Top Tens, Community's Comeback: The Week's Best Pop-Culture Writing

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

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

Wikimedia Commons

The New York Times
The Top 10 Top 10 Lists of 2013
Dan Kois

6. Newepicfail1’s “10 Greatest Farts in Live TV History.” I don’t know anything about YouTube user newepicfail1, nor about this video, which has a mere 5,000 views at this writing. I don’t know why the video is so shoddily edited or where these clips came from. I certainly don’t know if any of these examples of breaking bad on television are true or if they are all hoaxes. I do know that we are entering a brave new world of video listmaking, and newepicfail1 is leading the charge.

5. Chris Sims’s “10 Worst Holiday Gifts for Comic Book Readers.” A very funny list, from Comics Alliance, that mixes trenchant comics criticism (DC’s “New 52 Omnibus” really is stupid) with excellent, terrible Amazon finds (a huge pillow printed with Tom Hiddleston’s face).

Wikimedia Commons

Al-Jazeera America
How the Village Voice and Other Alt-Weeklies Lost Their Voice in 2013
Scott Timberg

Documenting the city — its racial and ethnic fault lines, the brilliant corners of its music scene, its overlooked literary life — was something, George realized, she could tackle more effectively as a journalist for alternative newsweeklies rather than a novelist. She'd spent years driving to Book Soup, a store on Sunset Boulevard, to pick up the Village Voice and read Greg Tate on black culture or Guy Trebay on the Bronx's crack epidemic or to Venice's Rose Cafe or Tower Records to pick up LA Weekly. "I wanted it on Thursday; I couldn't wait," she says. "If you didn't get it, it was gone. I wanted to be part of that conversation."

Talk to readers and writers about the heyday of the alternative press and you hear stories like this. For all the good memories, though, 2013 has been a rough year for alt-weeklies. The Boston Phoenix, among the oldest and most storied, collapsed in March, putting about 50 employees out of work, just six months after an optimistic move to glossy stock; the paper was losing roughly $1 million a year. Susan Orlean, a New Yorker writer who, like Joe Klein, Janet Maslin and David Denby, worked for the Phoenix early on, compares it to the disappearance of her alma mater. "I am a child of the alt-weekly world," she says, "and I feel like it has played such an important role in journalism as we know it today." The New Haven Advocate was folded, along with two other weeklies, into The Hartford Courant this month after a year that saw heavy layoffs. In May, the two top editors of The Village Voice resigned rather than cut a quarter of the staff.

Wikimedia Commons

Who Won 2013?
Rembert Browne

Beyoncé (1) vs. Candy Crush (8): A fact about this bracket: I began prepping for it, and then Beyoncé came through like Black Feminist Santa in the middle of the night and released an album. So I had to start the bracket over. I say this for two reasons: (1) to admit there was a time when this bracket didn't include Beyoncé, which is something I'm not proud of, and (2) to make it clear that her sudden, bracket-validating inclusion is most likely not going to result in a first-round exit.

With that said, for most of 2013, Candy Crush was all over everyone's fingertips like liquor. The addiction levels of the game make Rob Ford look like @Pontifex. So yeah, that's next-level crack. [Note: While I was typing this, someone invited me to play Candy Crush Saga on Facebook. I kid you not, the fiends can sense I'm about to knock it out of the bracket. I think they may be at my door. Pray for me.]

But no. Even pre-Beyoncé Beyoncé, the mother, Tumblrer, documentary subject, and Super Bowl halftime performer, advances.

Wikimedia Commons

The Verge
Wow This Is Doge
Kyle Chayka

When 51-year-old Japanese kindergarten teacher Atsuko Sato started seeing strange pictures of her eight-year-old Shiba Inu dog Kabosu popping up on the internet this past August, she was a little freaked out. “I was taken aback,” Sato, an elegant, brown-haired woman given to wide smiles, recalled. “It felt very strange to see her face there. It was a Kabosu that I didn’t know.”

What Sato didn’t realize was that Kabosu had unwittingly become the face of “doge,” the white-hot internet meme that plasters photos of Shiba Inu with fractured phrases written in rainbow-colored Comic Sans type. The images often feature a “wow” in one corner, then a series of intensifiers, like “so” and “such,” paired with nouns relevant to the picture. “So scare,” “such dapper,” “many skill,” some examples read, like a surreal narrative of the dog’s inner monologue.

AP / Jim Mone

I Was an NFL Player Until I Was Fired by Two Cowards and a Bigot
Chris Kluwe

Near the end of November, several teammates and I were walking into a specialist meeting with Coach Priefer. We were laughing over one of the recent articles I had written supporting same-sex marriage rights, and one of my teammates made a joking remark about me leading the Pride parade. As we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows." The room grew intensely quiet, and none of the players said a word for the rest of the meeting. The atmosphere was decidedly tense. I had never had an interaction that hostile with any of my teammates on this issue—some didn't agree with me, but our conversations were always civil and respectful. Afterward, several told me that what Mike Priefer had said was "messed up."

After this point, Mike Priefer began saying less and less to me, and our interactions were stilted. I grew increasingly concerned that my job would be in jeopardy. I had seen the same pattern of behavior directed at our former placekicker, Ryan Longwell, whom Mike Priefer began to ignore during the 2011 season and who was cut after rookie minicamps in early May 2012.

Wikimedia Commons

The A.V. Club
What’s Your Pop Culture Resolution for 2014?
A.V. Club contributors

Becca James
My pop-culture resolution is to slow down. I’ve managed, for the most part, to keep up with my favorite mediums, but have fallen out of reflective routines. I no longer sit in the theater until the last credit rolls before leisurely making it to my next destination as I contemplate the pros and cons of the film. I rarely take the time to discuss aloud the books I’ve read, and, lately, music has been in one ear and out the other. I imagine this is a result of how readily available these things are and a busier schedule. Regardless, I’m hoping to go back to a time where I fostered longer relationships with the things I take in. So, no more rushing home after a movie, immediately shelving a book after finishing it, or listening to an album only once before I’m onto the next. Instead, I plan to give pop culture the time it deserves.


The New Yorker
Community Two: Electric Boogaloo
Emily Nussbaum

“Community,” which is entering its fifth season on NBC, has never been a show that you could talk folks into watching. People love it or it leaves them cold. It takes place at a community college called Greendale (“Ranked America’s No. 2 Community College by”), among a diverse study group of students (now six, but soon to be five, since Donald Glover is leaving the show), but that’s always been more of a set than an actual setting. It’s a sitcom about sitcoms, a character study of characters. “Community” is at once icy and sentimental, anarchic and highly controlled, like a sneeze that never lets loose, but it feels great anyway. It’s so self-referential that it makes “Arrested Development” look like “The Andy Griffith Show.” Yet just because it’s not an easy sell doesn’t mean that it’s not worth buying. Once you’re in the tank, “Community” is as satisfying as anything on television.