Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

April 22 2017 8:23 PM

John Waters Summer Camp Offers Opportunity to Celebrate John Waters, Summer, Camp

Pink Flamingos and Hairspray director John Waters is moving from the Susan Sontag kind of camp to the Allan Sherman kind, according to Variety. He’s hosting a weekend-long adult summer camp in Kent, Connecticut from Sept. 22–24—a real camp, like with cabins around a lake, marshmallows over a fire, and hook-handed killers lurking in the woods! (But also with booze, air-conditioning, and elaborate meals, not to mention John Waters: adult summer camp.)

At a starting price of $499 plus alcohol, Camp John Waters is not for casual Waters fans (unless they are also really dedicated summer camp fans). But it looks like the 300 lucky campers who pony up are in for a much more hands-on experience than you’d get at Kamp Krusty. While some of the activities—the burlesque lessons, say or the bungee trampoline—are more about the spirit and/or corporate endorsement of Mr. Waters, many of them explicitly involve John Waters actually being there: “John Waters Performing a One-Man Show,” “John Waters Reading a John Waters Book,” and even “A John Waters Costume Contest – Judged by John Waters.” So if your budget line item for “Meet John Waters and get a signed copy of his book Make Trouble” is $500 or more this year, this is exactly the event for you. Just hope Waters lets someone else plan the menu.

April 22 2017 6:38 PM

Kendrick Lamar’s Mom Likes Kendrick Lamar’s Album

Kendrick Lamar’s new album Damn has already received nearly unanimous critical acclaim: Slate’s Carl Wilson, for example, praised its “thematic weight and structural intricacy” and called it “an urgent sermon for a troubling time.” But probably no review meant more to Lamar himself than the one he tweeted out on Saturday:

It’s true that this seems like the sort of text any mother might send her child after an artistic endeavor, regardless of its quality. But it’s also true that this case, Lamar’s mother’s assessment of Damn as “bomb bomb bomb bomb! 💯💯💯” places her squarely in the critical mainstream. Doting mother or shrewd music critic? There’s only one way to know for sure: We need more emoji-filled record reviews from Kendrick Lamar’s mother!

April 22 2017 5:14 PM

Mark Halperin Flies Around in Airplanes with Dogs Wearing Bow-Ties, Is Somehow Not Delighted

Adversity reveals character, they say, and as United Airlines has been reminding us recently, if you want your character revealed, there’s no quicker way than buying an airline ticket. But in air travel as in life, the kind of adversity you’re likely to encounter varies greatly depending on how much money you have. (Similarly, the kind of character you’re likely to reveal varies greatly depending on how much money you have, and what you did to get it.) So while people in the cheap seats get “re-accommodated” until the blood streams down their faces, the Mark Halperins of the world have slightly less relatable problems. Take, for example, this tweet Halperin sent late Friday night, apparently believing it spoke for itself:

April 21 2017 6:22 PM

Neil Young Announces a New Streaming Service, Stole Its Name From Empire

It’s been about three years since Neil Young first announced PonoMusic, the proprietary audio player and music store which has been met with plenty of scorn for its high-cost offerings, save for the occasional audiophile. In July of last year, the service essentially went offline, leading to speculation as to what exactly was in store for Young’s once-hyped endeavor. And after hinting at a shift toward hi-fi streaming some months back, Young has now confirmed this new direction for his company via a new post on the Pono community website.

The project is Xstream, a high-resolution streaming service co-created by Orastream of Singapore. It’s an “adaptive streaming service that changes with available bandwidth [for] complete high-resolution playback.” In other words, Young’s battle against the popularity of lower-resolution music has gone from “Old Man Yells at Cloud” to “Old Man Launches Cloud-Based Service.”

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You might notice that the company’s name is quite familiar: It’s the fictional service trumpeted on Empire, the hit Fox series. Whether Young came across the hilariously generic, if already popularized, term for a streaming platform on his own remains to be seen—as does whether it’ll cause as many headaches for him as it has for Lucious Lyon and company. Indeed, it goes without saying that Young has already run into some difficulties in the space.

