The Week in Pop-Culture Writing: Key and Peele Peace Out

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.
Comedy Central

Race to the Top: The Meaning of ‘Key and Peele’
Wesley Morris | Grantland
“This was the third great American show of this so-called golden age of television to satirize race and racism — after Chappelle’s Show and 30 Rock, the former from the perspective of a black male, the latter, largely, from a white woman’s point of view. Key and Peele was different: two biracial men in a sustained conversation with each other about blackness and whiteness and how to raise the veil on even the perception of racism — allowing white people to see what some black people do when, say, they’re just watching winter-storm coverage.”

Why Can’t We Stop Talking About New York in the Late 1970s?
Edmund White | T Magazine
“This was the last period in American culture when the distinction between highbrow and lowbrow still pertained, when writers and painters and theater people still wanted to be (or were willing to be) ‘martyrs to art.’”

The Definitive NBA Logo Rankings
Zach Lowe | Grantland

“New York is the greatest city in the world, and there is nothing New York about this logo. There are only vague allusions. The giant block letters, leaning a few degrees backward, are meant to mimic skyscrapers as seen from below. The triangular shield is a nod to the emblems Gotham superheroes wear upon their chests. Whatever.”

M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village Is an Underrated Masterpiece
Todd VanDerWerff | Vox
“But conventional wisdom is wrong on at least one count: The Village may be the director’s best film, and one of the most interesting looks at the American film industry’s early attempts to incorporate the Iraq War into fictional contexts. It’s been unjustly derided, and now is as good a time as any to change that.”

Torture Porn, or Feminist Critique?
Katie Kilkenny | Pacific Standard
“Is the cult really the devil-worshipping group, or a larger establishment, a moral majority, that commands the well-off American mother to remain at home, tend to her womb, the stovetop, and children?”

Banksy and the Problem With Sarcastic Art
Dan Brooks | The New York Times Magazine
“How wonderful it must feel to go to ‘Dismaland’ and see through society! But how awful to see society embrace art that makes you feel nothing, that makes you think only about the vast chasm between you and everyone else.”

How to Write Your Very Own Roger Federer Think Piece in Six Easy Steps
Ben Adams | Slate
“You can make a statement about greatness or life; or you can go with a broad characterization of Federer and what he does. The key here is to connect tennis with the greater arc of the universe. I might suggest a statement like viewed from afar, Roger Federer is pure mathematics. I don’t think anyone has used this one before, and I believe it in my heart to be true.”

If You’re a White Man Who Can’t Get Published Under Your Own Name, Take the Hint
Jia Tolentino | Jezebel
“Identity politics, with the great rivers of well-meaning smarm and short-sightedness that run through it, is exhausting enough when leveraged for basic equality; when leveraged for a white man’s ability to get published, the whole thing feels unredeemable. But we can’t give up on the fact that the source of a thing matters.”