while, a cultural conversation will break out: Someone will castigate women for overusing the loaded phrase “I’m sorry.” Someone else will respond with a defense of “I’m sorry.” Someone else will respond to that. The someones involved—they will often, but not always, be women—will make some really good points about gender and empowerment and the way language binds the two. They will often lighten the mood by making jokes about being sorry for not being sorry, or not being sorry for being sorry, and the jokes will often be funny. And then the conversation will end, and everyone will get on with their lives, and the women of the English-speaking world will continue saying “I’m sorry” just as much as they did before, which will lay the groundwork for the cycle to continue again, indefinitely and (un)apologetically.

    Which brings us to this week, and an essay Lena Dunham posted to LinkedIn: “Sorry, Not Sorry: My Apology Addiction.” In it, Dunham noted:

    Apologizing is a modern plague and I’d be willing to bet (though I have zero scientific research to back this up) that many women utter “I’m sorry” more on a given day than “Thank You” and “You’re Welcome” combined. So many of the women I know apologize like it’s a job they were given by the government (we’ll save the whys of that for a massive sociology text). We rush to say it when we’re interrupted. We scream it across a crowded restaurant when someone else arrives late so we've lost our table. We mutter it when a man walks too close to us on the street. As I write this, a Mister Softee truck is singing its grating tune right below my window and I want to run and apologize to the driver for how insane he’s making me.

  • Robert Galbraith / Reuters

    Casual Friday and the ‘End of the Office Dress Code’

    The day—a celebration of corporate conformity disguised as a celebration of individuality—helped to bring about the current dominance of “business casual.”

  • MGM

    Thelma & Louise Holds Up Well—a Little Too Well

    The film, released 25 years ago, is best known as an icon of early-’90s feminism. But it feels just as fresh today as it did in 1991.  

  • HBO

    Game of Thrones: Sansa Stark Will Be Heard

    Her forcing Littlefinger to hear of the violence that she endured was a moment of catharsis—not just for the character, but for the show.