The long read: Male art is epic, universal, and profoundly meaningful. Womens creations are domestic, emotional and trivial. How did we learn to misread stories so badly?
In spring 2013, HBO conducted a sly experiment on the elite TV-viewing public. It aired two new shows both buddy dramas back to back. Each was conceived as a short, self-contained season. Each had a single talented and idiosyncratic director for the entire season, and each dispensed with the convention of having a large team of writers in favour of a unified authorial vision. Both shows appeared to belong to one genre, but gestured at several others. Both used excellent actors to anchor a meandering, semi-disciplined style. And both ended by reasserting the romantic bonds of friendship. Those shows were True Detective, and Doll and Em.
Their critical reception was drastically different. One was analysed and investigated to the point of parody. The other show a much tighter work of art was breezily and inaccurately labeled a satire and forgotten. To be explicit, the show about boys got way too much credit, and the show about girls got way too little.
This is how we approach male versus female work. Lets call it the male glance a narrative corollary to the male gaze. We all do it, and it is ruining our ability to see good art. The effects are poisonous and cumulative, and have resulted in a huge talent drain. We have been hemorrhaging great work for decades, partly because we are so bad at seeing it.
A nefarious impulse strikes when we look at faces. It is the result of advertising combined with centuries of male-dominated image-making. Perhaps you have noticed: when you look at a face that you have been told is female, you critique it at a much higher resolution than you would if it were labelled male. Womens skin should be smoother. We detect wrinkles, discolourations and pores, and subtract them from a womans beauty in ways we dont if that same face is presented to us as masculine. There is a long history of grading aesthetics on a gendered curve. We may hope that bad habits such as these are ancient history, but in practice, our snap judgments frequently trump our theoretical progress.
A famous Susan Sontag meditation on this aesthetic paradigm bears repeating: The great advantage men have is that our culture allows two standards of male beauty: the boy and the man. The beauty of a boy resembles the beauty of a girl. In both sexes, it is a fragile kind of beauty and flourishes naturally only in the early part of the life cycle. Happily, men are able to accept themselves under another standard of good looks heavier, rougher, more thickly built There is no equivalent of this second standard for women. The single standard of beauty for women dictates that they must go on having clear skin. Every wrinkle, every line, every grey hair, is a defeat.
If our ability to see detail in a womans face is magnified by our visual habits, our ability to see complexity in a womans story is diminished by our reading habits. Centuries of experience in looking at the one through a magnifying glass has engendered a complementary practice of looking at the other through the wrong end of a telescope. Faced with a womans story, were overtaken with the swift taxonomic impulse an amateur astronomer feels on spotting Sirius: There it is! he says, and looks to the next star. Its a pleasant activity because it organises and confirms, but it produces the fantasy that a lazy reading not even a reading, but a looking is adequate, sufficient, complete, correct.
The male glance is how comedies about women become chick flicks. Its how discussions of serious movies with female protagonists consign them to the unappealing stable of strong female characters. Its how soap operas and reality television become synonymous with trash. It tricks us into pronouncing mothers intrinsically boring, and it quietly convinces us that female friendships come in two strains: conventional jealousy, or the even less appealing non-plot of saccharine love. The third narrative possibility, frenemy-cum-friend, is only slightly less shallow. Who consumes these stories? Who could want to?
The slope from taxonomy to dismissal is deceptively gentle, and ends with a shrug. The danger of the male glance is that it is reasonable. Its not always or necessarily incorrect. But it is dangerous, because it looks and thinks it reads. The glance sees little in women-centric stories besides cheap sentiment, or its opposite, the uninteresting compensatory propaganda of female strength. It concludes, quite rightly, that Strong Female Lead is not a story but a billboard.
The male glance is the opposite of the male gaze. Rather than linger lovingly on the parts it wants most to penetrate, it looks, assumes, and moves on. It is, above all else, quick. Under its influence, we rejoice in our distant diagnostic speed. It feeds an inchoate, almost erotic hunger to know without attending to reject without taking the trouble of analytical labour because our intuition is so searingly accurate that it doesnt require it. Here again, we are closer to the amateur astronomer than to the explorer. Rather than investigate or discover, we point and classify.
