Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

June 28 2016 11:47 PM

Celebrate Gilda Radner’s Birthday With These Classic Saturday Night Live Sketches

Tuesday would have been Gilda Radner’s 70th birthday if not for her untimely death at the age of 42. Her legendary Saturday Night Live characters Roseanne Roseannadanna and Baba Wawa are synonymous with the show’s early days, but they’re so ubiquitous, they’ve overshadowed some of her other great work. So to mark the occasion, we’ve ruled them out, and selected some of her lesser-known sketches. Happy birthday!

Creeley’s Soup

Radner was always great at playing children, but she takes it to the next level here against Bill Murray’s straight man. It takes nearly two minutes before this sketch’s brilliant structure reveals itself, but once it does, it’s one of the best left-turns the show ever took.

June 28 2016 4:29 PM

These Livestock Auctioneers Become Instant Rap Legends When You Add a Beat

For anyone who has ever asked, “Why do auctioneers talk like that?” at last, a satisfying answer: to become rap legends. At least, that’s what Vine user Auctioneer Beats has made them, laying beats behind the voices of livestock auctioneers to transform their patter from country to hip-hop.

We’ve rounded up some of the best ones, below, including a remix of Rhett Parks, who has long been a part of the noble tradition of rapping auctioneers.

June 28 2016 4:17 PM

The Honest Trailer for Jaws Promises the Most Masterful “Cheeseball B-Movie” Ever Made

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the cineplex—and just in time for Shark Week—Screen Junkies has released the Honest Trailer for Jaws. The trailer pokes plenty of fun at what can at times make the Steven Spielberg classic seem dated, after more than 40 years of parodies and homages and misconceived sequels—not to mention the whole summer-blockbuster industry that the movie helped spawn. But it also pauses to appreciate what has kept Jaws iconic and unique through decades of lackluster imitations and digital innovations. As the voiceover explains, this might just be the most beautifully constructed “cheeseball B-movie” in history.

Of course, no Honest Trailer is complete without a heap of snark to qualify the acclaim, and the latest is no exception. It also raises some worthy questions: What is the deal with this movie’s fascination with legs? What if the film, like the novel, took place on the Jersey Shore? And what’s the worst part of this monster movie’s equally monstrous mayor: his recklessness and greed, or his awful blazers?

June 28 2016 2:43 PM

Watch the Coen Brothers’ Never-Before-Seen Proof-of-Concept Trailer for Blood Simple—Starring Bruce Campbell!

Before they made their 1984 directorial debut Blood Simple, the Coen brothers had to convince investors it would be worth their money. The sample trailer they made for their take on film noir was enough to do the trick—and now, thanks to Janus Films, it’s available to watch online.

Joel Coen explained in an interview for the new Criterion edition of the film that the idea for a proof-of-concept trailer came from Sam Raimi, director of Evil Dead—as did their connection to Bruce Campbell, who appears in the fake trailer. Campbell didn’t appear in the final film, but the stylish, suspenseful preview offers a sample of the brothers’ early vision for the movie, about a man who hires a hitman to kill his wife and her lover. Check out the trailer for the final version of the film below for comparison:

Janus and Criterion’s restoration of Blood Simple will appear in theaters after an opening at the Film Forum in New York City on July 1. It will then be released on DVD on Sept. 20.

June 28 2016 12:32 PM

This Deleted Scene From Zootopia Would Have Made the Racial Allegory a Lot More Disturbing

After months and months of vague promos, Zootopia’s arrival in theaters came as a surprise to viewers—not only was the film fun and entertaining, but it was also totally a message movie about the perils of racial profiling. And if you thought about it too hard, the racial allegory quickly began to fall apart: What’s with the discriminated-against predators also being in positions of institutional power? And why, in a movie about shutting down stereotypes, is the fox actually sneaky and the weasel really a cheater? Still, after decades of questionable and/or downright racist on-screen depictions of people of color, Disney’s attempt to address such heavy subject matter in an animated kids’ movie can be considered a valiant effort and a sign of progress.

Which is why it’s probably a good thing that a deleted scene from Zootopia that is now online didn’t make it into the final cut of the film. For starters, the tone of the scene is considerably darker than that of the lighthearted romp the movie eventually became. It depicts a ceremony, soon revealed to be a “taming party,” in which a young bear cub named Morris prepares to become a “big bear.” His father presents his eager, ecstatic son with a collar in front of a room full of equally eager and ecstatic bear cubs: “With this collar, Zootopia accepts me,” the papa bear announces, wistfully, as Morris repeats after him. There’s a tinge of sadness and hesitation as he goes to put it around Morris' neck, and understandably so—Morris is soon given an electric shock after becoming too excited. The room gasps, and a startled Morris hugs his father tight.

The idea of animals in a kids’ movie suffering a form of ritualized corporeal punishment in order to gain acceptance by others is already pretty heavy—but it’s made even more disturbing when you consider it within the context of the film’s blatant racial allegory. The suggestion that the only way for the predators to coexist in the world of Zootopia is to “tame” them in adolescence would have brought in some icky, very colonial notions about race that such a film probably wouldn’t be able to engage with properly, to say the least. So let’s all be grateful that the top dogs at Disney made a wise decision to let this scene go.

