Angelina Jolie and German Philosophy: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about arts and entertainment

Angelina Jolie in Cambodia
Heng Sinith / AP

Angelina Jolie Solo
Evgenia Peretz | Vanity Fair
“As it happens, the personal trauma has coincided with her most personal film yet. Jolie has directed a moving, large-scale adaptation of First They Killed My Father, Loung Ung’s 2000 memoir of the Khmer Rouge genocide. … If Cambodians consider the film to be something of a gift, then it’s surely a thank-you gift. For Jolie, Cambodia is where she started her family, and it’s where she made a cathartic personal transformation, becoming the woman she is today.”

The TV That Created Donald Trump
Emily Nussbaum | The New Yorker
“When Trump first entered TV, the entire medium had been dismissed as junk. Now, even as critics were swooning over the artistry of cable drama, Trump swerved deeper, into stranger regions, straight into the types of television that nobody took seriously, the ones dismissed as guilty pleasures.”

German Philosophy Has Finally Gone Viral. Will That Be Its Undoing?
Stuart Jeffries | Foreign Policy
“Such has German philosophy changed: Words like ‘delightful,’ ‘beguiling,’ and ‘easily consumable’ would never have been used when speaking of Immanuel Kant or Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. At its best, the trend indicates German philosophy is engaging a mass audience as never before. At its worst, this means philosophy is becoming an item of conspicuous consumption designed to flatter users’ intellectual self-images.”

Nathan Lane and the Rylance Rule: Why We Should Let Stage Actors Be Great Onstage
Isaac Butler and Dan Kois | Slate
“Why on earth would we want to push one of the four or five best living stage actors onto film? ... The idea that film work is the greatest honor any artist can attain—that what you should want from a book is for it to be made into a movie, or that what an actor must do is be in films, even if those films take him away from good stage work—is a deeply maddening one.”

The Worst White House Kitchen in History
Laura Shapiro | Literary Hub
“The art of the cover-up, which Eleanor [Roosevelt] practiced diligently all her life, was difficult to maintain when it came to cooking and eating. Eleanor wrote so often and so copiously about herself, in memoirs and letters and articles, that the truth had a way of spilling out. Over the years, she became a reliable source on a subject she would have insisted she knew nothing about—her own food story. And it isn’t a story about a woman with no palate for pleasure.”

Tragic Queendom
K. Austin Collins | The Ringer
Marie Antoinette ... seems to ignore history and politics altogether, homing in on the immediate pleasures of privilege, as well as the stultified inner life of a teenage girl turned out-of-touch queen. [Sofia] Coppola has been accused of ignoring history in favor of languishing in the bejeweled pleasures of her navel-gazing characters. But in Marie Antoinette, style begets substance, revealing multitudes about the politics of history and how we tell it.”

Michael Moore Says He Wants to Change Minds. So Why Is He on Broadway?
Dave Itzkoff | The New York Times
“His show arrives amid a period of liberal soul searching, when any vaguely oppositional voice, whether a left-leaning columnist or late-night host, has gotten a second wind in the Trump era. Perhaps Mr. Moore, with his rumpled baseball hat and Midwestern bona fides, can offer some answers. But why take his act to Broadway? ... What does Mr. Moore, who is known for a biting, sarcastic politics of outrage, think he can do differently, talking to about 1,000 people who have paid as much as $149 a seat?”

South Park Raised a Generation of Trolls
Sean O’Neal | The A.V. Club
“But South Park has now lived long enough to see the experimental become the conventional. And it’s outlasted all but one of those series not just by subverting formulaic TV, but by feeding directly off current events. As a result, for many of those raised by South Park, the show has functioned as sort of a scatological op-ed—in some cases, maybe the only op-ed they’ve ever been interested in.”