Generations of forgetting to zoom into female experience arent easily shrugged off, however noble our intentions, and the upshot is that we still dont expect female texts to have universal things to say. We imagine them as small and careful, or petty and domestic, or vain, or sassy, or confessional. We might expect them to be sentimental or melodramatic, or even in the days of Transparent and Girls provocative, unflattering and exhibitionist. But we dont expect them to be experimental, and we dont expect them to be great. We have not yet learned to see within female ugliness the possibility of transcendent art (as we have with its male counterpart), and however far we have come since 2013, thanks to shows such as Insecure, Fleabag and Catastrophe, we still have not quite learned to see female storytellers as either masterful or intentional.
And why should we? The Great American Novel (to choose one metric of excellence) is not, historically, a female genre. As John Cheever so memorably put it, The task of an American writer is not to describe the misgivings of a woman taken in adultery as she looks out of a window at the rain but to describe 400 people under the lights reaching for a foul ball. This is ceremony. Women are fine; they have their place, certainly, but they lack universality. They are not The Public.
When we look at a girl story, most of us go a tiny bit stupid. We fail to see beyond the limits of our own generic expectations. This is how the 2012 Disney film Brave got dismissed by a number of otherwise insightful critics as Just Another Princess Movie. And this is how Doll and Em as brilliant a commentary on how women have been narrated in Hollywood as there has yet been taking on The Godfather, All About Eve and Sunset Boulevard got dismissed as just another satire.
As the world celebrates a proudly black superhero getting his own film, you may hear some fans quietly muttering, “Wait, didn’t Blade do that like 20 years before Black Panther?” And then there’s an even smaller, weirder group of people saying, “And what about Meteor Man?” But this is about Blade, and what it says about where the world is now versus 1998. (Spoiler: What it says is mostly bad.)
First, remember the context. Back in 1998, we still didn’t know if superhero movies truly worked. Sure, we’d seen success with Batman and Superman, but both of those series had fallen into fatigue before they could get through even three entries. We still hadn’t gotten the boom period that started with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. (Yes, I know that X-Men came before it, but I always felt like Spider-Man unapologetically embraced the comic book aesthetic, whileX-Men was still apologizing for it.)
And then along came Blade. It was a bloody, R-rated superhero movie (long before Deadpool and Logan would be celebrated as trailblazers) featuring a black lead, not to mention a black woman costar (the movie signals this is leading to a romance, but the pair wind up in a partnership of strong, mutual respect). And Blade, under its layers of rad trench coats and vampire raves, has way more to say on the subject of race than you’d think.
Blade is a black vampire in a world dominated by pasty white bloodsuckers who sit around a big table and secretly control everything. But the movie doesn’t do that thing where they use supernatural creatures as a metaphor for some minority (hello, Bright). Blade isn’t symbolically anything; in that universe, he’s actually a vampire and he’s actually black. The latter means the same thing in that world as it does in ours. He is fighting a power structure that fears him, hates him, and has forced him into the life he lives. Yet he’s supremely confident. The first time he shows up in a club of EDM Nosferatus, the entire crowd crouches and slithers and sneaks, while Blade does none of those things. He is direct and he is awesome, and that is terrifying to them.
At one point, Karen Jenson (played N’Bushe Wright), is attacked by a cop who, guess what, turns out to be a dupe for the vampire power structure. Blade proceeds to smack the guy around and demand information — a scene that, if included in a blockbuster today, would probably draw two-dozen enraged tweets from the president. Does Blade say that all police are corrupt? No, the script is smarter than that. That individual bad cop is portrayed as a cog, someone almost pathetically caught up in a larger system. These are themes you would not expect to come up in a Wesley Snipes movie about a kung-fu vampire.
The franchise never backs down from it, either. In Blade II, he’s partnered with the Blood Pack, a group of assassins who have spent years training to hunt Blade, but who now must reluctantly work with him. Within seconds of meeting them, Ron Perlman’s bald, tattooed character Reinhardt asks, “Can you blush?” If that sounds like a nonsense question to you, congratulations on not being intimately familiar with racist pseudoscience (white people, they say, are the only race capable of blushing, and therefore are the only race capable of feeling shame).
Blade responds by smacking Reinhardt twice in the face, then attaching an explosive to the back of his head and telling him that he’ll use it if Reinhardt acts up again. That’s the two-act structure to every Blade scene: 1) Some motherfucker tries to ice skate uphill. 2) Blade handles it.
When Blade does gain more allies in (the thoroughly mediocre) Blade: Trinity, he’s quick to point out that his struggle is not a joke. Ryan Reynolds, showing up here long before Hollywood thought of him as superhero movie material, wears a “Hello, My Name Is” sticker with the words “FUCK YOU” written on it. To that, Blade responds, “You think this is a fucking sitcom?” First of all, I’d really like to know what sitcoms Blade watches. Second, it illustrates that if you want to be an ally, you have to be ready to take it seriously. Approaching it with ironic detachment is a slap in the face.
Yet despite all of this, you didn’t see the mainstream press heralding Blade as some kind of bold risk. Even the positive reviews were based around statements like “What is unusual about the film is the way it combines high-tech violence with the more up-close-and-personal violence of vampires” (yep, you really nailed it, Gene Siskel, and may God rest your soul). The negative reviews spouted shit like “Filter out the gloss, the gore and the insistent techno score, and all you’re left with are the gleaming pecs and bulging biceps of Wesley Snipes as Buff The Vampire Slayer.” You get the sense that 20 years ago, an R-rated, wide-release movie in which a black Marvel superhero beats the shit out of a white cop was considered boring.
Which would almost imply that we’ve gone backward since then, that Black Panther feels like a trailblazer because it does indeed have to re-blaze the trail. Blade came along at the tail end of the Clinton years, a year before the box office would be dominated by parables about mediocre white males having a crisis of identity (American Beauty, Fight Club, The Matrix). Since then we’ve seen regression, not just in terms of race relations but also in what kind of risks movies like this were willing to take. Twenty years later, a movie like Black Panther (and a show like Luke Cage, while we’re at it) feels like a bold slap in the face to the Trump Era.
I’m not trying to take anything away from either of those. I’m just saying that two decades earlier, there was a Marvel superhero movie that featured goddamned Mobb Deep on the soundtrack.
Daniel has a Twitter. Go to it. Enjoy yourself. Kick your boots off and stay for a while.
Welcome to the Shirk Report where you will find 20 funny images, 10 interesting articles and 5 entertaining videos from the last 7 days of sifting. Most images found on Reddit; articles from Facebook, Twitter, and email; videos come from everywhere. Any suggestions? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re guessing this isn’t actually canon, but we don’t care, we’re going to assume it is and no one can tell us not to.
Alexander Skarsgård is expected to return for the second season of Big Little Lies. No other cast members are locked in at this time – though it seems a safe bet Zoë Kravitz will be back, seeing as the second season is expected to introduce Bonnie’s parents.
Big Little Lies Season 2 will run seven episodes. Series creator David E. Kelley has written all seven episodes, just as he did for the last season. Liane Moriarty, who penned the novel that the first season was based on, helped craft the story.
Andrea Arnold is directing the entire season. She replaces Jean-Marc Vallée, who helmed the last season.
There’s no word yet on when Big Little Lies Season 2 will air – but you can bet we’ll be parked in front of our TVs watching when it does, especially now that they’ve gone and gotten Streep in the mix.
Hollywood pay gap: Mark Wahlberg was paid $1.5 million for reshooting his scenes in ‘All the Money in the World’ while Michelle Williams was paid less than $1,000.
Mark Wahlberg, who’s come under fire in recent days for being paid 1,000 times more than his female co-star, Michelle Williams, for movie reshoots, announced that he would donate his $1.5 million paycheck to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund in Williams’ name.
“Over the last few days my reshoot fee for ‘All the Money in the World’ has become an important topic of conversation,” Wahlberg tweeted Saturday. “I 100% support the fight for fair pay and I’m donating the $1.5M to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund in Michelle Williams’ name.”
