1. “Questlove’s How Hip-Hop Failed Black America, Part III.” What Happens When Black Loses Its Cool?
“Let’s go back to the word: cool. Cool doesn’t mean a lack of temperature, exactly. It doesn’t mean low affect or indifference. It means cool heat, intensity held in check by reserves of self-possession. Cool is social engagement masquerading as a kind of disengagement. As a result, in any display of cool, there is a slight hint of threat. What if the mask is lifted and the heat released? That threat can be physical or sexual or intellectual, but it’s always felt. Look: That person has power that he or she is not using. Think: What will happen if he or she uses it? React: I don’t exactly know, but I better keep watching to find out. (To step away from black cool for one second into the broader concept of cool, it’s worth noting that reserve is less possible than ever. Think of John F. Kennedy. During his life, there was a gentleman’s agreement to protect his privacy and the office of the president. That permitted cool. These days, privacy has been melted down. Social networking, instant journalism, and culture of humiliation have turned the private-public dynamic more inside out than a Clippers jersey. That hurts cool in general.)”
2. “Things Crashing Into Other Things.” Matt Zoller Seitz on his Superhero Movie Problem.
“The problem isn’t that the movies are product—most movies are product, and always have been—but that they can’t be bothered to pretend they’re not product. That’s the difference between popular art and forgettable mass-produced entertainment: the mass-produced entertainment flaunts its product-ness, then expects us to praise even minor evidence of idiosyncrasy as proof that we are not, in fact, collectively spending billions on product. The marketplace rewards each new superhero movie with a reflexive paroxysm of spending, guaranteeing each $200 million tent pole a boffo US opening that follows a boffo international opening (the new release pattern flips the old one). It’s an entertainment factory in which the audience is both consumer and product. Its purpose is not just to please consumers but to condition and create them.”
3. “YouTube artist on Turner Prize list.” A video artist who uses YouTube clips, a print-maker and an artist who pairs spoken word with photography are among this year’s Turner Prize nominees.
“Duncan Campbell, James Richards, Ciara Phillips and Tris Vonna-Michell are on the shortlist for the prestigious and provocative contemporary art prize. Between them, they employ audio, video, craft and design—but there are no traditional painters or sculptors. The winner, who will receive £25,000, will be named on 1 December. Tate Britain director Penelope Curtis, who chairs the jury, admitted this year’s Turner nominees were ’less well known’ than in previous years. ’They are serious works, they have quite a political or social commitment,’ she said at Thursday’s shortlist announcement.”
4. “The Beauty in Her Sacrifice.” Ian Buruma on the Museum of the Moving Image’s Kenji Mizoguchi retro.
“Mizoguchi’s own life history partly explains his fascination for this type of woman. When his father’s business venture failed, Mizoguchi’s sister was given up for adoption and then sold to a geisha house. He never forgave his father for this, even though he felt no scruples about living off this same sister after she had married a rich man. Mizoguchi was also himself a great patron of brothels and geisha houses. A jealous mistress, who worked as a call girl, once slashed his back with a razor. But he felt so strongly about the awful fate of most women in the pleasure districts that he once stood up in a room full of prostitutes in a VD clinic and begged their forgiveness with tears streaming down his face.”
5. “Putting the Geek to the Plow.” Adam Hobauer on the rise of the superfan/critic.
“It was just over a month ago that Entertainment Weekly announced the simultaneous firings of three of their most prominent staff writers, including founding film critic Owen Gleiberman. Restructuring more than just in house talent, the move cleared the way for the magazine’s new focus on user submitted content through ’The Community’. Since launched, and currently in an introductory beta form, ’The Community’ offers a new platform through which ’superfans’ can add their voices to the pop culture conversation. Though EW’s main page still relies on content from paid senior writers, ’The Community’ currently provides reviews and commentary from a growing army of amateur bloggers. That these supefans’ work will receive little to no compensation is sadly unsurprising. And as one more outlet narrows the number of professional opportunities available to burgeoning writers, it also further muddies the separation between fan and critic, amplifying the reach of a perspective that has long been the norm among online communities. Enabled by the format of the long form video review, it is leading to a new kind of critic, one whose emotional connections supersede their critical faculties, whose ability to analyze is eclipsed by their desire to perform.”
Video of the Day: Tammy gets another trailer:
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