Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

July 28 2015 9:57 PM

Hunter S. Thompson Recalls Being Beat Up by the Hells Angels in This Animated Interview

In 1967, Hunter S. Thompson was a relatively unknown 30-year-old journalist who had just published his first book, Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga. To write the book, Thompson spent a year embedded with a chapter of the Angels, and Blank on Blanks latest installment animates a lively discussion the author had with Studs Terkel about the experience.

It was during his time with the Angels, a notoriously insular motorcycle club, that Thompson first honed his “gonzo,” highly subjective style of reporting, which would come to define his career. As he tells Terkel, while he was studying the Angels’ ways he often saw “a very ugly side of myself” rise to the surface, and that hidden, lurking anger became the real subject of the book. It also got him into a fight or two: After offhandedly insulting one of the Angels, Thompson was “stomped,” a tradition in which several club members beat the offender senseless. Needless to say, Thompson’s relationship with the club deteriorated significantly after the book’s publication.

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July 28 2015 8:11 PM

Tig Notaro, Louis C.K., and Diablo Cody Are Making an Amazon Comedy Together

Tig Notaro, no stranger to a tough year, is having a very good one. She’s currently the subject of a Netflix documentary and an HBO special, and the Hollywood Reporter announced today that Amazon has picked up a pilot starring the comedian. Here’s the logline:

Tig Notaro has just recovered from an abdominal disease that has left her gaunt, wasted, exhausted and pretty much stripped of everything except her finely honed sense of the absurd. Abruptly summoned home to Pass Christian, Miss., to take her ailing mother off life support, Tig finds herself dealing with her clingy girlfriend, her dysfunctional Gulf Coast family and the loss of the one person who held everything together."

Given Notaro’s infamous 2012—in which she coped with an intestinal infection, a cancer diagnosis, a cruel breakup, and the loss of her mother—it’s safe to say this show will, at least in part, be autobiographical. Notaro will alchemize all that tragedy into comedy gold with co-writer Diablo Cody (Juno), and Louis C.K. will produce the show, adding even more bona fides to an already stacked project. C.K.’s involvement isn't too surprising: He’s long been a fervent fan of Notaro, and his promotion of her now-legendary 2012 set at the Largo—which she began with “Good evening, hello. I have cancer. How are you?”—helped launch her career resurgence.

July 28 2015 4:15 PM

Seth Rogen, J.G.L., and Anthony Mackie Play Three Very Stoned Wise Men in New Trailer

We may have an antidote to this year’s saccharine holiday heart-warmers in The Night Before, which promises, if nothing else, a ton of debauchery and drug montages. In this raucous trailer, Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie play three bros being tragically torn apart by the pressures of adult life: Rogen’s girl has a bun in the oven, and Mackie is “too fucking famous to hang out with us anymore.” As is commanded in all broligious sacred texts, the three unite for a (holiday-themed) swan song. Cocaine snorting, heartfelt “Wrecking Ball” karaoke performances, cameos from Mindy Kaling and Lizzy Caplan, and a really questionable nativity scene activity ensue. The movie hits theaters Nov. 25.

July 28 2015 3:56 PM

Key & Peele Imagines What It’d Be Like if We Obsessed Over Teachers the Way We Do Athletes

By now, the lament for the way in which our culture privileges athletics over education is an old, common sentiment—but Key & Peele has breathed new life into the apt observation in their latest sketch, “TeachersCenter.” A spot-on parody of SportsCenter’s hyperbole-laden talking heads, busy CGI ticker screens, and obsessive play-by-plays, the clip cleverly reimagines athletes as the educators we entrust our children to every day.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a biting critique that says a lot about the economic and symbolic power we give an industry where men are exceptional for throwing a ball. But the best part of “TeachersCenter” might just be the incredible ads dropped in throughout—being a teacher has never looked so sexy and empowering as it does here. 

July 28 2015 1:25 PM

Watch a Side-by-Side Video Comparison of Every Change Made to the Original Star Wars Films

“Han shot first” might be the battle cry that will never die, but many Star Wars fans will point out this was not the only jarring change made to the original trilogy. Now a video series (watch them all here) from YouTube user Marcelo Zuniga has compiled every single tweak that has been made to the Star Wars movies in a string of side-by-side comparisons, from adding CGI rocks in front of R2-D2, to Boba Fett’s newly laughable voice acting, to Hayden Christensen’s presence at the end of Return of the Jedi. But nothing will ever explain why the adorable Ewoks had to become nightmarish blinking teddy bears. 

