Emo Nostalgia and Obama Lit: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about arts and entertainment

Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance performs in New York in 2010. (Amanda Schwab / AP / StarPix)

The Rise of Emo Nostalgia
Jia Tolentino | The New Yorker
“A decade later, the emo teens are grown up, sort of, and they are re-immersing themselves in the sound of adolescence—that squeal of medical-grade angst and longing. There are emo nights in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Portland, Denver, Tampa, Houston, Baltimore, and Boston, among other cities. They are oddly specific celebrations of near-term nostalgia in which music made to help teenagers flail their way to adulthood provides an opportunity for adults to succumb to the histrionics of teendom again.”

Tom Hardy Makes Brooding an Art
Shea Serrano | The Ringer
“Tom Hardy is so good at brooding in his movies that he placed an understanding of the word ‘brooding’ in my heart. That’s a real thing, even if it doesn’t sound like it is. How many other actors are so good at a specific thing that they can make you understand the definition of a word without you even having to learn it? (Like: Miles Teller and ‘peacocking,’ or Vince Vaughn and ‘turbo salesmanship.’) You just feel it. Tom Hardy broods with such meaning and strength that it gives the dictionary a texture.”

How Movies and TV Address Rape and Revenge
Amanda Hess | The New York Times
“Stories that hinge on avenging rape with killing risk sidestepping the complicated dynamics of recovery in favor of the easy resolution of the victim achieving simple physical dominance over her attacker ... But at their best, the violence works largely as metaphor, luring audiences into more complex and intriguing examinations of rape’s psychological consequences.”

Human After All: On Janelle Monáe in Hidden Figures and Moonlight
Emily J. Lordi | Pitchfork
“What is surprising is not the fact that Monáe is acting, but the roles that she is playing—two characters that contrast dramatically with her musical persona as well as with each other. If Monáe sings about escaping a metaphorical ‘Cold War’ dystopia by spaceship, her character in Hidden Figures participates in the actual Cold War, helping to propel white men into space. Her role in Moonlight, where she plays surrogate mother to a black gay boy with few escape routes from loneliness and violence, brings both stories down to earth.”

Considering the Novel in the Age of Obama
Christian Lorentzen | Vulture
“That we’ve been passing through an era that especially prizes authenticity in fiction is no coincidence. These were years when America was governed by someone who’d written a genuine literary self-portrait, whose identity was inscribed with the traumas of the age of colonialism and its unraveling, whose political appeal hinged on an aura of authenticity and whose opponents attacked him by casting doubt on the authenticity of that identity. Now, as he leaves the scene, we’re troubled by questions of fakeness.”

From Split to Psycho: Why Cinema Fails Dissociative Personality Disorder
Steve Rose | The Guardian
“DID is a condition that lends itself to extremes of behavior, conflict, torment, secrets and mysteries—everything a juicy drama requires in one character. Unfortunately, those dramas have tended to be horror movies and psychological thrillers, which has not really helped us understand the condition.”

What Meryl Streep and Donald Trump Share
Josephine Livingstone | The New Republic
“In contrast to Streep’s trustworthy, ’90s-style speechifying, Trump speaks the language of the time in which we actually live. His reactions are incoherent but delivered at lightning speed. He has no dignity to place in danger and his face is at home in our ridiculous newsfeeds. In the movies of late-20th-century America, he would play a risible villain … But today, he plays the president.”

Ryan Gosling Is a Star After His Time
Bim Adewunmi | BuzzFeed
“While moving from unglamorous child actor to the upper echelons of the Hollywood pyramid, Ryan Gosling has occupied a unique space in the minds of audiences. Despite his male bulk, he exudes a distinct feminine energy (as is almost de rigueur for male actors of a certain age, he is close to his mother and sister; he was briefly home-schooled by the former, and performed dances with the latter). The dichotomy of his physicality and his sensibility gives viewers pause, and it interesting to note that his softly spoken, almost slurred speaking voice is no accident.”