1. “How YouTube and Internet Journalism Destroyed Tom Cruise, Our Last Real Movie Star.” Amy Nicholson revisits the Tom Cruise/Oprah couch incident.
“A weird thing happens when people watch a viral video. In catching up with a cultural touchstone, the clip everyone’s talking about at the water cooler, we assume we’re on top of the whole story. After all, we’ve seen what everyone else has seen. Whatever gets edited out isn’t part of the conversation. Tom Cruise and Oprah talked on TV for 43 minutes. ’Tom Cruise Kills Oprah’ was 15 seconds. Even the longer YouTube clips of Cruise on Oprah’s couch clock in at only four minutes. Yet it was the latter two that were shared, discussed and remembered. With all context gone, we’re judging soundbites of Cruise on a screen. We forget he was experiencing a live, long and loud interaction—a literal stage performance before a raucous crowd.”
2. “I Don’t Want to Be Right.” Maria Konnikova on why people persist in believing things that just aren’t true.
“Until recently, attempts to correct false beliefs haven’t had much success. Stephan Lewandowsky, a psychologist at the University of Bristol whose research into misinformation began around the same time as Nyhan’s, conducted a review of misperception literature through 2012. He found much speculation, but, apart from his own work and the studies that Nyhan was conducting, there was little empirical research. In the past few years, Nyhan has tried to address this gap by using real-life scenarios and news in his studies: the controversy surrounding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the questioning of Obama’s birth certificate, and anti-G.M.O. activism. Traditional work in this area has focussed on fictional stories told in laboratory settings, but Nyhan believes that looking at real debates is the best way to learn how persistently incorrect views of the world can be corrected.”
3. “The Strange World of Library Music.” The dusty field of library music—background tracks owned by labels and lent out to TV, radio, and film projects—has proven to be an endless sample source for hip-hop producers as well as inspiration for avant-garde experimentalists.
“Typically relegated to crate-digger curiosities for their role as sample fodder, library music records of the 1960s and ’70s tend to hinge more on utilitarian mood-setting than distinct personality. Composers could labor under multiple pseudonyms, artist names were frequently relegated to the back sleeve, and some labels—particularly London’s KPM, which released almost every single one of their LPs in the same olive-green sleeve—thrived while putting their own brand over a musician’s particular identity. Call it the other side of poptimism: Just as the super producers, TV talent-show alumni, and focus-grouped songwriters of the Hot 100 are capable of making transcendent songs from their so-called ’assembly lines,’ so too were the under-attributed composers and studio orchestras of previous eras, whose biggest hope was for their work to find its way into the score of a low-budget sci-fi film or a two-season cop thriller. (Or, more infamously, in a porno—that stereotypical ’whock-a-chicka’ cue had to come from somebody.)”
4. “In Times Like These: Lubitsch Can’t Wait.” Taking a close look at the perfect balance of form and content that is “the Lubitsch touch.”
“The fact that Lubitsch Can’t Wait is the first anthology of its kind speaks of Ernst Lubitsch’s paradoxical critical status. On the one hand, here is a filmmaker whose place inside the canon is never doubted, whose name is accepted with unanimous acclaim. And yet on the other hand, Lubitsch’s position among Hollywood’s great auteurs might also be taken for granted, to the point where his name is mentioned often while his films are never afforded much in the way of extended analysis.”
5. “A Lion Still Roars, With Gratitude.” Larry Kramer Lives to See His Normal Heart Filmed for TV.
” At 78, these are twilight days for Mr. Kramer: his memorable roar reduced to a whisper, his forward march aided by a cane painted with pink roses. Yet he has virtually willed himself into action again to take a victory lap of sorts with broadcast of the film Sunday on HBO. The moment seems more than a little surreal to him. After decades of politicians, celebrities and even liberals and gays keeping a wary distance from his fulminations, the stars of The Normal Heart (Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Jim Parsons) rushed toward him the other night at an special screening at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie idled nearby, waiting to say hello.”
Video of the Day: Charlie Day’s Merrimack College Commencement Address:
Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.