George Michael and Carrie Fisher: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

George Michael performs at NetAid at Wembley Stadium on October 8, 1999. (Paul Hackett / Reuters)

George Michael Mattered Beyond the Music
Wesley Morris | The New York Times
“Somehow, wagging his derrière and begging for sex—and sounding deeply soulful while he did it—didn’t make him a novelty act. It made him extremely famous. It was a pose he kept for about a year. By the time you saw him in 1988, swiveling through the video for ‘Monkey,’ in suspenders and a bolero hat, he’d de-butched. Striking a pose is one thing. Holding it is something else.”

More Than Princess Leia: Carrie Fisher’s Beautifully Tumultuous, Accomplished, Hilarious Life
Kevin Fallon | The Daily Beast
“There was something not only self-healing about the self-deprecation with which Fisher discussed her own life, but healing for others, too. It was immeasurably useful in her work, both overtly and in her mere candid existence, as an activist for those with addiction and mental illness. They are two topics rarely discussed in Hollywood, and certainly not by people of Fisher's stature. But because of her crusading and her honesty and especially because of her humor, they were normalized, made relatable, and taken seriously.”

Future Shock
Abraham Riesman | Vulture
Children of Men imagines a fallen world, yes, but it also imagines a once-cynical person being reborn with purpose and clarity. It’s a story about how people like me, those who have the luxury of tuning out, need to awaken. This has been a brutal year, but we were already suffering from a kind of spiritual infertility: The old ideologies long ago stopped working.”

In Hollywood’s Golden Age, No Dancer Rivaled Debbie Reynolds’s High-Stepping Joy
Sarah L. Kaufman | The Washington Post
“Joy was so prized in Hollywood musicals. There were dancers who were cool and mysterious (Cyd Charisse), openhearted and sensuous (Ginger Rogers), whip-fast and strong (Eleanor Powell). But silvery joy was Reynolds’s own quality. It’s sad and ironic that her death comes just as the transporting magic of movie musicals has been rediscovered by La La Land, Damien Chazelle’s superb new film set in contemporary Los Angeles but inspired by Singin’ in the Rain and other films of that era.”

Twenty Years After Diablo, Every Game Is Diablo
Matt Gerardi | A.V. Club
“While its individual parts were not unique or exciting, it was the confluence of those underpinnings that turned out to be revolutionary. The randomness, the slight sheen of RPG conventions, the slow drip of desirable goodies among a constant deluge of junk, the instant gratification of its effortlessly repeatable action—when combined into one, it formed a new method for hooking players and keeping them playing.”

How Big Screen Sci-Fi and Horror Captured 2016’s Political Paranoia
Emily Yoshida | SPIN
When the filmmaking of dissent arms itself with a genre, the films become leaner, the objectives more primal. Escape the house. Kill the Nazis. Defeat the body snatchers. Put on the glasses. The threat is other people. They’re just people.”

Dressing the Women in Blue
Sydney Parker | Racked
“Women in blue dedicate their lives to protecting the public. They efficiently deescalate conflict, respond to domestic violence calls, and are the best advocates for victims of sexual assault. Shouldn’t the quality of their uniforms live up to the quality of their service?”

Queens of the Space Age
K. Austin Collins | The Ringer
“It’s strange to think that the space race and the civil rights movement were direct contemporaries; it certainly never feels that way. One propelled humankind into the future; the other exposed racial attitudes’ anchorage in the past ... One of the useful discoveries of Hidden Figures is that this lapse isn’t merely a matter of how we recount history. It’s a question of how history, and which parts of it, becomes solidified in movies.”

Milo Yiannopoulos’s Cynical Book Deal
Alexandra Schwartz | The New Yorker
“As expressions of protest against Yiannopoulos and his opportunistic hate-mongering, I readily sympathize with these reactions. But the Yiannopoulos controversy is made harder to parse by a slippery characteristic of contemporary book publishing: the sheer size of publishing conglomerates, and the vast, often ideologically contradictory, array of books that they peddle.”