Renee Zellweger and Baseball: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Empathy and Orange Is the New Black
Emily Nussbaum | The New Yorker
Orange Is the New Black is not the only show to fold the Black Lives Matter movement into its narrative. The sitcoms Black-ish and The Carmichael Show did cross-generational takes. Scandal offered a healing fable; Empire rudely satirized the theatre of protest. In Orange, this subject matter feels unavoidable, and it’s used smartly to complicate the critique of capitalism that fueled Season 3. But, if Poussey’s death is realistic, it also casts a shadow backward. There’s a sweet scene in Season 2 in which Taystee tickles Poussey affectionately, until she gasps, ‘I can’t breathe.’ Does that make the story deeper or just more unbearable?”

The Softening of Sabermetrics’ Sipowicz
Bryan Curtis | The Ringer
These days, Kenny is like an autodidact showing off his latest find. Ahead of the Curve is surely the only sabermetric tract that includes quotations from Ezra Pound, Robert Heinlein, and Voltaire. Over dinner, Kenny cited psychologist Daniel Kahneman and Noam Chomsky. (‘Chomsky is so important in my thinking!’)”

30 Minutes On: The Lobster
Matt Zoller Seitz |
“There aren’t many comic filmmakers you could identify within a few minutes, just by studying the characters’ dialogue, the actors’ performances and the way the movie photographs its situations. Lanthimos is that kind of comic filmmaker. I like his work so much that it’s OK that sometimes I don't like it. I don't even hold it against him that I'm writing this piece at 3:15 a.m instead of sleeping because I saw his movie.”

The Philosophy of Punctuation
Paul Robinson | The New Republic
“Let me now introduce my dramatis personae. First come the period and the comma. These are the only lovely marks of punctuation, and of the two the period is the lovelier, because more compact and innocent of ambiguity. I have fantasies of writing an essay punctuated solely with periods and commas. I seldom see a piece of prose that shouldn’t, I feel, have more periods and fewer of those obtrusive marks that seem to have usurped its natural place. The comma, as noted, was once over-used, but it now suffers from relative neglect. The missing comma before the ‘and’ introducing the last item in a series is merely the most obvious example.”

Renee Zellweger, Margot Robbie, and Blake Lively Exposed to Hollywood’s Insidious Male Gaze
Jen Yamato | The Daily Beast
“She has dared to age. Maybe she looks different because of plastic surgery—maybe not. Faces change. Bodies change. Perhaps she dared to alter her own body for reasons we, and certainly Gleiberman, have no knowledge of. Perhaps not. Maybe Hollywood’s institutionalized obsession with beauty and youth and lack of opportunity for aging actresses spurred her on to drastic measures.”

Inside the Church of Chili’s
Daniel Riley | GQ
“The history of America is a history of expansion—mostly westward, but also outward. A swelling of cities, in the manner of waistlines subject to too much salt. Population centers press beyond their intended boundaries—their rivers and mountains and highway belts—and spill into the great in-between. And when an American city spills into the great in-between, the way it usually works is first there's an office park, then there's a housing tract, and eventually there's a Chili's.”

Iceland Is so Hot Right Now
Wright Thompson |
“On Sunday, he's going to watch the game, and on Monday, he'll go back out on the water. The old ways matter to him, which is what he'd been trying to articulate back at the cafe, I think, explaining what Iceland had lost. It's an island of fishermen finding new paths and new traditions in a new world, and yet this soccer team seems pulled from the past, from an Iceland where men sailed the Arctic Sea and Atlantic Ocean without waterproof jackets or rubber gloves. Jon loves that the players win because of their unity and their fighting spirit. They play like his grandfather's hands.”

A Killing. A Pointed Gun. And Two Black Lives, Witnessing.
James Poniewozik | The New York Times
“But for all of video’s power to bring us directly into a moment, it can’t help but remind us of the gulf between virtual and physical presence, as Ms. Reynolds’s livecast does in its last wrenching minute. She sits in the back of a police car, handcuffed, with her daughter. She makes her case again: ‘The police just shot him for no apparent reason.’ She tells any friends watching live that she’s going to need a ride. Finally, she loses her composure and screams. ‘It’s O.K.,’ we hear her daughter say. ‘I’m right here with you.’”

Roxane Gay, I’m Sorry I Wasn’t Listening
Allison McCarthy | The Establishment
“This stuff about fat bodies—the truth of lived experience—isn’t easy to speak about publicly because it’s not the joyful, uplifting message of acceptance. What Gay’s talking about is the harder, more candid reality of what it means to take up space in a body that doesn’t grace the cover of a Torrid catalog.”