Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Nov. 29 2015 4:48 PM

M.I.A. Charts the Journey of Refugees in the Terrific Music Video for “Borders”

Last week, M.I.A. released a new single, “Borders,” and she’s now shared the song’s excellent music video, which she directed and which starkly confronts the world’s burgeoning refugee crisis.

The video sees the singer stand in front of lines of men who climb over fences, cram into boats, and generally act out the torturous route some emigrants take to sanctuary. This all accompanies some repetitive, intentionally simplistic lyrics (“Borders, what's up with that?/Identities, what's up with that?), which, even for M.I.A, are incredibly charged with political energy. That makes sense: The singer’s own family consists of Sri Lankan refugees, and in a recent tweet she dedicated the song to her uncle Bala, “one of the first Tamil migrants to come to the UK.” M.I.A.’s camp has confirmed that “Borders” is from her forthcoming fifth album, Matahdatah, but the record’s release date hasn’t yet been set.

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Nov. 29 2015 12:24 PM

The Best Scenes in Movie History, in One Video Countdown

The latest ranking from the folks at CineFix is particularly ambitious: the 10 best movie scenes, period. Obviously, that’s a futile project, and one bound to provoke dissent—but that’s part of the fun, and the sharp, scholarly analysis the list employs makes it a pleasure to watch even if you disagree.

Nov. 29 2015 12:00 PM

How to Make Your Last Name Plural This Christmas Season

This post originally appeared on the author’s blog at

Nothing quells my Christmas cheer as quickly as a stray apostrophe. Every year they assault me.

Usually it’s in the middle of an otherwise quaint moment: I am padding around my parents’ house, wearing pink slippers, sipping on some hot chocolate. Snow is falling outside the window, and Josh Groban’s Christmas CD is filling the downstairs with peace on earth and mercy mild. My mother is baking a pie. She’s about to ask if I want to lick the spatula (which, duh, I will).

First, though, I find a stack of Christmas cards and begin to flip through them—pausing to marvel at how big so-and-so’s kids have gotten. And then I spot it: anapostrophe in a last name that isn’t supposed to be possessive.

Nov. 28 2015 3:47 PM

Benedict Cumberbatch Is Real Good at Being an Otter

He’s an Oscar nominee and the star of Sherlock, but a not insignificant portion of the Internet knows Benedict Cumberbatch mainly because of this Tumblr, which documents the actor’s uncanny tendency look otter-like in his appearance, posture, and expression.

Cumberbatch has rarely commented on this strange congruence, but on a recent Graham Norton Show he obliged his host by recreating the visages of several otters—some angry, others happy, all of them adorable. Johnny Depp and his inexplicable accent joined the fun for good measure. 

Nov. 28 2015 1:34 PM

Erykah Badu Reunites With André 3000 on Dreamy Ballad “Hello”

Over the course of two decades, Erykah Badu and André 3000 have raised a child together, broken new ground in their respective genres, and released several charming collaborations. The latest such collaboration is “Hello,” off Badu’s just-released But You Caint Use My Phone mixtape, and it’s a sublime melding of her neo-soul rhythms and André’s rolling, rapid-fire flow.

The song riffs on the Isley Brothers’ “Hello It’s Me,” incorporating that song’s slow groove and ambient instrumentation. You can stream the entirety of But You Caint Use My Phone, which was recorded in a mere 12 days in Dallas, on Apple Music.

Nov. 28 2015 11:31 AM

David Tennant Explained Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity for Its 100th Anniversary

A century ago, a 36-year-old Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity, which to the average Joe entails fuzzy concepts like spacetime and field equations and free-falling bodies. Now, though, animator Eoin Duffy and a team of writers have made this charming video explainer, which, while not especially erudite, gets the basic tenets of the theory across while still managing to entertain.

Nov. 26 2015 9:03 AM

How to Turn Your Thanksgiving Scraps Into a Satisfying Next-Day Breakfast

This post originally appeared on Food52.

