Pedro Almodóvar and Donald Glover: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about arts and entertainment

Almodóvar at the photocall of Los Amantes Pasajeros in Madrid in 2013.  (Juan Medina / Reuters)

The Evolution of Pedro Almodóvar
D.T. Max | The New Yorker
“He appreciates the fact that American film critics championed his work from the start, but one aspect of their support confused him: Many defined him as a gay director. It was a useful label for him—the gay press helped to make him well known in the States—but an ironic one for an artist whose films had done so much to suggest that sexuality was not so easily defined.”

Storytelling vs. Oversharing in the Age of Snapchat
Clare Sestanovich | Literary Hub
“If the obsessively curated self-mythologizing turns everybody into an author of a sort, a creator of first-person avatars, what are the stakes for the literary world? What does all this authorship mean for those creating confessional characters in the old-fashioned form of the novel? Or at any rate, how might it shape the way we read them?”

Capital, Diplomacy, and Carnations
Teju Cole | The New York Times Magazine
“Photojournalists give us images that work by themselves, or seem to. A photograph in a work by [Taryn] Simon is different: It verifies, or purports to verify, the claim made in its caption, rather than the other way around. The photograph is reduced to the status of evidence: It is there to testify to something that is not a photograph, something that predated its making.”

Why Aren’t There More Famous Black Sci-Fi Authors?
Bryan Washington | The Awl
“American literary fiction, already an ‘other’ within the business of fiction itself, consistently and predictably demonizes the minority entities within it. If their narratives aren’t written in a supposedly ‘exotic vernacular,’ reporting live from el barrio, or delivered with the express — but never too tempestuous — intention of conveying ‘digestible’ outrage, minority authors often have a hard time getting a foot in the door; so to pen a piece set on another planet? In another galaxy? Navigating that market is, to put it lightly, a long-shot at best.”

You Have to Take Donald Glover Seriously Now
Micah Peter | The Ringer
“Music is an art form, but it’s also a means to the end. The end is freedom—creative freedom, financial freedom, the freedom to do nothing. Glover, currently the most exciting young polymath working in pop culture, had a point back then. And don’t be fooled: He also had a plan.”

How Podcasts Are Reinventing Music Journalism
Caroline Crampton | The New Statesman
“It turns out that musicians really like to talk about the work that goes into their music, and podcasts provide them with the perfect place to do so. It has long been the case that niche subjects with dedicated audiences have found a natural home in podcasts, but now it seems that the medium can also provide an alternative for areas that are well covered by traditional media, too.”

L.A. Finally Gets Its Love Letter With Issa Rae’s Insecure
Hannah Giorgis | Buzzfeed Reader
“While Atlanta peppers primarily Southern music into the background of its male leads’ lives and Master of None’s Father John Misty references alone are peak Williamsburg, Insecure employs its soundtrack to more profound effect: The music serves to further shape the show’s unmistakably L.A. mood. Rolling views of the ocean and Hollywood Hills, frank dialogue about and depictions of rapidly gentrifying black neighborhoods like Baldwin Hills, and notably West Coast funk influences are woven throughout the series. The cumulative effect is as soothing and laid-back as (black) L.A. itself.”

The Weeknd Builds an Even Higher Pop Palace
Doreen St. Félix | MTV News
“The way is littered with hanging chandeliers, white lines, sunken luxury roadsters—all the relics marking the blasé subclass of the nouveau riche. The Weeknd has selected himself as their bard. The people of Starboy are transitory women and their permanent male adversaries, the standard demographic of The Weeknd’s glossy underworld.”