Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

July 2 2015 5:10 PM

The Terminator Franchise, Diagrammed With Straws

Perhaps the best scene ever written about the mind-bending, headache-inducing difficulties of time travel is in 2012’s Looper. In that movie, the older, wearier version of the main character (played by Bruce Willis) sits down at a diner with the younger version of himself (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and tells him that he doesn’t have time to talk about time travel, because then they’d “be here all day, drawing diagrams with straws.”

Designer Michael Talley was inspired by that scene and decided to explain the movie’s complex narrative through (what else?) a diagram with straws. Now, with the fifth movie in the Terminator franchise out in theaters, we asked Talley to make another diagram with straws, this time for the even twistier timelines of the 30-year-old series. As in the Looper diagram, each straw represents a character, and each dotted line represents time travel.

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July 2 2015 3:34 PM

The Rewriting of David Foster Wallace

Nobody owns David Foster Wallace anymore. In the seven years since his suicide, he’s slipped out of the hands of those who knew him, and those who read him in his lifetime, and into the cultural maelstrom, which has flattened him. He has become a character, an icon, and in some circles a saint. A writer who courted contradiction and paradox, who could come on as a curmudgeon and a scold, who emerged from an avant-garde tradition and never retreated into conventional realism, he has been reduced to a wisdom-dispensing sage on the one hand and shorthand for the Writer As Tortured Soul on the other.

For someone who has long loved Wallace’s writing, as I have, one of the ironies of this shift is that, whether he intended to or not, Wallace started the process himself. First, he embarked on a series of publicity campaigns in which he performed his self-conscious disdain and fear of publicity campaigns, a martyr to the market culture and entertainment industry he was satirizing in his books. Then there was a treacly commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005 that became a viral sensation and later, a few months after his death, a cute, one-sentence-per-page inspirational pamphlet, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, About Living a Compassionate Life. And now comes a bromantic biopic, The End of the Tour, starring Jason Segel as Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as David Lipsky, the novelist Rolling Stone sent to write a (later abandoned) profile of Wallace in 1996. The movie’s theme is the bullshit-ness of literary fame—which Wallace, the permanently unsatisfied overachiever, nonetheless craved (not to mention it might get him laid, which he also thought would be a phony achievement). The movie is based on Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, the book of transcripts Lipsky published in 2010. And since much of its dialogue is transferred directly from the tapes, it does have a claim on the authentic Wallace.

July 2 2015 2:07 PM

A Detailed Statistical Analysis of the Man Meat Exposed in Each Magic Mike Film

Since Magic Mike XXL gyrated into theaters Wednesday, people have started asking a crucial question: Which Magic Mike movie shows more butts? We started debating this matter as soon as we exited the theater, so, to settle the debate, we went back and tallied it all up once and for all. Below, we’ve charted every bare buttock, G-string, lap dance, and instance of shirt-rippage in each Magic Mike film.

July 2 2015 12:25 PM

Stephen Colbert Interviewed Eminem on a Small-Town Public Access Cable Show

Stephen Colbert subbed in as host of a morning talk show based in the tiny town of Monroe, Michigan for what was surely the best-ever episode of Only In Monroe. Released on the official YouTube channel for Colbert’s upcoming Late Show, the segment is very much public access television—drab chairs, outdated fonts and all—but with a Colbert twist, featuring onscreen graphics similar to those in The Colbert Report. As bizarre as these gimmicks are in this setting, the show only gets weirder as Colbert talks to the show’s regular hosts, settles local Yelp disputes, and finally interviews “local Michigander” Eminem.

It’s hard not to wonder if this clip offers a glimpse of what Colbert’s new show will be like. The interview style is particularly odd; as Colbert asks Eminem deliberately obtuse questions about whether or not he uses bad language in his music, Eminem eventually admits, “I’m just trying to figure out why I’m here.”  

July 2 2015 11:59 AM

Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” Video Is Very Literal, Very Cinematic, Very NSFW

There’s something unspeakably satisfying about Rihanna’s song “Bitch Better Have My Money.” Maybe it’s her use of the proemial bitch. Maybe it’s the just the image of Rihanna coolly driving away with a man’s wife held hostage in the back of her car. Fortunately, the new official music video for the song is seven minutes of RiRi and friends doing just that, with a little drinking and weed and other debauchery mixed in for good measure. Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen even puts in an appearance (spoiler alert: He is the bitch who’d better have Rihanna’s money).

The video takes the song’s lyrics literally and so contains strong language, nudity, and violence. Of course, if you’re really feeling squeamish, there’s always Kelly Clarkson’s PG-rated cover of the song, which is about as squeaky-clean as a song about kidnapping and murder can be.

