Sharon Jones and Speaking Gilmore: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about arts and entertainment

Sharon Jones performs at the "VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul" show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York in 2011.  (Carlo Allegri / Reuters)

Remembering the Transformative Sharon Jones
Geoffrey Himes | Paste
“It was only when you saw Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings live on stage that you understood their immense appeal. Like her role model [James] Brown, she created a performance that linked the sound of her voice to the movement of her body to the mood of the moment. That created an experience that could only be approximated by recordings or even by videos. The sheer physicality of being in the same space with her was transformative.”

Don’t Look Now, but 2016 Is Resurrecting Poetry
Lexi Pandell | Wired
“Amid the trolls and politicians blasting out 140-character broadsides, poets and their readers have embraced Twitter as a vehicle for higher language. The premium Twitter places on brevity and emotional honesty is uniquely well-suited for an artform that so prizes not just candor and exhortation, but verbal economy.”

Anaïs Nin and Third-Rail Erotica
Laura Frost | Los Angeles Review of Books
“Sure, fantasy is the realm of escape, and yes, conflating erotica with reality is an error, but fantasy fiction can reveal what we are drawn to, anxious about, trying to overcome or disavow, not to mention what gets us off, both in the real world and in the private, no-holds-barred realm of the erotic imagination. News flash: These two do not always coincide for women.”

Long Before Hamilton Brouhaha, Theater Was Anything but Polite
Elizabeth Maddock Dillon | The New York Times
“People attended the theater to be seen and to be heard. They went to make themselves visible as the ‘people’ of a democratic nation, and they went to debate, enact, and imagine political issues concerning class relations, immigration, federalism, policy, and the future shape of the nation.”

They Speak Gilmore, Don’t They?
Soraya Roberts | Hazlitt
“The one arena in which equality is not prized is gender—women clearly dominate Stars Hollow. Sherman-Palladino was inspired not only by the Borscht Belt but the brisk nimble banter of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy screwballs in which censorship-approved verbal tension supplanted sex. Women were the alphas in these comedies, and this is doubly true of Gilmore Girls, in which the heroines prioritize work over romance and wit is no longer just for flirting.”

The Dark Side of the Presidential Turkey Pardon
Claire McNear | The Ringer
“This much is undeniable: The turkey pardon is a weird thing for the leader of the free world to do. Obama has acknowledged as much in past years. ‘It is a little puzzling that I do this every year,’ he said in 2014. It is a strange simulacrum of one of the highest privileges of the presidency, the presidential pardon. Should Obama make no further additions, birds will have made up 20 percent of his total pardons during his time in office.”

Mourning Through Horror Movies
Aaron Orbey | The New Yorker
“In my own experience, horror movies provided not an example for actions but an outlet for empathy, a chance to see characters contend with a kind of fear that my own peers could not fathom.”

The Hamilton-Pence Incident Was More Than Just a Distraction
Mark Harris | Vulture
“One can embrace politically conscious pop culture and still realize that while it’s very good at some things—gradually expanding people’s vision of the world, slowly normalizing the misunderstood or marginal—it is not direct activism, no matter how performatively satisfying it can feel, no matter how viral it can go. Activism is activism; pop culture is the drip-drip-drip of water regrooving a rock so gradually that you’ll never pinpoint the moment the landscape changed.”