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Television
Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


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Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Television

'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Nudges Out Conscience in Our Time of Crises

Avatar shows us that to fight for only the people we know, for simply the things that affect us personally, is neither brave nor heroic, nor particularly useful.

Television

Jules Dassin Versus Mark Hellinger and 'The Naked City'

Producer Mark Hellinger may have committed the biggest crime in the filming of Jules Dassin's classic film-noir, 'The Naked City'.

Music

The Sentimental Journey of John Lennon's "Imagine"

In the decades since John Lennon's death, "Imagine" ironically has become associated not with revolution or anti-establishment protest, but with the warm fuzziness of a comfortable dream that seems beyond our grasp.

Music

Brent Cobb Says to 'Keep 'Em on They Toes'

Brent Cobb's Keep 'Em on They Toes brings people together by reminding us of our unique individuality, and the things that bind us together are all part of the same gestalt.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Books

On Bruce Springsteen's Music in Film and TV

Bruce Springsteen's music in film and television captured author Caroline Madden's imagination. She discuses her book, Springsteen as Soundtrack, and other things Springsteen in this interview.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Television

The Enduring Appeal of 'Unsolved Mysteries'

Society is reckoning with Clinton-era "tough-on-crime" policies, law enforcement is no longer seen as the unambiguous good guys, yet true crime television thrives in Netflix's Unsolved Mysteries.

Television

Seinfeld Was Wrong About Keith Hernandez's Spit-Shot, Possibly

It seems the entire Phillies team were just the patsies in Seinfeld's Magic Loogie episode. Let me demonstrate.

Television

The Superficial Approach to Chicano and Pachuco Culture in 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels'

The story of how structural inequalities have shaped Los Angeles can be found in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels but it needs to be in the forefront of season two.

Books

Trixie Mattel on Horror Movie Gin, Writing a Book, and How Not to Photograph a Drag Queen

Drag superstar Trixie Mattel spills the beans on her new book and so much more. "It's a wonderful book. I'm ready to have my roller coaster at Universal Studios based on this book."

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

How Aaron Sorkin and U2 Can Soothe the Pandemic Mind

Like Aaron Sorkin, the veteran rock band U2 has been making ambitious, iconic art for decades—art that can be soaring but occasionally self-important. Sorkin and U2's work draws parallels in comfort and struggle.

Film

The Cyclops and the Sunken Place: Narrative Control in 'Watchmen' and 'Get Out'

Hollywood is increasing Black representation but Damon Lindelof and Jordan Peele challenge audiences to question the authenticity of this system.

Television

'Tiger King' and the Post-Truth Culture War

Tiger King -- released during and dominating the streaming-in-lockdown era -- exemplifies in real-time the feedback loop between entertainment and ideology.

Television

What 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Taught Me About Unlearning Toxic Masculinity

When I first came out as trans, I desperately wanted acceptance and validation into the "male gender", and espoused negative beliefs toward my femininity. Avatar: The Last Airbender helped me transcend that.

Television

Why I Did Not Watch 'Hamilton' on Disney+

Just as Disney's Frozen appeared to deliver a message of 21st century girl power, Hamilton hypnotizes audiences with its rhyming hymn to American exceptionalism.

Music

Smells Like MTV: Music Video and the Rise of Grunge

MTV's central role in delivering grunge to a national audience in the early 1990s demonstrated the network's power as a creator and definer of culture.

Books

Unorthodox Storytelling

Deborah Feldman's memoir, Unorthodox, is more than a depiction, or even indictment, of the Satmar. It's an indictment of any patriarchal social system that shrinks young women's dreams to the size of a kitchen, and then blames them for it.

Television

How HBO Max's Ballroom Dance Show 'Legendary' Became Compelling TV in 2020

Not many knew what to make of HBO Max's initial reality competition Legendary when it first premiered, but the high tensions that ended Season 1, Episode 5 escalated the vogue-tastic and defiantly queer celebration of ballroom culture into the must-watch event of the year.

Television

Fleabag's Hot Priest and Love as Longing

In season two of Fleabag, The Priest's inaccessibility turns him into a sort of god, powerful enough for Fleabag to suddenly find herself spending hours in church with no religious motivation.

Television

Power Struggle in Beauty Pageants: On 'Mrs. America' and 'Miss Americana'

Television min-series Mrs. America and Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana make vivid how beauty pageants are more multi-dimensional than many assume, offering a platform to some (attractive) women to pursue higher education, politics, and more.

Hilary Levey Friedman

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