Mythbusters and SXSW: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Discovery Channel

Mythbusters and the Rise of Fact-Checking Everything
Christopher Bonanos | Vulture
“More than that, though, MythBusters revealed something striking: a national hunger for data-driven authority, and the methodology that delivers it. One of the great things about the show has been its transparency about method. At least outwardly, and within the limits of a reality-TV show, the experiments carried out by Savage and Hyneman were pretty transparent and fairly rigorous.”

SXSW’s Video Game Fiasco Proves the Tech World Can’t Be “Neutral” on Harassment
Sarah Seltzer | Flavorwire
“The critique SXSW has faced this week forces the realization that if the targets of well-publicized harassment campaigns were powerful and famous, they wouldn’t be blamed or punished for their own predicament, and everyone involved would find a way to make the show go on. Because they are simply women who have spoken out, they’re not taken as seriously. But the reality we’ve witnessed over the past several years is that any woman who speaks up about sexism in tech or gaming is vulnerable to threats.”

The Hateful Life and Spiteful Death of the Man Who Was Vigo the Carpathian
Shaun Raviv | Deadspin
“Most people will only ever know Norbert Grupe as Vigo the Carpathian. But Norbert Grupe—a Nazi soldier’s son, boxer, professional wrestler, failed actor, criminal, and miserable human being who was never so happy as when he could make someone hate him—was once a man so beautiful that other men wanted to paint him.”

The Radical Promise of TV’s Mentally Ill Women
Alyssa Rosenberg | The Washington Post
“The most interesting element of UnREAL, though, and one that I hope Crazy Ex-Girlfriend tackles at some point, is the idea that mental illness is an appropriate response to certain social conditions and expectations for modern women.”

Why Are Sports Bras So Terrible?
Rose Eveleth | Racked
“Sports bras aren’t just a piece of sports equipment. They’re not like a bat or a baseball mitt or shin guards — designed, for the most part, for maximum functionality. They’re cultural objects, they’re fashion objects, and as such they’re laden with all kinds of baggage about how a woman is supposed to look.”

For the First Time in History, the World Series Is Between Two Teams That Were Never Segregated
Dave Zirin | The Nation
“Here is that pitiless mirror baseball holds up: The National Pastime has become perhaps our clearest cultural reflection of how globalization, de-industrialization, and the subsequent gentrified looting of urban America have wrung so many US cities dry. Baseball, with its need for leagues, coaching, equipment, and players has suffered more than any other urban endeavor.”

The Other Autistic Muppet
Jennie Baird | The New York Times
“Would knowing Fozzie had autism have changed the way we looked at him? Maybe. Would knowing Fozzie had autism have made it easier for his parents and friends to understand his behaviors as he grew into himself? Also maybe. And that is the struggle parents of children on the higher-functioning end of the spectrum face.”

The Definitive Book Review of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me
Kelley Calkins | The Establishment
“Finally, the relative minuteness of the memoir’s pages enables their quick turning, further enhancing an already satisfying reader experience and inviting in a strong sense of accomplishment … Overall, Between the World and Me would make for a powerful addition to any bookshelf, lap, bedside table, hand, or desk. Its masterful lettering, mostly monochromatic jacket, and appropriately thick pages are a treasure to behold.”

Brand Echh: Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton Can’t Save the Lame Our Brand Is Crisis
Alex Pappademas | Grantland
“The worst thing about this movie isn’t the fuzziness of its politics; it’s that it assembles pretty much the best supporting cast you could ask for — from Dowd and Mackie to Scoot McNairy and Zoe Kazan — and gives them nothing to do but stand around in conference rooms asking dumb questions for the audience’s benefit.”

Growth Spurt
Hua Hsu | The New Yorker
“The Internet is often considered a distressingly permanent space, where one’s youthful mistakes are preserved forever, but it can also be transparent and emboldening, hospitable to a casual, low-risk approach that allows an artist to explore and edit his personality, and to be prolific in the process.”