Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

July 26 2016 11:15 AM

Security Could Not Stop a Very Determined Colbert From Storming the DNC Stage

Stephen Colbert had very little trouble getting onstage at the Republican National Convention last week for a chance to grab the mic. But apparently, ascending the podium of the DNC is much more of a challenge. Colbert, dressed as his Hunger Games character Julius Flickerman, tried everything in his power to thwart security, but despite a very official-looking “podium pass” and the support of Nancy Pelosi herself, the Late Show host simply couldn’t weasel his way onstage.

Luckily for us, even the sternest security guards are no match for Colbert, who did what any self-respecting host would do: Armed only with a camera and a whole lot of chutzpah, he rushed the stage. He was immediately swarmed by agents, but it didn’t matter—Flickerman won the day, again. And we have the 360 video to prove it.

July 26 2016 8:33 AM

A Stranger Things Glossary: Every Major Film Reference in the Show, From A–Z

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

To call Stranger Things a Frankenstein’s monster of ‘80s influences wouldn’t do justice to the many parts that make up this irresistible beast. With their new Netflix series,Matt and Ross Duffer have created something more like an immense nostalgia bath, drawing on the work of Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Stephen King, and a host of others from a familiar era in popular culture. The glossary below identifies the myriad strands of cinematic DNA that comprise the show. Those who haven’t binge-watched it yet are duly warned: There are spoilers ahead for Stranger Things—and, of course, for a lot of classic movies.

July 26 2016 12:00 AM

Star Trek Was Among the Best Franchises at Representing People With Disabilities—Until Star Trek Beyond

When Star Trek: The Original Series debuted in 1966, its inclusivity was groundbreaking.* The show featured a black female communications officer, a Japanese helmsman, and a Russian navigator (an unthinkable addition, during the Cold War). Subsequent Treks strove to expand on creator Gene Roddenberry’s initial vision: Deep Space Nine gave us the first black man to lead a Star Trek series, while Voyager saw the first female captain at the center of the action.

But Star Trek Beyond, the new Star Trek movie released this past Friday, can feel surprisingly retrograde at times. Part of the issue is that casting decisions that were radical in the ’60s just aren’t as impressive today—something that is never more obvious than in a scene in Beyond where the film’s five white, male leads are all in the same room, the rest of the (more diverse) crew trapped elsewhere. Other problems with representing race and gender could have been avoided: 2013’s Into Darkness drew outrage for whitewashing legendary villain Khan Noonien Singh (the big bad in that movie was played by Benedict Cumberbatch), while both Star Trek and Into Darkness gave their female characters weird, gratuitous underwear scenes.

July 25 2016 4:22 PM

The Original Cast Reunites in the New Teaser for Trainspotting 2

We finally have our first peek at the (very, very) long-awaited sequel to Trainspotting, Danny Boyle’s classic 1996 film about a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh, Scotland. The oddly titled T2: Trainspotting 2 reunites Boyle with the original cast, reprising their roles as Spud (Ewen Bremner), Renton (Ewan McGregor), Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle), for a follow-up loosely based on Irvine Welsh’s Porno, the novelist’s sequel to the original Trainspotting book.

The teaser doesn’t give much away, but it’s almost enough to see the four actors reunited by the tracks, 20 years after the original film, with Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” playing in the background once again. T2: Trainspotting 2, not to be confused with T2: Judgment Day, will be released in select theaters in the United States on Feb. 3, 2017, before going wide on Feb. 10.

July 25 2016 3:55 PM

John Oliver Got Usher, Michael Bolton, and More to Sing a Song Asking Politicians to Stop Using Their Songs

It was all too predictable that Donald Trump’s use of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” to herald his grand entrance into the 2016 Republican National Convention last week would attract a complaint from Queen. After all, such stories have become common features of each campaign season, even as the legality of such uses can be a little murky. And while rock stars seem to be much more likely to make complaints about having their songs used by Republicans, it’s not strictly a partisan issue: Even the current president of the United States received a complaint after using Sam and Dave’s soul classic “Hold On, I’m Coming” in 2008.

But John Oliver is here to do something about it. After providing some background on the history of such disputes, the comedian debuted “Stop Using Our Songs” as collectively performed by Usher, Michael Bolton, and several other popular artists. Hopefully Trump takes a listen because, if his self-aggrandizing, egomaniacal new promise is any indication, B.o.B’s “I Am the Champion” is likely already on the playlist for his next stadium rally.

July 25 2016 2:29 PM

Neil Gaiman’s American Gods Comes to TV in the First Trailer for Starz’s Adaptation

In the world of American Gods, Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel, old myths stalk the backroads and byways of the new world. The deities of the book’s title are ideas brought to life by belief, a belief that slowly vanishes as human attention turns to other dreams and desires. Starz’s television adaptation of American Gods, which has been in development since 2014, has itself seemed like a fading idea at times. Now, however, the network has shared the first trailer for the series, which follows the ex-convict Shadow as he explores a world of divine conflict.

