On Pandering and Julia Child: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Julia Child's kitchen, at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (Wikimedia)

On Pandering
Claire Vaye Watkins | Tin House
“I wrote Battleborn for white men, toward them. If you hold the book to a certain light, you’ll see it as an exercise in self-hazing, a product of working-class madness, the female strain. So, natural then that Battleborn was well-received by the white-male lit establishment: It was written for them. The whole book’s a pander.”

Thanksgiving, the Julia Child Way
Julia Moskin | The New York Times
“No matter how busy, Mrs. Child would hand off whatever kitchen task she was doing, take the phone and talk the nervous cook down from the ledge … But Mrs. Child refused to unlist her number or turn off the phone; instead, she embraced the role of national Thanksgiving commander in chief.”

The Most Famous American Dog on Instagram
David Shapiro | The New Yorker
“Braha was annoyed with these e-mails. She was upset that Marnie was referred to as merely an ‘influencer.’ She insisted, ‘Marnie’s not an influencer—she’s a celebrity. When you’re stopped constantly on the street, you’re not an influencer—you’re a celebrity.’ She shook her head. She clicked through a few more. ‘Hillary’s campaign reached out for a photo. I need to follow up on that ...’”

In Praise of Mega Man X
Levi Rubeck | Kill Screen
“Going fast is easy—the challenge is in reacting to the unwritten near-future while maintaining environmental awareness to avoid running into shit. For all the risks to life and limb, the human brain and body craves the thrill of speed. As such, even relatively primitive virtualized acceleration titillates. ”

The Art of the Strange Writing Exercise
Nick Ripatrazone | The Millions
“We might be romantic and say that teacher and student need to create art through imagination, but in education, form is function. We need to shake things up in the creative-writing classroom. We need to remember that writing is a messy, fractured, intensely personal pursuit that must not be neutered by the institutional needs of our classrooms.”

In Conversation with DeRay McKesson
Rembert Browne | New York
“To some degree, what you are doing is simultaneously selfless and a privilege, in the sense that there are people who want to be out there every day, but just have a nine-to-five and can’t. So it’s as if, at times, you’re speaking on behalf of those people who want to be there. But it’s also a privilege to be able to do it.”

Why Marvel’s Jessica Jones Survivor Narrative Is So Powerful
Pilot Viruet | Flavorwire
“It’s all heavy, heavy subject matter for any kind of art, let alone a comic book adaptation, but it’s ultimately brilliant and necessary. Comic books provide an escape for many readers, solace in finding a powerful narrative that helps them in their real life; Marvel’s Jessica Jones goes a step further and provides a realistic, cathartic narrative for survivors.”

The Mournful Sci-Fi Masterpiece Behind Amazon’s Splashy Man in the High Castle
Laura Miller | Slate
“The series’ creators have tried to pump up its premise into something that can sustain a 10-episode season (or more) by giving Dick’s dystopia an element that it utterly lacks in the book: an insurgency dedicated to fighting the twin fascist regimes that control the former United States. The people in Dick’s novel never consider resistance. They’re not heroes, and that, paradoxically, is exactly what makes them so arresting.”