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?

  • Comedy Central

    Broad City and the Triumph of the Platonic Rom-Com

    The show’s new season asks what its heroines, Abbi and Ilana, are to each other: friends? Partners? More?

  • Wikimedia

    Against ‘Humanism’

    Meryl Streep’s “we’re all Africans, really": right, but not really.

  • Meryl Streep Mad Libs

    Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

    Updated on February 22, 2016

    Meryl Streep, having convened an all-white jury to judge the entrants at the Berlin Film Festival this week, was asked a question about one of the festival’s films—Theeb, concerning life as a Bedouin in the early 20th century.* Streep’s reply was not as tone-deaf as originally thought, but still, as Quartz put it, “pretty cringe-worthy”: “There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture,” Streep said, explaining her understanding of the Middle East and North Africa, “and after all we’re all from Africa originally.” She added: “Berliners, we’re all Africans really.”

    This was, in the context of her all-white panel, unfortunate. Streep’s point was ostensibly that it is silly and self-defeating to emphasize, given the shapes and shades of our rich human tapestry, the awkward seams. It is so much more pleasant to focus on what we have in common. Ich bin ein Berliner, and all that.

    So, yes. Here we are again: a Hollywood actor spouting lovely rhetoric that dismisses the nuances of human history and current events. It is vaguely the stuff of Charlotte Rampling and Chrissie Hynde and Kanye West and Matt Damon and, of course, Meryl Streep, who made an extremely similar argument—“I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist”—after promoting Suffragette wearing a t-shirt comparing herself to a slave. It is also the stuff of cyclical Hollywood, a pattern that is as familiar as it is frustrating—a pattern that is perhaps inevitable in a culture that treats celebrities as its public intellectuals.

    So let’s at least save ourselves a little time the next time an actor makes a comment like this. Here is a handy template for the next go-round:

  • Dairy Queen / YouTube

    The Rise of the Anti-Valentine’s Ad

    Behold, commercials that satirize the idea that love—and women—can be bought.

  • Constantin Films

    Does America Need More Hitler Humor?

    Netflix will soon be streaming Look Who’s Back—a German satire that imagines the Führer as a YouTube star.

  • Twitter

    The Super Bowl Ads That Aren't on TV

    What happens when the big game’s primary cultural spectacles get translated into emoji?

  • Paramount Pictures

    Once and for All: Jack Could Totally Have Fit on Rose's Raft

    Don’t blame her for his death, though. The constraints of storytelling sealed his fate.

  • Warner Bros.

    Which Is the Fastest-Talking State in the Union?

    A new study analyzes consumer calls to determine the chattiest people in America.

  • CBS

    ‘No, It's Iowa’: When TV Dramas Go to Caucus

    From The Good Wife to The West Wing, shows have used the Hawkeye State to emphasize the human stakes of America’s national politics.

  • AP

    In Defense of Instagramming Your Food

    Top Chef, this week, makes it clear: “Camera cuisine” is here to stay.

  • Mattel

    Barbie’s Hips Don’t Lie

    Mattel’s new Barbies, varied in their body shapes and their skin tones, suggest the company has calculated that diversity is good business.

  • HBO

    The Triumph of Soap-Box Comedy

    Whitney Cummings’s new HBO special, I’m Your Girlfriend, often sounds like a TED Talk. It’s in good company.

  • Fox

    Dana Scully and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuit

    From frumpy, high-’90s blazers to sleek, modern pencil skirts, the clothing The X-Files’ doctor chose for herself reflected her character—and the era she lived in.

  • Thomas Timlen / Flickr

    Enter the Grief Police

    The Internet is allowing a return to age-old, communal forms of mourning. That makes some people uncomfortable.

  • TV Land

    Younger and the Age of Agelessness

    The perky sitcom, now entering its second season on TV Land, embodies the current confusion about what it means to be an adult.

  • Sesame Workshop

    Anthropologie Is Selling a Rusty Trash Can for $100

    We have officially reached Peak Shabby Chic.

  • Columbia Pictures

    Alan Rickman: Even Better as a Romantic Lead

    The actor may well be remembered for playing villains, but the roles that found him lovelorn deserve just as much celebration.

  • Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

    Sweat: The Hottest Accessory

    Target’s latest collaboration—with the spinning brand SoulCycle—hints at the many ways that exercise has infiltrated fashion.

  • Applause: The Earliest Poll

    The State of the Union, as a speech, is technically delivered by the president. As an event, though, its performance falls just as much on its audience. Given that the speech itself often contains a highly predictable message—and given, too, that its text is often leaked to media outlets long before it is delivered—the real drama, for the people watching the spectacle at home, generally involves reaction shots: the cameras capturing the nation’s government, officials both elected and non-, reacting dramatically to the words the nation’s president utters. They grin. They nod approvingly. They nod disapprovingly. They smirk. They check their phones, passive-aggressively.

    Most of all, though, they applaud. Which is to say that they take part in the weird and longstanding ritual that is slapping one’s palms together to make noise. Meaningful, communicative, politically fraught noise.

  • Stephen R Woolverton / Wikimedia Commons

    When the Forgery Is the Art

    At the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism Architecture, curators are considering the creativity required to create counterfeit goods.