Time Capsules and the History of Pho: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

A bowl of pho (Nguyen Huy Kham / Rueters)

The Inevitable, Intergalactic Awkwardness of Time Capsules
Cara Giaimo | Atlas Obscura
“When faced with incomprehensible vastness, humans generally respond by asserting ourselves. Religion inspires buildings and empires. Love leads to paintings, poems and songs. Even Mount Everest gets graffitied. Time capsules allow for a special kind of expression—they let us brag to the future.”

The History of Pho
Andrea Nguyen | Lucky Peach
“Pho is so elemental to Vietnamese culture that people talk about it in terms of romantic relationships. Rice is the dutiful wife you can rely on, we say. Pho is the flirty mistress you slip away to visit. I once asked my parents about this comparison. My dad shook his hips to illustrate the mistress.”

Asian American Actors Are Fighting for Visibility. They Will Not Be Ignored.
Amanda Hess | The New York Times
“It’s never been easy for an Asian American actor to get work in Hollywood, let alone take a stand against the people who run the place. But the recent expansion of Asian American roles on television has paradoxically ushered in a new generation of actors with just enough star power and job security to speak more freely about Hollywood’s larger failures.”

Salad Days Are Gone: I Went to Sweetgreen’s Music Festival
Anna Gaca | Spin
“Overzealous festival sponsorships aren’t anything new, but the concentration of health-oriented and tech-adjacent products made IRL feel oddly Web 2.0. But how many of Sweetlife’s young attendees are laundering their sweaty ping-pong duds with natural detergent while rocking cashmere joggers, slamming a vegan protein shake, and ordering a salad via courier?”

My ‘Oriental’ Father: On the Words We Use to Describe Ourselves
Kat Chow | NPR
“We can wish and wish and wish for someone to change. We can think that by using this word, and not that, or dressing differently, having different tastes, they can make things better or easier for themselves — and by extension, us. But all that wishing won’t matter if the rest of the world refuses to bend.”

Bobby Shmurda: His Surreal Saga and Exclusive Jailhouse Interview
Scott Eden | GQ
“Hanging out on the corner that afternoon for the video shoot, they performed for the camera. The result was low-budget but stylish. No gyrating vixens, no Maybachs, no hundred-dollar bills fluttering in the air. Just Pollard rapping in front of some dudes … But Shmurda’s performance also exuded energy and a kind of joy, especially the moment when he chucked his cap in the air and did a strange, vaguely feminine dance move, swaying his hips in time to the slow rhythm.”

The Canon Is Sexist, Racist, Colonialist, and Totally Gross. Yes, You Have to Read It Anyway.
Katy Waldman | Slate
“For all the ways in which their particular identities shaped their work, these writers tried to represent the entire human condition, not just their clan … The ‘stay in your lane’ mentality that seems to undergird so much progressive discourse—only polyamorous green people really ‘get’ the ‘polyamorous green experience,’ and therefore only polyamorous greens should read and write about polyamorous greens, say—ignores our common humanity.”

Mitch Moxley | Atavist Magazine
“When I first read about Empires of the Deep, it seemed like a project that captured China perfectly—the money and ambition, the chaos and audacity—with its Chinese billionaire, mermaids, and hope for global domination. China had become the Promised Land for American filmmakers, who were increasingly looking to overseas markets to help bolster flatlining profits at home.”

America Is Dying Slowly: Talking About Hip-Hop After Trayvon Martin
Jack Hamilton | Good
“Hip-hop was a problem because an underclass that had been left to die didn’t, and instead created a music decrying their conditions that was vivid, troubling, and beautiful, a declaration of existence in the face of those who’d condemned them to oblivion.”