Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Feb. 23 2017 11:32 AM

Seth Meyers Explains What Trump’s Proposed Mexican Border Wall Has in Common With The Wizard of Oz

Remember those gleefully xenophobic chants of “Build the wall” that seemed to follow Donald Trump to every campaign rally? Well, they're not a thing of the past. Late Night's Seth Meyers used his Closer Look segment on Wednesday night to examine the latest unsavory developments in Trump’s immigration policies, including his dedication to fulfilling that beloved campaign promise to build a wall along the Mexican border.

After explaining that immigrants are actually less likely to be criminals and that more Mexicans are actually leaving the U.S. than entering it, Meyers chronicled the president’s continued struggle to find a contractor for his wildly impractical pet project. (Trump is apparently so desperate he’s resorted to sending “Man seeks wall builder” emails in all caps.) Meyers also noted that even some Republicans are still directly contradicting Trump’s own statements about the wall, with the Homeland Security Chief admitting parts of it will be transparent, and others still saying it won’t literally be a wall, but a metaphor for Trump’s crackdown on immigration.


“So the wall is see-through, but impenetrable. An analogy, but also real,” said Meyers, pointing out the obvious contradictions at play. But it doesn’t really matter, because it turns out the wall can be anything you want it to be. “Don’t you see, Dorothy? The wall was inside you all along! You’re the wall! We’re all the wall!”

And since Trump adviser Stephen Miller has assured us that the wall will pay for itself “many, many times over,” Meyers is absolutely right. We, the American people, really are all the wall—and we’ll wind up paying for ourselves, one way or another.

Feb. 23 2017 8:32 AM

Reese Witherspoon’s Best Type-A Maniacs

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

It’s hard to think of a role that’s a better fit for Reese Witherspoon than Madeline Martha Mackenzie, the uptight type-A supermom at the heart of HBO’s Big Little Lies. Madeline, on her second marriage (to a bearded Adam Scott), is still obsessed with her first husband, played by James Tupper, and rages impotently against his New Agey new wife (Zoë Kravitz). She treats her daughters with all the affection of a Soviet gymnastics coach, and her singular goal currently, other than getting those daughters into good colleges, is to stage a community-theater production of Avenue Q. In the hands of a lesser actress, Madeline would amount to a pile of nonsense in yoga pants. As played by Witherspoon, she’s funny, intimidating, and when she reveals the cracks in her moisturized facade, a little tragic.

More to the point, with Witherspoon playing her, Madeline gets to be the center of the story—or near the center, as Nicole Kidman’s Celeste, who harbors dark secrets in her home life, plays the moon to Witherspoon’s abrasive sun. She’s playing a kind of character she’s perfected: the type-A maniac. Witherspoon can take characters broad enough to be bullies, villains, or jokes, and make them the most compelling thing onscreen.

Feb. 23 2017 8:03 AM

I Am Not Your Negro Director Raoul Peck on What It’s Like to Spend a Decade Unpacking James Baldwin

Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro is a documentary framed around the words of “Remember This House,” the unfinished manuscript of James Baldwin’s proposed memoir about the civil rights era and his relationships with three slain leaders of the movement—Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers. Through the voice-over of Samuel L. Jackson, Peck brings to life Baldwin’s written words while weaving in a variety of archival clips of Baldwin himself, unpacking the history of United States’ ill treatment of blacks.

In a recent episode of the Slate podcast Represent, Aisha Harris spoke with Peck about adapting the controversial writer for the screen and the utility of political art. Ahead of the Academy Awards on Sunday, where I Am Not Your Negro is up for Best Documentary, below is a transcribed and edited excerpt from that conversation. You can check out the full episode in the audio player below.

Feb. 23 2017 7:32 AM

12 Wins That Could Make History at the Oscars This Sunday

Hollywood’s biggest night is upon us yet again, which means there are new opportunities for record-breaking wins and historic firsts—and this year, there are quite a few of them, particularly when it comes to black performers and filmmakers. But the chances to surpass previous Oscar winners go beyond the profound effects of an infamous, game-changing hashtag. Who could earn not just a trophy, but also a place in the history books, should his or her name be pulled out of one of those envelopes? Below you’ll find a few of the biggest Oscar milestones to look out for on Sunday night.

Feb. 23 2017 12:50 AM

From Bottles of Vodka to Buckets of Bones, Colbert Walks Us Through Republican Health Care

It’s not clear what, if anything, Republicans plan to replace Obamacare with, but it may not matter, as Stephen Colbert demonstrates in this public service announcement from The Late Show. It turns out there are plenty of home remedies that can help out as we all take control of our health care decisions and let the wisdom of the marketplace determine how, or if, we treat our various ailments. For instance, did you know back pain can be cured with ice and a bottle of vodka? Open wounds: also vodka! Broken bones? Well, that’s gonna require some grave-robbing.

