Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

July 2 2015 11:16 AM

The New Trailer for Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp Promises So, So Many Cameos    

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp has released its full trailer just in time for the long weekend, and there are so, so many cameos. Kristen Wiig, Jordan Peele, John Slattery, Michael Cera, Chris Pine, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and Jon Hamm will make appearances when the series hits Netflix on July 31. The original gang is back too, of course—playing younger versions of their characters. Paul Rudd makes a great entrance on a motorcycle. And in addition to reprising his role as can of vegetables, Jon Benjamin will apparently star as one of the camp counselors. As the trailer declares: “They’re younger. They’re hotter. They’re wetter.”

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July 2 2015 10:55 AM

What Was Peagate?

On Wednesday, the New York Times Twitter account tweeted a link to a recipe that the paper of record had originally published on its now-defunct Diner's Journal blog in 2013. The recipe was the creation of venerated French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Ian Coogan, his chef de cuisine at the Mexicanish New York City restaurant ABC Cocina. It calls for a ratio of 1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh green peas to three avocados, and is otherwise fairly traditional, with jalapeños, cilantro, scallions, and lime. But you wouldn’t know that from the Twitterstorm that erupted after the New York Times tweeted the link, along with the note, “Add green peas to your guacamole. Trust us.”

The instantly legendary social-media brouhaha grew to envelop the Republican Party of Texas (which tweeted, “The @nytimes declared war on Texas when they suggested adding green peas to guacamole”) and even the President of the United States. Asked about the recipe in a Twitter chat, President Obama wrote, in fluent Twitterese, “respect the nyt, but not buying peas in guac. onions, garlic, hot peppers. classic.”

I suspect two reasons for the Internet's immediate consensus that peas do not belong in guacamole. 

July 2 2015 10:44 AM

A History of Male Strippers: When Did Men Start Stripping?

This weekend marks the release of Magic Mike XXL, the sequel to 2012’s Magic MikeAround the release of the original movie, Slate spoke to various experts in the field of oiled-up abs to research a history of erotic male performance, just as it was finally hitting the mainstream. The article is reprinted below. 

When Magic Mike shimmied its way to almost $40 million at the box office this past weekend, it wasn’t the first time that men stripped down on screen. Male strippers have been a recurring plot point in recent decades, tearing off their pants in everything from Summer School to The Full Monty to a wide range of sitcoms and a legendary Saturday Night Live skit. This past May the New York Times even declared that male stripping was finally “hitting the mainstream.”

When did men start stripping professionally?

July 2 2015 8:02 AM

Amy Schumer Reacted to Criticism of Her Race Jokes Like a Stand-Up—and That’s a Dead End

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Over the weekend, Amy Schumer experienced what has become a contemporary ritual for rising entertainment stars after an editorial in The Guardian criticized her work as racially insensitive. Monica Heisey wrote, “For such a keen observer of social norms and an effective satirist of the ways gender is complicated by them, Schumer has a shockingly large blind spot around race.” What made headlines wasn’t the piece itself, but Schumer’s reaction. “You can call it a ‘blind spot for racism’ or ‘lazy’ but you are wrong. It is a joke and it is funny. I know that because people laugh at it. Even if you personally did not,” she wrote on Twitter. “I ask you to resist the urge to pick me apart. Trust me. I am not racist. I am a devout feminist and lover of all people.”

The response is disheartening for those who’ve been cheering Schumer’s ascendance. Her weekly injections of humor are at once topical and deft, feminist without feeling didactic—the exact opposite of her response to Heisey. Rather than listen to the critique, she got defensive and recycled a series of arguments that have become familiar from previous incidents involving Trevor Noah, Lisa Lampanelli, Daniel Tosh, and others: She has the right to joke about what she wants; it’s a comic’s job to be edgy; she’s not racist (or sexist, or homophobic), really; she’s a feminist! Schumer cut her teeth in the adversarial space of the comedy club, where you go in to win over the audience and kill them with your material. She’s used to cutting down hecklers, but that approach might not work so well with a broader audience that goes well beyond a small room.

