Colbert's Comeback and Women's Voices: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

A Colbert Comeback On the Cards
Alison Herman | The Ringer
“Colbert’s incarnation of The Late Show has hardly specialized in the sort of bite-size segments whose digital afterlife increasingly stands in for late night’s cultural currency. In fact, it’s almost developed an identity in opposition to them, announcing itself in September with a heartfelt, two-part Joe Biden interview about grief and governance. The subtext seemed obvious: Keep your lip-syncs. This one is for the grown-ups.”

The Darker, Twisted Side of Roald Dahl
David L. Ulin | The New Yorker
“Such a posture of collaboration, of conversation, marks the bulk of Dahl’s fiction, whether for children or adults. It’s one of the pleasures of reading him, that for all the callowness, or cruelty, of his characters, he never extends his judgments onto us.”

The Cultural Anxiety Around What Women’s Voices Sound Like
Jordan Kisner | New York Magazine
“For every wrong-voiced woman, the nominal problem is excess. The voice is too something—too loud, nasal, breathy, honking, squeaky, matronly, whispered. It reveals too much of some identity, it overflows its bounds. The excess in turn points to what’s lacking: softness, power, humor, intellect, sexiness, seriousness, coolness, warmth. The fact that these adjectives come in relatively inverse pairs isn’t a coincidence.”

Jack Kerouac’s Eternal Photograph
Geoff Dyer | The Spectator
“Cohen’s picture of Kerouac tuning in to listen to himself on the radio captures not just a moment but the whole of the life; not just the man but the legend—and vice–versa. He’s listening to himself, to a record of his own achievement. It’s something every aspiring writer dreams of.”

How to Clean Up the Doping Mess
Silvia Camporesi, James Knuckles | Aeon
“Ultimately, the persistence of doping—by individuals on an isolated basis, and by whole teams as part of a systematic doping program—means that professional sport today is rarely—if ever—untainted. Many athletes have become little more than ‘guinea pigs’ in this system.”

Dave Eggers Returns With an Odyssey Across Alaska
Josephine Livingstone | The New Republic
“Eggers’s chief tools for inserting symbolic meaning into Josie’s chaos are children and pathetic fallacy. With this formal one-two punch, Eggers has somehow managed to mash the Victorian novel into the contemporary American family epic. Imagine Maggie Tulliver as the protagonist of The Corrections.”

Pokemon and the Addictive Cult of Cuteness
Sophie Knight | Foreign Policy
“What makes Pikachu and his friends so irresistible? The most basic answer is found in evolutionary psychology. When humans see something that resembles a baby—big eyes, large head, floppy or shortened limbs, a clumsy walk—it triggers a feeling of euphoria in the pleasure center of the brain (the same part of the brain, incidentally, that is stimulated by food, sex, and drugs like cocaine).”

The Street Art Movement: 1998-2008?
Raphael Schacter | Hyperallergic
“These artists were all moving away from the ubiquity of the spray-can (the technical basis of the period), utilizing media such as stencils or posters, producing forms such as sculptures or installations, methods that transformed the viewership of the practice from an exclusive to a more inclusive public. “

Some Useful Pointers on Visual Intelligence for Politicians
Kim Sajet | Smithsonian Magazine
“How colors, shapes, words, images and even sounds are communicated often has an historic antecedent deeply connected to human traditions that resonate today. When the Trump campaign referenced a six-pointed star, it wasn’t just the shape that caused offense, but the fact that it was in red, (warning!) and juxtaposed over a background wallpapered with money that harkened back to anti-Jewish propaganda of the 1930s.”