Blood Orange and the End of The Toast: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Blood Orange and the Sound of Identity
Hua Hsu | The New Yorker
“Haze’s poem depicted an everyday kind of magic: the capacity of culture to help us imagine who we might become—not in terms of where to aim our libido but of how to walk the world with dignity and confidence. How ‘a fat black girl from Chicago / could dance until she felt pretty.’ Being yourself shouldn’t be this hard. But popular culture, even as it prizes difference, rarely captures the variety that resides within identities such as black, or queer, or immigrant.”

A Toast to The Toast, the Site That Was Just for You. Yes, Even You
Annalisa Quinn | NPR
The Toast appealed to our most interesting selves—bookish, queer, into medieval art or Shakespeare, anti-pretentious, shamelessly emotional. The Toast bet that its readership was smart, and that weird passions, beautifully presented, were just as relatable as the trilling, manic prose of women’s magazines.”

Angels in America: The Complete Oral History
Isaac Butler and Dan Kois | Slate
“Slate talked to more than 50 actors, directors, playwrights, and critics to tell the story of Angels’ turbulent ascension into the pantheon of great American storytelling—and to discuss the legacy of a play that feels, in an era in which gay Americans have the right to marry but still in many ways live under siege, as crucial as ever.”

Bros Before Homes
Phoebe Maltz Bovy | The New Republic
“Pare things down, and rid yourself of, if not possessions, then at least the more frivolous (that is, stereotypically feminine or domestic) ones, and you’re on your way to a more meaningful, ethical existence. There’s nothing magical about favoring experiences over things, and there’s something subtly sexist about the refrain—especially in cases where the ‘stuff’ is still plenty present, but is being dealt with by the women in a man’s life.”

The Best Show on TV Is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Matt Zoller Seitz | Vulture
“Deftly switching between melodrama, cultural satire, and fantasy, the show is at once arch and sincere, risqué but never trashy, ambitious but never pretentious, and it’s consistently honest about its characters’ flaws and blind spots, even when the plotting (as in most romances and musicals) is blithely unconcerned with plausibility.”

Lost Highway
Brian Phillips | MTV News
“Here, then, was the alien’s-eye view. A small, whitish cluster—the town—resting on the gray seafloor of the desert, the gray occasionally shading toward brown, the undulations of the landscape marbling into whorls as you looked east, along the Pecos River. It was hard to believe that much had changed since that July 4 (which may have been the exact date; again, there are disputes about the precise order of events, chronologies within chronologies, whole schools of competing conspiracy timelines). It was easy to imagine that you, too, were sailing down from the dark side of the moon.”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Is the Leader We’ll Always Need
Katie Baker | The Ringer
“There is no actress so appealingly profane — so charmingly assholic — as Louis-Dreyfus. Her bared teeth are pearls; her jutted chin could cut diamonds. Whether she’s Elaine, Old Christine, or Madam President — ma’am — she is at her best when she is battling back: foul-mouth motoring, eyes mid-roll, diminutive bod in a pose of affront. ‘Get out!’ Elaine Benes always erupted. What’s incredible is how undeniably Louis-Dreyfus has stayed in.”

The Warriors Were Never Revolutionizing Basketball
Bethlehem Shoals | SBNation
“The Warriors have served up a vision for the sport, albeit one more nebulous than previously thought. It’s not about finding or manufacturing a Curry clone, but for being able to pull talent like Curry, Thompson, and Green (all drafted, all steals) and then intuitively piece them together. Instead of prescribing a course of action, the Warriors should put more pressure than ever on coaches and front offices to be astute and creative in the way they do their jobs. Imposing a top-down system on a roster demonstrates a lack of imagination and will invariably fail to get the most out of players, no matter how good they are.”

Mike and Dave Need a Gender Studies Course
Dana Schwartz | The Observer
“Forgive the crimes of poor writing and grammar. Forgive the crime of a dull non-story. But this book is sexist in its most dangerous and insidious form: the subtle sexism of nice guys who treat their moms and their sisters and their girlfriends well.”