July 1 2015 6:14 PM

You’re Doing It Wrong: Guacamole

The first commandment for gringos who wish to participate in Cinco De Mayo, the May 5th celebration of Mexican culture, is: “Thou shalt not, under any circumstances, buy premade guacamole.” You cannot obliterate an avocado with preservatives, stuff it into a plastic container, put it in a refrigerator, and call it guacamole. That is not guacamole. That is a tinny-tasting crime against culinary decency.

And it’s not hard to make a good guacamole fresh, from scratch. It doesn’t take much time or any special tools. All you really need, besides the ingredients listed below, is a subtle understanding of our fair, delicate mistress, the avocado.

She bruises easily. She does not keep well after being cut open. You must coax her into ripeness. She is easily overwhelmed by more aggressive flavors—salt, garlic, lime—and so you must keep them in check.

It also helps to know a few guacamole-related tricks:

July 1 2015 5:24 PM

The Honest Trailer for Magic Mike Hilariously Mocks the Mundane “Thongs to Riches” Story

With Magic Mike XXL out Wednesday, Screen Junkies has released an Honest Trailer about the original Magic Mike, a movie it says was way more mundane than it needed to be. “Meet Magic Mike,” the trailer says. “He may not be a wizard, but he is a hot dude with all the right moves—who struggles to overcome social stigmas about his job and can’t seem to raise enough money to start his dream business, no matter how hard he tries.” Between Mike’s money woes, The Kid’s drug-dealing dilemma, and Tarzan’s substance problem, there sure are a lot of abject issues for a movie that billed itself as a fun romp. Thank God for Matthew McConaughey and his assless chaps! 

July 1 2015 4:45 PM

Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” Video Is a Moving Portrait of Perseverance

The song was already a force to be reckoned with—a declaration of triumph over tragedy. But when Kendrick Lamar put it in the hands of director Colin Tilley (of Nicki Minaj “Anaconda” fame) for a visual treatment, it got a brand new set of wings.

“Alright,” the fourth single from the critically lauded and certified gold To Pimp A Butterfly, is an anthem that details the daily rigors of living as a young black man in modern-day America. It’s about facing the seemingly never-ending stresses of poverty, racism, police brutality, and unjust death and banding together as a community to rise above it all.

The track has the momentum of a runaway locomotive, and Tilley chose to complement that with a gritty, gray-scale collage of imagery that evokes strength in numbers amid a harsh reality. We see cops killing black kids, desolate streets, and all-around despair. All the while, Kendrick literally floats above it all, a motivating call-to-action for others to rise up in their own way. At a time when the all-too-familiar tropes of expensive vehicles, scantily clad women, and drug glorification remain prevalent in rap lyrics and music videos, it’s refreshing to find a song that can capture our ear and hearts and still be socially conscious.

Amid all the chaos, Kendrick still finds time to pay homage to his predecessors. There’s an interlude starting at 2:11 where Kendrick and his TDE cohorts ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul bounce along to a snippet of a different song as they ride in a jalopy carried by four police officers:

kendrick_alright_1

This is a clear homage to Busta Rhymes’ 1996 single “Woo-Hah (Got You All In Check),” for which Busta used the first minute of the music video to tease “Everything Remains Raw,” furiously reciting his bars while gliding through Times Square in a Toyota 4Runner with the rest of the Flipmode Squad.

busta_woohah_1

July 1 2015 2:59 PM

I Adore Chris Thile, but I Have Mixed Feelings About His Prairie Home Companion Hosting Gig

Change has finally come to Lake Wobegon, the little town that time forgot and the fictional Minnesota setting of the radio show A Prairie Home Companion.* Creator Garrison Keillor confirmed last week that he would pass his hosting torch, after 41 years, to Chris Thile, the dazzling mandolin-playing wunderkind of Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers fame, sometime in 2016.

