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Slate's Culture Blog

July 26 2017 2:27 PM

The Ghost in the Shell Honest Trailer Doesn’t Try to Hide Its Bananas Whitewashing “Solution”

The Honest Trailer for Ghost in the Shell, the Hollywood adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s beloved manga that bombed at the box office earlier this year, almost writes itself: It’s yet another perfect example of American producers fundamentally misunderstanding what made the Japanese source material so great. But much of the criticism surrounding the movie has to do not with its dumbed-down plot or lack of originality, but with the controversy surrounding the movie’s whitewashing of Major Motoko Kusanagi, the main character originally voiced by Atsuko Tanaka, by casting Scarlett Johansson.

The Honest Trailer makes an Honest Effort to understand why Johansson in particular was cast as the Major. After all, it points out, the role combines many of the characters Johansson has already played in the past, including a special-ops soldier, a robot, and “a white girl feeling out of place in Asia.” But while Johansson and the studio tried to downplay the whitewashing controversy by explaining that the Major is “essentially identity-less,” the film squanders any goodwill it might have earned with an absurd, ill-advised third-act twist. If the original trailer had been a little more upfront, like this one, it might have saved us all a lot of time.

July 26 2017 1:09 PM

Did This Twitter User Just Figure Out the Real Origin of Jay-Z’s Album Title 4:44?

Twitter, at its worst, is a website that is dragging down our national discourse and could even lead to the downfall of human civilization as we know it. Twitter at its best, however, is the place where great minds come together to solve pop culture’s greatest mysteries. On Wednesday morning, one Twitterer/detective uncovered a piece of evidence that might have cracked the meaning behind the title of Jay-Z’s latest album, 4:44.

The beating of Jay-Z’s ass per Solange that @StephenOssola is referring to is, of course, the infamous elevator incident that occurred after the 2014 Met Gala at the Standard Hotel in New York City, the video of which was leaked by TMZ, resulted in the firing of at least one hotel employee, and has been studied as closely as the Zapruder film. This same incident is also referenced on 4:44’s opening track.

The tweet is somewhat misleading, as the Standard’s listed address is 848 Washington Street, but a bar located in the Standard, Le Bain—an 18th floor rooftop bar that Solange is known to frequent—has 444 West 13th Street as its listed address. On top of that, the elevator where the beating of Jay-Z’s ass occurred was reportedly located right outside Le Bain.

Has this Twitter user cracked the case? Maybe. For now, and most likely forever, the meaning of 4:44 will be a mystery. It’s just another theory in an ever-growing list. Many believe that the title merely refers to the significance of the number four to the Knowles-Carter family: Jay-Z’s birthday is Dec. 4, Beyoncé’s is Sept. 4, her mother’s is Jan. 4, part of their daughter’s name (Ivy) is a reference to the roman numeral IV, and the couple’s wedding anniversary is on April 4. Jay-Z, for his part, told iHeartRadio that 4:44 referred to the time in the morning he woke up to write the album’s title track, which he believes is one of the best songs he’s ever written. (Both claims seem dubious, but they are nonetheless his official explanation, which it is our duty to report.)

Regardless of whether this is the actual explanation or simply a cosmic coincidence, it really is more fun for everyone if 4:44 is a reference to Le Bain’s address. I suspect that Jay knows that, too, which is why he’s probably going to keep the mystery behind his album’s title intact.

July 26 2017 11:50 AM

Great Hera! The Wonder Woman Sequel Gets a 2019 Release Date.

Mark your calendars now for Dec. 13, 2019, because Warner Bros. has announced that that will be the release date for the Wonder Woman sequel, occupying a slot previously assigned to “an untitled film event.” The announcement is a major vote of confidence by the studio that the follow-up will be as much of a box office smash as Patty Jenkins' orignial, since its release at the end of 2019 will put it in competition with another mystery DC film and the new James Bond, both coming out in November, and a still-untitled Masters of the Universe movie in December.

July 26 2017 11:20 AM

Here's a Mashup of Ron Howard Narrating the Star Wars Trilogy, Arrested Development-Style

 

When it was first announced that Ron Howard (the filmmaker behind the greatest fantasy film of all-time, Willow) would be taking over the director’s chair for the Han Solo spin-off, Twitter was flooded with Arrested Development narrator jokes. Now, thanks to Nerdist, we have an almost perfect mashup video in which Howard's Arrested Developmenet narrator deadpans all over the original Star Wars trilogy.

The mashup, “Arrested Rebellion,” is spot-on in its carefully executed editing, placing Howard’s straight-faced scene-setting descriptors perfectly in line with some of the original Star Wars trilogy’s more confounding elements. (Darth Vader: “I am your father.” Luke: “That's impossible!” Narrator: “It wasn't.”) Unfortunately, “That’s why you always leave a note” somehow didn't make it into this final cut.

 

July 26 2017 9:53 AM

6 Sexperts on Grey Worm and Missandei’s Future As a Couple

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

This post was originally published on May 14, 2015.

Grey Worm and Missandei took their relationship to the next level on Game of Thrones Sunday night, and for that we cheer, given that there are so few love-based matches in this universe. But their union leaves open a lot of questions, especially since Grey Worm, from a very young age, has been conditioned—as are all Unsullied—not to have empathy, fear, or feelings (especially sexual feelings, which his castration was supposed to extinguish). “When the slavers castrate the boys, do they take all of it?” Dany wondered. The show tells us that at the very least, the boys are shorn of their testicles, and in A Song of Ice and Fire, it’s confirmed that the boys are fully castrated. Can Grey Worm transcend his limitations, both emotional and physical? What’s a eunuch in love to do? To help out the would-be couple, we called upon a number of experts in various fields, as well as Missandei herself (Nathalie Emmanuel), to figure out some next steps.

