Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

April 28 2016 2:53 PM

Watch Amy Schumer Sell Handguns to Literally Anyone Who Wants One in a New Sketch

In a stand-up monologue that appears on the new season of Inside Amy Schumer, Schumer discusses the shooting that took place at a showing of Trainwreck in Louisiana last summer. “People are like, ‘Ew, we don’t like when celebrities get involved in politics,’ and I hear you, and I feel the same way,” says Schumer.

But I met with people, victims’ families, and they have buttons with the pictures of their children and their parents, and they’re like, “Can you help us? Because no one listens to politicians; they listen to you idiots.” And what, are you going to be like, “No, I don’t want to annoy people on Reddit”?

Hence a new, deeply political sketch from tonight’s episode, in which Schumer and comedian Kyle Dunnigan play hosts on a home-shopping show who eagerly educate potential customers on America’s insanely lax gun laws. “You can absolutely get a gun if you have several felonies as long as you buy it on the internet or at a gun show,” Schumer chirps when a convicted felon who believes that he’s not allowed buy a gun calls in. Just like one of Last Week Tonight’s extended monologues, the sketch doesn’t hide its moral outrage or educational mission, but Schumer and Dunnigan keep things entertaining by perfectly embodying the manic mood of home-shopping TV personalities. Keep an eye out for the ridiculous (if terrifying) promotional chyrons that run across the screen as the hosts hawk their handguns, such as “Keep It Under Your Pillow So You Can Shoot At Shadows In A Half Dream!”

April 28 2016 12:13 PM

Watch Beyoncé Salute Prince With “Purple Rain” and “Nasty Girl” on the First Night of Her Tour

The past week has seen a slew of Prince tributes from artists such as Bruce Springsteen, D’Angelo, Chris Stapleton, and the casts of Hamilton and The Color Purple, and yesterday, Beyoncé became the latest to honor the late superstar. In her first post-Lemonade performance, on the opening night of her Formation World Tour in Miami, Beyoncé paid tribute to Prince, bathing the stage in purple light for a singalong of “Purple Rain.”

Her salute to His Royal Badness didn’t end with “Purple Rain,” though: She also revisited her cover of Vanity 6’s “Nasty Girl,” which Prince wrote and produced in 1982—just one of many hits that led him to dominate the charts in the ’80s, even when his name wasn’t always on the songs.

April 28 2016 11:45 AM

All the Clues That Could Have Tipped You Off About Melisandre

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Spoilers ahead for the Season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones.

Did Melisandre’s big reveal surprise you, or did you sense this might be coming? Our favorite red priestess has been sprinkling a few clues along the way that she might not be everything she seems—especially if you piece together what’s been on the show, plus what we learn in the books, plus what the actress portraying Melisandre, Carice van Houten, has revealed in stray comments. It all equals one thing—Melony has been using a glamour illusion to change her appearance, possibly through a combination of magic, light, shadow, and desire. Ahead, we’ve compiled all the signs that explain how she pulled it off.

No tattoo. Melisandre was once a slave, “bought and sold, scourged and branded,” as she tells Gendry. (In A Dance With Dragons, she seems to recall being sold at Lot 7, back when she was called Melony—perhaps her birth name?) We see what this slave branding looks like on the other red priestess in Volantis—a tear tattoo—but it’s a mark Melisandre does not share, despite the lack of tattoo-removal facilities in Westeros. Could she have erased it with a glamour? (All signs point to yes.)

April 28 2016 10:32 AM

Watch the Cast of Hamilton Turn “Alexander Hamilton” Into “Demon Barber Sweeney Todd”

Hamilton has inspired parodies of everything from Jeb Bush’s failed presidential campaign to Batman, but here’s one spoof that comes straight from the pen of Lin-Manuel Miranda himself. He and the cast of Hamilton opened the annual Easter Bonnet Competition (a fundraising event that benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS) with their own mashup that combines their Pulitzer-winning musical with Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, with Miranda taking the role of the bloody demon barber.

