Slate's Culture Blog

Nov. 21 2014 4:20 PM

What Should the Smithsonian Do With Its Show of Bill Cosby’s Art Collection?

As rape allegations against Bill Cosby have continued to emerge this week, with a fifth andsixth woman stepping forward to publicly accuse the iconic comedian, the backlash has been swift: NBC and Netflix have both dropped plans for new projects with Cosby, while TV Land announced it would stop airing reruns of The Cosby Show indefinitely. But Cosby’s collaboration with the art establishment remains alive and well, as dozens of works from Bill and wife Camille Cosby’s personal collection are currently on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.

Video Advertisement

Nov. 21 2014 3:20 PM

Factory-Farmed Turkeys Are More Than Twice as Big as Wild Turkeys

In October, Vox published a picture that vividly shows how much bigger chickens have gotten since 1957, thanks to selective breeding. If you’ve taken a gander at a gargantuan Butterball bird lately, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that selective breeding has made commercial turkeys much bigger, too. Julie Rossman and Roxanne Palmer of the World Science Festival made a side-by-side comparison of supermarket turkeys and wild turkeys, and it’s pretty clear which one would win in a fight.

Nov. 21 2014 2:48 PM

It Makes Sense to Split Mockingjay, and That Cliffhanger Is the Perfect Place to Stop

This post contains spoilers for Mockingjay Part 1.

Most reviewers of Mockingjay Part 1, including Slate’s own Dana Stevens, have noted that the movie ends with a jarring halt. Peeta, who has been “highjacked” by the Capitol, tries to strangle Katniss, who has spent the entire movie obsessing over getting him back. For fans of the movies who haven’t read the book, this presents a particularly juicy cliffhanger: For the first time, these two characters haven’t spent the entire movie trying to save each other. Instead, they get just one scene together, and he tries to kill her. For fans of the books, who know what’s to come, this simply re-emphasizes that—whatever you want to say about this being a feminist vision of a dystopic future world much like our present—The Hunger Games is really the story of all the obstacles Katniss and Peeta face in trying to save each other. Which is why ending the movie there makes perfect sense.

Nov. 21 2014 2:08 PM

Why You Shouldn’t Worry About the New 3-D, CGI Peanuts

The first full trailer for the new 3-D, CGI Peanuts movie surfaced online this week, and the reaction was the same as it was to the teaser: Thousands of nearly unanimous voices suddenly cried out at once, “Good grief!” The Week calls the new trailer “distressingly unfaithful,” iO9 notes that it “feels wrong,” and Indiewire lifted its fists towards the heavens, lamenting, “20th Century Fox, what have you done... .Vulture, meanwhile, compared the idea of CGI Peanuts to “emoji Guernica, or dubstep Mozart.” (Some Slate writers made their complaints more direct.)

My fondness for dubstep Mozart aside, the problem with all this handwringing is pretty simple: It tends to presume that the Peanuts have one Edenic incarnation whose integrity and purity is still around to be ruined. Boy is that wrong.

In reality, our beloved Snoopy, Lucy, and the gang have evolved quite a lot since they first appeared, and along the way they have been subjected to innumerable indignities far worse than a trailer soundtracked by Flo Rida. To understand why no one should worry about the new 3-D, CGI Peanuts, let’s take a short tour of the Peanuts history hall of horrors.

Nov. 21 2014 1:51 PM

Why Serial Can’t Settle on a Genre

As Serial has progressed, it has become less obvious what exactly the podcast is about. Defining itself as it goes along is part of the show’s appeal, but it also makes listening feel precarious: Every week you tune in and wonder whether you’ll hear a murder mystery, a crime procedural, or a pensive character study. And then there are the minisections patched into the larger fabric, like this week’s standalone, deeply emotional memorial to Hae Min Lee, or the one-off wacky comedy sketch between host Sarah Koenig and fellow producer Dana Chivvis. The show swerves between genres, counting on Koenig’s warm and relatable persona to weave it all together. Serial may not end up in the place it originally intended—its form may be more dictated by the facts of the case than even the TAL team anticipated—and maybe that structural wavering is part of the point.

I’d argue that Serial doesn’t know what it is because it doesn’t yet know how it ends. (St. Augustine was the first of many autobiographers to note the contradiction of narrating a life that’s still unfolding.) The show lies more or less at the mercy of the real-life story it has set in motion, with fresh characters and information—like new testimony from the victim’s high school friends, or the nonexistence of a crucial phone booth—materializing all the time.

Nov. 21 2014 1:18 PM

Will Reporters Finally Ask Terrence Howard About His Alleged Violence Against Women?


The Bill Cosby saga, as it’s played out over the last few weeks, represents a massive systemic fail for the media. This wasn’t just a story that the media missed. It’s a story that was already on the record and about a guy whom various newspapers, magazines, and TV networks helped promote in all sorts of ways over the last 10 years.


There are legitimate reasons for journalists not to pry into the private lives of celebrities, of course, and of course any story should be vetted and put in context.

Nov. 21 2014 12:09 PM

If Star Wars Were Made in 2014

With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 out this week and sequels like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Parts 1 and 2 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Parts 1 and 2 dominant at the box office in recent years, we thought we’d imagine what it would look like if the final chapter of the original Star Wars trilogy were made in 2014.

Nov. 21 2014 11:48 AM

Watch Jon Stewart’s First—and Probably Last—Interview on the Colbert Report

Stephen Colbert only has 12 shows left before the Colbert Report comes to an end. But he is going out with a bang: Thursday night, he invited his former boss and “voice of the left,” as he calls him, Jon Stewart for his first-ever interview on the show. Stewart was there to promote his new movie, Rosewater. But with such a long history between the two, Colbert could barely keep in character for most of the interview.

Nov. 21 2014 11:00 AM

Watch Gwyneth Paltrow, Adam Sandler, and Other Stars Read Mean Tweets About Themselves

The list of stars that Jimmy Kimmel has convinced to read mean tweets about themselves was already impressive: Jon Hamm, Matthew McConaughey, Mindy Kaling, Julia Roberts. The latest round, no. 8 in the ongoing series, is no less star-studded, with a nice blend of beloved celebrities (Chris Pratt), divisive ones (Lena Dunham), and, to be frank, easy targets (Gwyneth Paltrow, Adam Sandler).

As usual, some of the digs are nonsensical and others feel kind of spot-on, depending, of course, on how you feel about the celebrity in question. For me, at least, Britney Spears’ delivery of her mean tweet is particularly charming.

Nov. 21 2014 9:03 AM

Paul Schrader Is Optimistic About Movies, Pessimistic About the Future of Humanity

Paul Schrader cuts to the chase: “Before you ask any questions, let me tell you the answers.” The 68-year-old director and screenwriter is busy. For the Monya Rowe Gallery in Lower Manhattan he has curated an exhibition called “Absent Friends,” which is running until January. He is keeping a loud kind of quiet about his new movie Dying of the Light—which is not really his, at least not creatively: The producers re-edited the film and Schrader, along with cast members Nicolas Cage and Anton Yelchin and executive producer Nicolas Winding Refn, took to wearing T-shirts featuring their “non-disparagement” agreement in silent protest. Schrader also has a Web series that will likely start shooting in the spring, inspired by the episodic storytelling of La Dolce Vita.