July 2 2015 11:16 AM

The New Trailer for Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp Promises So, So Many Cameos    

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp has released its full trailer just in time for the long weekend, and there are so, so many cameos. Kristen Wiig, Jordan Peele, John Slattery, Michael Cera, Chris Pine, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and Jon Hamm will make appearances when the series hits Netflix on July 31. The original gang is back too, of course—playing younger versions of their characters. Paul Rudd makes a great entrance on a motorcycle. And in addition to reprising his role as can of vegetables, Jon Benjamin will apparently star as one of the camp counselors. As the trailer declares: “They’re younger. They’re hotter. They’re wetter.”

July 2 2015 10:55 AM

What Was Peagate?

On Wednesday, the New York Times Twitter account tweeted a link to a recipe that the paper of record had originally published on its now-defunct Diner's Journal blog in 2013. The recipe was the creation of venerated French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Ian Coogan, his chef de cuisine at the Mexicanish New York City restaurant ABC Cocina. It calls for a ratio of 1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh green peas to three avocados, and is otherwise fairly traditional, with jalapeños, cilantro, scallions, and lime. But you wouldn’t know that from the Twitterstorm that erupted after the New York Times tweeted the link, along with the note, “Add green peas to your guacamole. Trust us.”

The instantly legendary social-media brouhaha grew to envelop the Republican Party of Texas (which tweeted, “The @nytimes declared war on Texas when they suggested adding green peas to guacamole”) and even the President of the United States. Asked about the recipe in a Twitter chat, President Obama wrote, in fluent Twitterese, “respect the nyt, but not buying peas in guac. onions, garlic, hot peppers. classic.”

I suspect two reasons for the Internet's immediate consensus that peas do not belong in guacamole. 

July 2 2015 10:44 AM

A History of Male Strippers: When Did Men Start Stripping?

This weekend marks the release of Magic Mike XXL, the sequel to 2012’s Magic MikeAround the release of the original movie, Slate spoke to various experts in the field of oiled-up abs to research a history of erotic male performance, just as it was finally hitting the mainstream. The article is reprinted below. 

When Magic Mike shimmied its way to almost $40 million at the box office this past weekend, it wasn’t the first time that men stripped down on screen. Male strippers have been a recurring plot point in recent decades, tearing off their pants in everything from Summer School to The Full Monty to a wide range of sitcoms and a legendary Saturday Night Live skit. This past May the New York Times even declared that male stripping was finally “hitting the mainstream.”

When did men start stripping professionally?

July 2 2015 8:02 AM

Amy Schumer Reacted to Criticism of Her Race Jokes Like a Stand-Up—and That’s a Dead End

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Over the weekend, Amy Schumer experienced what has become a contemporary ritual for rising entertainment stars after an editorial in The Guardian criticized her work as racially insensitive. Monica Heisey wrote, “For such a keen observer of social norms and an effective satirist of the ways gender is complicated by them, Schumer has a shockingly large blind spot around race.” What made headlines wasn’t the piece itself, but Schumer’s reaction. “You can call it a ‘blind spot for racism’ or ‘lazy’ but you are wrong. It is a joke and it is funny. I know that because people laugh at it. Even if you personally did not,” she wrote on Twitter. “I ask you to resist the urge to pick me apart. Trust me. I am not racist. I am a devout feminist and lover of all people.”

The response is disheartening for those who’ve been cheering Schumer’s ascendance. Her weekly injections of humor are at once topical and deft, feminist without feeling didactic—the exact opposite of her response to Heisey. Rather than listen to the critique, she got defensive and recycled a series of arguments that have become familiar from previous incidents involving Trevor Noah, Lisa Lampanelli, Daniel Tosh, and others: She has the right to joke about what she wants; it’s a comic’s job to be edgy; she’s not racist (or sexist, or homophobic), really; she’s a feminist! Schumer cut her teeth in the adversarial space of the comedy club, where you go in to win over the audience and kill them with your material. She’s used to cutting down hecklers, but that approach might not work so well with a broader audience that goes well beyond a small room.

July 1 2015 6:14 PM

You’re Doing It Wrong: Guacamole

The first commandment for gringos who wish to participate in Cinco De Mayo, the May 5th celebration of Mexican culture, is: “Thou shalt not, under any circumstances, buy premade guacamole.” You cannot obliterate an avocado with preservatives, stuff it into a plastic container, put it in a refrigerator, and call it guacamole. That is not guacamole. That is a tinny-tasting crime against culinary decency.

And it’s not hard to make a good guacamole fresh, from scratch. It doesn’t take much time or any special tools. All you really need, besides the ingredients listed below, is a subtle understanding of our fair, delicate mistress, the avocado.

She bruises easily. She does not keep well after being cut open. You must coax her into ripeness. She is easily overwhelmed by more aggressive flavors—salt, garlic, lime—and so you must keep them in check.

It also helps to know a few guacamole-related tricks: