Greta Gerwig and the Moonlight Effect: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about arts and entertainment

Greta Gerwig
Scott Gries / Invision / AP

Greta Gerwig Is a Director, Not a Muse
Noreen Malone | Vulture
“Maybe it was because of her sexy dirndl skirt of a name, maybe because of her squinting physical resemblance to indie Gen-X avatar Chloë Sevigny, maybe simply because of her distinctive delivery. But since the very beginning of Gerwig’s career, she has been a generational lightning rod of sorts.”

The Moonlight Effect: A New Wave of Gay Coming-of-Age Stories Hits Theater
Tim Stack | Entertainment Weekly
“It sucks being a teenager. There’s puberty. There’s high school. There’s heartbreak. But at least there are movies like Clueless and Pretty in Pink to help make the struggle more relatable … unless you’re gay. Aside from appearances by the stock funny friend (e.g., Damian in Mean Girls), major movies have pretty much ignored the gay teenage experience.”

Dustin Hoffman Sexually Harassed Me When I Was 17
Anna Graham Hunter | The Hollywood Reporter
“There was so much I loved about being on set—taking John Malkovich’s lunch orders and falling more deeply in love every time he spoke to me or said my name; bonding with the crew as we worked 16-hour days; hearing Arthur Miller say my first two names because they sounded like a word game, and that amused him. … And yes, I loved the attention from Dustin Hoffman. Until I didn't.”

Looking for Jann Wenner
Amanda Petrusich | The New Yorker
“[Joe] Hagan’s portrait of Wenner is crisp and cutting: Using Wenner’s own archive, and more than two hundred and forty interviews ... he narrates the story of an indulgent and widely disliked man who is obsessed with celebrity and consumed by ambition. ... Hagan’s story is so aggressively substantiated, and so alarmingly consistent, that it’s difficult to imagine how Sticky Fingers could have turned out any other way.”

The Podcasting Way of Death
Sylvie McNamara | The Paris Review
“I’m not categorically appalled by the notion of monetizing death, but nor do I find the array of products and choices liberating. To me, the appeal of funeral podcasts is elsewhere: in their inadvertent humor and their glib or extravagant treatments of my most fundamental fear. … To dwell in these death-adjacent media, unable to decide if I’m experiencing revulsion or delight, is an enchanting distraction.”

How Stranger Things Star Millie Bobby Brown Made Eleven ‘Iconic’ and Catapulted Into Pop Culture
Debra Birnbaum | Variety
“Brown, now just 13, has never trained professionally as an actor. Never gone to acting school. Never taken a class. She simply decided at age 8 she wanted to be on-screen. … To say the past year of her life has been a roller coaster would imply that there have been dips. In fact, it’s been nothing but a steady climb since the July 2016 bow of Stranger Things.”

Thor: Ragnarok Is Quietly the Queerest Superhero Movie Yet
Angela Watercutter | Wired
“There has been talk for quite some time about if and when Marvel would finally introduce an LGBTQ person into the cinematic universe. … At a time when inclusion and representation is at the forefront, every new blockbuster that omits queer people—and women and people of color—becomes more obvious. So for a movie like Ragnarok to have even a glimmer of LGBTQ visibility means something.”

The Golden Age of ‘Struggle Parent’ TV
Rob Harvilla | The Ringer
“Pop culture has always portrayed the family home, whether that’s a fleabag apartment or a virtual mansion, as something between a zoo and an insane asylum, and the parents themselves as benevolent gods one minute and total fuckups the next. But nowadays the personalized visions have sharpened, and the stakes for bawdiness and fuckup-type behavior have dramatically risen.”