Slate's Culture Blog

Sept. 16 2014 10:52 AM

Bill Hader Explains Why Playing Stefon Made Him Laugh and Why LeBron James Is Funny

Bill Hader and Seth Meyers enjoyed several seasons together on Saturday Night Live, most memorably sharing the stage when Hader played Stefon opposite Meyers as the Weekend Update host. On Late Night Monday, they revisited those years, and Hader explained why he could never get through the sketch without laughing.

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Sept. 16 2014 9:13 AM

Clive James, Terminally Ill, Has Written an Exquisitely Resigned Farewell Poem

The terminally ill Australian polymath Clive James, 74, has written the kind of poem that will bring your day to a standstill. “Japanese Maple” appears in the Sept. 15 issue of The New Yorker and it is heartbreakingly lovely, a concentrated infusion of truths about nature’s amplitude and the human condition.

Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM

Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”

Amidst another media uproar about another Kanye West controversy, it’s easy to forget that the man makes some pretty great music, and that his work exerts a powerful hold on up-and-coming artists everywhere. The latest to pay him homage is none other than Lorde, who at a recent concert in Philadelphia performed a short, thrilling rendition of Graduation single “Flashing Lights.”

Sept. 15 2014 5:26 PM

Robin Thicke’s Bizarre “Blurred Lines” Deposition Is Both Unflattering and Convenient

2014 has not been good to Robin Thicke. In May, he began his “full-blown stalker” apology tour for estranged wife Paula Patton with a Billboard Music Awards performance of “Get Her Back,” the lead single from his album Paula, which tanked over the summer. In the midst of that romantic drama, Thicke has also been involved in an ongoing legal battle with the Marvin Gaye estate, led by Gaye’s children, who allege that his 2013 Song of the Summer “Blurred Lines” rips off Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”

Today, The Hollywood Reporter published the full transcript from Thicke’s deposition regarding the lawsuit, recorded in April, and it is not flattering.

Sept. 15 2014 5:23 PM

Run the Jewels Releases a New Song and Offer Ridiculous Packages for Those With Extra Money

There’s no shortage of promising rap albums—both rumored and confirmed—in the months to come, from Nicki Minaj to Kanye West to Kendrick Lamar. But don’t overlook the soon-to-arrive sophomore effort from hip-hop megaduo Run the Jewels, made up of El-P and Killer Mike. The first song we heard from it, “Blockbuster Night Pt. 1,” was a no-holds barred verbal assault. Their latest single, “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry,” is equally unapologetic.

Sept. 15 2014 1:35 PM

It’s Time to Ditch the Low Box Office Expectations for Movies With Black Stars

No Good Deed, the home invasion thriller starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, opened in first place at the box office this past weekend with $24.5 million. The movie’s top spot seems to have surprised many who follow such things: Idris Elba, beloved as he is by fans of The Wire and Luther, is not known as a box office draw, and last week No Good Deed’s sole preview screenings were mysteriously cancelled at the last minute. (The dubious excuse: the marketing team didn’t want a plot twist to be revealed ahead of the opening.)

But one aspect of the film that shouldn’t have made folks count No Good Deed out of the running for box office glory? It’s cast of black stars. In fact, it is the latest in a string of movies led by black actors that have “overperformed” at the box office, any number of which should have put to rest the still-prevailing notion that films with all or primarily black casts don’t do well at the box office.

Sept. 15 2014 1:12 PM

Childish Gambino Trades in Rapping for Crooning on the Great ’80s-Tinged “Sober”

Fans of Childish Gambino, the musical stage name for Donald Glover, are aware that the passionate rapper is prone to peppering his repertoire with someimpressive crooning. On his latest release, “Sober,” he goes all in, singing his heart out over a catchy, ’80s-tinged production that echoes Kanye West’s “Paranoid” (minus the autotune).

Sept. 15 2014 12:25 PM

Katniss Is a Reluctant Hero in the New Hunger Games Trailer

Like Slate film critic Dana Stevens, I thought that the second Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire, was “in many ways an improvement on the first film.” And the third, Mockingjay: Part 1, has Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last roles, as well as Julianne Moore. This trailer is a bit heavy on the dimly lit action setpieces, but I’m still very much looking forward to this movie.


Sept. 15 2014 12:00 PM

The Collected Wisdom of Morgan Freeman


Morgan Freeman being inspirational is a modern Hollywood cliche—and with good reason. As the man himself once said, “just listen to that rich molasses.”


Seriously, listen to it, and let the timeless wisdom so many screenwriters have asked him to read over the years be your guide. 

Sept. 15 2014 9:05 AM

Watch Conan O’Brien Sing the Monorail Song

On Friday night, The Simpsons took over the Hollywood Bowl, celebrating the show with a bevy of its beloved musical numbers performed by an all-star cast. The standout tune may have been “The Monorail Song” as sung by Conan O’Brien, the man who wrote the episode it’s featured in, “Marge vs. the Monorail.”