Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

March 29 2017 11:40 PM

From Ford to Football, Conan Looks at Donald Trump’s Attempts to Take Undeserved Credit

It was an ordinary Wednesday in Washington under Trump, which is to say that the President of the United States went on Twitter and embarrassed himself—and, by extension, all of us—on the global stage. What even is this?

It’s not the first time Donald Trump has tried to take credit for business decisions he had nothing to do with—it’s not even the first time he’s taken credit for business decisions made by Ford. Conan O’Brien noticed the recurring theme in Trump’s tweets and took a look at some of the other recent things Trump has tried to take credit for, from a new season of football to, well, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The execution is great, from Trump’s bizarre capitalization to his nonsensical use of hashtags, and the Albertson’s tweet is for the ages. It’s no wonder the segment turned out to be funny, though—according to the President’s Twitter, it was Donald Trump’s idea all along.

March 29 2017 10:49 PM

The New Silicon Valley Trailer Has a Powerful Explanation of “Mansplaining”

Mansplaining. Lots of women think they know what it means, but do they really? That’s the question the trailer for the fourth season of HBO’s Silicon Valley asks, through the show’s ever-articulate audience surrogate Erlich Bachman, played by T.J. Miller. Miller’s ability to turn the simplest line into something hilarious—check out the fussy way he over-articulates “but … ” in his mansplaining line—has served the show very well so far and looks like it will continue to do so. Now that he’s turned his attention to feminism, no doubt Bachman will be just as helpful to womankind as he has been to Silicon Valley.

Meanwhile, Thomas Middleditch, as tech genius Richard Hendricks, continues his journey into the heart of darkness. It’s not clear what his plans for “a new internet” will be, but it’s clear he’s pursuing them through morally questionable means. Middleditch’s performance has always had something a little squirrelly at its center—Richard has a wounded nerd’s rage—so it’ll be great if this season lets him explore that. And of course, the more things the show gives Zach Woods to be politely appalled by, the better. All in all, the new season looks really promising, and not just because it will finally explain “mansplaining” in the authoritative tones of a male actor.

As a bonus, here’s the Season 4 poster, drawn by Ghost World creator Daniel Clowes. Silicon Valley returns on April 23.

March 29 2017 5:32 PM

Pixar Throws Fans a Bone With This Cute New Dog-Themed Short From Coco

November is awfully far away for Disney–Pixar fans who are already eagerly awaiting their next feature, the Day of the Dead–themed Coco. Fortunately, the studios have seen fit to throw us a bone with this new animated short. Coco’s protagonist is a young Mexican boy named Miguel, who dreams of being a musician despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, but the star here is his furry companion, a nibble-eared, long-tongued Xolo named Dante, who gets up to all kinds of mischief in pursuit of an appetizing-looking bone.

March 29 2017 3:42 PM

The Problem With the Whitney Biennial’s Emmett Till Painting Isn’t That the Artist Is White

Dana Schutz’s “Open Casket,” a controversial painting now on display at the Whitney Biennial, depicts the mutilated body of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old who was lynched by white men in Mississippi in 1955. Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, opted for an open-casket funeral, saying, “Let the world see what I’ve seen … The whole nation had to bear witness to this.” She also allowed photographs of his body to be published. And in 2016, Schutz, who is a white woman, created a painting of Till, claiming inspiration from interviews with Mobley. “I don’t know what it is like to be black in America,” she said, “but I do know what it is like to be a mother.”

March 29 2017 1:20 PM

Evil Clown Alert: The First Trailer for It Is Finally Here

We finally have our first look at New Line’s long-gestating It adaptation.

Stephen King’s horror classic—about the evil clown Pennywise and the group of kids known as the Losers Club who face off against him after children start disappearing in their small town of Derry, Maine—was previously reimagined for a 1990 miniseries but failed to come together as a motion picture feature after years of setbacks. Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) was attached to direct as early as 2009, before exiting after clashes with the studio and refusing to accept major budget cuts. In 2015, Andrés Muschietti took his place, fresh off of his breakout debut Mama, and at last has been able to get the project rolling.

March 29 2017 10:54 AM

Of Course Donald Trump Is the Villain in the Trailer for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel

Al Gore’s worst nightmare has essentially come true: On Tuesday, Donald Trump signed an executive order that rescinds a whole slew of Obama-era environmental protections, on the grounds that the move will grow the U.S. economy. (Never mind for a moment that the order will almost certainly fail to do that.) The order makes the timing of a new trailer for Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, especially meaningful—particularly since Trump is the trailer's Big Bad.

The Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth debuted in 2006, and its sequel seems to fill in the gaps between then and 2017. There’s some “I told ya so”–ing from Gore, who looks back at An Inconvenient Truth and remembers being criticized for the claim that “sea-level rise and storm surge would flood the 9/11 memorial site.” Of course, footage from 2012’s Hurricane Sandy shows that very same thing happening.

March 29 2017 10:34 AM

Nobel Prize Winner Bob Dylan Has Finally Decided to Take Home His Nobel Prize

For a while there last year, it seemed like Bob Dylan’s reaction to the surprising news that he had won the Nobel Prize in Literature was ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The musician wasn’t answering the Swedish Academy’s calls, and a brief acknowledgment of the award on his website vanished almost as quickly as it had appeared. Later, he would present a charming written acceptance speech (in which he compared himself to Shakespeare) at the Nobel Banquet—albeit through U.S. ambassador Azita Raji, who read it in his absence.

Now, according to Sara Danius, the Swedish Academy’s permanent secretary, there is “good news” to be shared: Dylan and Nobel will finally be united, in the flesh! Via her blog, she says,

In a few days Bob Dylan will visit Stockholm and give two concerts. The Swedish Academy is very much looking forward to the weekend and will show up at one of the performances. Please note that no Nobel Lecture will be held. The Academy has reason to believe that a taped version will be sent at a later point. (Taped Nobel lectures are presented now and then, the latest of which was that of Nobel Laureate Alice Munro in 2013.) At this point no further details are known.
The good news is that the Swedish Academy and Bob Dylan have decided to meet this weekend. The Academy will then hand over Dylan’s Nobel diploma and the Nobel medal, and congratulate him on the Nobel Prize in Literature. The setting will be small and intimate, and no media will be present; only Bob Dylan and members of the Academy will attend, all according to Dylan’s wishes.

March 29 2017 9:56 AM

The One Way to Save Meals on Wheels? Militarize It, Says The Daily Show.

“Let me get this straight,” Trevor Noah said on Tuesday night’s The Daily Show after going through President Trump’s reckless budget plan. “The Trump administration will defend Putin, white supremacists, and sexual assault. But delivering food to old people—that shit’s immoral?”

Noah was, of course, referring to Trump’s proposed slashing of the federal Meals on Wheels program, which budget director Mick Mulvaney curiously said is “not showing any results” and should be left to states to fund. That such a compassionate, straightforward program could come under fire in Trump’s America is, unfortunately, a grim indication of where things could soon be headed. But together with correspondent Roy Wood Jr., Noah and the Daily Show team came to a potentially innovative solution: Militarize Meals on Wheels, and trick President Trump into thinking it’s just another (unnecessary) boost to defense.

March 29 2017 8:03 AM

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys on Why Their Americans’ Characters Are Sick of Honey Traps

Each week on Slate's Americans podcast, June Thomas sits down with the creators, cast, and crew of The Americans as they reveal behind-the-scenes details about the making of the FX drama's fifth season.

This week, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, the show's leads, talk about what made filming feel different this season and why Philip and Elizabeth are suddenly bearish on honey traps. Rhys also explains why he celebrates when a script has his character eating junk food. Then Peter Ackerman, who wrote Episode 4, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?,” explains why Henry is his favorite character.

Note: This podcast contains spoilers and is meant to be enjoyed after you watch the episode. New episodes air Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

Podcast production by June Thomas.

March 29 2017 7:33 AM

A Beginner’s Guide to the Ghost in the Shell Universe

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

The Scarlett Johansson version of Ghost in the Shell is being released this Friday, whether we want it or not. It’s been notoriously tricky for Hollywood to successfully adapt anime and manga titles, even if they later get a critical reappraisal (see: Speed Racer, Edge of Tomorrow). But in the case of a classic franchise like Ghost in the Shell, which most American viewers know from the 1995 Mamoru Oshii film, there’s more of a known quantity to live up to—this is one of the most influential franchises in anime history.

Still, most American moviegoers have only seen Oshii’s film, if that, and Ghost in the Shell, like many anime franchises, exists over multiple films, TV series, and manga that were still going strong as recently as 2015. And the cyborg heroine Major Motoko Kusanagi has been reincarnated in multiple ages, temperaments, and bodies (or lack thereof). In other words, if ScarJo’s take flops, she won’t be the first Major that fans have accused of ruining the series.

The silver lining, of course, is that it’s an excellent excuse to dig into the heady world of Ghost in the Shell. Here’s a quick guide to the essentials to get you started.