June 28 2016 12:20 PM

That Haunting Theme From the Game of Thrones Finale Is Now on YouTube and Spotify

Game of Thrones has built its reputation on surprises—lavish set-pieces, abrupt character deaths, and timely resurrections—and to begin Sunday night’s season finale “The Winds of Winter,” director Miguel Sapochnik pulled the show into thrillingly new territory once more. In a 20-minute sequence evoking the famous baptism montage from The Godfather, “Winter” opened by showing the episode’s various characters getting into place against the backdrop of Ramin Djawadi’s delicate and mournful piano-driven composition, “Light of the Seven.”

Fans can now relive the finale’s opening without going through the hassle of logging into HBO Go. As Jezebel points out, Djawardi’s piece is now available on Spotify and YouTube. Give it a listen below as an antidote to any post-Thrones grief or just as a very dramatic soundtrack for doing the dishes. Indeed, while Game of Thrones may be among the most exciting shows on television, the composition provides a reminder of a less heralded source of the show’s power: the slow and the quiet.

June 28 2016 12:02 PM

Michelle Obama Talked About Books With Rory From Gilmore Girls, and It Was Magical

Michelle Obama will be visiting Liberia, Morocco, and Spain this week to promote her Let Girls Learn initiative, but before she left, she needed a little help choosing something to read on the plane. And where there is someone in need of a book, there is Rory Gilmore. Alexis Bledel reprised her role as the Gilmore Girls character and notorious bookworm for a meeting with the First Lady, recommending an entire library’s worth of choices, including such light “beach reads” as The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. (Oh, Rory. How we’ve missed you.)

This moment of worlds colliding actually makes a lot of sense, in-universe: After all, Gilmore Girls ended in 2007 with Rory leaving home to report on Barack Obama’s campaign for the Democratic nomination. There’s even a fun shoutout to junk food connoisseur Lorelai Gilmore when Rory hands the First Lady— who has spent the past eight years championing healthy eating—a box of Pop Tarts, “a gift from my mom.” So what books does the first lady eventually choose? Well, the only ones more addictive than Pop Tarts.

June 28 2016 8:33 AM

Tichina Arnold on the Politics of Colorism and Her Favorite Moments on Martin

Tichina Arnold currently stars as Cassie, the mother of an up-and-coming NBA star on the acclaimed Starz series Survivor’s Remorse (which returns for Season 3 July 24)—but to most fans, she’s probably best known for her role as Pam, Gina’s (Tisha Campbell) brassy best friend on Martin.

At the American Black Film Festival in Miami earlier this month I sat down with Arnold, and she dished candidly on her experiences working on the hit ’90s sitcom: her favorite on-camera improvised moment, how she felt about always being the butt of Martin’s cruel jokes and insults, and her thoughts on whether the show played into colorism in its treatment of Gina and Pam.

June 28 2016 8:02 AM

Margaery Tyrell Was One of Game of Thrones’ Greatest Characters

This post contains spoilers for the Game of Thrones Season 6 finale.

The Game of Thrones graveyard—which rarely lacks for tenants, violence being a neverending plague in the Seven Kingdoms—received an influx of new arrivals after Sunday night’s finale, from Rickon Stark to Tommon Baratheon to several Freys. Not to mention all the other characters we’ve lost this season, some of whom, like Hodor, were among the show’s most beloved. As we mourn them and look forward to the show’s conclusion, which seems more in reach than ever before, it seems worth taking a special moment to honor Margaery, played by Natalie Dormer, the show’s social-climbing, alliance-shifting, tween-seducing, smirking queen of getting under Cersei’s skin.

June 27 2016 11:14 PM

With This Game of Thrones Xbox One, You Win or You Die

The Xbox One has always taken criticism for being the bulkiest of all the gaming consoles. That’s one of the reasons it’s getting a slim redesign in August. But those dreamers at Xbox France ask, what if that, but the opposite? They’re giving away custom Xbox Ones that are so unwieldy, so gigantic, so overstuffed that they could only be based on Game of Thrones (or, as the French have it, Game of Thrones: Le Trône de Fer).

Not only are these Xboxes encrusted in what looks like cast iron, they have three giant rings modeled on the series’ opening credit sequence sticking out of the top. Try to fit that into any conceivable living room! Hide it in an entertainment console? It won’t fit in an entertainment console! If you go backward and design the room arounnd it, your gaming chair will probably crash right through the floor. It’s as unforgiving as Joffrey and as elegant as Robert Baratheon. Plus it looks like all that foofaraw covers up the air vents, so the first time you use it it’ll probably melt like the Hound’s face.

There are three ways to enter, if you are brave or foolhardy enough: on Xbox France’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram pages. Just imagine how it’ll look in your living room if you win. Shivering? Of course you are. You’re in the great game now. And the great game is terrifying.