Hello from the other side (of the Slate Plus newsletter experience).
Last time we met here, I was writing about gender stuff for Slate’s women’s vertical, Double X. Now I write about Internet stuff for my tech column, Users. Last week, I published my first Slate cover story on my new beat, a reported tale of what it was like to work at Sony Pictures Entertainment in the year after a devastating hack destroyed the movie studio’s systems and threw its private information to the wind. If you hear of any weird corners of Internet culture I ought to explore—or other digital catastrophes that have befallen real human beings—my DMs are always open.
It’s so typical of me to talk about myself, I’m sorry. I’ve … obviously been listening to Adele’s belated breakup anthem “Hello” for two weeks straight, not because I chose to play it on repeat, but because nearly every mainstream American cultural machine, from Saturday Night Live to college football, has been smothering itself in Adele’s syrupy song since its release. Join me in making sense of the madness by reading Slate music critic Carl Wilson’s analysis of how Adele sold easy listening to generation BuzzFeed by tapping into the youth’s thirst for instant nostalgia. Then, gather ’round to watch this Southern University marching band cover of the song, which features both a cacophonous chorus played by a bleacher’s worth of unwarmed brass instruments and a slow-motion sexy-dance by the Southern U. dance squad. L.V. Anderson wonders if the so-bad-it’s-good arrangement is a part of some “collective practical joke”; I’m hoping its viral teaser for David Lynch’s next teen alterna-soap.
One of my favorite things about reading Slate is its ability to pick at the silly minutiae of pop culture (like the tyrannical middle school teacher who has banned her students from using the verb “said,” or the bizarre viral rumor that Leonardo DiCaprio will be raped by a bear in his next film—twice) while delivering big-picture analysis of serious global news events, like the recent attacks on the people of Paris, Colorado Springs, and San Bernardino.
In the magazine this week, I was grateful to my colleagues for helping me make sense of this senseless violence. Will Saletan addressed the U.S. governors who’ve vowed to bar Syrian refugees from their borders in the wake of terror in Paris, and explained why they should be more afraid of the religious extremists born and bred in the USA—extremists like Robert Dear, the man who’s been charged with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting up a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic. At Double X, Michelle Goldberg drew a connection between anti-abortion rhetoric and the wave of recent violent attacks on abortion clinics: Dear was not a committed anti-abortion activist, Michelle writes, “but this doesn’t mean he wasn’t caught up in the anti–Planned Parenthood fervor that’s lately been stoked by the right” and which has turned PP into “a symbol of evil in the right-wing imagination.” And Mark Joseph Stern made an impassioned case that the right to not be shot ought to outweigh the right to bear arms. He writes: “If constant gun massacres are an inevitable result of American liberty—if we cannot be truly free without letting every madman, abuser, and hothead with a grudge get guns, if we cannot send our children to school without fearing they may be slaughtered in a hail of bullets—we need to reconsider what liberty truly means.”
Thanks for reconsidering with us. Until next time,