Tom Cruise, Amy Schumer, and Selfies: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Paramount Pictures

The Comedic Stylings—Intentional and Otherwise—of Tom Cruise
Steven Hyden | Grantland
“Is Tom Cruise funny? As straightforward questions go, this is both thunderously obvious and hopelessly obscure. It’s like asking whether a great white shark might ever get into yoga.”

Kim, Caitlyn, and the People We Want to See
Stephen Burt | The New Yorker
“Our society keeps on giving you (yes, you) new reasons to hate your body. What if selfies, the genre—and what if Selfish, the book—are new ways to show us how to like it? What if Kim Kardashian—or someone who looked, in her selfies, just like Kim Kardashian—were recovering from a long illness, or a truck accident? What if she were a trans woman?”

Amy, What You Wanna Do?
Dana Stevens | Slate
Trying to shape this diverse population of Amys—astute social satirist Amy, not-afraid-to-be-a-jerk Amy, deeply insecure and desperate-to-be-loved Amy—into a coherent romantic-comedy heroine over the course of a two-hour narrative feature is, necessarily, an act of compression and condensation.”

David Foster Wallace’s Closed Circuit: On ‘The End of the Tour’
Anna Shechtman | Los Angeles Review of Books
“Wallace’s writing, like that of Salinger before him, has had extra-literary effects. More than canonized, he has been initialized. For a certain cohort of mostly white, mostly male readers, D.F.W. outranks even P.T.A. (Paul Thomas Anderson) and B.E.E. (Bret Easton Ellis) as the author whose work spawned a worldview.”

Why Do You Really Hate Kanye West?
Micah Singleton | The Verge
“If you believe the dramatic increase in unfiltered hatred and the complete dismissal of the talent of one of the most accomplished artists in a generation has nothing to do with the racial discomfort precipitated by a black man ‘scaring’ America’s white sweetheart and entering into an interracial relationship with America’s favorite guilty pleasure, you're sorely mistaken.”

Netflix Is Accidentally Inventing a New Art Form—Not Quite TV and Not Quite Film
Todd VanDer Werff | Vox
“The rise of binge-watching has created as many different methods of intake as there are people watching these shows. You already know the days of watching week to week are over. But what you might not have thought much about is how this fundamentally changes your relationship to the art itself.”

Grimes in Reality
Emilie Friedlander | The Fader
“There was certainly something superhero-like in her ability to pen charmingly off-kilter, globetrotting pop songs using rudimentary tools (she recorded Visions using Garageband)—and, as the budgets grew bigger and video treatments more involved, in the aesthetics of the Grimes character herself, which seemed to draw on an eclectic mix of heroes and antiheroes, from the 11th century polymath Hildegard Von Bingen to Marilyn Manson and Sailor Moon.”

But Did You Read the Book?: Cara Delevingne, Press Junketry, and Me
John Green | Medium
“Look, these are obviously the first worldiest of first world problems, but the whole process of commodifying personhood to sell movie tickets is inherently dehumanizing. The TV people want some part of you, and in exchange for it, they will put the name of your movie on TV. But in that process, you do lose something of your self.”

On Wyatt Cenac, ‘Key & Peele,’ and Being The Only One In The Room
Gene Demby | NPR
“The Stewart-Cenac exchange illustrates what those of us who are often The Only One In The Room tend to know: It sucks. But it turns out that being The Only One isn't simply burdensome and annoying on an individual level. There's evidence that when people feel like they're The Only One in a group, even a group that professes to care about diversity in its ranks, it actually gets in the way of everything said diversity was supposed to achieve in the first place.”

Didn’t She Almost Have It All? The Tragedy of Bobbi Kristina Brown
Rich Juzwiak | Defamer
“Bobbi Kristina Brown never got to choose her fame; it just happened to her. The daughter of two superstars, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, notoriety was her birthright. Being on display was her lifestyle. That was never more clear than when she was on her deathbed.”

The Deep Hidden Meaning of Nile Rodgers
David Marchese | Vulture
“‘When I was signed to Atlantic Records’ in the ’70s, he says, ‘you didn’t have to have a hit to make a good living as a musician. Now there’s Taylor Swift, and there’s everybody else.’”

Ray Rice Doesn’t Deserve a Second Chance in the NFL
Jamil Smith | The New Republic
“There is a thick river of entitlement running through our sports culture. Some players act as though the unconditional personal loyalty of the cities where they play is part of their voluminous compensation. Fans believe their devotion should be rewarded with championships. In doing so, they misunderstand their role as customers of a business that promises nothing but entertainment played by the rules, not a certain result.”