James Deen and The Big Short: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Paramount Pictures

James Deen Was Never a Feminist Idol
Amanda Hess | Slate “‘Finding a fellow fan of your favorite performer is kinda like when you meet someone who loves your favorite band. You share a special bond and stick together like a family,’ a Deenager named Jade told me in 2012. ‘We always have each others’ backs.’ That is subversive. They are the feminist icons. As soon as these girls launched Deen to mainstream recognition, however, they were recast into minor supporting roles in Deen’s narrative.”

The Profound Emptiness of ‘Resilience’
Parul Sehgal | The New York Times Magazine
“But where ‘resilience’ can suggest new avenues for civic infrastructure—admitting that disaster can’t always be diverted and shifting the focus to survival strategies—it is indistinguishable from classic American bootstrap logic when it is applied to individuals, placing all the burden of success and failure on a person’s character.”

How To Read a Movie Like a Book
Bridget Read | Literary Hub
“To watch it like a movie instead of read it like a book will disappoint you, or make it seem small, which it isn’t. Such responses to Brooklyn reveal how both cinematic and literary narratives are caught up in and come up against the gendered aspects of genre, and the gendered aspects of viewing and reading.”

The Ultimate Feel-Furious Movie About Wall Street
Jessica Pressler | Vulture
The Big Short: The Movie is a very weird product—for starters, it’s a comedy about deadly serious things and a leftish movie lionizing hedge-funders. Nor is it a solid investment, not in these distractible, budget-minded, please-everyone times. As a package, it is composed of bets upon bets upon bets.”

Review: In David Mamet’s China Doll, Al Pacino as an Urban Warrior in Winter
Ben Brantley | The New York Times
“Of the plays opening on Broadway this fall, none have had a more fraught back story than China Doll, though it was always guaranteed to be a commercial slam dunk. Mr. Mamet is one of the few living American playwrights whose names have sexy marquee appeal.”

Access Denied
John Herman | The Awl
“By giving subjects—powerful or weak—the ability to bypass organizations they used to have to work with, platforms alter the terms considerably. That’s why so many disparate media parties are descending into panic at the same time. That’s why their subjects are asserting themselves. That’s why so many professional communicators are, when it comes to their own jobs, at a loss for words.”

Is Electronic Music on the Brink of Its Grunge Moment?
Jamieson Cox | The Verge
“The people making electronic grunge are either expressing a part of their lived experience that differs from the norm or are approaching their music from the avant-garde. Their work is dependent on electronics, but it also frequently references aspects of devices and computers—their physical presences, their capabilities, the sounds they make, and heat they give off—at a deeper musical and conceptual level.”

American Untouchable
Emily Nussbaum | The New Yorker
“White-centered programs ‘imply, insinuate, suggest—and I will use this word in the special way that possibly only Negroes will understand—they signify’ that African Americans were not truly citizens. Black audiences absorbed this message, too, learning to discount their own power—their economic leverage, especially. Sidney’s speech urged viewers to demand their place onscreen. Read today, it feels like a map to a world always just beyond the horizon.”

Peterson’s Automotive Museum’s New Look Conveys a Happily Tasteless Exterior
Christopher Hawthorne | Los Angeles Times
“It would be extreme—irresponsible, really—to suggest that staring too long at the new façade of the Petersen Automotive Museum, set to reopen Monday after a $90-million makeover, might leave you cross-eyed, cause your hair to spontaneously catch fire or turn you, Old Testament style, into a pillar of salt.”