Ben Stiller and Sense8: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about arts and entertainment

Ben Stiller in 'Brad's Status'
Jonathan Wenk / Amazon Studios

Will Ben Stiller’s Characters Ever Grow Up?
Bilge Ebiri | Vulture
“He is a fascinating in-between type—a man who has often assumed the responsibilities of being an adult without achieving the emotional maturity required of it. That makes him an ideal Everyman: Does any grown-up ever really feel like a grown-up? ... That’s the secret of Ben Stiller’s success: He connects with a universal sense of inadequacy within us all.”

Sex, Lies, and Videotape
Niela Orr | The Baffler
“The celebrity sex tape has the appearance of being one of the last unmediated forms of content in the post-NDA, Instagram-regulated, screencap-documented entertainment world. Now celeb sex tape scandals are a kind of thermometer for the larger cultural feelings around a person or issue, particularly along gender lines. They merely reinforce a particular celebrity narrative, a private recording that cements a public image.”

The Transformative Experience of Writing for Sense8
Aleksander Hemon | The New Yorker
“I enjoyed losing myself in the process, which felt all the more fascinating for the fact that the distinguishing characteristic of the heroes of Sense8 is an ability to inhabit someone else’s mind. … I’d never experienced the pleasure of temporarily losing my intellectual sovereignty—of watching my bright idea be destroyed, only to be transformed into something entirely different.”

MoMA’s New Fashion Show Is Not the Met, and That’s the Point
Emilia Petrarca | The Cut
“It does not focus on a specific brand or style (nor sell you its clothes in the gift shop). You will not be transported to another world; your heart will not soar, nor will you get chills. You will not get a good Instagram. You won’t even be confused, and then have to pretend you’re not. Instead, MoMA’s new exhibition puts your world on display, which is why you’re going to find it just as interesting.”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Breast Cancer Revelation Might Actually Make a Difference
Kevin Fallon | The Daily Beast
“It’s a political statement, made at a time when Donald Trump is doubling down on his promise to repeal Obamacare, even without a suitable or, hell, even non-dangerous replacement at the ready. But it’s a political statement made with a personal appeal for compassion. … Louis-Dreyfus’s brief, effective note obviously is not going to suddenly lead to nationwide support for universal healthcare. But it’s an emotional, resonant, and reasoned argument for why it matters”

Sunken Pleasures
Michelle Dean | New Republic
“In Manhattan Beach, there’s pleasure—but it comes less often from the visceral experience of the characters than from their experience of the technology they are using. For a while, it works. … There is something wondrous about the technologies that the characters in Manhattan Beach have at their disposal. They don’t seem to carry any real costs.”

Losing the Part
Geoff Edgers | The Washington Post
“[Darrell Hammond] has spent months trying to process what went down. He felt humiliated, angry, and confused. He even deleted Ivanka’s number from his contacts. Now? He feels only relief. Darrell Hammond, the man who can turn himself into almost anyone, realizes that he doesn’t have to be Trump ever again.”

Kate Millet: Sexual Politics and Family Values
Judith Shulevitz | The New York Review of Books
“Let me state it plainly: Millett invented feminist literary criticism. Before her, it did not exist. Her urgent, elegant 1970 masterwork, Sexual Politics, with its wry takedowns of the casual misogyny and rape scenes that had made the reputations of the sexual revolutionaries du jour … introduced a new and remarkably durable idea: you could interpret literature in light of its gender dynamics.”