All posts filed under: Entertainment

Tolkien—A Review

Alas, poor Tolkien the movie. The adjective “tepid” most accurately describes the critical response to this biopic, reverently directed by Dome Karukoski, which explores the early years of the author of The Hobbit (1937), the Lord of the Rings trilogy (1954–1955), and countless other works of medievalist fantasy. The idea behind Tolkien is that nearly every key theme in these novels had its origins in some episode of the young John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s life, first at the prestigious King Edward’s boys’ school in Birmingham (where, as the gifted son of a cultivated but impoverished widow, he had a scholarship), then at Oxford University (another scholarship), and above all, in the trenches of the Somme, where he was posted as a second lieutenant in 1916 and had ample opportunity to experience all the horrors of World War I before succumbing to trench fever carried by the lice that infested the cramped and filthy bunkers. Thus, Tolkien, presented as a series of flashbacks playing inside the brain of the fever-stricken junior officer, trades heavily in one-on-one …

The Folly of Disappearing Art and Culture

Following the harrowing recent documentary Leaving Neverland, which detailed sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson, executive producers of The Simpsons, James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, and Al Jean, have decided to remove an episode from the canon in which Jackson’s voice makes an appearance. It is not the content of the episode, “Stark Raving Dad,” which aired in 1991, that is now in question, but Jackson’s very participation in the episode. .@TheSimpsons Farewell to SRD https://t.co/LOmIEzMFm5 — Al Jean (@AlJean) March 9, 2019 It is absurd that creators who have themselves been accused of causing offense are now excising content from season 2 of their seminal 30 season series of animated Americana. But the real affront is to fans and consumers, who will no longer have access to this content, and need to decide whether they want to be protected from material that was previously available across all platforms. Back when The Simpsons premiered, first on The Tracy Ullman Show, and then as a standalone half hour on Fox in 1989, it was one of more …

Dear White People, Black People—And All People

When Netflix’s Dear White People made its debut in April, 2017, the show immediately impressed viewers with the complex emotional multitudes it contained—showing its characters to be what author Cheryl Strayed once described as “flawed, and capable of redemption.” The plot focuses closely on the inner lives of black students at Winchester University, a fictional, predominately white Ivy League school that originally was brought to life in a 2014 film of the same name. Creator Justin Simien, who also wrote and directed the film, demonstrates that there is always more to people than what meets the eye. Coleandrea “Coco” Conners is a young woman who adds weave to her hair and shortens her name in order to become accepted into a Black sorority. Is this an affirmation of black pride or the upholding of European beauty standards? Or both—or neither? When confronted by another student about showing up to a party where white attendees wore blackface, Coco says, “This might come as a shock to you, but these people don’t give a fuck about no …

Attention, Star Trek Culture Warriors: Stand Down from Battle Stations

What you read on Quillette two weeks ago is true. As Barrett Wilson argued in his essay, “What Is This Thing You Call Social Justice?,” Star Trek: Discovery did indeed prove to be a polarizing new front in the culture war—at least for a few months. But that’s mainly because the conservative forces in that conflict have grown to be as sensitive and performative as their leftist counterparts. Discovery, like so much else these days, has become fodder for wearying debates over identity and virtue. The CBS show, the sixth live-action television Star Trek series, just launched its second season this year. The new season is a form of “soft reboot” (in the words of one reviewer) after a tortured first season, which was marred by long production delays and changes of top-level creative talent. Though it’s too soon to say whether the second season will address some of the real failings of the first, even after only a few episodes, it’s become evident that the tone has changed. Discovery season two is lighter, funnier, …

What Is This Thing You Call ‘Social Justice’?

Star Trek: Discovery begins its second season this week, with its producers no doubt hoping for a smoother start after a first season marred by considerable behind-the-scenes difficulties and uneven reception from hardcore fans. After major delays and a series of sudden creative staff changes, many plotlines were introduced and quickly abandoned, fans were frustrated with the show’s inability to adhere to the Star Trek canon—the whole first season was chaos. But hey, at least the succession of showrunners were able to signal their progressive bona fides to the woke social media legions. Indeed, they started well in advance. Before Discovery had even premiered, former showrunner Aaron Harberts was on a press tour boasting of the fact that Discovery was going to take on the Trump presidency through its storytelling: “The allegory is that we really started working on the show in earnest around the time the election was happening,” said showrunner Aaron Harberts. “The Klingons are going to help us really look at certain sides of ourselves and our country. Isolationism is a big …