The Witch and the Modern Single Woman: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of writing about entertainment


Critics Love the Horror Film The Witch. Why Don’t Viewers Think It’s Scary?
Katy Waldman | Slate
“We penalize films that thwart our expectations—and The Witch has a more poetic and more patient logic than many of its horror brethren. Not every scary utensil gets lodged in a warm body. Vague terrors—sexuality, adulthood, the psychological trauma of original sin, the quiet malice of the American wilderness—only sometimes coalesce into creatures. At times they stay as insidious as mist.”

The Single American Woman
Rebecca Traister | The Cut
“That unmarried women are not rallying around Clinton, who not so long ago was one of the most visible symbols of threateningly powerful womanhood in America and who has devoted a significant chunk of her career to issues of early-childhood education and health-care reform, is somewhat baffling. But remember, this is not a symbolically motivated movement. Single women may not be looking for a feminist hero.”

Love and the History of TV’s Attractiveness Gap
Pilot Viruet | Vulture
“Aside from the laughs, you could argue there’s something toxic about these pairings and the unrealistic expectations they promote, most obviously for reasons Apatow has long been criticized for popularizing in his films: the male fantasy that you, too, can be a lazy zhlub with barely any redeeming qualities and still get a super-hot wife willing to put up with it.”

The Original Six: The Story of Hollywood’s Forgotten Feminist Crusaders
Rachel Smye | Pacific Standard
“And yet, in the midst of all this lamentation, we don’t seem terribly focused on how we got here, why things are still so bad for women in the dream factory, in an era when Beyoncé stands on stage in front of a giant glowing ‘Feminist’ sign. Feminism is no longer a dirty word in Hollywood; celebrities use it all the time. So where are the stories about the women who have been working for decades to close this gender gap, long before feminism was a branding tool?”

Champions of Zen
Chavie Lieber | Racked
“It’s been cited as a $27 billion industry, a number that is simultaneously hard to believe and easy to understand, if you’re going to include all the coveted gear and green juice that yoga studios sell. Yoga has been welcomed with open arms by Americans hopping on the wellness bandwagon, but competitive yoga remains controversial: People either love the idea or utterly despise it.”

What Literary Discourse Offers in an Age of Extremism
Je Banach | Electric Literature
“While extremists train soldiers in dogma and weaponry, literary discourse allows us to break down barriers and educate people of all different backgrounds to combat extremism, terrorism, racism, intolerance, and hate by allowing people globally to be part of a process of conversation that calls for us to engage with others and otherness—to disagree with others and allow others to disagree with us and to step out into the world at peace.”

‘You Will Be Tokenized’: Speaking Out About the State of Diversity in Publishing
Molly McArdle | Brooklyn Magazine
“No one in this industry has to be convinced that books matter. No one who managed to make it onto this banana farm would be here, underpaid and often underrepresented, unless books—literary or otherwise—mattered deeply to them. But if people in publishing genuinely believe that books save people’s lives, their output shows they believe only certain lives to be worth the trouble.”

How Two “Slavery With a Smile” Controversies Are Changing the Conversation About Diverse Children’s Books
Sarah Seltzer | Flavorwire
“With #BlackLivesMatter protests connecting police brutality to racist violence dating back to slavery, and amid the current #OscarsSoWhite discussion about bias in the film industry, the world of children’s literature is very a much part of the larger cultural landscape. Even more so, it’s an area in which the compulsion to—sometimes literally—whitewash the ugly truth for the sake of supposedly fragile young minds may be particularly hard to root out.”

Pearl Jam’s ‘Jeremy’ and the Intractable Cultural Script of School Shooters
Daniel Wenger | The New Yorker
“Pearl Jam did not intend to transform a suicide into a mass murder. MTV, however, excised a central image from the video’s final scene—of Jeremy raising the gun to his mouth. The censored version gives us Jeremy at the front of the classroom with the gun at his side, and then his classmates at their desks, hands raised, white shirts blood-spattered. Many viewers assumed the worst.”

Hey Sci-Fi and Comics Fans: It’s Time to Embrace the Dark Side
Jeff Yang | NPR
“Some fans simply couldn’t accept that the color of an actor’s skin conflicted with the character they had in their minds, underscoring that even in the genres of speculative fiction and fantasy—stories unrestricted by space, time and the limits of physics!—differences in race and ethnicity remain a twilight zone too forbidding for many otherwise imaginative individuals to traverse.”