*Updated at 2:18 p.m. ET on November 20, 2021.
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A jury found Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who shot three people, two fatally, amid the protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, not guilty on all counts. Given the narrow nature of self-defense laws, the legal case against Rittenhouse was difficult to prosecute, writers like David French pointed out. But this trial was always imbued with much deeper moral and political questions.
The outcome never could have been what Americans wanted it to be. “Americans cannot rely on the justice system to do what the political system will not,” David A. Graham writes.
This is the legal system the conservative gun lobby built. “Right-wing gun culture is not unlike the wellness industry, in that it requires the cultivation of a sustained insecurity in its audience, in order to facilitate the endless purchase of its products,” Adam Serwer argues. “You can never be too skinny, and you can never have too many guns to stop the impending communist takeover.”
Rittenhouse is no hero. “The Trumpist right is wrongly creating a folk hero out of Rittenhouse,” David French writes. “When you turn a foolish young man into a hero, you’ll see more foolish young men try to emulate his example.”
Explore the week that was. Our senior editor Alan Taylor takes you around the world on a photo tour.
Read. Let the Record Show is an essential account of the AIDS movement.
In this week’s Books Briefing, we explore what happens when political figures make art.
Watch. King Richard, starring Will Smith as the father of Venus and Serena Williams, upends sport-film tradition by focusing on a subject off the court. And on Amazon Prime, a new documentary on Pete Buttigieg dissects the transportation secretary’s agreeable, unflappable public persona.
The new Ghostbusters is, well, a bust, but you could always revisit the timeless original.
If you’re a Succession fan, read our review of the latest episode before the next one airs on Sunday night.
Listen. Adele’s much-anticipated 30 is out today. This is the singer’s most “albumy album,” our critic Spencer Kornhaber told me, and is seemingly influenced by Beyoncé’s conceptual work in the 2010s (think: Lemonade). Its late-fall timing is perfect, he said: “She’s giving us an Adele album exactly at a time when you want it—when there’s a chill in the air and you want to wear a big gray sweater and walk around in big headphones and listen to her unpack the sadder parts of life.”
On this week’s The Experiment, we discuss how Netflix’s Passing upends a Hollywood genre. On The Review, our critics examine how Apple TV+’s Dickinson mixes modern anachronisms into a period piece.
*Due to an editing error, this newsletter said that Jacob Blake was killed. Blake was shot and injured.