“I’m still trying to make the case for bringing you the best music possible, at a reasonable price, the same message we brought to you five years ago,” Young wrote to his fans. “I don’t know whether we will succeed, but it's still as important to us as it ever was.”

April 21 2017 12:25 PM

Stephen Colbert Has an Idea What Bill O’Reilly Might Do Next, and It’s Pretty Scary

Stephen Colbert emerged onstage Thursday night a little distressed. “I need something to hold me together,” he explained, “because I’m still reeling from the loss of Bill O’Reilly.” The Fox News icon’s shocking, overdue, and expensive removal from his own network hit the former Colbert Report host particularly hard, naturally, as a fellow former TV blowhard used to dominating in the ratings.

Desperate for a way to make sense of it all, Colbert turned to an old book of O’Reilly’s: the 1998 novel Those Who Trespass, whose dedication actually, seriously reads “to the women in my life”—a group, according to Colbert, better known as “the plaintiffs.” The book presents a scenario close to the one O’Reilly currently finds himself in and posits one way of moving on. Colbert read one unembellished excerpt of the book, and it’s a doozy:

His career was the source of his feelings of omnipotence and grandiosity. His TV job gave him daily ego gratification and excitement ... It reinforced his opinion that he was a very special human being. He got the attention he craved, the admiration of thousands. Being on TV was like a drug to him and when it was taken away from him, he had to find a substitute drug … Planning out and carrying out the executions of those people who had humiliated him.
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“I just want to point out,” Colbert nervously exclaimed after completing the passage, “I never humiliated you!” Oh, Stephen, if only that were true.

April 21 2017 10:38 AM

Watch Anne Hathaway and James Corden Sing Their Way Through Romantic Comedy Tropes in a Single Five-Minute Take

Anne Hathaway knows her way around romantic comedy tropes, having starred in quite a few over the course of her career. The Oscar winner put that knowledge to good use on The Late Late Show on Thursday while performing a medley with James Corden that included romantic comedy soundtrack essentials, including “Holding Out for a Hero,” “Kiss Me,” and “500 Miles.”

The segment, which incorportated 10 songs and nine different sets, was shot in a single take. Along the way, Corden and Hathaway hit all the plot points you’d expect from an actual romantic comedy: They spill coffee on each other, have an elevator makeout session, and, of course, dramatically rush to the airport. But we really didn’t need a framing device as an excuse to watch Hathaway drunkenly sing “All by Myself” in a bathrobe.

April 21 2017 9:49 AM

Fox Is Re-Reviving The X-Files for Another 10 Episodes

The X-Files is being revived—again. Fox has confirmed that the beloved sci-fi series will make another limited return in the 2017–18 TV season, this time with an upgraded 10-episode order. (The first revival included six installments.) Creator Chris Carter and stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are officially signed on, and they will begin production on what’s technically the show’s 11th season in the summer.

“Iconic characters, rich storytelling, bold creators—these are the hallmarks of great TV shows,” Fox Broadcasting president David Madden said in a statement. “And they are some of the reasons why The X-Files has had such a profound impact on millions of fans worldwide. Chris’ creativity, along with the brilliant work of David and Gillian, continue to propel this pop culture phenomenon, and we can’t wait to see what fresh mysteries Mulder and Scully uncover in this next chapter of The X-Files.”

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Fox has been all too eager to revive its once-successful drama series, from Prison Break to 24, and 2016’s edition of The X-Files was easily the most commercially successful of the bunch.* But apart from one episode based on a 10-year-old script for the short-lived Night Stalker reboot, the X-Files revival was widely considered to be a creative disappointment, ending on a mildly desperate cliffhanger and at times drowning in the franchise’s alien mythology. As Fox continues to cash in on The X-Files’ bankability—Duchovny, Anderson, and Carter recently collaborated on an audiobook for Audible—this is undeniably a cynical move. The network has been working with “a dearth of new drama options” for the 2017–2018 season, according to Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva, especially with recent early successes like Rosewood and Sleepy Hollow now crashing in the ratings.