July 28 2015 1:02 PM

Meghan Trainor’s People Interview About The Peanuts Movie Is a Total Disaster

Look, I am willing to give The Peanuts Movie the benefit of the doubt in anticipation of its November release. I am willing to look past the “All I Do Is Win” moment in the trailer and embrace the ways it seems to nod toward the more philosophical bent of Charles Schulz’s comic. I am cheered by how the trailer, at least, focuses on Charlie Brown and his emotional travails, relegating Snoopy to second-banana status, where he belongs. I’m glad to see Franklin and Frieda and especially Peppermint Patty, and look forward to Marcie and Patty’s relationship opening the eyes of a new generation of girls. I’ll even fansplain away the bizarre “We Love Moms” and “Thanks Dads!” teasers—for Peanuts, a property that famously did away with parents entirely—as non-essential marketing chum, the cost of doing business in a Minionized marketplace where every animated character must be a blank slate to which literally any sentiment can be affixed.

But I will not, cannot, explain away this People magazine interview with Meghan Trainor, who apparently sings a song on the soundtrack of the movie. This interview is a total disaster, and requires instant intervention from a crack team of trained marketers to remedy the damage done to Peanuts, the future of the movie, and my emotional well-being. What hurts the most? The Peanuts-ified Trainor character, placed sassily in a promotional image between Charlie Brown and Lucy, intimating that she might appear in the movie? Or is it the plentiful evidence that the film’s P.R. team paid Trainor a substantial amount of money to join the film’s marketing push yet did not care enough to, at any point, bother to teach her anything about the beloved comic to whose adaptation she is lending her flat affect and tween appeal? As Jen Chaney points out on Twitter, it is not clear Trainor even knows what Peanuts is.


“Were you a big Peanuts fan growing up?” People’s Jodi Guglielmi asks Trainor, who answers: “My grandma always had it on; she always had a lot of cartoons on. I was super-duper young, but I do remember when the show was on—it was huge!” Unfortunately, Guglielmi does not ask, “What?” or “What are you talking about?” or “What show?” or “Peanuts is a comic strip, not a cartoon TV show your grandma had on.” Instead, she follows up: “Which character are you most like?” Trainor gives the correct answer (Sally) but cannot remember Sally’s name, so she refers to Sally as “Charlie’s sister,” because definitely anyone who has ever loved Peanuts refers to its hero as “Charlie.” Who can forget the classic TV movie, A Charlie Christmas? Or the hit Broadway musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie?

Anyway, Trainor’s song is called “Better When I’m Dancin’” and it’s “all about letting go of your insecurities and embracing your true self on the dance floor.” So at least Trainor’s got that important Peanuts lesson down

July 28 2015 12:18 PM

The Bachelorette Found the Lamest Possible Way to Accommodate Casual Sex

The Bachelorette ended last night, as The Bachelorette often does, with a proposal. Shawn, a man whose visage is the missing link between Alf and Ryan Gosling, got down on his knee and asked Kaitlyn for her hand in marriage. He put a big honking ABC-sponsored diamond on her finger and they happily declared their love to the camera. Somewhere, maybe in the office of US Weekly’s on-staff Wiccan, sand began running through an hourglass: when it’s through, they will break up, get a cover and Kaitlyn will soon be seen canoodling with professional athletes. Or, whatever, maybe they’ll get married.

July 28 2015 10:58 AM

Tom Cruise Took a Break From Dangling From Planes to Do a Slightly Awkward Lip Sync Battle

Tom Cruise took some time off from dangling from airplanes last night to pop by The Tonight Show, where host Jimmy Fallon challenged him to the tried and true lip sync battle. At first, Cruise, wringing his hands and smiling nervously, looked a bit out of his comfort zone—until he stepped behind the mike.

July 28 2015 10:37 AM

This Reel of Jon Stewart’s Pre-Show Audience Q&As Is Almost Better Than The Daily Show   

“Guys, let me make something clear: I’m not dying,” Jon Stewart told an audience before a taping of The Daily Show. The host’s pre-show Q&As are compiled in this excellent highlight reel, which showcases his impressive riffing skills and a solid impression of a geriatric stand-up routine. The audience asked questions about which public figure Stewart likes the best (“Do you watch the program?”) and what he learned while making Rosewater (“I am a huge hummus fan”). He also let the audience know that we can probably expect him to return to stand-up eventually—“That’s how I started, and I’m sure that’s how I will end.” And when Stewart names his favorite Springsteen songs, you’ll never think of  “Blinded by the Light” or “My City of Ruins” in the same way again.

July 28 2015 8:02 AM

John Green on Lonelygirl15, Rushmore, and 10 Other Things That Influenced His Work

This article originally appeared in New York magazine.

John Green isn't the kind of author you only glimpse on the back of a book jacket. Since The Fault in Our Stars was successfully adapted from his best-known novel, the 37-year-old Green has seen his profile skyrocket. He has one of the most devoted fan bases in YA literature, plus a millions-strong YouTube following, and today's release of Paper Towns (adapted from his 2008 book) represents Hollywood's latest attempt to court Green's coveted audience. Since Green's own cultural impact is fast on the rise, we decided to ask about the movies, books, and other pop-cultural totems that influenced him on his way up.