July 26 2017 7:33 AM

T.J. Miller Is the Worst Kind of Grad-School Bro

Erlich, the name of the popular character T.J. Miller played on Silicon Valley until last month—when he departed the show in a blaze of whatever the opposite of glory is—is a variation on ehrlich, the German word for “honest” that is also used as a standalone expression—Ehrlich?—meaning, Really?

This is, coincidentally, how much of humanity felt when we beheld this astounding profile of Miller by Vulture’s David Marchese, a profile worth reading in its entirety, but whose deadpan brilliance is well-distilled into the following sentence:

July 26 2017 1:45 AM

The Daily Show Thinks Mean Old Mitch McConnell Made John McCain Vote the Wrong Way

Just when you think The Daily Show is done casting John McCain as a hero, Trevor Noah, in an otherwise-funny segment on Tuesday’s health care votes, described the maverick Senator’s decision to travel to Washington to vote on the Senate health care bill like this:

That’s right, Mitch McConnell was so hell-bent on getting this passed, he forced a man who was just diagnosed with brain cancer to come to Washington to vote. McCain was probably like, “What the hell, Mitch. Don’t you know I could be dying?” And McConnell was like, “If we cared about people dying, we wouldn’t be doing this bill—now shut up and vote! Shut up and vote!”

It’s a good joke, except it posits once again, in the absence of any evidence, that McCain is the heroic voice of reason in the Republican Party, reluctantly forced over and over to vote for their horrible policies. McCain travelled to Washington D.C. after being diagnosed with brain cancer to cast this vote, knowing the Senate health care bill could cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his fellow Americans, accepted a standing ovation from his colleagues for doing so, gave a grandstanding speech about how terrible the lack of civility was, then voted to advance a version of the bill he’d vowed to oppose only hours before. At least give the man credit for making his own decisions—history certainly will.

July 26 2017 1:04 AM

Yukkin’ It Up With John McCain: A Look Back

Today was a big day for maverick Senator John McCain: he got a standing ovation from Democrats despite literally using government-provided healthcare to make sure he could vote to take government-provided health care away from the people he serves, followed his vote with a very disappointed speech about how bad the bill he’d just voted to debate was, then promptly voted yes on a full repeal-and-replace of Obamacare. But how did McCain end up with his reputation as a straight-shooter to begin with? To find out, we took a look back at some of McCain’s funniest, savviest appearances on The Daily Show, where a generation of American liberals first fell in love with him.

July 25 2017 12:53 PM

Simpsons and Futurama Creator’s Newest Show Coming to Netflix in 2018

It’s official: Matt Groening is bringing a new animated show to Netflix.

According to an official press release from Netflix, Groening’s adult animated comedy show, Disenchantment, has been picked up for two 10-episode seasons, the first of which will premiere in 2018.  he show’s voice cast will include Abbi Jacobson (Broad City), Nat Faxon (Friends From College), Eric Andre (The Eric Andre Show), and John DiMaggio (Futurama), among others.

Disenchantment takes place in a medieval kingdom called Dreamland and follows young princess Bean (Jacobson), her elf friend Elfo, and her personal demon Luci as they go on adventures and encounter everything from trolls to imps to walruses to “human fools.”

"Ultimately, Disenchantment will be about life and death, love and sex, and how to keep laughing in a world full of suffering and idiots, despite what the elders and wizards and other jerks tell you," Groening says in the official release.

Leaks and rumors have surrounded a potential Groening Netflix show for the past year and a half. In January 2016, Variety reported that Groening had a show for the streaming site in the works, but details were being kept under wraps.

Groening has not done much TV work since the end of Futurama’s run in 2013. Disenchanted will follow a string of adult-oriented animated comedy series that have been picked up by Netflix, which include BoJack Horseman, Bill Burr’s F Is for Family, and Nick Kroll’s Big Mouth, which is set to be released later this year.*

*Correction, July 25, 2017: This piece originally misstated the title of the Netflix show F Is for Family.

July 25 2017 11:42 AM

Daniel Craig Will Reportedly Return as James Bond in 2019

Despite two years of uncertainty and professed exasperation over the role from the star himself, Daniel Craig's James Bond will return in ... the franchise's 25th official film, according to the New York Times.

Eon Productions and MGM Studios announced the release date—Nov. 8, 2019—for the next Bond film on Monday afternoon via Twitter. Eon and MGM have yet to officially announce, but the Times’ source is quoted as saying that Craig’s return is a “done deal.”

After a grueling shoot and sublime reviews for his last turn as the international spy, Spectre, Craig seemed done with the role. During press for Spectre, Craig told Time Out that he would sooner “slash his wrists” than do another Bond movie at the moment. Craig later clarified his statements, saying that he was just feeling fatigued and that he had “the best job in the world.” Since 2016, murky reports have circulated concerning Craig’s contract to return as Bond—with some reporting that Craig was offered a $150 million contract. A list of names for potential new Bonds were also floated over the past two years, with Damian Lewis being the apparent favorite.

Assuming the announced date holds, Craig will be 51 years old when the film is released, making him the second oldest to have played 007 in an Eon Bond film. (Roger Moore was 58 when he played Bond in A View to a Kill.)

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