It was reported Tuesday by USA Today that Wahlberg received the hefty paycheck for having to reshoot his scenes in Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World,” after Kevin Spacey was ousted from his leading role in December – just weeks before the film premiered. Spacey was removed amid a welter of misconduct allegations.
Williams, who also had to reshoot her scenes, was reportedly paid $80 per day for her work, totaling less than $1,000 total.
William Morris Endeavor (WME), the agency which reportedly negotiated the $1.5 million for Wahlberg, and also represents Williams, said in a statement it will donate $500,000 to the Time’s Up fund.
Mark Wahlberg tweeted Saturday he would donate his $1.5 million reshoot paycheck from his role in “All the Money in the World” to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund in costar Michelle Williams’ name.
“The current conversation is a reminder that those of us in a position of influence have a responsibility to challenge inequities, including the gender wage gap,” WME stated.
“In recognition of the pay discrepancy on the ‘All the Money in the World’ reshoots, WME is donating an additional $500,000 to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund in Michelle Williams’ name, following our $1 million pledge to the organization earlier this month. It’s crucial that this conversation continues within our community and we are committed to being part of the solution.”
This image released by Sony Pictures shows Michelle Williams, left, and Mark Wahlberg in TriStar Pictures’ “All The Money in the World.” (Fabio Lovino/Sony-TriStar Pictures via AP)
Williams later Saturday said in a statement that “today isn’t about me. My fellow actresses stood by me and stood up for me, my activist friends taught me to use my voice, and the most powerful men in charge, they listened and they acted.”
“If we truly envision an equal world, it takes equal effort and sacrifice,” Williams stated. “Today is one of the most indelible days of my life because of Mark Wahlberg, WME and a community of women and men who share in this accomplishment.”
“Anthony Rapp, for all the shoulders you stood on, now we stand on yours,” Williams said, referencing the actor’s allegations against Kevin Spacey, which were published in October and sparked a wave of sexual misconduct accusations that ultimately led to Spacey’s recasting in “All the Money in the World.”
The pay gap sparked backlash from Hollywood, with stars such as Jessica Chastain, who said Williams “deserves more than 1% of her male costar’s salary” and Busy Phillips, tweeted the move was “SHAMEFUL,” speaking out.
While Scott initially told USA Today that the movie’s cast “came in for free” to reshoot the film, it was later reported Wahlberg refused to refilm his scenes or approve Spacey’s replacement, Christopher Plummer, unless he was paid.
“What he said was, ‘I will not approve Christopher Plummer unless you pay me.’ And that’s how he (expletive) them,” a source told USA Today.
Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.
We don’t commit now. We don’t see the point. They’ve always said there are so many fish in the sea, but never before has that sea of fish been right at our fingertips on OkCupid, Tinder, Grindr, Dattch, take your pick. We can order up a human being in the same way we can order up pad thai on Seamless. We think intimacy lies in a perfectly-executed string of emoji. We think effort is a “good morning” text. We say romance is dead, because maybe it is, but maybe we just need to reinvent it. Maybe romance in our modern age is putting the phone down long enough to look in each other’s eyes at dinner. Maybe romance is deleting Tinder off your phone after an incredible first date with someone. Maybe romance is still there, we just don’t know what it looks like now.
When we choose—if we commit—we are still one eye wandering at the options. We want the beautiful cut of filet mignon, but we’re too busy eyeing the mediocre buffet, because choice. Because choice. Our choices are killing us. We think choice means something. We think opportunity is good. We think the more chances we have, the better. But, it makes everything watered-down. Never mind actually feeling satisfied, we don’t even understand what satisfaction looks like, sounds like, feels like. We’re one foot out the door, because outside that door is more, more, more. We don’t see who’s right in front of our eyes asking to be loved, because no one is asking to be loved. We long for something that we still want to believe exists. Yet, we are looking for the next thrill, the next jolt of excitement, the next instant gratification.
