Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

May 27 2016 12:56 PM

No, Tom Hiddleston Should Not Be James Bond

Mention Tom Hiddleston lately, and you’re contractually obligated to mention another name: James Bond. As Daniel Craig heads into the twilight of his turn in the franchise, Hiddleston has become such an aggressively popular prospective choice for the role that he recently shut down online betting in one U.K. market because too many people wanted to put money on him.

May 27 2016 10:45 AM

Listen to the Title Track From Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Next Album The Getaway

Red Hot Chili Peppers have released the title track from their upcoming album The Getaway, their first recording since I’m With You came out in 2011. “The Getaway” marks the second single they’ve made available from the impending LP, after “Dark Necessities.”

RHCP have been having a rough couple of weeks: Earlier this month, frontman Anthony Keidis was hospitalized for intestinal flu complications (which he has since recovered from), requiring the band to cancel their iHeart Radio performance. Meanwhile, just a few days ago, RHCP bassist Flea bemoaned the state of rock music, calling it “a dead form,” though he also said that he considers his own band and Pearl Jam exceptions. “The Getaway” and “Dark Necessities” are both considerably more funk than punk, even by the band’s usual standard, so we may have to wait until the LP drops June 17 to find out whether Flea is right.

May 27 2016 8:32 AM

Why It Makes Sense to End the True Detective Franchise

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Time may be a flat circle, but apparently said circle may have been completed when it comes to True Detective. Per the Hollywood Reporter, it now seems likely that series creator Nic Pizzolatto’s next project for HBO will be something completely new rather than a third season of the crime franchise. THR didn’t completely rule out the possibility of a new True Detective, saying only that a decision will now fall to HBO’s newly installed president of programming Casey Bloys. (A network spokesperson declined comment when contacted by Vulture.) But assuming True Detective is dead, there’s little reason for viewers—or executives at HBO—to mourn the loss.

The argument against a third season of True D has nothing to do with the widespread perception (not shared by everyone, of course) that the second season was a creative miss. The series was an anthology, with completely different characters and actors. Given the right idea and cast, as well as plenty of pre-production time, it’s quite possible #TrueDetectiveSeason3 would’ve been every bit the creative triumph as the original edition. Likewise, the ratings performance of both seasons of the show wasn’t so decisive one way or the other to matter all that much when considering the merits of moving forward. Viewership for the sophomore year of the show trended down as the season went on but not dramatically. On the other hand, ratings for both seasons—while higher than more recent efforts such as Vinyl and The Leftovers—weren’t so good that HBO is depriving itself of a juggernaut if it doesn’t greenlight another edition.

May 27 2016 8:02 AM

Lady Dynamite Is More Proof That Netflix Is Uniquely Good at Skewering TV Tropes

Mitch Hurwitz is clearly no stranger to self-referential TV shows. But Lady Dynamite is so meta that it’s like a Möbius strip swallowed another Möbius strip. About the only thing the show, which Hurwitz created with Pam Brady, doesn’t do is hack Netflix’s “play next episode” function so it takes you back to the beginning of the one you just watched.

That’s especially true of “White Trash,” Lady Dynamite’s third episode, in which comedian Maria Bamford plays a comedian named Maria Bamford who gets a part in the pilot for a sitcom called White Trash. She’s joined by Mira Sorvino, playing a British actress who’s playing an American actress who in turn is playing one of the roles in the show’s sitcom-within-a-sitcom. As “White Trash” unfolds, the layers of Sorvino’s character are stripped away in reverse, until Bamford catches up with Sorvino in the studio parking lot, trying to discern whether she was ever dealing with the real Mira Sorvino. “Who’s to say what is real?” Sorvino asks, just before her car rises into the air on a cloud of rainbow smoke and shoots off like an errant spacecraft.

May 26 2016 5:24 PM

The NYPD’s Top Cop Says Rappers Are “Thugs.” That Old-Fashioned Rhetoric Is Scarier Now Than Ever.

A performance by rapper T.I. came to an abrupt end before it even started on Wednesday night, when shots were fired backstage at the New York City music venue Irving Plaza, leaving one person dead and three, including Brooklyn rapper Troy Ave, wounded. On Thursday morning, New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton addressed the incident in a radio interview during which he reheated a set of talking points that seemed to have fallen out of fashion, even in conservative circles, more than a decade ago.

During the segment, which aired on AM news station WCBS 880 and was captured by BuzzFeed, Bratton described the violence at T.I.’s show as an inevitable byproduct of hip-hop culture—or, as he called it, “the crazy world of these so-called rap artists.” Bratton, who is 68, referred to rappers as “basically thugs” who “celebrate violence” that “oftentimes manifests itself during their performances.”

Asked by host Wayne Cabot whether he had thought these kinds of “problems in the rap world and the thug culture” were a relic of the 1990s, Bratton said no, and invoked the 2014 arrest of “Hot Boy” rapper Bobby Shmurda on conspiracy charges as one reason he never let himself get naïve about the dangers of hip-hop.