I have never hosted Thanksgiving, but I did recently throw my first dinner party, and I’ll tell you what: The aftermath was bleak.

The party itself was a great success, and I’ve never felt more like a domestic goddess than I did while filling and refilling my friends plates with a meal of my own creation. But at the end of the night, after closing the door behind the last guest, it was all I could do to stumble to my bed (ignoring the feat of structural engineering that was the stack of dirty dishes in the sink) before passing out in proud, stuffed, slightly inebriated exhaustion.

The next day, the concept of cleaning up was favorable only in comparison to the concept of feeding myself. Leftovers? Blah. Cooking? After last night? Hilarious joke. I’ll have six bagels instead.

As far as I can tell, the days after hosting Thanksgiving are just that whole mess jacked up on tryptophan. Save yourself from a coma by whipping up a strata.

Nov. 25 2015 6:50 PM

Eagles of Death Metal Give Their Frightening, Firsthand Account of the Paris Shootings

Earlier this month, during a performance by American rock band Eagles of Death Metal, three shooters killed over 80 people in a terrorist attack on Paris’ Bataclan concert hall. The band’s members all survived the shooting, and they’ve now given their first interview about the attack to Vice, detailing over 25 minutes their memory of the event and their subsequent wrestling with such enormous tragedy.

Their account is incredibly graphic, and includes visceral retellings of how each member scrambled to survival: Singer Jesse Hughes actually came face-to-face with one of the gunmen, and bassist Matt McJunkins notes that the gunfire went on “for 10, 15 minutes, it just didn’t stop.” The band wants to be the very first to play the Bataclan when it re-opens, with Hughes concluding: “Our friends went there to see rock and roll and died. I want to go back and live."

Nov. 25 2015 1:51 PM

Spike Lee Predicts Sex Strikes Across College Campuses in the Wake of Chi-Raq

Spike Lee’s new film, Chi-Raq, spins off the Ancient Greek comedy Lysistrata, in which Athenian women vow to withhold sex until their men end the Peloponnesian War. Lee’s modernized version is set in South Side Chicago, where more Americans have died than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. During hisappearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert last night, Lee blamed the violence on lax gun control laws and predicted that, thanks to Chi-Raq, sex strikes will prove both highly popular and highly effective in ending violence. “I think that a sex strike could really work on college campuses where there’s an abundance of sexual harassment and date rapes,” Lee told Colbert. “Second semester it’s going to happen. Once people come back from Christmas, there’s going to be sex strikes at universities and college campuses across this country. I believe it.”

Not one to waste time, Colbert trotted Lee through a series of topics including the release of graphic dashcam footage showing a Chicago officer gunning down teenager Laquan McDonald. “Do you believe it’s always better to see an event even if it can incite a violent reaction?” Colbert asked. “I’m glad that the tape is being released because this is democracy, and I don’t think we can pick and choose what America should see,” Lee answered.

Nov. 25 2015 1:04 PM

The Fantastic Four Honest Trailer Elegantly Explains Why Fantastic Four Was So Terrible

When Fox’s third attempt at a Fantastic Four movie flopped, several theories surfaced as to why. Perhaps the Fantastic Four are unlikeable jerks who could never successfully support a franchise. Perhaps thebreakdown in communication between studio and director made the resulting film a poorly edited, unsalvageable mess. Or perhaps, as Screen Junkies suggests in its Honest Trailer, it’s because the characters are four inept teenagers who get drunk, take selfies, and stick their hands in alien goo.

Honest Trailers are never more delicious than when they’re taking down cinematic trainwrecks, and this one is no exception. Fantastic Four (or “Fan-Four-Stick,” per the film’s confusing wordmark) has no redeeming qualities—the plot makes no sense, the villain is hokey, and the talents of Hollywood’s hottest young actors are squandered on banal dialogue. (Sample line: “We’re a team now, and there’s four of us, so we should come up with a name for it.” Thanks for that, Reed.) Frankly, it’s shocking Screen Junkies managed to fit everything wrong with the movie into four minutes and thirty seconds.