We soothe ourselves and distract ourselves and, if we can’t even face the demons inside our own brain, how can we be expected to stick something out, to love someone even when it’s not easy to love them? We bail. We leave. We see a limitless world in a way that no generation before us has seen. We can open up a new tab, look at pictures of Portugal, pull out a Visa, and book a plane ticket. We don’t do this, but we can. The point is that we know we can, even if we don’t have the resources to do so. There are always other tantalizing options. Open up Instagram and see the lives of others, the life we could have. See the places we’re not traveling to. See the lives we’re not living. See the people we’re not dating. We bombard ourselves with stimuli, input, input, input, and we wonder why we’re miserable. We wonder why we’re dissatisfied. We wonder why nothing lasts and everything feels a little hopeless. Because, we have no idea how to see our lives for what they are, instead of what they aren’t.
And, even if we find it. Say we find that person we love who loves us. Commitment. Intimacy. “I love you.” We do it. We find it. Then, quickly, we live it for others. We tell people we’re in a relationship on Facebook. We throw our pictures up on Instagram. We become a “we.” We make it seem shiny and perfect because what we choose to share is the highlight reel. We don’t share the 3am fights, the reddened eyes, the tear-stained bedsheets. We don’t write status updates about how their love for us shines a light on where we don’t love ourselves. We don’t tweet 140 characters of sadness when we’re having the kinds of conversations that can make or break the future of our love. This is not what we share. Shiny picture. Happy couple. Love is perfect.
Then, we see these other happy, shiny couples and we compare. We are The Emoji Generation. Choice Culture. The Comparison Generation. Measuring up. Good enough. The best. Never before have we had such an incredible cornucopia of markers for what it looks like to live the Best Life Possible. We input, input, input and soon find ourselves in despair. We’ll never be good enough, because what we’re trying to measure up to just does not fucking exist. These lives do not exist. These relationships do not exist. Yet, we can’t believe it. We see it with our own eyes. And, we want it. And, we will make ourselves miserable until we get it.
So, we break up. We break up because we’re not good enough, our lives aren’t good enough, our relationship isn’t good enough. We swipe, swipe, swipe, just a bit more on Tinder. We order someone up to our door just like a pizza. And, the cycle starts again. Emoji. “Good morning” text. Intimacy. Put down the phone. Couple selfie. Shiny, happy couple. Compare. Compare. Compare. The inevitable creeping in of latent, subtle dissatisfaction. The fights. “Something is wrong, but I don’t know what it is.” “This isn’t working.” “I need something more.” And, we break up. Another love lost. Another graveyard of shiny, happy couple selfies.
On to the next. Searching for the elusive more. The next fix. The next gratification. The next quick hit. Living our lives in 140 characters, 5 second snaps, frozen filtered images, four minute movies, attention here, attention there. More as an illusion. We worry about settling, all the while making ourselves suffer thinking that anything less than the shiny, happy filtered life we’ve been accustomed to is settling. What is settling? We don’t know, but we fucking don’t want it. If it’s not perfect, it’s settling. If it’s not glittery filtered love, settling. If it’s not Pinterest-worthy, settling.
We realize that this more we want is a lie. We want phone calls. We want to see a face we love absent of the blue dim of a phone screen. We want slowness. We want simplicity. We want a life that does not need the validation of likes, favorites, comments, upvotes. We may not know yet that we want this, but we do. We want connection, true connection. We want a love that builds, not a love that gets discarded for the next hit. We want to come home to people. We want to lay down our heads at the end of our lives and know we lived well, we lived the fuck out of our lives. This is what we want even if we don’t know it yet.
Yet, this is not how we date now. This is not how we love now.
One of the most iconic characters from “The Lord of The Rings” (LOTR) is Gollum, or Sméagol, everyone’s favorite ring-hungry, Hobbit-hating, fish-eating creature who would die happy if he could just have his “precious.”
Some of the things that make the former Hobbit so great are his distinct voice, bizarre mannerisms and split personality — all of which make for seriously entertaining impressions. That’s why we all get such a kick out of people who impersonate him for non-LOTR purposes. Take Ian James Walters, who loves singing popular songs as Gollum. A few years back, he decided to record mock auditions for a number of classic films while embodying the creepy character. The resulting video was priceless.
