Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Jan. 16 2017 6:00 AM

Why Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” Is the Latest Viral Rap Hit to Go to No. 1

For most hit songs, the catchiest bit, the part that takes up residence in your frontal cortex and won’t let go, is the chorus. But there exists a special species of smash whose stickiest bit is right at the start—some lyrical doggerel that leads off the track and somehow eclipses the refrain. Indeed, it might as well be the refrain—it’s so quotable, so infectious, it defines the song. I would scarcely need to remind you of the source of most of these lyrics, all of which are opening lines to Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits since the ’70s:

Jeremiah was a bullfrog.
Some people call me the space cowboy.
Memories light the corners of my mind.
We don’t need no education.
I believe that children are our future.
Aruba, Jamaica, ooh, I wanna take ya.
It’s been seven hours and 15 days.
I like big butts, and I cannot lie.
You say, I only hear what I want to.
Goodbye, Norma Jeane [England’s rose].”
Go, shawty—it’s your birthday.
To the left, to the left—everything you own in a box to the left.
Apple Bottom jeans, boots with the fur.
First things first, I’m the realest.

To the above list, let’s now add the pithy line “Raindrops—drop top.” That koanlike lyric is the opener to “Bad and Boujee” by Migos, the latest No. 1 on Billboard’s flagship chart. Like many of the chart-toppers above, from “The Joker” to “In Da Club,” the chorus of “B&B”—“My bitch is bad and boujee” (boujee being an intentionally un-bourgeois spelling of bourgie)—is itself fiendishly catchy. That chorus is also weirdly well-timed, just days before our country’s most über-boujee president-elect ever stands for the oath of office. (The song’s witty spoken-word lead-in even sounds like an inadvertant rip on Trump: “You know, so, we ain’t really never had no old money—we got a whole lotta new money, though. Heh.”) But the “Raindrops—drop top” line is just so irresistibly percussive, it has taken the internet by storm (sorry), showing up in scores of homemade videos, joke tweets, social media threads, and other ephemera.

Jan. 15 2017 8:57 PM

Scottish Newspaper Lists TV Coverage of Trump Inauguration as Twilight Zone Reboot

In the probably fruitless quest to describe just how horrible it is that Donald Trump will soon be president, satirists have scoured the canon from surrealism all the way to Batman looking for apt comparisons. Now Damien Love, a television critic for Scotland’s the Herald, has thrown his hat into the ring with a TV highlights column for the ages. Love listed the BBC One’s coverage of the Trump administration as though it were a long-awaited reboot of The Twilight Zone. An image of Love’s description of the inauguration quickly went viral on social media.

Love describes the “gaudy” ceremony as the controversial premiere of a four-year augmented reality show set in a horrific dystopia in which Trump has somehow become president. Here’s his complete listing:

President Trump: The Inauguration
4pm, BBC One/ STV
After a long absence, The Twilight Zone returns with one of the most ambitious, expensive and controversial productions in broadcast history. Sci-fi writers have dabbled often with alternative history stories—among the most common is the “What If The Nazis Had Won The Second World War” setting—but this huge interactive virtual reality project, which will unfold on TV, in the press, and on Twitter over the next four years, sets out to build an ongoing alternative present. The story begins in a nightmarish version of 2017 in which huge sections of the US electorate have somehow been duped into voting to make Donald Trump president. It sounds far-fetched, and it is, but as it goes on it becomes more and more chillingly plausible. Today’s feature-length opener concentrates on the gaudy inauguration of President Trump, and the stirrings of protest and despair surrounding the ceremony, while pundits speculate gravely on what lies ahead. It’s a flawed piece, but a disturbing glimpse of the horrors we could stumble into, if we’re not careful.

It would be nice to think that at some point the real purpose of Trump’s election will be revealed to be some kind of promotion—for something other than Exxon and the Trump Organization, that is—but if this is a Twilight Zone episode, Trump’s inauguration is clearly the final twist, not the show opener. So maybe the best use of our time in these last few days is throwing money at NASA to see if they can track down the cursed monkey’s paw that’s surely to blame for all this.