Thick with strange portents and mysterious visions, this glimpse of the series will likely baffle viewers who haven’t read the novel, but the names of those involved with the series should be enough to excite. Most notably, co-showrunners Michael Green and Bryan Fuller should bring their own visions to the material. Green was responsible for the stylish but frustrating NBC series Kings, while Fuller has created a series of cult favorites, including Hannibal, Pushing Daisies, and Dead Like Me. Both producers have sometimes struggled with the limitations of network TV—as emblematized by Hannibal’s frustrating fate—but they’ll likely have more freedom on Starz. Indeed, the trailer suggests that Fuller’s dazzling imagery will be a significant part of American Gods.

July 25 2016 2:12 PM

Behind the Batman: The Killing Joke Movie’s Approach to Batgirl, Sex, and Sexual Violence

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Spoilers for Batman: The Killing Joke below.

Few Batman stories are as iconic as Batman: The Killing Joke. Few are as controversial as it, too. Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland and John Higgins, the story first appeared in 1988 and has subsequently become one of the most-discussed tales in the Bat-mythos. It follows a particularly bad day for the Dark Knight. The Joker busts out of Arkham and kidnaps and tortures the incorruptible Commissioner Gordon to prove that anyone can be pushed over the edge into madness. But before doing that, the Clown Prince of Crime shoots Gordon’s daughter, Barbara—also known by her nom de guerre Batgirl—and paralyzes her from the waist down, then takes a series of nude pictures of her.

The pain and violation inflicted on Barbara, combined with the fact that she doesn’t play any role in the story other than motivating Batman to fight the bad guy, has led to a tremendous amount of criticism of the story in recent years. So when DC Entertainment announced that they were producing an animated film adaptation of The Killing Joke, there was understandable backlash.

July 25 2016 1:00 PM

Moriarty May or May Not Be Back in the Trailer for Sherlock Season 4

It’s the mystery that’s been plaguing Sherlock fans since 2012: Will James Moriarty, Holmes’ most notorious antagonist, rise from the dead? A new trailer for Season 4 of the crime drama teases the villain’s possible return in what looks like the show’s darkest season yet. Meanwhile, the cast gains a new villain in Toby Jones, who is rumored to be playing Culverton Smith, of the 1913 story “The Adventure of the Dying Detective.”

Moriarty shot himself in the head at the end of Sherlock’s Season 2 finale, making his death seem pretty unambiguous—but then, Sherlock managed to fake his own death pretty convincingly in that same episode. The show’s New Year’s special, “The Abominable Bride,” was even more mysterious, with Moriarty returning, in a dreamlike setting, with a promise to cause a little posthumous mayhem.

“Of course Moriarty is dead,” concluded Sherlock from the events of that episode. “And I know exactly what he’s going to do next.” The rest of us, however, will have to wait until Sherlock makes its return to PBS in 2017.

July 25 2016 11:55 AM

Watch Bill Hader, Melissa McCarthy, Jeff Goldblum, and More Audition to Play Young Han Solo

Alden Ehrenreich may have nabbed the role of young Han Solo in the upcoming Star Wars spinoff, but from the looks of it, he had plenty of competition for the part. A whole slew of talent take their best shot at playing the scruffy-looking nerf herder in these “lost” Han Solo screen tests (from Conan), the latest installment in the grand comic tradition of fake Star Wars auditions.

Most of the tryouts are disasters: 50 Cent can’t hold a blaster properly, Melissa McCarthy doesn’t know a parsec from a parsnip, and Jodie Foster keeps mixing up Harrison Ford movies. Fortunately, Jeff Goldblum nails his screen test—and we know just who to cast alongside him as young Jabba the Hutt.

Read more in Slate about Star Wars:

July 25 2016 11:34 AM

The First Trailer for DC’s Justice League Movie Tries Real Hard Not to Be So Serious

As it continues to try to kick-start a cinematic universe on the scale of Marvel’s, DC Comics sucked up much of the overcrowded air during last week’s Comic-Con festivities in San Diego. The company unveiled the trailer for Wonder Woman. Viola Davis perfectly side-eyed her co-star Jared Leto at a Suicide Squad event. And after a panel presentation on Saturday, DC revealed its most superhero-packed trailer yet—for 2017’s Justice League, DC’s attempt to out-Avenger The Avengers.

Yet while The Avengers’ witty, banter-heavy style built on the tone of its Marvel predecessors, the light tone of the Justice League trailer stands out for how drastically it contrasts with DC’s recent offerings—especially Batman v Superman, which was widely maligned for being humorless. Here you can see Wonder Woman and Aquaman and the Flash (played by a jaunty Ezra Miller) all happily joining forces (and rattling off quips) against the White Stripes’ “Icky Thump.” Though it may take time to heal the wounds left by BvS’s relentless glowering, it’s refreshing to think that the famously sad Batfleck might actually crack a smile.