Twin Peaks and True Crime: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about arts and entertainment

A detail from the new poster for Twin Peaks (Showtime)

Inside the Roller-Coaster Journey to Get David Lynch’s Twin Peaks Back on TV
Maureen Ryan | Variety
“The otherworldly elements that Lynch layered in—an indefinable air of mystery, a surreal quality that evoked swooning, bittersweet loss—were among the factors that made the original Twin Peaks a ratings and pop-culture sensation. And despite that the second season was more uneven than the first, the show often effectively blended slapstick humor with dream logic, bittersweet romance, heightened melodrama, and hints of violence and degradation.”

The Passion of Ivanka Trump
Katherine Miller | BuzzFeed
“There’s a certain kind of performative feminism, feminism of the affluent, that seems preoccupied with the idea of passion as activity. This is the feminism concerned with the relative corporate positioning and affirmation of women who went to top 20 schools (rather than, like, the interests of a college-dropout mom or the first woman from a black or Latino family to go to a state college). Passion then becomes something you do.

The Case for Black English
Vinson Cunningham | The New Yorker
Talking Back, Talking Black, then, is a kind of apologia. In five short essays, [John] McWhorter demonstrates the ‘legitimacy’ of Black English by uncovering its complexity and sophistication, as well as the still unfolding journey that has led to its creation. He also gently chides his fellow-linguists for their inability to present convincing arguments in favor of vernacular language. They have been mistaken, he believes, in emphasizing ‘systematicity’—the fact that a language’s particularities are ‘not just random, but based on rules.’”

How True Crime Went From Trashy TV to Prestige Entertainment
Anne T. Donahue | Esquire
“What makes the evolution of true crime worth talking about isn't so much the way more prestigious outlets have been offering it a platform. Rather, it's the way tragedy has been used as to highlight the scariest aspects of human nature—especially since the most memorable true-crime series in recent years haven't given us any closure at all.”

Consider the Crocodile: Qiu Miaojin’s Lesbian Bestiary
Ari Larissa Heinrich | The Los Angeles Review of Books
“There’s a reason Qiu’s work earned her a cult following—a reason that her novels are so fiercely loved, by so many, as well as taught in high schools, produced as theater, and cited reverently by other novelists. All of Qiu’s works contain a lush beauty, if you know where to look for it. In Notes of a Crocodile, for example, the true object of the narrator’s affection is not a lover but the city.”

The Rise and Reign of Drag: A Weekend at RuPaul’s DragCon
Inkoo Kang | MTV News
“This year’s DragCon caught fans and the larger queer community at a time of small and large uncertainties. Currently in its ninth season (not counting the two All-Stars competitions that gave eliminated fan favorites a second chance), Drag Race continues to respond to charges that the series prioritizes cis-male gay men above, say, trans performers and bio-drag queens, who are cis-female female impersonators. The current season’s Miss Peppermint became only the second trans queen to come out as such during the course of the competition.”

Considering Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Borderless Bodies
Jason Parham | The Fader
“Her paintings are loud, ungovernable things—portrayed are people who defy linear narratives, wildly alive and stubbornly unoccupied by the constraints of identity. In that sense, Yiadom-Boakye has created an impressionistic hokum for the viewer to untangle.”

In Defense of Philistinism
Yo Zushi | The New Statesman
“Academe celebrates complexity in part because it gives scholars obvious things to write about. Canons are formed through critical consensus, but to what extent and how accurately do they reflect a society’s values and dreams ... Avatar, Titanic, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, and The Avengers: These are the most profitable films of all time, and none is canonical in any meaningful sense.”

The Portrait of the Artist as a Young African Immigrant
Taiye Selasi | The New York Times Style Magazine
“Both [Yaa] Gyasi and [Toyin] Ojih Odutola identify as Southerners (among other identities) ... Writing about first-generation Americans can tend to overlook this: the role of locality in shaping identity. Even the immigrant who feels only partially American can feel fully Alabamian; locality, with its rich specificity, tends to inspire artists more than nationality. One thinks of Beckett the Parisian, Lahiri the Roman, Teju Cole the New Yorker, observers whose profound sense of place seems both to arise from and render irrelevant their relative foreignness.”

What Persona Is Still Teaching Us About Women Onscreen, 50 Years Later
Emily Yoshida | Vulture
“Persona-swap films have historically been about men’s anxieties about women left alone, because it was men who were writing and making the movies. In even the most brilliant patriarchal cinema, a scene without a man will never matter as much as a scene with one; a scene without a man isn’t as real as a scene between two women—hence the unreality that so many of these films exist in.”