Jan. 15 2017 4:39 PM

Once Again, Mark Hamill Gets Trump’s Inner Monologue Just Right

As we saw last week, the quickest way into the mind of the president-elect is remembering that he sees himself as a supervillain. When Mark Hamill—voice of the Joker in Batman animated shows and video games—recorded Trump’s bizarre New Year’s wishes in character, it suddenly made perfect sense. But Trump’s tweets became more and more absurd as the year progressed, peaking (so far) with his unbelievably petty anti–Meryl Streep tweets. You remember those:

Just another dignified episode in the life of the future leader of the free world. The fact that Trump was doing a literal supervillain monologue wasn’t lost on Hamill, who announced that he’d made a new recording on Twitter:

Listen to Hamill read Trump’s tweets below:

Jan. 15 2017 4:20 AM

Donald Trump Unleashes a Golden Stream of Laughter in the SNL Cold Open

Saturday Night Live took on Trump’s disaster of a press conference this week, and naturally the best jokes came from the president-elect’s alleged “Russian Pee Pee Party.” Any opportunity to string together a bunch of pee jokes is a good one, but so many unbelievable things happened during that press conference that the show ended up skipping from one “unpresidented” fiasco to another without ever really plumbing the depths of any of them.

But the thing about Trump’s press conference is it happened on Wednesday, which already feels like about a thousand years ago. Things are moving at the pace of Trump’s attention span, too quickly for even a live show to keep up with. No satirist could have predicted the president-elect would spend the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day claiming John Lewis was “all talk,” but that’s the world we’re living in as of Saturday. This is the problem with jokes about Trump: Saturday Night Live has only an hour and a half, minus commercials, to catch up with an entire week’s worth of fiascos, outrages, and creeping (bounding, really) fascism. It’s just not enough time.

Jan. 15 2017 12:01 AM

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Closing After 146 Years

After nearly a century and a half, the Greatest Show on Earth is closing its doors, the Associated Press reports. Kenneth Feld, the chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, which has owned the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus since 1967, told the AP that declining attendance and revenues were to blame, as were high-profile battles with animal-rights activists over the circus’ treatment of animal attractions, particularly elephants.

In a letter on the circus’ website, Feld wrote that ticket sales declined dramatically after the company made the decision to retire its elephants in 2015. The ex-circus elephants were sent to an elephant conservation center in Florida after years of pressure from activists; this decision lost them the support of at least one high-profile jerk:

Jan. 14 2017 8:37 PM

After Backlash, Jennifer Holliday Tells Fans She’s Not Going (to Trump’s Inauguration)

In a completely surprising development, the fans of Broadway star Jennifer Holliday were not thrilled she had accepted an invitation to perform at Trump’s inauguration. After a backlash from her fans, Holliday has backed out and will no longer appear at the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” concert she’d been booked for. Holliday originated the role of Effie White in Dreamgirls during its initial Broadway run in 1981 and scored a No. 1 R&B hit with her recording of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”

The Wrap reports that Holliday changed her mind about performing at the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” based on an article in the Daily Beast that enumerated the dangers Trump and Pence pose to the LGBT community and harshly criticized Holliday’s decision to celebrate their administration:

For the gay community that has bolstered Holliday’s, in her own words, embattled and difficult career and cheered on her recent successes, the news feels like a betrayal. It is heartbreaking.

Holliday wrote an open letter to her fans apologizing profusely, reading, in part:

I sincerely apologize for my lapse of judgment, for being uneducated on the issues that affect every American at this crucial time in history and for causing such dismay and heartbreak to my fans.

Here’s the remaining lineup for the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration,” which is definitely not embarrassing for Trump, the incoming president who, just to be clear, is having an event called the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration”:

Jan. 13 2017 3:53 PM

Critics Can’t Decide Whether The Young Pope Is Supposed to Be Funny or Not

We’re close enough to The Young Pope’s U.S. premiere on HBO that most observers have probably figured out that this is indeed a TV series and not just a meme of biblical proportions. But as to what kind of TV series? Not even the critics can help with that. Reviews have steadily rolled in over the past week, and the lack of consensus on what Pablo Sorrentino’s wild 10-hour series is exactly—beyond whether it’s good or not—is hilariously clear. Is it a bad comedy? A good drama? Something totally, insanely different? Read a roundup of the reviews below, and decide for yourself which (if any) is right on Sunday night.