As far as Hamilton parodies go, it’s no surprise that Miranda’s is one of the best, fitting Sweeney references neatly into the opening song’s framework with lines like: “Nobody knew that she imbued the yeast with just a little priest” or “Put a razor to his nasal, connected it to his brain/ And he straight up went insane, his arm was complete again.” The cast is good-spirited about the whole thing, too, with Renée Elise Goldsberry leaning into the role of Mrs. Lovett, Anthony Ramos playing Anthony (naturally), and Leslie Odom Jr. earning some laughs for his take on the Sweeney Todd equivalent of Aaron Burr. Even Jonathan Groff, who left the production a few weeks ago after a long run as King George, gets in on the fun, replacing his usual crown with something a little more suited to such a dark tale.

Read more in Slate about Hamilton:

April 28 2016 8:46 AM

Alison Wright on What It Feels Like to Finally Face the Truth on The Americans

Each week on Slate's TV Club Insider podcast, June Thomas sits down with the creators, cast, and crew of The Americans as they reveal behind-the-scenes details about the making of the FX drama's fourth season. 

In this installment about episode 407, “Travel Agents,” Alison Wright (Martha) joins June Thomas and showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg to talk about poor Martha and what it feels like to finally face the truth.

Note: This podcast contains spoilers and is meant to be enjoyed after you watch the episode. New episodes air Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

Podcast produced by Henry Molofsky.

You can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, or with our RSS feed.

April 28 2016 8:32 AM

If Keanu Was About the Human Keanu

This Friday the makers of Key & Peele will release Keanu, in which the duo must rescue a scruffy action hero with a penchant for doing his own stunts, dressing in all black, and cocking his head slightly to one side when confused. Keanu is, of course, a cat.

But what would it look like if Keanu centered on rescuing not a helpless kitten but America’s favorite fuzzy, adorable action star, Keanu Reeves? We re-edited the trailer to find out.

April 28 2016 8:02 AM

Why Prince May Have Been the Greatest Guitarist Since Hendrix (and Why That Shouldn’t Seem Like a Surprise)

There’s a famous tale that’s floated around for years and has enjoyed a resurgence since last Thursday. The story goes that sometime during the 1980s, Eric Clapton was asked how it felt to be the best guitar player in the world, and responded, “I don’t know; ask Prince.” The story is almost certainly untrue (what the hell sort of interviewer would ask someone that question in the first place?), but the vaguely awestruck reverence with which it circulates, like some divine validation of Prince’s greatness, is irritating. Eric Clapton remarking in the 1980s that Prince was a better guitar player than him proves nothing more than that in the 1980s Eric Clapton was listening to Prince records. The story’s “punch line” relies on the implied unexpectedness that a) Prince was in fact a great guitarist; or b) that Eric Clapton was a Prince fan. In other words, it relies on some pretty pernicious assumptions about what sorts of people play guitar and what sorts of music those sorts of people listen to.  

Throughout his career Prince’s greatness as a guitarist was widely acknowledged but often as a sort of curiosity, which is the product of two developments that predated Prince’s late-1970s rise. The first was the electric guitar being reimagined as a predominantly “rock” instrument, and the second was rock being reimagined as an overwhelmingly white form. (To read more on the first check out Steve Waksman’s excellent book Instruments of Desire; to read more on the second, well, feel free to check out my own book, out this fall.) To this day, this has largely remained the case. In 2011 Rolling Stone magazine, probably the closest thing left to a journalistic wing of the classic rock establishment, published a list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists.” While there were a handful of black players on the list—Jimi Hendrix, of course, topped it—only three were born after 1950, one of whom was Prince himself.

By the time Prince emerged into superstardom, the notion of a post-Hendrix black rock guitar god had become more or less unthinkable to rock fans, who were mired in the throes of the “Disco Sucks” movement. (Never mind that the best guitar player on the face of the Earth in the late 1970s was probably Chic’s Nile Rodgers.) Purple Rain, the 1984 film and accompanying album that made Prince a superstar, brought the Minneapolis prodigy’s guitar chops to the forefront, literally: The soundtrack’s lead single, “When Doves Cry,” opens with a distortion-drenched run that’s one of the more breathtaking displays of virtuosity ever heard on the instrument. (In a recent interview with the Washington Post, ZZ Top’s great guitarist Billy Gibbons spoke of the many hours he’d spent over the years trying pin down that opening lick.) The movie included copious footage of Prince as guitar hero, from the torrential outro of “Let’s Go Crazy” to the soaring, gorgeous solo that closes “Purple Rain” itself.

