Michelangelo's David and Ryan Lochte: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

A restorer cleans Michelangelo's David in Florence (Tony Gentile / Reuters )

David’s Ankles: How Imperfections Could Bring Down the World’s Most Perfect Statue
Sam Anderson | The New York Times Magazine
“Perfection, it turns out, is no way to try to live. It is a child’s idea, a cartoon — this desire not to be merely good, not to do merely well, but to be faultless, to transcend everything, including the limits of yourself. It is less heroic than neurotic, and it doesn’t take much analysis to get to its ugly side: a lust for control, pseudo-fascist purity, self-destruction. Perfection makes you flinch at yourself, flinch at the world, flinch at any contact between the two.”

What We Lose When POC Entertainers Crack Into the Mainstream
Navneet Alang | Buzzfeed
“To be a minority in 21st-century North America is not simply to exist in a comfortable mixture, but is instead to be engaged in a constant dance. To be seen by those like you is to be rendered inscrutable to those who are different. You are thus constantly immersed in a process of translation, at times going on at length to explain to others that you aren’t that different, but at other moments struggling to explain you aren’t quite the same either.”

Inside the Spellbinding Sound of Stranger Things
Noah Yoo | Pitchfork
“The presence of ’80s analog synths rising and falling in the background of conversation comes off as jarring at first, but after a few episodes, the score starts to carve out its own presence; you can start to anticipate when the music might cut in.”

Ryan Lochte: An Olympic Tale of Gold Medals and White Privilege
Marina Hyde | The Guardian
“I hardly presume to say that the antics of Lochte and his more junior swim team buddies is what white privilege looks like, being similarly blessed myself, but there doesn’t seem to be any possible other explanation. And for that reason, we just know Ryan is going to get away with it. To watch the outraged commentators attempting to lay a glove on him is to imagine them doggy-paddling in the wake of his best freestyle time.”

A Graphic Novelist Captures the Paradoxes of Living in the “New India”
Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan | The New Yorker
“Banerjee’s work has often been described as autobiographical, but he told me that he considers himself a documentarian, one who records the ‘tonal’ as opposed to the ‘informational’ content of the world. He flouts the realist impulses that animate the work of many well-known graphic novelists in the West, and when he does recount ‘true’ stories, like that of the first dissection of a human cadaver in India, it is with the intention of complicating, not confirming, history.”

The Greatest Thing Metallica Ever Did Was Start to Suck
Drew Millard | Hazlitt
“All of this adds up to one thing, and one thing only: the conclusion, among millions of people, that Metallica went from a band that rocked ass to a band that sucked ass. This is not, strictly speaking, about the actual quality of Post-Good Metallica’s output. Instead, it has more to do with the perception that Metallica started sucking, which at this point is so widely believed that it has basically become true.”

Werner Herzog Dreams of Electric Sheep
Sven Birkerts | The New Republic
“Herzog ultimately wants to talk about scale and impact—the idea that you can’t create a global nervous system without producing massive changes in Being itself. He moves toward some of the deeper dimensions of this idea in the latter part of the film ... It all feels very progressive, a reasonable-seeming sidebar to the space epics and sci-fi novels we’ve absorbed into our unconscious.”

The Ambiguous Heroism of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther
Yo Zushi | The New Statesman
“In his first comic-book series, Coates trades in this sense of lived experience for a more mythic register: supernatural powers, masked avengers in figure-hugging bondage suits, the battle between good and evil … The moral compass of the series is fitted with several needles, each pointing in a different direction, and Coates gives generous attention to the perspectives of protagonist and antagonist alike.”

When You Squint, Everything Shines
Katie Baker | The Ringer
“The Olympic movement has long been plagued by inherent tensions: between the theoretical purity of competition and the tarnished reality; between a host country’s photogenic beauty and the ugliness that lies just outside the frame; between the athletes’ authentic charm and the manufactured veneer of the spectacle they create.”