Kristen Stewart and Cowboy Music: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about arts and entertainment

Evan Agostini / Invision / AP

How to Look at Kristen Stewart
Josephine Livingstone | The New Republic
“The problem with this type of characterization is that it defines Stewart’s magic through a gendered absence. Stewart refuses to give herself over to the audience, these critics say, and so she is mysterious and effective through a logic of subtraction. This mysterious woman is a little Dream Girl-ish, if not outright Manic Pixie. How nice to have a leading lady who plays hard to get. But we don’t have to see Stewart this way.”

The Not-So-Secret Life of Terrence Malick
Eric Benson | The Texas Monthly
“That a certain segment of the internet would be so hungry for even a fleeting glimpse of Malick is not surprising. The director is as famous for his closely guarded privacy as his output. He has not given an on-the-record interview in nearly four decades. From 1978, when Paramount released Malick’s second film, the Panhandle-set Days of Heaven, until 1998, when his World War II epic, The Thin Red Line, premiered, Malick more or less vanished.”

Rachel Cusk’s Many Selves
Heidi Julavits | The Cut
“She will not go back to writing fiction the way she used to write it. Fate, she said, is the fundamental engine of narrative, and women are particularly vulnerable to the fake security it promises. When we spoke about irrational systems of prediction—psychics and horoscopes (Transit begins with an astrologer)—she said that people consult these systems because they believe in a happy ending. ‘You would never consult the runes otherwise,’ she said. ‘That comes from a feminine lack of control with destiny and willful self-deception about what happiness actually is and what the good outcome actually is.’”

The Roots of Cowboy Music
Carvell Wallace | MTV News
“I had an image of cowboy poets as something very close to how I saw myself. Not culturally, but spiritually. People who find beauty in the simplest things. People who like to wander. People who become overwhelmed with feeling and need to write it out. People who feel most safe where there is nothing to contain them. People who like to be alone.”

The Fate of the Critic in the Clickbait Age
Alex Ross | The New Yorker
“The trouble is, once you accept the proposition that popularity corresponds to value, the game is over for the performing arts. There is no longer any justification for giving space to classical music, jazz, dance, or any other artistic activity that fails to ignite mass enthusiasm. In a cultural-Darwinist world where only the buzziest survive, the arts section would consist solely of superhero-movie reviews, TV-show recaps, and instant-reaction think pieces about pop superstars. Never mind that such entities hardly need the publicity, having achieved market saturation through social media.”

The Video-Game Industry Has a Diversity Problem
Chella Ramanan | The Guardian
“So how can things change? A key element is going to be challenging the dominant culture by attracting more young women and people of color into the industry. But that’s easier said than done. Industry insiders argue that they just don’t have the candidates coming through at the recruitment stage, due to a lack of women studying computer science or other tech subjects at graduate level.”

Why the Whitney’s Humanist, Pro-Diversity Biennial Is a Revelation
Roberta Smith | The New York Times
“Some of the breathtaking openness and diversity of contemporary art is evident in this show’s participants and its range of media—from painting, which is plentiful and mostly but not entirely figurative, to digital and virtual-reality art. Nearly half are female, and half nonwhite; its demographics argue that not only do black lives matter (along with Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, and immigrant lives), they are essential to our quality of life—physical, emotional, cultural, linguistic, economic, educational, environmental.”

Trans Women Shouldn’t Have to Constantly Defend Their Womanhood
Morgan M Page | BuzzFeed
“The specter of male privilege has long since been a way to deny trans women’s womanhood and basic humanity. Invoking male privilege is often meant to imply that trans women don’t know what it is like to live as ‘real’ women—that we have not suffered the way other women have suffered, that we have not been disenfranchised by patriarchy because of our genders, and that our early experiences allow us access to forms of social power which influence how we move through the world even after we transition.”