1. “Slaughter and satire: Understanding what Charlie Hebdo really stood for.” Yes, the Paris attack was a direct assault on freedom—and it must not be used as a justification for tyranny.
“Charlie Hebdo is not an anti-Islamic publication, at least not as such. You could say it’s an anti-Islamic, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, anti-American, anti-nationalist, anti-capitalist and anti-militarist publication. It has long been committed to outraging true believers of all stripes; if it hasn’t gotten around to being anti-Buddhist, that’s only because that has not seemed necessary. Many people in France would have described it as being anti-French, at least until Wednesday. So when we encounter a shameful spectacle like that of Financial Times editor and columnist Tony Barber castigating Charlie Hebdo for ’just being stupid,’ and suggesting that ’editorial foolishness’ invited disaster, we need to consider the source. Charlie was—and still is, let us hope—an implacable enemy of the complacent, Armani-suited global capitalist order that the Financial Times represents, an order eager to do business with the repressive despots and oil tycoons of the Muslim world and correspondingly eager to avoid giving offense. (The FT has since published a revised version of Barber’s column, with the ire rendered more diplomatic.)”
2. “Europe’s Brutal Truth.” Europeans are both too Islamophobic and too timid to face up to the roots of Islamic fundamentalism.
“For now, it is difficult to think beyond the brutal slaughter of journalists who would not bow to intimidation even though they knew the risks their bravery would court. But the long-term consequences of Wednesday’s events are likely to be just as disastrous. The attack on Charlie Hebdo will further entrench the terms of a confused European debate about Muslim immigrants—one in which both the ’accusers’ and the ’defenders’ of Islam are painting in dangerously broad brushstrokes. While the European far right points to Islamic terrorism to exclude and malign all Muslims, the European left responds by refusing to recognize how fundamental a challenge Islamic terrorism represents (or that it is inspired by Islam at all). Both sides fail to realize that two seemingly opposite sentiments can stand side by side: the conviction that Muslims should become full and equal members of European democracies and the unabashed determination to defend those democracies against Islamic fundamentalism.”
3. “Does Retweeting Your Own Praise Make You a Monster?” Adam Sternbergh ponders a few Twitter “rules.”
“I guess now is a good time to confess that I’ve retweeted praise. If you praise this article, I’ll likely retweet that, too. The taboo against retweeting praise has always slightly baffled me, in part because so many people whose opinions I trust much more than I do my own seem so reflexively repelled by the practice. And in part because the actual act seems like only a half-step away from, say, tweeting about the existence of a complimentary opinion in the world (e.g., ’Check out this nice review I got here,’ with a link), which almost no one seems to be affronted by. In fact, I’ve not yet run across anyone who objects to people using Twitter for that purpose: i.e., if you’ve written a play and you want to tweet, ’I’ve written a play, and here is where you can see it,’ that seems widely acceptable by the Wiki-sourced ethics of Twitter. If someone else says, ’I saw this play, and it was very good!’ and you say, ’Thank you, someone!’ that’s…okay. But if you retweet that person’s sentiment without additional comment, this is considered—perhaps reasonably!—to be the tackiest sort of misstep, punishable by muting or, worse, unfollowing, which is to the Twitter community as shunning is to the Amish.”
4. “Stuart Scott, Life Itself, and how we tell stories about living with cancer.” EW’s Jeff Jensen and the moment when his perception of Scott crystallized for him.
“I was affected by these stories this past year for very personal reasons. As I’ve shared before, my wife, Amy, died last summer from brain cancer. I can tell you that she appreciated how and what Roberts shared. Amy, who found it hard to find the language to describe her own cancer ordeal, could point to aspects of her story and say, ’It’s like that.’ Cancer often left Amy feeling alone and isolated, even though she was surrounded by people who loved her and doted on her. Yet while we could walk with her, we couldn’t walk for her. Public examples like Roberts helped her feel less alienated from others, helped her feel known.”
5. “Great Faces of American Darkness: Joaquin Phoenix and Benicio del Toro.” Chuck Bowen on how both actors plumb the uncertainties, delusions and hypocrisies within the American Dream.
“Seeing all of these films close together reveals how uniquely simpatico Phoenix and del Toro are as screen presences. ’Self-amused and bedraggled’ is the first step to describing the place where their talents intersect. They both often exude a sense of depression that’s understatedly infused with wryness. Whenever either actor allows one of their characters to smile, that smile is certain to somehow feel both cheap and hard-won at once. Their smiles are ironic, undermined with the tension in their eyes, or, more specifically, understood as physical attempts at irony that are compromised by the characters’ evident exasperation, alienation, sadness and hopelessness. Both actors are inherently funny men, and that’s pivotal to their ability to plumb excessive detachment without losing the audience. They use their humor to contain their obsessiveness within an examination of everyday theater as a necessity for getting by in life’s casual encounters.”
Video of the Day: Ant-Man gets a teaser:
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