Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

June 24 2016 4:34 PM

The Week in Culture, “The Corpse Farts Exuberantly” Edition

Now that it’s really summertime (June 20 being the first official day), let it be known: We are living in the summer of Drake. Chris Molanphy wrote about how Drake’s album Views has been dominating the charts for the past five weeks, despite underwhelming sales and challenges from the likes of Paul Simon, Blake Shelton, and Beyoncé: It’s being propped up by huge streaming numbers, leading Molanphy to observe that what we’re seeing now is the changes Billboard made to its chart methodology in late 2014 converging with the ascent of streaming: “A recent Billboard podcast revealed that streaming is up 62 percent in 2016 over the same period in 2015, and more than 200 percent in just two years. We see the results on Billboard’s Hot 100, where stream-heavy tracks like Desiigner’s ‘Panda’ and Drake’s ‘One Dance’ now routinely command the list.” This new formula allows for albums to reign for multiple weeks on the chart again, the way Purple Rain once spent 24 weeks at No. 1. That means Drake is to 2016’s album charts what Prince was to 1984’s.

Speaking of throwbacks, this week brings the opening of Independence Day: Resurgence, the sequel to the 1996 blockbuster. Slate doesn’t have a review yet, however, because the studio declined to screen the film for critics, and Sam Adams explains the implications of that decision: “The running assumption is that movies held back from press must be stinkers, and that’s often true, but not always,” Adams writes, adding that the film’s director, Roland Emmerich, “may not be too kindly disposed to critics right now, given that his last movie, Stonewall, was savaged for telling the story of the birth of the modern LGBT rights movement through the eyes of a white cis man.” Watch this space for a review of Resurgence, and in the meantime, check out Jeffrey Bloomer’s take on Swiss Army Man, yes, the farting corpse movie, but also so much more: He calls it “hilarious, deranged, and always alive with possibility.” Also read Rebecca Onion’s piece on Free State of Jones, the Matthew McConaughey civil war movie that turns out to be more than another white savior story.


While we’re recommending things, have you checked your Amazon account for store credits yet? What about Ticketmaster? You may be pleasantly surprised. Or not: Here’s a list of concerts you can use your Ticketmaster vouchers on—hope you like the ’90s!

A few more culture links to take you into the weekend:

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June 24 2016 4:20 PM

These Cocktails Inspired by Game of Thrones Are as Delicious as They Are Ingenious

Game of Thrones is the kind of show that inevitably makes you want to drown your sorrows in booze. As we approach the series’ sixth season finale—and look toward its eventual conclusion—we figured it was time we stepped up our drinking game of thrones. To that end, we turned to Chantal Tseng, one of Washington, D.C.’s best and most innovative bartenders, and asked her to assemble a menu of cocktails inspired by the season.

June 24 2016 2:35 PM

Listen to the Surprise Debut Album From Jenny Lewis’ New Band, Nice as F--k

Indie singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis has a new band, Nice As Fuck, and they just unexpectedly released their first album. Lewis, who is the ex-frontwoman for Rilo Kiley, joined forces with Erika Forster of Au Revoir Simone, and Tennessee Thomas of the Like earlier this year at a Bernie Sanders benefit, making their suprise debut. Now, the trio have pulled off a similar feat in dropping their first album without much warning:

The self-titled album has nine tracks, all with a punk feel and a strong bassline. The last song is the brief “NAF Theme,” which consists of all three women repeatedly shouting “We’re nice/ as fuck/ Wish you/ good luck.” Much like the album as a whole, it’s peppy, edgy, and a lot of fun to listen to.