But in years since Prince’s position in the rock pantheon has remained unstable. On Rolling Stone’s list, he ranked 33rd, five spots beneath Johnny Ramone, a guitarist widely beloved for not being very good. Any list like this is stupid, but this is really, really stupid.

April 28 2016 7:32 AM

Inside Amy Schumer’s New Season Is the One Thing You’d Never Expect From Amy Schumer: Politically Correct

Things have changed for Amy Schumer since Inside Amy Schumer premiered in 2013. Then, Schumer was a relative unknown outside the stand-up comedy world, and her distinctively feminist brand of comedy, which specializes in skewering the wide array of messed-up contemporary gender dynamics, felt revolutionary. Now, Schumer is a bankable movie star who graces magazine covers and vacations with Jennifer Lawrence. Schumer’s relatively new status as a bona fide celebrity shows up in the new season of Inside Amy Schumer (airing Thursdays at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central) in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Now, in addition to the comedy stalwarts who’ve guested on Inside Amy Schumer since beginning, A-listers like Julianne Moore, Laura Linney, and Lin-Manuel Miranda show up in guest spots. The snippets of Schumer’s stand-up act that appear between sketches include anecdotes like the time Schumer got photographed nude by Annie Leibovitz—not the kind of observational comedy most people will be able to relate to.

Schumer is, of course, hyperaware of her newfound prestige—and the scrutiny she faces as a modern feminist icon. As a result, the first two episodes of Season 4 of Inside Amy Schumer contain plenty of self-abasement (which has always been a staple of Schumer’s comedy) and also a new ingredient: self-restraint. Schumer is as brazen and politically conscious as ever, but this season feels less personal and less urgent than last season (which featured the brutally hilarious “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” and “Last Fuckable Day”), and more formulaic—sometimes even bordering on lazy.

April 28 2016 12:19 AM

It’s a Thief’s End for A Thief’s End as the Upcoming Uncharted Game is Stolen in Transit

In a plot twist that even a video game studio would reject as being a little on the nose, a number of copies of Uncharted: A Thief’s End—the highly anticipated game about a daring fortune hunter and his archeological heists—were apparently stolen by a daring fortune hunter or hunters in a video game heist. Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony’s Worldwide Studios for Sony Computer Entertainment, confirmed in a blog post that copies had been “stolen while in transit” and had shown up in the U.K. for sale. He announced the theft, it seems, mostly as a spoiler warning:

We know that very many of you have been looking forward with great anticipation and excitement to the latest masterpiece from Naughty Dog. From what I have played of Nathan Drake’s latest adventure, I can tell you that it is very much worth the wait. As with most Naughty Dog games, the unfolding story is such an integral part of the experience and for this reason we wanted to warn you to beware of the potential for spoilers to be posted by people with access to stolen copies of the game.

Kotaku theorizes that the games were stolen in a truck hijacking, although “in transit” could also mean they were on a ship or a plane. It’s hard to imagine how Uncharted fans would have gotten the idea that heists were glamorous or fun. While Sony tries to recover the stolen games and fans try to avoid spoilers before its official launch on May 10, here’s a trailer for Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, called “The Life of a Thief”:

April 27 2016 11:20 PM

Luke Wilson Sends Mark Strong to Mars in the Trailer for Approaching the Unknown

You would think by now NASA would have learned that solo missions always end in space madness, but in Mark Elijah Rosenberg’s directorial debut Approaching the Unknown, the space agency sends Mark Strong on a 270-day trip to Mars with no entertainment but a rowing machine. But this NASA is maybe not operating at maximum efficiency to begin with: Luke Wilson is running mission control. A very laid-back mission control: When things have clearly already gone off the rails, Wilson greets Strong with “Hey, buddy! I haven’t talked to you in a couple days,” like Jim Anchower.

It’s not clear from the trailer what the tone of the movie’s going to be—the score and editing suggest psychological horror, but the images are more in the 2001: A Space Odyssey vein. (And part of the voice-over—“This is why I came here. To give everything up for one moment of pure wonder,”—half-heartedly suggests the ending of The Great Gatsby.) But whether it’s set in a Space Dystopia, the Space Jazz Age, or the Space Dystopian Jazz Age, one thing is clear: When the film’s released to theaters and VOD on June 3, four days before the California primary, a lot of people are going to be in the mood to take a one-way trip to Mars. Approaching the Unknown should be just the ticket.

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