Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

April 18 2015 1:12 PM

Bon Iver Makes Spoon’s “Inside Out” a Somber, Atmospheric Ballad

“Stripped-down” is a descriptor often applied to the music of Austin-based rock band Spoon, who have a penchant for paring a song down to its bare, most bracing essentials. So it’s a bit funny that Bon Iver’s cover of “Inside Out,” one of Spoon’s most stripped-down tunes, is somehow even more sparse and elemental than the original.

That isn’t a bad thing, though. Justin Vernon makes the song a brilliant, barely-there ballad, one held aloft by a lilting vocal performance and some gentle piano chords. The result is eerily moving.

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April 18 2015 11:47 AM

Every Time a Disney Villain Falls in Defeat

Given the sheer number of Disney villains, it’s strange to realize that many meet their end in the exact same way: by falling, slipping, or otherwise plunging to their death. YouTube user ChiefBrodyRules has compiled every single instance of this trope, creating a funny, informative video that also—if you’re into watching Scar being circled by hyenas or Hades descending into a pool of dead souls—highlights the most cathartic movie moments of your childhood.

April 17 2015 5:30 PM

Watch Nirvana Perform for a Two-Person Audience in One of Their First Rehearsals

Montage of Heck, Brett Morgen’s new documentary about Kurt Cobain, will air May 4th on HBO, and the New York Times has a short, moving excerpt that shows Nirvana in the earliest days of their career.

In the clip, we see Nirvana performing for a tiny audience. “We played together in the house for a couple of hours and if two people stopped by,” Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic remembers, “we considered that a gig.”

April 17 2015 12:56 PM

Jessica Williams and Samantha Bee Made the Perfect Awards Ceremony for ’Murica

Last night, Jessica Williams and Samantha Bee joined Jon Stewart for The Daily Show’s ’Mercun Awards, a segment in which the correspondents judged weird news stories to find the one “that best encompasses our country’s pure essence.” So what will it be: accidental shootings? Perplexing defenses of religious freedom? Armadillos?

The clip goes back to The Daily Show’s roots: uncovering incredible weirdness in the heart of America. Bee and Williams play tough judges, recognizing what really matters to the American public. But the best part of all is their highly logical rating system, which includes Ben Franklin wearing a flag bikini while eating a KFC Double Down.

April 17 2015 10:56 AM

We Are All Matthew McConaughey Watching the New Star Wars Trailer

If you’re looking for a way to express the rollercoaster of emotion that you probably went on while watching the new trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII, look no further than every one of the faces Matthew McConaughey makes in this video.

Taking the scene from Interstellar in which McConaughey watches his children age and grow up in just minutes, the mashup finds an uncanny pairing with the new trailer. After all, what does watching the trailer feel like, to so many of us, except watching your youth pass before your eyes?

April 17 2015 10:32 AM

The Trailer for Batman v Superman Is Here, and It Looks Dark

Information about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been coming out in dribs and drabs over the past year, and we’re still a long way from its May 2016 release. But the first trailer for the Zack Snyder–directed movie leaked on Thursday, via what seems to be a fan’s handheld recording of a version with Portuguese subtitles. We can’t recommend watching this version instead of seeing it on the big screen, but it’s still online for now via CNET.

Update, 8 p.m.: The official version is now online. You can watch it below.


To say the movie looks dark would be an understatement, and the trailer seems to go out of its way to make no one look like a hero. Superman looms in cloudy skies, while Batman—fully equipped in a high-tech armored suit that recalls Frank Miller’s graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns—threatens him with language that sounds more Bane-like than anything else. “Tell me, do you bleed?” he asks. “You will.” If all goes according to plan, the trailer will have its official debut in select theaters on April 20.

April 17 2015 8:42 AM

The Evolution of the MGM Lion    

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s roaring lion logo is iconic, and it’s taken a long journey—and several different lions—to get to the one we all now know and love. (His name is Leo.)

April 17 2015 8:02 AM

How Avengers: Age of Ultron Handles Destruction Better Than Man of Steel

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

The 2013 Superman reboot Man of Steel wasn’t without its fair share of controversies, but the biggest sticking point for many fans was how the movie’s final battle was handled. As Superman and Zod flew around Metropolis, slamming each other into falling buildings, the scene devolved into an orgiastic display of 9/11-reminiscent destruction, with countless citizens surely perishing offscreen and a large part of the city leveled by the end. Fans were so enraged by the blithe wrecking of Metropolis that director Zack Snyder is rumored to have incorporated that sentiment into his sequel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where the heavy toll of Superman’s fight is used against him.

I thought about that third-act carnage a lot while watching Avengers: Age of Ultron, which places an unusual emphasis on evacuating and saving innocent people. There’s always been a little bit of that in most Marvel movies—in both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, for example, the heroes make it a point to evacuate cities before destruction rains down—but that emphasis seems much more pronounced in Ultron, where nearly every major action scene revolves around protecting the poor, innocent people who could be collateral damage in a typical hero-villain brawl. When I sat down with Ultron writer-director Joss Whedon this past weekend, I asked him if he and Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige felt a duty to portray the effects of all that metropolitan devastation responsibly.

April 16 2015 7:45 PM

A Complete Taxonomy of “Time 100” Blurbs

On Thursday Time published its fourscore and twenty movers and shakers: the 100 most influential people in the universe. 2015’s crop includes an eminence of Titans (Kanye, Janet Yellen, Tim Cook), Pioneers (ballerina Misty Copeland, New Orleans educator Kira Orange Jones), Artists (Kevin Hart, Julianne Moore, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), Leaders (Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, Jeb Bush), and Icons (Bjork, Haruki Murakami, Pope Francis). Additional famous people wrote the bios. Rand Paul, for instance, advances the Koch brothers’ status as twin Titans, like Epimetheus and Prometheus. (Does that make corporate political spending Pandora’s Box?) Martha Stewart suggests that the Kardashians represent “today’s Brady Bunch.” Leaders (such as Hillary Clinton and Tom Friedman) blurb other Leaders (such as Elizabeth Warren and Ebola crusader Joanne Liu), and Icons (such as Taylor Swift) blurb other Icons (such as Ina Garten)—though it seems that Icons do not blurb Pioneers, Pioneers do not blurb Artists, and Artists do not blurb anyone.

April 16 2015 5:33 PM

Ben & Jerry’s Will Begin Serving Ice Cream Burritos on 4/20

Have you ever gotten high, eaten a Choco Taco, and wished it were bigger? If so, Ben & Jerry’s is thinking of you with its BRRR-ito, which the ice cream chain announced with a parody of Apple’s famous 1984 Super Bowl ad. Here’s the original, featuring an athlete who hurls a hammer through a screen on which an Orwellian Big Brother figure is propagandizing. The ending: “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’ ” And here’s Ben & Jerry’s version, which promises that “4.20 will be exactly like ‘4.20.’ ”

Ben & Jerry’s has made a very targeted pitch here, but count me among the many non-stoners who will surely line up to try the BRRR-ito. Granted, it’s not a revolutionary idea—it consists of two scoops of ice cream, “topped with a fudge drizzle and cookie crumbs, all wrapped up in a soft and chewy waffle wrap.”  It doesn’t even look that much like a burrito, since one end remains open. But the open end seems like a smart tactical move—biting into a true ice cream burrito would be a recipe for tooth pain. I’ll plan on attacking my BRRR-ito with a spoon.