You can hear Nice As Fuck below through Apple Music:

June 24 2016 1:38 PM

Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Imagine Dragons, and More Get Twisted in the Video for Suicide Squad Anthem “Sucker for Pain”

On the heels of the awful new Ghostbusters theme comes another musical movie tie-in: Suicide Squad now has its own anthem, “Sucker for Pain.” The rap-rock blend features Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Logic, and Ty Dolla $ign contributing verses while Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons sings the appropriately twisted chorus: “I wanna chain you up/ I wanna tie you down/ I’m just a sucker for pain.” Sam Harris of X Ambassadors also chimes in at the end for the song’s outro, begging for more pain.*

The accompanying music video features all of the artists involved in various states of agony—including some pretty literal interpretations of the lyrics. (It seems that those are actual, rather than merely metaphorical, chains they’ve been singing about.) It also includes some new footage from Suicide Squad, which comes out Aug. 5. The film’s soundtrack will also feature music from Eminem (of course), Panic! at the Disco, and Grimes:


1. “Purple Lamborghini” by Skrillex & Rick Ross
2. “Sucker For Pain” by Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons (ft. Logic, Ty Dolla $ign & X Ambassadors)
3. “Heathens” by Twenty One Pilots
4. “Standing In The Rain” by Action Bronson & Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys) (ft. Mark Ronson)
5. “Gangsta” by Kehlani
6. “Know Better” by Kevin Gates
7. “You Don’t Own Me” by Grace (ft. G-Eazy)
8. “Without Me” by Eminem
9. “Wreak Havoc” by Skylar Grey
10. “Medieval Warfare” by Grimes
11. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Panic! At The Disco
12. “Slippin’ Into Darkness” by War
13. “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
14. “I Started a Joke” by ConfidentialMX (ft. Becky Hanson)

*Correction, June 25, 2016: This post originally misstated that both Dan Reynolds and Sam Harris sing the chorus of “Sucker for Pain.” Reynolds sings the chorus, but Harris sings the song's outro.

June 24 2016 12:55 PM

The Trailer for the Movie Adapation of American Pastoral Is Depressing If You Love Philip Roth’s Novel

The trailer for the movie adaptation of American Pastoral is out, and if you know the book—to many people’s minds, including mine, Philip Roth’s greatest novel—you might have been wondering how first-time director Ewan McGregor was planning to adapt it. How would he attempt to mimic the gentle dissolution of the book’s framing narrative, in which Roth alter ego Nathan Zuckerman constructs the story from childhood memories and a conversation at a high school reunion? Would the film, which premieres Oct. 21, find within the tragedy of high school baseball star Seymour “Swede” Levov the whole history of Newark and its suburbs and, indeed, of the American middle class? What cinematic equivalent would McGregor find for Roth’s meticulously impressionistic evocation of an entire golden life, somehow at once vividly immediate and saturated with nostalgia and tragedy?

If the trailer is any indication—well, who knows? They cut the trailers to get people into the theaters, I guess, and maybe Roth’s achievement, the simultaneous conjuring of present experience and mnemonic hyperrealism and self-consciously novelistic reflection, isn’t what sells tickets. Maybe what sells tickets is what this trailer points to: the story of an ordinary man, his daughter, and the bombing of a small-town post office set against the backdrop of an America spiraling out of control at the end of the ’60s. Which is almost what the book is about, kind of, if you squint.


That first shot, though. You’re not supposed to see the post office blow up. Zuckerman imagines Levov imagining the post office blowing up. Not the events themselves but the way they manifest to us.

So, if the trailer is any indication, this will be a nicely shot period drama with some meaty scenes for McGregor and costars Dakota Fanning and Jennifer Connelly to show off their acting chops. With a Pulitzer Prize–winning source novel to give it some real luster! A few people could end up getting Oscar noms out of this, at least, if it doesn’t totally tank.

June 24 2016 10:32 AM

What It Really Means That Independence Day: Resurgence Isn’t Being Screened for Critics

Opening this weekend: A sequel to one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, and a movie in which Blake Lively fights a shark. Guess which one isn’t being screened for critics?

Okay, that’s not quite fair: Independence Day: Resurgence, the 20th-anniversary sequel to the movie that ranks 55th on the all-time box-office list, is screening for reviewers in some cities. It’s just that it’s doing so at a Friday morning “courtesy screening,” approximately 15 hours after it opens in multiplexes. And that’s only in the U.S.: Critics in the U.K. and Australia were shown the film earlier this week, and their reviews were posted on Tuesday. But American publications, at least those without critics based in London or Sydney, won’t get a look until tonight—it’s doubtful many will wait until Friday when they can just buy a ticket for an evening showing—which means reviews won’t run until around midnight on the East Coast, and, more importantly, won’t make tomorrow’s print newspapers at all.

