How Hollywood’s toxic (and worsening) addiction to franchises changed movies forever in 2014


And that leaves aside the movies that aren’t getting made — the original scripts or adaptations of novels that make it into development and then go nowhere, with apologies and sighs from the people who bought them, unless a very big studio feels like doing a very big favor for a very big star, director, or producer. People who believe in the primacy of the marketplace will tell you that this winnowing process is a Darwinian, survival-of-the-fittest thing. It’s not, but even if it were, are we really supposed to cheer creative decisions that are based on nothing more than a nervous determination to avoid extinction? Yes, some good movies get through, but many that once would have now don’t, won’t, can’t. And a generation of midlevel executives that in the not-too-distant past would have been trained to develop and champion them now knows that doing so isn’t the way to move up in the ranks; these days, you make your bones by showing you can maximize the potential monetization of a preexisting brand or reawaken a dormant one. Stand-alone, non-repeatable hits are nice, but only in an outside-the-system way; they’re for people who don’t know how to think big.

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Mark Harris — Grantland

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Marie Calloway Was Reviled By The Internet. Then She Disappeared.


If you were on the internet in the 2010s, you’re probably aware of Calloway’s work, even if you can’t quite remember the specifics. Her writing appeared on websites like Thought Catalog and Vice, which were dedicated to archiving the feelings of upwardly mobile white millennials. Then in 2012 came the story that brought her both notoriety and ridicule; “Adrien Brody” was published online by Muumuu House, a small press founded by alt-lit writer Tao Lin in 2008. (The actor Adrien Brody has no apparent link to the piece.) In it, Calloway describes meeting a man online and sleeping with him. He’s significantly older than her, has more power in their dynamic, and has a girlfriend. “I know you said you don’t want me to say this,” “Brody” — a pseudonym seemingly selected because of the absurdity of naming him after someone so famous — tells her at the end of their encounter, “but you will connect with someone one day. It’s just not going to be me.” Amidst the female personal essay boom of the 2010s, the lengthy piece went viral.

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Scaachi Koul — Buzzfeed

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The dream of owning a home is increasingly out of reach


Soaring property prices are forcing people all over the world to abandon all hope of owning a home. The fallout is shaking governments of all political persuasions. It’s a phenomenon given wings by the pandemic. And it’s not just buyers — rents are also soaring in many cities. The upshot is the perennial issue of housing costs has become one of acute housing inequality, and an entire generation is at risk of being left behind. 

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Alan Crawford — Bloomberg

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The Keanu Reeves Phenomenon


Though Ted has become an enduring favorite, Variety recognized Reeves’ charm, but wasn’t entirely sold when the film opened in 1989. “Not since Sean Penn’s send-up of an airhead California high-schooler in ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ has the screen seen young characters as witlessly appealing as this pic’s Bill and Ted,” Variety’s reviewer wrote. “Keanu Reeves, with his beguilingly blank face and loose-limbed, happy-go-lucky physical vocabulary, and Alex Winter, with his golden curls, gleefully good vibes and ‘bodacious’ vocabulary, propel this adventure as far as they can.”

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Tim Gray — Variety

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The Girl in the Picture


With no foul play suspected, the police labeled Aundria a runaway and passed her case along to the Youth Services Bureau. Few people who knew the Bowmans questioned the official narrative. Over the years, there had been whispers about the family. Once, when Aundria was in middle school, she boarded the school bus bleeding from her wrist. Some kids gossiped about a suicide attempt, but others said Aundria had cut herself trying to get back into her house after her parents locked her out. There were rumors that Dennis, a former Navy reservist with reddish-brown hair, a goatee, and wire-rimmed glasses, and Brenda, a portly woman with curled bangs who’d once worked at the jewelry counter at Meijer department store, abused Aundria. But back then, what happened behind closed doors was considered family business.

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Nile Cappello — The Atavist Magazine

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Apple’s Double Agent


On Twitter and in Discord channels for the loosely defined Apple “internal” community that trades leaked information and stolen prototypes, he advertised leaked apps, manuals, and stolen devices for sale. But unbeknownst to other members in the community, he shared with Apple personal information of people who sold stolen iPhone prototypes from China, Apple employees who leaked information online, journalists who had relationships with leakers and sellers, and anything that he thought the company would find interesting and worth investigating.

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Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai — Vice

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Beyoncé’s Evolution


Beyoncé Knowles-Carter came of age during that digital revolution, and knowing how to navigate that dissonance is part of her artistic superpower. She has built her company, Parkwood Entertainment, into a media conglomerate that includes a fashion line, IVY PARK. She is now a mother of three, to nine-year-old Blue Ivy and four-year-old twins Rumi and Sir, with husband JAY-Z. The iconic couple has just been named the new faces of Tiffany & Co., which was acquired earlier this year by LVMH and is relaunching under its auspices. And she is working on new music along with an array of other projects that promise to obliterate old boundaries and vault her further into uncharted territory.

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Kaitlyn Greenidge — Harper’s Bazaar

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How the hockey team became the team we love – and the women they wanted to be


Olympics!

The Indian women were trained like 21st-century athletes – like all our elite athletes must. With GPS monitoring devices between their shoulder blades spitting out data for distance, heart rate, high-speed running, checking fatigue levels and recovery work required. After every session they enter their own data into personal logbooks, to mark how they feel, pain, muscle soreness, sleep, menstrual cycle details. There is a sign up in their gym that reads, ‘changing the 0.2%.’ To be 0.2% better than they were yesterday. Between Rio and Tokyo, those 0.2% changes have turned the Indians into a team whose hockey skills are matched by speed of foot and strength of tackle.

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Sharda Ugra — ESPN

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The Day the Good Internet Died


The internet lasts forever, the internet never forgets. And yet it is also a place in which I feel confronted with an almost unbearable volume of daily reminders of its decay: broken links, abandoned blogs, apps gone by, deleted tweets (miss you always, ah-well-nevertheless!), too-cutesy 404 messages, vanished Vines, videos whose copyright holders have requested removal, lost material that the Wayback Machine never crawled, things I know I’ve read somewhere and want to quote in my work but just can’t seem to resurface the same way I used to be able to.

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Katie Baker — The Ringer

What the American dream looks like for immigrants


When you’re an immigrant coming from another country where you may be middle class or upper-middle class and privileged in many ways, you lose that status when you move to the US. All of that social capital that you and your family may have accumulated over the years, and that opened doors for you in your home country, that was your safety net — that no longer exists. No one in your new country knows what your background is. The new culture doesn’t know what to make of you. Back in India, my family was by no means wealthy, but we had a high social status because of education, because my parents had been to some of India’s top schools and colleges. That carried with it a real weight but was not acknowledged or known in the US.

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Anne Helen Peterson — Vox

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