Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

July 27 2016 8:32 AM

In Praise of Barb, the Best Character on Stranger Things

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

This story contains spoilers for the full first season of Stranger Things.

There are many things to root for in Stranger Things, Netflix’s ode to ‘80s horror movies. There is the group of outcast nerds hell-bent on rescuing their friend who disappeared; the powerful girl with the G.I. Jane haircut on the run from shadowy government agents that want to control her; the resurrection of Winona Ryder’s careerthat might finally stick. But there is no one greater to root for than Barb, the unsung and forgotten hero of the show.

Barbara Holland (played by Shannon Purser) is Nancy Wheeler’s best friend and a budding fashion icon. She’s only in a handful of scenes in the first three episodes before the gross, tulip-faced monster drags her into the Upside Down dimension, devours her, and leaves her desiccated corpse in a pile of green goop for her friends to discover somewhere around episode eight.

July 27 2016 8:03 AM

The Best Movies to Stream on Netflix Before They Expire in August

Every month, Netflix adds dozens of new titles to its growing collection of streaming movies and TV series. At the same time, it rotates out some of its older titles. Below we’ve chosen the best movies to watch before they’re removed from Netflix Instant in August. (All titles expire Aug. 1 except where otherwise noted.)

July 26 2016 11:30 PM

Samantha Bee Found RNC Attendees Pathologically Unable to Say the Words Black Lives Matter

Finding ideologues at a political convention isn’t exactly as difficult as hunting exotic animals, but Samantha Bee and her crew did pretty well for themselves at the Republican National Convention, as this clip from Full Frontal With Samantha Bee shows. After a brief recap of flamboyantly racist Republican Congressman Steve King’s most recent flamboyantly racist outburst and the thrilled applause with which the GOP greeted the latest acquittal in the mysterious death of Freddie Gray, Bee’s crew took to the convention floor to ask attendees about the Black Lives Matter movement.

The results were predictably unenthusiastic, but one section stands out in particular. Asked if they could even say the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” person after person—including a man dressed as Abraham Lincoln—replies “All lives matter,” with a monotonous delivery that suggests North Korean brainwashing. It’s an “evil organization,” “bordering on domestic terrorism,” that “has no more place in our body politic than the KKK or the skinheads,” according to the attendees. (This checks out: Trump’s base of internet Nazis aren’t technically KKK members or, as far as we know, skinheads—though their anime avatars don’t give a definitive answer either way.) But a few of the attendees seem to be basically people of good faith—the man festooned with the most campaign buttons is willing to go so far as to agree with the statement “Black Lives Matter, Pending Research.” It’s a start. 

July 26 2016 9:59 PM

After Ghostbusters, Paul Feig Will Produce a Cocaine-Fueled Romp Called Supermodel Snowpocalypse

Well, not every movie can be about positive role-models for women. Variety reported Tuesday that Paul Feig’s Feigco production company has landed Supermodel Snowpocalypse at Paramount. Feig and Feigco partner Jessie Henderson will produce, while Dan Magnante and Alana Mayo head up the film at Feigco and Paramount respectively. (Full disclosure: my wife used to work with Henderson at Universal.) Supermodel Snowpocalypse will be based on a Mickey Rapkin article in Elle, which ran under the extremely long but extremely descriptive headline, “This Drug-Fueled, Multimillion-Dollar Supermodel Snowpocalypse Has Been Fashion’s Best-Kept Secret Since ’77: The Epic, Never-Before-Told Story Behind Possibly the Greatest Fashion Emergency in History and a Daring, Near-Deadly Escape.”

Rapkin’s article tells the story of an extraordinarily ill-fated 1977 trip to Chile’s Hotel Portillo, a ski resort in the Andes that was to be the shooting location for a catalog called The Fabulous Furs of Neiman Marcus. Chile was a natural place to shoot fur coats in July for at least two reasons. First, it was winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and the other option was the department store’s hometown of Dallas. Second, despite the U.S.’s help delivering Chile to Augusto Pinochet, the dictator was having a hard time delivering U.S. tourists to Chile, for some reason. So a fur catalog sent to the United States’ richest shoppers showing American supermodels having a great time there was seen as a public relations “coup,” so to speak, and Pinochet helped foot the bill.


Shortly after the Neiman Marcus models arrived at the Portillo, they were snowed in, but thankfully managed to procure a vast quantity of cocaine before their supply lines were cut off by the blizzard. Over the rest of their stay, as snow reached the second story of the hotel and supplies dwindled, the models—including not-yet-as-famous-as-she-would-be Jerry Hall—reportedly did a lot of cocaine, held an impromptu fashion show, sent startling amounts of cocaine up their impeccable noses, created a Studio 54-like atmosphere in the snowed-in hotel’s disco, hovered geometrically perfect lines of white powder off a variety of glass surfaces, managed to shoot the photos they needed, and were eventually evacuated, along with their drugs, by Chilean military helicopters (while leaving the hotel’s other guests to wait for the storm to clear). After attempting to use up the rest of their supply in the airplane bathroom on the way home, they cleared customs with nosebleeds (and the remaining coke hidden in a chapstick). It’s not really clear from the article why a story about a dictator-funded coke bender would be right for Feig instead of, say, Scorsese, but he’ll only be producing; someone else will direct. And one thing is certain: That year’s edition of The Fabulous Furs of Neiman Marcus looks amazing.