June 24 2016 8:32 AM

Is Game of Thrones Going to Give Us a Second Red Wedding?

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Man, everything’s getting a sequel these days. First Now You See Me, then Finding Nemo, and now the terrible massacre in Game of Thrones’ third season that killed off most of the Stark family and their army. Yes, that’s right: A scene in the trailer for the season-six finale has some fans convinced we’re about to get a second version of the Red Wedding.

They’re not getting the idea out of nowhere. The possibility of a Red Wedding sequel is a popular theory among Song of Ice and Fire fandom, thanks to a bunch of characters and circumstances that haven’t been included in the show. Even if you’re not a book reader, you’ve likely heard of Lady Stoneheart, the zombified version of Catelyn Stark who leads the Brotherhood Without Banners on a brutal campaign of vengeance throughout the later books of the series. So far, Stoneheart and the Brotherhood have confined themselves to killing anyone even slightly involved in the Red Wedding (and threatening the life of one major character), but there are hints they’ve got something bigger in the works.

June 24 2016 8:02 AM

Daniel Radcliffe’s Farting Corpse Movie Is Just the Culmination of These Directors’ Bizarre Videos

Swiss Army Man, a movie in which a desperate man stranded on a deserted island gets a new lease on life after a “magical” corpse washes upon shore, is a weird movie. Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (known collectively as Daniels), it flows narratively like a stream of consciousness, as if arriving at enthusiastic answers to the recurring query, “Wouldn’t it be stupid if insert-crazy-idea-here happened?” It’s also been dubbed as the “Daniel Radcliffe farting corpse movie”—but as a longtime fan of the duo’s short films and music videos, there's much more to it than just that. For me, Swiss Army Man is the culmination of years’ worth of clever techniques and inexpensive practical effects that have come to define Daniels’ signature style, their wild ideas amplified delightfully in long-form.

Below, a look at some of their best work, and how it influenced their bizarre, fantastical first feature.

June 23 2016 4:44 PM

Watch the Very Funny Teaser for Issa Rae’s Long-Awaited HBO Comedy Series

It’s been a long time coming, but Issa Rae’s highly anticipated venture into television is finally (almost) upon us—and if the first teaser for Insecure is any indication, the wait will have been worth it. In it, Rae plays Issa, a young woman who often finds herself in uncomfortable situations at her job (being asked to explain “on fleek” to her white co-workers, for instance) and in her love life, with comfort and support from her friend Molly (Yvonne Orji). It appears we’ll also get some witty internal monologues along the way, commenting on all the uneasy action.

In other words, it looks like a sleeker version of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Rae’s breakout web series that launched her success in the first place. This is a good thing—it’ll be great to see what she can do with a bigger platform while sticking to her strengths in observational humor as it relates to race and gender. Insecure is set to premiere on HBO this fall.

June 23 2016 4:24 PM

This Eighth Grader Does a Mean Trump Impression—But His Bernie Sanders Is Even Better

Another day, another Donald Trump impersonation. This one comes from veteran Trumpersonator Jimmy Fallon, who lathered on orangeface to address speculation over who will be his running mate. Chris Christie? LeBron James? Chewbacca Mom? Fallon’s Trump has other ideas: “The only person good enough to be my vice president—is me.”

Enter Trump’s teenage clone, “Little Donald,” played by Jack Aiello, eighth grade impressionist. He may be only 14, but he has a pretty good grasp of Trumpisms already, as evidenced by a graduation speech he gave earlier this month in which he imitated several presidential candidates, including Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Ted Cruz:


The video went viral, and so impressive was Aiello that he scored his Tonight Show gig, which let him show off those skills, including his best parody of all: Bernie Sanders.