Watch below as Gollum tries his hand at landing major roles for movies we all know and love.
He may not have gotten any callbacks, but I’m sure the real Gollum would be proud. Be sure to check out more of Walters’ hilarious impersonations on YouTube.
Walt Disney’s agreement to buy most of 21st Century Fox’s business for $52.4bn (£39bn) has raised further questions about the Sky News channel’s future.
Before news of the deal, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox had been trying to buy the 61% of satellite broadcaster Sky that it does not yet own.
That attempt attracted the scrutiny of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is investigating it.
But of all the channels that Sky has in its portfolio, including sports and movies, it is the ownership of its news channel that raises the most difficulties.
Last month, Sky sent shivers down the spines of Sky News journalists by threatening to close the channel if it proved to be an obstacle in Mr Murdoch’s takeover bid.
Now it seems that Sky News could fall into Disney’s hands as a result of this latest piece of corporate wheeler-dealing.
After all, Fox’s efforts to take over Sky become less politically sensitive if the Murdoch family’s existing 39% stake in Sky has been sold to Disney, making it more likely that the takeover will go ahead.
So now the question is: will Disney want to keep pumping money into a loss-making news channel that serves only the relatively small UK market?
Claire Enders, founder of research firm Enders Analysis, points out that we may not know the answer to that for another 18 months, since the Disney-Fox deal will itself have to clear regulatory hurdles and is likely to come under close scrutiny from EU competition authorities.
However, she is sceptical about Sky News’s ultimate fate.
She told the BBC: “Inherently, Disney is not a company that engages in political investment. It runs businesses that make profits and that’s one of the reasons why it’s thought of as one of the best companies in the world.
“Sky News loses £40m a year and has absorbed $1bn of investment. It’s very hard to make money out of news in a small market like the UK.”
Former ITN chief executive Stewart Purvis, who is also a former senior executive at regulator Ofcom, is less pessimistic about the channel’s future.
He points out that there are a number of issues to consider, including the possibility that Disney might not wish to go ahead with acquiring the remaining 61% of Sky, even if the CMA approved it.
In fact, the UK’s Takeover Panel says Disney has told it that if Mr Murdoch fails to buy the rest of Sky before the Fox takeover deal goes through, it will not feel obliged to make a full bid for the satellite broadcaster.
Mr Purvis adds that it would be “slightly perverse” if Sky News were closed down over concerns that the various deals would lead to an unreasonable concentration of media power, because its absence “would actually reduce media plurality”.
After all, the outcome would be to leave the BBC News channel unchallenged as the only dedicated UK television news service.
However, he adds: “I’ve never found Disney to be very interested in news. It’s an entertainment company and maybe being in news is more trouble than it’s worth.”
Disney owns the ABC television network in the US, which includes its news service.
But as Mr Purvis says, ABC News is safe because it makes money.
“The way that networks look at their news programmes is that they look at the cost compared with advertising revenues within those programmes,” he says.
“By that measure, ABC News is profitable. Good Morning America is the leading breakfast programme in the US. There’s no way Disney would shut that down.”
Sky News, of course, does not enjoy that kind of status. But Mr Purvis says Disney would have to balance that against other factors, including the “political kudos” that owning Sky News would give it in the UK.
“We don’t know the outcome of that kind of consideration,” he says.
In the US, analysts are concerned that Disney’s existing news interests might suffer from the merger, let alone Sky News.
“I would not look to the Disney-Fox merger to bolster the fourth estate,” Ben Gomes-Casseres of the Brandeis International Business School told the Washington Post.
“Whether ABC News will be affected in this way, as a side-effect, is also anyone’s guess, but there is no doubt that ABC as a TV channel will decrease in importance in the Disney group.”
For the moment, Disney is taking a positive attitude towards Sky News.
Disney chairman and chief executive Bob Iger was asked on Bloomberg TV whether the channel had a future after his company completed the Fox deal.
He replied: “Absolutely. All of Sky has a future.”
Cynics might reply that at this stage in the proceedings, he could hardly say he was going to close the channel. But if he does so once the deal has gone through, he may find that his assurance will come back to haunt him.