It’s a great look at the bright future ahead of all of us and should slow down the torrent of angry constituents who have been terrorizing our poor Republican representatives as they work to free us from the totalitarian, un-American idea that health care is something we all deserve, being mortal. I mean, on a moral level, that argument might have some weight, but doing anything about it would cost rich people a little money, so mister, you can forget it. Plus, have you heard about vodka?

Feb. 23 2017 12:10 AM

Check Out the Lucky Astronauts Leaving Earth Forever in This Scene From Alien: Covenant

Historically, things have not gone well for the spacecraft crews in the Alien movies. They have an unfortunate habit of getting torn to ribbons by Xenomorphs, and that’s only if they’re lucky enough to not have alien larvae rip them open from the inside. However—and hear me out on this—they also don’t have to follow the 24-hour news cycle here on Earth. Imagine: no Twitter, no email, no Facebook; just peace, quiet, and the merciless gaze of an organism engineered to destroy all living things.

That’s the bargain the astronauts in this new scene from Alien: Covenant have made, whether they realize it yet or not, and let’s face it: It looks like a better and better deal with each passing news update. Sure, Katherine Waterston, James Franco, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, and the rest of the crew in this scene are never going to make it back to Earth. On the other hand: They’re never going to make it back to Earth! They can eat and drink and goof around, secure in the knowledge that nothing President Trump does will make much difference out in the vast expanse of space. They probably don’t even know who Milo Yiannopoulos is! So although the new scene may only promise more of the same when considered as a movie, considered as a business proposition, it looks like a masterpiece. Alien: Covenant will be in theaters on May 19, unless we’re fortunate enough to have Xenomorphs lay their eggs in our abdominal cavities before then.

Feb. 22 2017 5:37 PM

Watch an iPhone-Shot Rehearsal of La La Land’s Ambitious Opening Dance Number


Damien Chazelle’s La La Land lets you know right off the bat that what you’re about to watch is a capital-M musical. The intricate opening number, Another Day of Sun,” is sung and danced by a group of brightly attired Los Angeles drivers stuck in traffic on a highway ramp, all ruminating on the sunny-but-disappointing nature of show business.


But before it became the carefully choreographed routine that appears in the movie, the “Another Day of Sun” sequence was rehearsed in a humble parking lot, with Chazelle planning the camera work on an iPhone. A video from USA Today shows the painstaking practice run in action—and even includes an insert so that you can see how the rehearsal lines up with the final result.

Feb. 22 2017 3:03 PM

Netflix Will Premiere Two Louis C.K. Stand-Up Specials

Louis C.K. is taking his stand-up talents to Netflix. The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that the Emmy-winning comic will film two sets for the streaming service, with the first entitled 2017 and slated for an April 4 premiere. (No details have been revealed about the second special.)

“Louis has been one of the most innovative comedy voices in this new era of stand-up. He has also been a thought leader in the business of comedy,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. “We have marveled at his creativity and his ability to invent comedically and commercially, and are thrilled that he is bringing his newest specials to Netflix.”

Feb. 22 2017 12:55 PM

Bill Maher Wants You to Thank Him for the Downfall of Milo Yiannopoulos. Don’t.

Bill Maher is taking credit for the swift downfall of former Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos. In a conversation with the New York Times’ David Itzkoff, the Real Time host—who interviewed Yiannopoulos live on his show last Friday night—argued, "What I think people saw [on my show] was an emotionally needy Ann Coulter wannabe, trying to make a buck off of the left’s propensity for outrage. And by the end of the weekend, by dinnertime Monday, he’s dropped as a speaker at [the Conservative Political Action Conference]. Then he’s dropped by Breitbart, and his book deal falls through." He added, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant," implying that the platform he provided to the alt-right–trafficking provocateur allowed people to see him for who he really is. "You're welcome."

In the days since the Maher interview, Yiannopoulos lost his book deal with Simon & Schuster, had his keynote speaking slot at CPAC revoked, and resigned from Breitbart. He’d previously been banned from Twitter for his racist provocations regarding comedian Leslie Jones.

Feb. 22 2017 12:16 PM

The Honest Trailer for the Oscars Imagines What Trump Would Tweet About the Best Picture Nominees

It’s almost that time of year again, when west coast elites with unpronounceable names compete for Hollywood’s highest honor and trick us all into watching. With nine Best Picture nominees at this year’s Academy Awards, it can be hard to keep track of them all, which is why the team at Screen Junkies took them on collectively in their latest Honest Trailer.

Will Manchesta by the Feckin’ Sea, whose hot-headed main character isn't too much of a stretch for Casey Affleck, take the night’s top honor? What about Hidden Figures, which made a special effort to appease white guilt by having Kevin Costner take a sledgehammer to segregation? Surely not Hell or High Water, “a film that’s so entertaining, straightforward, and unpretentious that it has no chance of actually winning Best Picture.”