Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Feb. 27 2015 2:23 PM

The Dress and the Llamas Are Exactly What the Media Should Be Covering

So two llamas and an ugly dress walk into the Internet. The Internet says “Hey, cool, two llamas and an ugly dress!” (The llamas and the dress say nothing, lacking the capacity for speech.) Then, the Internet gets bored with the llamas and the dress, and wonders why it found them cool in the first place. Eventually, the Internet blames the media.

You’ve probably heard that one before. Whenever a meme catches the attention of the mainstream media, the story always ends with lots of people interpreting the media’s coverage of that meme as somehow indicative of declining journalistic standards and an impending idiocracy. Thursday, in which two runaway llamas and a color-shifting dress captivated online newsrooms worldwide, was no exception. Today, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with people bemoaning coverage of “The Dress” as an unadulterated media fail.

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Feb. 27 2015 2:16 PM

Listen to Leonard Nimoy Explain the Jewish Origins of His Famous Vulcan Hand Greeting

Leonard Nimoy, who passed away Friday, sat down with the Wexler Oral History Project last year, his impressive Yiddish skills on full display. In the video below, Nimoy describes the origin of his famous Star Trek hand greeting: The Jewish priestly blessing, or duchening. He'd already revealed this in his 1975 autobiography I Am Not Spock, but the video is still delightful. 

Feb. 27 2015 1:58 PM

Just How Viral Is “The Dress”?

By some mixture of luck, psychological insight, and viral witchcraft, the dress above became #TheDress Thursday night. According to a BuzzFeed rep, it “drew more visitors to our site at one time than ever before,” blazing new traffic records by the hour. By 9 p.m., it was the top trending topic on Twitter. At one point in the evening the number of simultaneous readers on BuzzFeed’s main article about the Dress had reached 670,000.

Just how viral was this dress? For comparison, we rounded up a few of BuzzFeed’s most popular hits from the past few years and put them beside this new prince of the web, so you could see just how well The Dress stacks up in the annals of virality.

Feb. 27 2015 1:54 PM

How Leonard Nimoy Left Us With the Best Scene in Star Trek

Star Trek II not only has the honor of the best Star Trek film ever—a tight revenge plot whose special effects hold up today—but it not coincidentally contains the best and most powerful scene in the franchise’s expansive oeuvre, and not least because of the performance of Leonard Nimoy, who came to the end of his long life on Friday. Spock dies. For fans still holding onto the harmless and dreamy experiment in applied liberalism that was the original 1960s series, this was a shock.

Not just a shock because moments before it had you thinking No way a major hero dies, but because of the deft sleight of hand director Nicholas Meyer performs. The slow ratcheting of tension—will they get out of there?—the small, heartbreakingly stoic look Spock gives as he makes his decision to fix the warp core, fatally, by hand; and then, after he bathes himself in its bright poisonous radiation, the cut back to the bridge where we have to wait for William Shatner’s Kirk to find out what happened.

Feb. 27 2015 12:32 PM

How One Dress United the Internet

Yesterday, a pair of llamas escaped from their ranch in Sun City, Arizona. The two domesticated camelids—one white and saucy, the other black and shy—led police and citizens on an adorable high-speed chase through the city streets, evading capture for an hour as a local news helicopter tracked them live and beamed the video across the internet. We watched, we shared, we created content. Looking back now, the whole llama kerfuffle feels a little ominous, like animals scattering before a natural disaster. Soon after the llamas were lassoed, the internet was hit by one of the most viral events of all time: A photograph of a mysterious dress that looked black and blue to some people, and white and gold to others.

Feb. 27 2015 12:28 PM

Who Sees Blue and Black and Who Sees White and Gold—in One Chart

Read more of Slate’s very comprehensive coverage of The Dress.

The Internet erupted into mayhem last night over one seemingly simple question: Is this dress blue and black or white and gold? A line was drawn in the sand, and you were either on one side or the other. (Unless you were one of those weirdos who could see it as both.)

Since it was sometimes hard to keep track of all this chaos, we’ve rounded up some of the most notable people to weigh in and sorted them out in this nifty Venn diagram. Now all we have to do is figure out what separates these two types of people.

Feb. 27 2015 12:07 PM

Harrison Ford Is Officially On Board for Blade Runner Sequel

Good news for sci-fi fans: The sequel to Blade Runner is moving ahead, with Harrison Ford attached. Denis Villeneuve, who directed Prisoners with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, will direct the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s 1982 film.

The Blade Runner redux takes place decades after the original movie, and Ford will, of course, play Rick Deckard. In a December interview, Scott said that Ford called the sequel “the best thing he’s ever read.” So was Deckard really a replicant? Maybe we’ll finally find out.

Feb. 27 2015 11:22 AM

If Whiplash Met the Muppets

After Sesame Street did its parody of Birdman, it’s only natural for our other favorite puppets to take the next step and spoof one of this year’s other nominees for Best Picture. In a new spoof on Whiplash produced by Huffington Post UK, the Muppets’ Animal joins the movie’s jazz band under the dictatorial Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), with some unexpected results.

Intimidating though Simmons’ character is, he may have met his match in Animal. After all, Animal has been training with the greats for decades.

Feb. 27 2015 8:32 AM

The Best Movies and TV Shows Coming to Netflix in March

Every month, a number of movies and TV series leave Netflix streaming, sometimes only temporarily, usually because licensing deals have expired. (Here are the best movies expiring on March 1.) Several new titles arrive in their place. So what’s coming next month, and which of these new arrivals should you watch? Below, we’ve chosen the best new movies and TV shows coming to Netflix instant streaming this March. Plan your weekend marathons accordingly.

Feb. 26 2015 6:22 PM

No, Madonna’s Fall Did Not Make Her Seem More “Human”

Falling down is funny. According to the “benign violation theory” of humor, watching someone fall down makes us laugh because it violates the normal order of things and doesn’t really hurt anyone. (Usually.) The “violation” part of the benign violation theory is especially shocking when the person falling down is someone who is normally very poised, dignified, or controlled—someone, for instance, like a runway model, a head of state, a professional athlete, or an Oscar winner.

Or Madonna. The pop legend fell down a short staircase during her performance at the Brit Awards this week, and GIFs and guffaws quickly spread across the Internet. More often than not, the jokes were tinged with Schadenfreude, or satisfaction that a consummate professional had shown her weakness. “Ambulance for Granny, please,” tweeted foot-in-mouth-prone television personality Piers Morgan, who gleefully reposted the Vine of Madonna’s fall three times in two hours. “The Queen of Pop is human after all—if you prick her does she not bleed?” teased Monica Tan of the Guardian. Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams diagnosed the widespread joking as a symptom of ageism and sexism but concluded that she liked “seeing this larger than life creature become, for a few seconds, vulnerable.”