May 26 2016 4:56 PM

Everything We Know About the Weird “Superdelegate” Song Bernie Sanders Retweeted, Then Deleted

Yesterday afternoon, Bernie Sanders (aka a member of Bernie Sanders’ social media team) retweeted a link (which has since been deleted, it seems) to a song called “Superdelegate,” via someone named Lukas Autry Nelson:

What was immediately apparent was that this was one weird song, from the old-school, psycheledic sound to the extremely literal, often painful lyrics: “Change your mind, superdelegate/ You have to find just where we’re at/ You’re a fool/ You can be bought by who you represent.” Gawker’s Ashley Feinberg went so far as to call it “why-is-blood-streaming-from-my-ears bad,” and while that may be a tad extreme, there’s no denying that as far as political protest songs go, “Superdelegate” is no “Killing in the Name”—especially since its message targets an oddly specific and not particularly sexy aspect of our political system.

That actually made it a pretty good fit for the Sanders campaign, since he and his supporters have been vocally opposed to the huge lead Hillary Clinton has gained from said superdelegates. Still, within 24 hours the tweet had vanished, along with Sanders’ retweet, probably due to the scorn the song attracted after Gawker’s post: “Senator, hire better Tweeters,”  wrote one commenter. “My brain is literally in pain right now,” wrote another.

But an already strange sequence of events gets even stranger when you look at the players involved: Lukas Autry Nelson, the man behind both the original tweet and the song itself, is the frontman for Promise of the Real, a band that describes its music as “cowboy hippy surf rock,” as accurate a description of the genre “Superdelegate” falls into if there ever was one. He’s also Willie Nelson’s son (yes, that Willie Nelson). POTR have toured with Lukas' father and with Neil Young in the past, and they released their third album, Something Real, earlier this year. Now, apparently, they are also #FeelingtheBern.

May 26 2016 1:03 PM

Watch Spoon Perform New Song “I Ain’t the One,” Cover David Bowie and Prince

Spoon has been keeping a low profile since They Want My Soul, but over the weekend the band’s vocalist-guitarist Britt Daniel and keyboardist Alex Fischel played Festival Marvin in Mexico City. There they debuted a new song, “I Ain’t the One,” their first since premiering “Satellite” in Houston in late 2014.

Even as an acoustic set, “I Ain’t the One” has that distinctive, brooding Spoon sound. Daniel and Fischel also paid tribute to two of their musical inspirations who died this year, David Bowie and Prince, with covers of “I Can’t Give Everything Away” and “Under the Cherry Moon,” below:

I Can’t Give Everything Away:

Under the Cherry Moon:

May 26 2016 11:56 AM

The New CollegeHumor Show Bad Internet Is Like Black Mirror for Millennials

They’ll be there for you—or else. The first episode of CollegeHumor’s new series Bad Internet, now available on YouTube Red, imagines a terrifying dystopian future in which all of society is divided into categories based on BuzzFeed’s “Which Friends Character Are You?” quiz. Irene Choi plays Sarah, the fresh-faced heroine just waiting to find out whether she’s a Monica, a Chandler, or even—gasp!—a Gunther, while Cheri Oteri plays the “head Rachel” who must quell the revolution Sarah sparks when her quiz results fall outside of the Friends universe.

The first episode is obviously littered with Friends references, including some spot-on impressions and deadpan gems like “Our jobs were a joke, we were broke … and a nuclear holocaust wiped out most of humanity.” But the show also mines the entire dystopian young adult genre for clichés, with clear parallels to Divergent and to Black Mirror, which Sam Reich singled out as an inspiration for the series. It’s very funny stuff, and it’ll be interesting to see how future episodes manage to handle a post-Friends society.

May 26 2016 11:42 AM

Nashville Wasn’t Just a Mediocre Show About Country Music. It Was a Great One About Addiction.

Barring an unexpected encore, Wednesday night’s Season 4 finale was the last we’ll see of Nashville, and I’m not going to cry in my beer about it. Despite a powerful cast and an inspired premise, the ABC drama was weighed down by unrealized storylines and desultory supporting characters, and its plot managed to drag even as it careened from one implausible crisis to the next.

May 26 2016 8:32 AM

The Rise of the British Thriller on American Television

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

The 2016 Emmy race has begun, and Vulture will take a close look at the contenders until voting closes on June 27.

When it premiered on the BBC last winter, The Night Manager became a full-blown cultural event. Director Susanne Bier’s John le Carré adaptation reached over 8 million viewers—roughly 12 percent of the British population—and helped make its star, Tom Hiddleston, the odds-on favorite to don James Bond’s bow tie after Daniel Craig retires. It’s certainly difficult to imagine better Bond-bait than the role of a charming hotel night manager recruited to infiltrate an international arms dealer’s inner circle.

In its current U.S. run on AMC, where the miniseries’ finale airs Tuesday night, The Night Manager’s ratings victories have been somewhat less dramatic. It has, however, become the most visible in a new wave of British TV thrillers landing on American shores. The past several months have also brought us London Spy on BBC America and The Last Panthers, a collaboration between U.K. network Sky Atlantic and France’s Canal+ that aired its finale last week on Sundance.

This isn’t an entirely new phenomenon. In 2014, the Telegraph traced the roots of a vogue for thrillers on U.K. television to the popularity of Denmark’s The Killing. Some of these shows, like The Missing and The Fall, made it to America, where the explosion of networks and streaming services hungry for original programming has made space for foreign series that never would’ve reached us before. But by the time The Night Manager arrived, it had an unusual amount of support behind it: AMC programming head Joel Stillerman called it “an event show” and said the network planned to “market it as aggressively as we market any other originals.”