Jan. 13 2017 10:31 AM

Deadpool Is an Oscar Contender, and It’s Got a “For Your Consideration” Ad to Prove It

The unlikeliest dark-red horse in this year’s Oscar race is Deadpool, the foul-mouthed superhero movie whose nomination for awards from the Directors Guild, the Writers Guild, and the Producers Guild puts it several steps ahead of previously presumed contenders like Martin Scorsese’s Silence. Star Ryan Reynolds has promised “the world’s most ridiculous reaction video” if the film is actually nominated for an Oscar, but until then, there’s this tongue-in-cheek take on “For Your Consideration” ads, which, like the movie’s off-color satire of superhero movies, not-so-subtly doubles as the real thing.

Sending up the tradition of selling Oscar movies to academy voters by stressing their difficult level, the mock FYC video touts the “600 lbs. of chimichangas” and “four pairs of assless chaps” that went into the production; if you’ve seen Deadpool, you will recognize the tacit assumption that anything involving a reference to butts is hilarious. But then it goes on to reference the real-life difficulty of getting the movie made, the “42 rejection letters from Fox” and the “one leaked video” that jump-started the character’s fanbase and helped rescue the movie from development hell. With a budget of around $60 million and a worldwide gross of over $780 million, Deadpool is a tremendous success story by any standard, but an Oscar nomination would be the unlikeliest success of all.

Jan. 13 2017 10:25 AM

Star Wars Says There Are “No Plans” to Digitally Recreate Carrie Fisher

There may be hope yet for Leia’s future in Star Wars after actor Carrie Fisher’s death in December raised questions about the fate of the iconic character, who Fisher had recently revived for The Force Awakens. A report from BBC’s Newsnight (available only in the U.K., but i09 has a transcript of the segment’s opening here) suggests that the studio is examining at least one option to keep Leia’s legacy alive: computer-generated imagery. The program reports that Disney is “negotiating with the actor’s estate over her continued appearance in the franchise” and is considering using the same technology that resurrected Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin and a young Fisher for Rogue One.

Newslight’s reporting follows the Hollywood Reporter’s news last week that Lucasfilm executives and Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow would be meeting to discuss Fisher’s future in the franchise. Fisher had already wrapped filming on Episode VIII but was supposed to have an even more substantial role in Episode IX, on which production has not yet started.

Recasting such an iconic character seems unthinkable, and writing her out of the story might be unsatisfying, so using CGI to keep her around is at least a plausible option. But none of this is a certainty—even if Disney is in negotiations with Fisher’s estate, that could just as easily mean including her in marketing, comics, or one of the franchise’s animated TV shows, which the character has appeared in before.

The use of an actor’s likeness after their death is a tricky legal and ethical issue. But Fisher, for her part, apparently loved Rogue One’s recreation of her 19-year-old self. If they give 60-year-old Fisher the same treatment, here’s hoping that the effects department can work out some of the uncanny valley issues in time to really do her justice.

Update, 7:40 p.m.: The official Star Wars site has issued a statement denying the reports. It reads:

We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumor circulating that we would like to address. We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa.

Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to Star Wars.

Jan. 13 2017 10:17 AM

Seth Meyers Turns Trump’s “You Are Fake News!” Insult Into the New “Bye, Felicia!”

Donald Trump’s winding, bizarre first news conference as president-elect reached its peak of discomfort when CNN’s Jim Acosta had the audacity to try and ask a question. Trump repeatedly shot the reporter down—insisting Acosta shouldn’t be allowed to participate since his organization reported on those recent Russia allegations—before pointing directly at him, and apparently coming up with a sassy new insult on the spot: “You are fake news!”

While some might view this as yet another damaging attempt from the incoming administration to delegitimize the free press, Seth Meyers tried searching for the silver lining instead. And he found one: turning the “You are fake news!” comeback into the new “Bye, Felicia!”—and wielding it against Trump. Allow Meyers to give an example, working off of headlines only from the last few days: “So we’ve got an incoming president waging war on the press and claiming he doesn’t have to divest from his business. You know what I have to say to that? Bye, fake news!