Ronda Rousey and Human Robots: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

USA Today Sports / Reuters

Rousey Says She’s Down but Not Out
Ramona Shelburne | ESPN the Magazine
“The more invincible she seemed, the louder she was cheered and from more corners. She was becoming everyone’s avatar. That’s a lot to put on someone who makes a living fighting in a cage—it’s a lot to put on anyone, probably too much. But she kept living up to it until Holm’s thunderous kick to the side of her head sent her crashing down to earth.”

The Last Human Robot
Boris Kachka | Vulture
“Daniels can be a prickly ambassador, publicly tweaking the Ewoks, the suit, the actors, and Lucas himself. But what true fan, Abrams included, hasn’t had a beef with the franchise? Like 3PO and R2-D2, Star Wars and Daniels have something deeper than love: commitment. ‘People say, “What’s it like to go back to C-3PO?”’ Daniels says. ‘Well, I never left him.’”

(Not) All Men
Nona Willis Aronowitz | Matter
“It’s painful to think about what we’re burying, but the alternative is equally undesirable. It would mean seeing every human as an insignificant speck of a larger problem rather than balls of contradiction and messiness. It would mean not trusting anyone. And it would require giving up on a staggering number of people, especially Our Dudes.”

Spotlight and Its Revelations
Sarah Larson | The New Yorker
“Since seeing the movie Spotlight, about the Boston Globe investigation of sexual abuse and coverups in the Catholic Church, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it and the questions it raises—about how far institutions will go to protect themselves, about who we listen to and protect, about who and what we ignore, about the power of disclosure and even conversation.”

The Year in Found Families
Haley Mlotek | Hazlitt
“The story of a family found outside of the traditional, conventional, limited sense of that word is, I’ve come to believe, the only story that matters. The work of building one is not precious, not melodramatic, not sentimental. It is both the very simple and very complex renewal of parts, a renewal that happens no matter where or how we’re moving beside the people we’ve vowed to stay with.”

Donald Trump Really Doesn’t Want Me to Tell You This, But …
Mark Bowden | Vanity Fair
“With Trump, what you see is what you get. His behavior was cringe-worthy. He showed off the gilded interior of his plane—calling me over to inspect a Renoir on its walls, beckoning me to lean in closely to see … what? The luminosity of the brush strokes? The masterly use of color? No. The signature. ‘Worth $10 million,’ he told me.”

Scott Weiland’s Family: ‘Don’t Glorify This Tragedy’
Mary Forsberg Weiland | Rolling Stone
“But at some point, someone needs to step up and point out that yes, this will happen again—because as a society we almost encourage it. We read awful show reviews, watch videos of artists falling down, unable to recall their lyrics streaming on a teleprompter just a few feet away. And then we click ‘add to cart’ because what actually belongs in a hospital is now considered art.”

There Once Was a Girl
Katy Waldman | Slate
“The narrative impulse is one entwined with anorexia itself. Being sick means constructing an alternate reality, strapping it in place with sturdy mantras, surrendering to the beguiling logic of an old fairy tale: There once was a girl who ate very little. There once lived a witch in a deep, dark wood. Anorexics are convinced that they are hideous, bad, and unlovable. At the same time, they are constantly soliloquizing about their sacrifice, their nobility, their ethereal powers.”

The Art of Flying in the Movies
A.O. Scott | The New York Times Magazine
“We live in the grip of a technological paradox, in which the proliferation of wonders dilutes the possibility of wonder … And yet the domain of astonishment has been extended, its earlier manifestations lovingly preserved. Movies can introduce us to feelings that have no literal correlative, and they can induce those feelings again and again.”

Possessed by a Mask
Sandra Newman | Aeon
“It’s reminiscent of the common trope in superhero comics, where the heroes exercise their powers only when appropriately masked and costumed. This rule is so strictly adhered to that the costume feels essential to the character’s powers, even when, as with Spider-Man, the character’s origin story explicitly demonstrates that it is not.”