1. “Five Reasons Why Fox’s Empire Has Become a Breakout Hit.” Inkoo Kang explains in The Village Voice.
“The idea that Cookie and Lucious rose from the bottom of the Bronx to a mansion in Manhattan is an American Dream come wildly, ostentatiously true: They had the talent and put in the hustle to go all the way to the top. But all that happened before the start of the show, which is more interested in whether such outrageous success can be maintained. Lucious has put his company in great jeopardy by preparing it for an IPO launch, which invites intense public scrutiny. It’s essentially a double-or-nothing bet on his life’s work. And if much of the American mythos is about how every generation does better than its parents, here, again, we see Empire’s skepticism toward the ability to build something and have it last. For the last two decades, Lucious has built a dynasty, not a family—so much that fratricide is an ongoing plotline on the show. Somewhere out there, Ozymandias is laughing.”
2. “Ava DuVernay Didn’t See the Reaction to Selma Coming.” A.O. Scott interviews the filmmaker.
“Nobody was thinking about Lyndon Johnson. If I was thinking about any issues around representation and any kind of pushback, it was gonna be King. We were showing King, living and breathing, having an ego, smoking. And so I didn’t think twice about L.B.J., because as far as I’m concerned what I portrayed is what I feel about L.B.J. Yes, he was a hero, but he was a reluctant hero.”
3. “America’s Forgotten Mass Lynching: When 237 People Were Murdered In Arkansas.” In 1919, in the wake of World War I, black sharecroppers unionized in Arkansas, unleashing a wave of white vigilantism and mass murder that left 237 people dead.
“The root cause of 1919’s violence was the reassertion of white supremacy after World War I. Disfranchisement, Jim Crow laws, and biased police forces and courts had stripped African-Americans of many of their constitutional rights and created deepset economic, social, and political inequities. Blacks who defied the rules and traditions of white supremacy risked personal ruin (being banished from their hometowns was one punishment), bodily harm (beatings and whippings), and death. In just five months in 1919, from January to May, more than 20 lynch mobs murdered two dozen African-Americans. One of these victims was a black veteran killed for refusing to stop wearing his Army uniform. Lynchers took pride in their actions, often posing for photographs at the scenes of their crimes; few were ever charged, let alone convicted. Mob violence helped protect the racial status quo.”
4. “My Own Life.” Oliver Sacks on learning he has terminal cancer.
“Here I depart from Hume. While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions. And yet, one line from [David] Hume’s essay strikes me as especially true: ’It is difficult,’ he wrote, ’to be more detached from life than I am at present.’ Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.”
5. “Why the film with the most first place votes might not win best picture.” Glenn Whipp, for the Los Angeles Times, explains the screwy logic of AMPAS’s preferential voting system.
“The Oscar winner for best picture Sunday night probably won’t be the movie that the majority of voters put atop their ballots. That’s because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences uses a preferential voting system, one adopted six years ago when it expanded the best picture category from five movies to as many as 10. The system aims to ensure that the film with the broadest support wins—which isn’t necessarily the film that gets the most first-place votes. ’It is counterintuitive,’ says Brian Cullinan, one of two partners with accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers who will be tallying the ballots this week after Tuesday’s voting deadline. ’Often, it’s the movie listed third, fourth or fifth on a great many ballots that ends up winning. That’s hard for people to understand.’”
Video of the Day: Reverse Shot’s Eric Hynes chats with Steve James:
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