1. “What Is Public?” Anil Dash on how the answer isn’t so simple.
“It has so quickly become acceptable practice within mainstream web publishing companies to reuse people’s tweets as the substance of an article that special tools have sprung up to help them do so. But inside these newsrooms, there is no apparent debate over whether it’s any different to embed a tweet from the President of the United States or from a vulnerable young activist who might not have anticipated her words being attached to her real identity, where she can be targeted by anonymous harassers. What if the public speech on Facebook and Twitter is more akin to a conversation happening between two people at a restaurant? Or two people speaking quietly at home, albeit near a window that happens to be open to the street? And if more than a billion people are active on various social networking applications each week, are we saying that there are now a billion public figures? When did we agree to let media redefine everyone who uses social networks as fair game, with no recourse and no framework for consent?”
2. “In Defense of Comic-Con.” Yes, all the bad things you say about Comic-Con are true. But that doesn’t make it any less wonderful, weird and special.
“Since I’m coming from both sides of the issue (’Look at these fucking nerds!’ ’Look at all of these people just like me!’) I suspect I have a good understanding about the secret origin of much of Comic-Con’s bad rap. It’s a larger cultural insecurity about the unbridled zeal these people display. It makes me uncomfortable as well, and I think some of it extends into the realm of being truly weird (one girl I spoke to in Hall H told me she cried twice during the Avengers: Age of Ultron footage presentation. It wasn’t even that long!), but I do envy these people the purity of their excitement. I don’t envy many other things about them, including their blinkered devotion to shitty properties or the bafflingly uncurious nature many of them seem to have about things that aren’t related to their fandoms, but that’s the bi-polar nature of Comic-Con for you. Do I wish there was more discernment on display? Of course—I always do. But sometimes you just have to bask in the fervor. Sometimes I get so caught up in being serious about this stuff, in thinking deeply about it, in analyzing it thoroughly, that I forget to just sit back and enjoy it. Comic-Con reminds me to enjoy it, if just for a few days.”
3. “How the Mother of All Sequels Crashed and Burned.” Now, when biblical epics have once again become a thriving Hollywood business, this is the story of what happened to the mother of all sequels.
“And the most hopeful man in the room was Benedict Fitzgerald. This meeting was the culmination of his two-year-long attempt to secure financing for his prequel to The Passion of the Christ. Unlike the first film, he was hoping to hold the reins on this one and to reap more of the rewards if it became a success. He didn’t pretend to be an expert at the movie business, but he trusted his longtime lawyer, who had agreed to help Benedict get this film made in return for a 50 percent stake. His lawyer had introduced Fitzgerald to Berlanga, and Berlanga’s friend had introduced them all to Sanchez Garza and Madrigal. Fitzgerald wondered a little bit about the source of the Mexicans’ wealth, but he didn’t wonder too much.”
4. “Temple of Gloom.” Grantland’s Bryan Curtis ponders why the second Indiana Jones movie is so dark.
“For one thing, it’s a much crueler movie. In Raiders, the Nazis are melted by the power of God. In Temple of Doom, Mola Ram falls a dozen stories to his death…and then is eaten by alligators. But even back in 1984, Temple of Doom had been out-ghouled by Halloween and Friday the 13th and other new-wave gorefests. We Indy fans aren’t that delicate. Another theory is that Temple of Doom seems disturbing because of its colonialist brio. For Lucas and Spielberg’s professed love of serials, Temple of Doom owes more to the 1939 movie version of Gunga Din, with its bald Thuggee priest, its swashbuckling heroes, and its depiction of India as a place where evil lurks behind every British sentry. However, I’m not sure this worldview is much more retrograde than the one in Raiders, with its loinclothed Hovitos and scheming Egyptians and an American grave-robber looting two continents. It wasn’t until Last Crusade, which came out in 1989, that Indy starts saying enlightened things like, ’That belongs in a museum!’ And, even then, I’m pretty sure he means a Western one.”
5. “Bombast: I Love Don Weis.” Nick Pinkerton has a crush.
“Weis died in Santa Fe at age 78, presumably comfortably off and possibly even with a tan. It is unclear whether, at the end of his days, he knew anything of his French following. I can find no evidence that any of Weis’s devotees made the trek to Los Angeles with a tape recorder in hand and gave him a chance to cast his Hollywood output in the light of subversive art, as Sirk would. If he did know of his cult reputation, it is not at all clear that he cared, and certainly nothing about his conducting of his career suggests that it was done with critics in mind. Even in Paris, the flame of Weis love would appear to have dimmed—a friend tells me that Bertrand Tavernier, once a Weis partisan, has tempered his appreciation. Sarris was always cautious, writing that ’the Don Weis cultists in Britain and France are not normally frivolous, but just this once it remains to be seen,’ and calling the director’s career ’longer on commission than on conviction.’ If he wasn’t convinced by 1968, there’s little chance that he ever would be.”
Video of the Day: The trailer for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road:
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