This latest pickup serves as another reminder that in this TV climate, nothing stays dead forever. In the case of The X-Files, at least, the promise of a few of the 2016 episodes gives us some reason to—yet again—hope for a return to form. But at the rate the network is going, there may soon be nothing but ad buys left to believe in.

*Correction, April 21, 2017: This post originally misstated the year the first X-Files revival aired. It was 2016.

April 21 2017 9:00 AM

This Genius, Crazy-Good Roast Chicken Has a Funny Little Secret

This post originally appeared in Genius Recipes on Food52.

There are many of us—most famously Julia Child—who would call a simply roasted chicken a perfect food, one that’s hard to imagine improving upon. How many superlatives can we heap on one meal—a perfect roast chicken, made ... perfecter?

But, like most things in life, roast chickens don’t only exist in a linear hierarchy from good to best, and while sometimes you want the simply-seasoned perfect bird like Julia did—“Even a perfectly simple, buttery roast should be a delight.”—sometimes instead you want an herb-crusted, crackly-skinned, salty-briny-juicy pop-in-the-mouth perfect bird. This week’s genius recipe is the latter. And it comes together in five-ish ingredients, in a surprisingly simple, brilliant way.

April 21 2017 8:32 AM

You’re Not Ready for Black Panther’s Stunning New Spin on Superhero Movies

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Louis D’Esposito, the co-president of Marvel Studios, grinned as a group of journalists sat down in a Disney screening room Monday night. “The first thing you’ll be seeing,” he told us, “is Lupita taking out some bad guys.”

The executives at Marvel Studios are known for playing their cards close to the vest, but every so often, when you know you’re sitting on a winning hand, you can’t help but show off. That’s why the studio summoned reporters to the Disney lot in Burbank to tease several of the movies coming from Marvel’s wildly successful cinematic universe, including Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Captain Marvel. Aside from a full screening of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, by far the biggest sneak peek the studio offered was an extensive look at Black Panther, which wraps filming in Atlanta tomorrow and is due out February 16, 2018.

As we watched dailies of Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o ably somersaulting through a Black Panther action sequence, D’Esposito beamed. While the fight choreography was straight out of the Marvel playbook — you could imagine Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow going through many of the same motions — as Nyong’o flung herself into the scene with steely commitment on her face and a vivid green shroud wrapped around her body, the footage carried with it an undeniable X factor. That’s exactly the sweet spot the studio hopes to hit with Black Panther: The film has to be familiar enough to fit into Marvel’s ever-expanding cinematic universe while also offering enough spark to jump-start its own singular franchise. A tricky task, but to judge from some of the stunning things that D’Esposito and his colleagues showed off last night, it looks like Marvel is on the right track.

April 21 2017 7:31 AM

The Hate U Give Is a Best-Selling YA Novel About Police Brutality. It’s Brilliant.

Angie Thomas’ debut young adult novel, The Hate U Give, has been at the top of the YA best-seller lists for six weeks. It’s a poignant story told from the perspective of a 16-year-old black girl who weathers all the adolescent storms that have long been tropes of the YA genre—growing apart from childhood friends, the first-time rush of crushes, the evolving, more complicated relationships with your own parents. Teenagers will undoubtedly relate to modern-day pop cultural shoutouts to the likes of Drake and the Nae Nae. But The Hate U Give is more than just a series of familiar growing pangs. Undergirding Thomas’ narrative is the polarizing issue of police brutality, as her protagonist, Starr, is forced to grow up—fast—after witnessing a police officer kill her childhood friend, Khalil, during a traffic stop. Starr’s story echoes the real-life narratives so often glossed over or all together ignored by the news cycle when it comes to police shootings of people of color.

During George Zimmerman’s 2013 trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin, Rachel Jeantel became a reluctant, unwitting media sensation on the witness stand. As the last person to speak to Martin right before he died (besides his killer, of course), she had to testify about what she heard while speaking to her friend on the phone while he was being attacked. Jeantel was scrutinized almost as much as Martin’s social media footprint and school records, mocked and ridiculed for being big, black, and defensive in the midst of the antagonistic cross-examination by Zimmerman’s lawyers. Some, including other black people, felt she single-handedly ruined the case against Zimmerman because she appeared to have an “attitude.”

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