July 26 2016 3:54 PM

Jason Bateman and Kate McKinnon Throw a Very Wild Office Christmas Party in This New Trailer

Holiday season at the movies usually involves some combination of Oscar bait, family-friendly fare, and raunchy, star-studded comedy. Certain to be included in that last category this year is Office Christmas Party, which comes from Josh Gordon and Will Speck (the directing team behind The Switch and Blades of Glory) and features a lineup of boldfaced names. Set for a Dec. 9 release, the film is positioned as the kind of broad, low-concept, well-cast laugher that December moviegoers tend to embrace.

Office Christmas Party stars Jennifer Aniston as Carol Vanstone, a company CEO planning on closing down her brother Clay’s (T.J. Miller) branch, and Jason Bateman as Josh, the branch’s chief technology officer. In an effort to save his job and entire office, Clay enlists Josh to help throw a Christmas party wild enough to win over a major potential client—until, of course, things get a little out of control. With a supporting cast including Olivia Munn, Vanessa Bayer, and Ghostbusters standout Kate McKinnon, it’s easy to see why this might merit a watch on a cold winter afternoon.

July 26 2016 12:54 PM

Chris Harrison Experiments With Eviscerating Bachelorette Rejects Instead of Gently Dismissing Them

Bachelorette host Chris Harrison has mastered the art of sending off disappointed suitors with grace and aplomb, using phrases like "Gentlemen, I'm sorry" and "If you didn't get a rose, this is the end of the road for you." But this season he’s mixing it up: Harrison tried out some tough new rose ceremony farewells on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Kimmel approves. The new, harsher Harrison doesn’t mince words as he tells contestants that “it’s time to go cry in the limo with the sound guy” and sends them back to “whatever weird town [they] came from.”

Harrison is a good sport about it all, but we can’t help but notice he seems to be enjoying himself a lot when he orders the expectant suitors to “get the F out of here.”

July 26 2016 12:01 PM

Sarah Silverman Singlehandedly Made the Case for the Value of Celebrities at Political Conventions

Of the many weirdnesses that Donald Trump has wrought on this election cycle, one—of admittedly lesser consequence—has been to make it a safe space for celebrities. For decades, celebrities have been betwixt and between when it comes to politics, the romantic partner politicians let pay for everything but are embarrassed to be seen with in public. As famous and beloved citizens with influence, celebrities have reliably participated in elections, sometimes even appearing on the ballot, but they have just as reliably been castigated for overstepping and getting political when they should stick to entertaining.

Republicans—who have fielded celebrities for major office (Reagan, Schwarzenegger, Trump) and invited Clint Eastwood to speak to a chair at the RNC—have historically been more likely than Democrats to insult famous people and the politicians who hobnob with them as denizens of an effete liberal Hollywood, out of touch with the values of regular Americans. That they have taken this line because they need to—celebrities do tend to skew Democrat—has not made it any less effective. Democrats, in past elections, have seemed almost sheepish about the star power they could attract, wary of opening themselves up to a line of attack.

July 26 2016 11:36 AM

Samantha Bee Took on Fox News’ Culture of Misogyny, and It Was Very Satisfying

Roger Ailes’ abrupt resignation from Fox News has finally put a face on his network’s long-standing culture of misogyny—a culture that Samantha Bee eviscerated Monday night in a web-exclusive Full Frontal segment. With dozens of women coming forward with harassment allegations and broader details regarding structural sexism bubbling to the surface, Bee zeroed in on what Fox News has been for years: a right-leaning advocacy platform, blending fear-mongering with “relentless misinformation” to reach the type of viewer who can’t bear the sight of a sleeveless Megyn Kelly. “Turns out that the guy who runs the network is kind of a creep,” Bee quipped. “Who would have guessed?”

But with Kelly and former employee Gretchen Carlson among the most notable figures to report mistreatment by Ailes, Bee found the silver lining, explaining that the Fox News mogul had managed to achieve his ultimate fantasy on his way out: “Getting f---ed by two gorgeous employees at the same time!”

July 26 2016 11:15 AM

Security Could Not Stop a Very Determined Colbert From Storming the DNC Stage

Stephen Colbert had very little trouble getting onstage at the Republican National Convention last week for a chance to grab the mic. But apparently, ascending the podium of the DNC is much more of a challenge. Colbert, dressed as his Hunger Games character Julius Flickerman, tried everything in his power to thwart security, but despite a very official-looking “podium pass” and the support of Nancy Pelosi herself, the Late Show host simply couldn’t weasel his way onstage.

Luckily for us, even the sternest security guards are no match for Colbert, who did what any self-respecting host would do: Armed only with a camera and a whole lot of chutzpah, he rushed the stage. He was immediately swarmed by agents, but it didn’t matter—Flickerman won the day, again. And we have the 360 video to prove it.

July 26 2016 8:33 AM

A Stranger Things Glossary: Every Major Film Reference in the Show, From A–Z

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

To call Stranger Things a Frankenstein’s monster of ‘80s influences wouldn’t do justice to the many parts that make up this irresistible beast. With their new Netflix series,Matt and Ross Duffer have created something more like an immense nostalgia bath, drawing on the work of Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Stephen King, and a host of others from a familiar era in popular culture. The glossary below identifies the myriad strands of cinematic DNA that comprise the show. Those who haven’t binge-watched it yet are duly warned: There are spoilers ahead for Stranger Things—and, of course, for a lot of classic movies.