1. ”Looking, Marriage, and the New Gay Sadness.” The New Yorker’s Daniel Wenger on the HBO series.
“The aimlessness is by design. This is no shapely sitcom with memorable, freestanding episodes; the camera shakes, colors are muted, there is no soundtrack, scenes interrupt each other, time advances by skips and jumps. Underneath, Looking seems to sweat. The primary writers are gay men, and in the course of two seasons the hint of autobiography begins to express itself: an improbable, impregnable loneliness. Like Girls, to which it’s often been compared, Looking has replaced consciousness-raising with self-consciousness-raising, the pastime of those whose assimilation has ostensibly put them past politics but who can’t believe that politics are unnecessary when self-acceptance hasn’t been wrought. The effect of Looking is not, as the National Gay Task Force might have had it, to show straight audiences that gay people deserve to be citizens. It is to show that being a citizen only gets you so far when you have never thought of yourself as one. Plenty of people, straight and gay, are sexually immature and romantically inept; but Patrick seems as little ready to connect to another man, in any fashion and for any length of time, as when he was a closeted fifteen-year-old with no sense of being entitled to any rights, hiding what he had transformed into criminal urges under a blanket in the back of a bus.”
2. “Thom Andersen: ’I Became a Little Monster.’” From Hollywood communists to Sylvester Stallone, there’s little Thom Andersen doesn’t know about film. He talks to Sukhdev Sandhu about hidden America, life as an LA cabbie—and militant nostalgia.
“Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003), his most celebrated essay film, which takes its name from a 1972 gay porn movie, is a work of controlled rage in which Anderson explores what he sees as the paradox that a place synonymous with movies has rarely been seen on the big screen itself: the city’s working-class neighbourhoods, its black and Native American population, its industrial heritage—all have been erased. ’Forget the mystical blatherings of Joan Didion and company about the automobile and the freeway,’ insists the narrator. ’They say nobody walks; they mean no rich white people like us walk.’ Taking issue with the widely held belief that ’movies aren’t about places, they’re about stories; if we notice the location, we are not really watching the movie’, he creates a kind of filmic DJ set, sampling 200 films—from avant-garde works such as Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) to Boyz N The Hood (1991)—to make a case for the idea that ’like dramatic license, geographic license is usually an alibi for laziness. Silly geography makes for silly movies.’”
3. “We Are Not Colonists.” Minority voices in games and tech present a necessary challenge to our imagined community.
“Gatekeeping is not a new trend in games, and much of it revolves around this imagined community of players—what we think a someone who plays video games does or does not look like, and whose pictures belong on the wall. When Anna Anthropy released Dys4ia in 2013, the conversation centered around whether or not it was really ’a game’ at all. Maddy Myers, the assistant games editor for Paste, had a colleague refer to her work as ’gender stuff’. Less than a month ago, the Hearthstone community was wrapped up in an ’investigation’ of whether or not the player MagicAmy has a man play for her. For many of the people policing the imagined community of games, the influx of new voices is misperceived as sort of ’digital colonialism,’ where some people are ’natives’ of the internet and gaming culture, while others are invaders, unwelcome interlopers and newbies. Now that marginalized people are more present and visible in spaces like eSports, journalism or online discussion, many of the Michaels of gaming culture believe that they’re witnessing a seizure of resources, or an attempt by outsiders to co-opt their culture or hold it captive.”
4. “The True Story of Pretty Woman’s Original Dark Ending.” As the classic rom-com turns 25, screenwriter J.F. Lawton looks back on how his gritty screenplay got turned into a fairy tale—and why he thinks it’s the best thing that could have happened.
“Lawton says [Garry] Marshall ’insisted’ that he be allowed to do two of his own rewrites before they brought someone else on, a move that Marshall attributes to his own background in screenwriting, and his belief that ’the original writer’s thoughts are the most important.’ But when Lawton rewrote the script with a happy ending, that didn’t satisfy everyone. ’I was told by the executives that I had lightened it too much. I think they probably would have replaced me anyway, but the reason they claimed to fire me is that I lightened it too much and they were concerned,’ Lawton remembers. ’During this whole thing, there was all this whole debate about ’How do we end it, how do we save her?’ without it feeling like a cop-out.’”
5. “How the vampire became film’s most feminist monster.” For The Dissolve, Genevieve Valentine on the subversion of derogatory attitudes toward women in the vampire film.
“Some of the most deliberate deconstructions of the vampire woman are those that actively engage with the supposed eroticism of the familiar image, turning it into an element of horror. In Interview With The Vampire, Neil Jordan uses Claudia’s immortal ennui as currency, trading on the unsettling imagery of Kirsten Dunst growing up and getting wise when the men around her didn’t want her to. Claudia becomes keenly observant and bitter about her forced girlhood, killing the man who kept her in girls’ dresses, and claiming his partner as her lover in a scene staged as near-religious iconography, designed to raise questions about the sexual expectations placed on women in a man’s world. (It’s the same monstrous-girl taboo that became the linchpin of the moody, understated Let the Right One In.) However, in an age of debate about sex positivity and its portrayals in popular culture, Jordan himself returned to the unerotic identity in Byzantium, in which Gemma Arterton’s sexuality-as-performance in skintight dresses and thick eyeliner are shot with such asexual detachment, they take on the the wildlife-documentary dread of an insect luring a meal.”
Video of the Day: The video for FKA twigs’s self-directed “Glass & Patron”:
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.