“Chris is my man,” Keillor wrote in a characteristically wry email to the Berkshire Eagle, “and I’m eager to stay home and read books. But of course, I’ll do whatever needs to be done to assure an easy transition—sing, dance, do ‘Guy Noir,’ talk about my home town, whatever is required.”

And Thile, expressing his own brand of winning, faux-naive enthusiasm, compared hosting A Prairie Home Companion to “getting to be Luke Skywalker.”

At which we can all sit back and nod sagely, because this is a brilliant business decision for both a beloved-but-waning radio program and a 33-year-old megastar on the rise. Thile, the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant and multiple Grammy awards, has guest-hosted for Keillor in the past (he first appeared on the shores of Lake Wobegon when he was 15). And he’s a deft, charming entertainer with deep ties to Americana and a devoted fan base that will likely rush in to refresh the ranks of A Prairie Home Companion listeners.

Meanwhile, a lead role on A Prairie Home Companion will earn Thile even more visibility and perhaps help him transition from bluegrass hero to all-purpose American celebrity.  

The only person with anything to lose from this arrangement isn’t even a person—it’s folk music. Keillor hinted in 2009 that A Prairie Home Companion would eventually morph from an old-timey exemplar of radio storytelling to a more music-based variety show. I hope that’s true, and that Thile doesn’t let his insane talents as a songwriter, singer, and instrumentalist play second fiddle (so to speak) to his considerable, but less unique, gift of gab. J.S. Bach was by all accounts a magnetic life-of-the-party type (you don’t father 20 kids without some degree of joie de vivre), but he didn’t abandon his fugues to do stand up for Prince Leopold. A Prairie Home Companion has a rich relationship to folk music—performers at their live show at Tanglewood this year include the wondrous Sarah Jarosz and Peter Rowan—but it’s still strange to contemplate that Thile’s next big gig may not be primarily mandolin-based.

Of course, Thile has the right to do as he pleases with his life and career! I can’t wait to see what he makes of the new post. I’m thrilled for Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion, which despite its nostalgic, corn-fed allure could probably use a shake-up. I am also happy for the Wailin’ Jennys, because with Thile otherwise occupied they can perhaps now persuade Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins to sing for them again. I just hope Luke Skywalker knows, taking every chance he dares, that we’ll still be there when (if) he comes back down.

*Correction, July 1, 2015: This post originally misspelled the name of Lake Wobegon.  

July 1 2015 1:57 PM

Can You Guess the Magic Mike Actor From Just One Ab? Take Our Quiz.

If the Magic Mike movies are about one thing, it is abs. Rippling abs. Spraytanned abs. Straining-beneath-a-tank-top abs. Pretty much every man who gets more than three minutes of screentime in Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL has a highly visible pack of abs so defined they’re barely touching. So: Can you name the Magic Mike actor based on a single ab? (With apologies to Vulture, whose “How Well Do You Know Channing Tatum’s Abs?” went up while this quiz was in development. We guess great minds think alike—in that they’re all obsessed with abs.) Test your ab-titude below.

Loading Quiz ...

Correction, July 1, 2015: Due to a production error, this quiz originally marked two correct answers as incorrect. 

July 1 2015 1:13 PM

Do You Need an Avocado Scooper?

Stores like Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table are full of gadgets that purport to solve all manner of culinary problems. Often, these gadgets look stupid. Sometimes, they look promising. But are they actually worth buying? To help you answer this question, Slate presentsShould You Buy This Thing?”, a video series in which we test kitchen gewgaws and rate them based on effectiveness, cost, and the clutter factor (i.e., how much space they take up in your kitchen).

This week’s thing is the Avoloop, a tool designed for the express purpose of scooping the flesh out of an avocado. Does it do the job better than a plain, old-fashioned spoon? Watch the video above to find out.

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