Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

May 25 2017 1:44 PM

Disney and Sony Get Failing Grades in GLAAD’s Report on LGBTQ Representation in Hollywood

The much-touted “exclusively gay moment” in the Beauty and the Beast remake was not enough to prevent Disney from getting a failing grade in GLAAD’s annual report on LGBTQ representation in Hollywood. Of the seven movie studios with the highest 2016 box-office grosses, GLAAD’s Studio Responsibility Index rated three as “Failing”—Disney, Sony Pictures, and Lionsgate—with 20th Century Fox, Paramount, and Warner Bros. rated “Poor.” Universal led the pack, rising all the way to “Insufficient,” with the top two categories, “Good” and “Excellent,” left blank. In the five years GLAAD has released similar studies, no studio has ever achieved the top grade.

Given that Universal, the home of the Fast and Furious franchise, is one of the few Hollywood studios to actively bet on racial and gender diversity, it’s not surprising that they also got top marks from GLAAD. But leading a weak field does not mean Universal was a bastion of inclusivity: According to the report, of the 17 Universal movies released in 2016, only five included appearances by LGBTQ characters, those being Bridget Jones’s Baby, Hail, Caesar!, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. The latter film is especially noteworthy for “Equal Rights,” a parody of Macklemore’s “Same Love” in which Andy Samberg’s “Connor4Real” proclaims his support for gay marriage while incessantly reminding his listeners that he is “not gay.” The two-minute video features, by GLAAD’s count, 14 LGBTQ characters, a whopping 20 percent of the 70 found in all of the 125 films in the study. In other words, if you want to see one-fifth of all the LGBTQ people Hollywood put on movie screens in 2016, all you have to do is watch this.

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GLAAD found the movies released by the studios’ art house divisions—Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, Roadside Attractions, and Sony Pictures Classics—fared better overall, with 17 percent of the 41 films they collectively released including some form of LGBTQ representation. But the overall picture is still dire, and the numbers show no sign of consistent improvement year over year. As the report concludes, “Mainstream film continues to lag far behind TV and other forms of media when it comes to LGBTQ representation.”

The most positive detail to extract from the GLAAD report is that a number of the movies featuring LGBTQ characters are aimed at younger audiences, even if you sometime have to squint to make those characters out: the bickering neighbors of Zootopia’s Judy Hopps are a married gay couple, but you wouldn’t know that unless you scan the credits and see their hyphenated last names. (The lesbian couple some hoped they saw in advance footage of Disney’s Finding Dory turned out to be a mirage.) Sony’s Storks includes a gay couple in a montage of parents happily welcoming their new children, and though the moment is brief, it is unmistakable—and, to many of the children watching the movie, unremarkable. Sony and their fellow studios should realize those children are growing up, and many of them are used to seeing openly LGBTQ people in their everyday lives. They should be able to expect the same from their movies.

May 25 2017 1:29 PM

The New Dirty Dancing Remake Is Dirty and Contains Dancing, but That’s Where the Similarities End

The original Dirty Dancing is a movie so beloved that its ingestion into the voracious Hollywood reboot machine was near-inevitable. Except Dirty Dancing has already been through the reboot rigmarole, multiple times, and never successfully. There was the 1988–89 TV adaptation, which came right on the heels of the original movie and was quickly canceled. Sorta-prequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights bombed upon its February 2004 release. I won’t defend it here, except to say that the script’s backstory made for an interesting This American Life segment and a pre–Mad Men John Slattery in the dad role is worth looking out for. But the lesson of all of this is that the magic of the original Dirty Dancing is really, really hard to re-create. It may be corny and clichéd, but there’s a reason it was a hit with a soundtrack that spent an eternity on the Billboard charts.

So this week’s remake of Dirty Dancing on ABC is a curious thing: Dirty Dancing fans have not been clamoring for a reboot or a remake or so much as a re-airing—and it is already an immutable law of the universe established long ago that the original Dirty Dancing will always be replaying on some channel or streaming somewhere whenever you need it. A live musical update, like the ones other networks have been doing, could theoretically have been fun, but this is neither live nor really a musical, despite a few singing numbers. It’s a remake where just about everything—the plot, the dialogue, the dancing, the cast—has gotten worse.

May 25 2017 11:28 AM

Late-Night Hosts Point Out That Trump’s Budget Is Not Only Cruel but Also Kind of Dumb

The White House unveiled its budget for 2018, “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” on Tuesday, and late-night hosts are taking aim at it not just for its cruelty by cutting social programs that pay for food stamps and children’s health insurance—but also because it’s just plain dumb.

On Late Night, Seth Meyers examined the budget in depth, noting that although it is essentially a wish list and subject to changes by Congress, “what someone wishes for tells you a lot about that person.” And cutting tens of billions from disability insurance and hundreds of billions from Medicaid is not what a compassionate person asks for while blowing out their birthday candles—and it breaks Trump’s clearly stated campaign promise to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. “This budget is not only cruel, it’s delusional,” said Meyers. “It would eviscerate safety net programs that poor and working people rely on just to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.”

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The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert focused not on the budget’s cruelty but on its glaring trillion-dollar math error. The budget assumes that cutting taxes for the wealthy will create 3 percent economic growth to balance the budget and that that money will then pay for the tax cut—but the administration is also using the same imaginary $2 trillion to balance the budget. “There’s a simple explanation for how this happened: Donald Trump is an idiot,” said Colbert. “Or he’s lying!”

Former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers went as far as to call this “a logical error of the kind that would justify failing a student in an introductory economics course.” But Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is defending the math, so Colbert has a math problem for him, and it’s one you might be familiar with: “If a train leaves Washington, D.C., traveling at 40 mph …”

May 25 2017 8:32 AM

Pete Wells Is Wrong About What a Critic’s Role Should Be

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

The Times’ restaurant critic Pete Wells, who periodically uses his pulpit to make news as well as chronicle it, has done it again. He’s written a non-review of a restaurant he hasn’t visited, an act that challenges both the food business and fellow critics like me to grapple with his principles. I admire Wells. His diamond-honed prose strikes fear into chefs and stirs envy in other writers (like me). He dishes out praise and fury with a musketeer’s panache. And the freedom to choose his targets is one of the privileges of his post. So he would rather not fly to Tulum and eat a $750 meal at a temporary temple of Mexican alta cocina, an experience available only to a total of 7,000 people? Okay, well, passing up that opportunity seems to me even more self-indulgent than taking it, but … fine. Writing a column on the decision not to cover something strikes me as trying to have it both ways—but, again, I’m willing to go along.

And yet.

May 25 2017 6:00 AM

That Racist Cookie Jar From Master of None Is Real, and It’s for Sale All Over the Internet

In Master of None’s second season’s fourth episode, Dev (Aziz Ansari) goes on a series of awkward and entertaining first dates with different women, including one, Christine (Lauren Miller), with whom he makes it all the way back to the bedroom. Everything is going great until she asks Dev to grab a condom from the jar on the dresser—at which point Dev turns over and finds himself looking into the eyes of …

The jar in which Christine keeps her condoms is a ceramic caricature of a rotund, black-skinned woman wearing a bonnet and apron, her hands on her hips. Dev is visibly startled, but his hesitation lasts only a moment as he goes ahead and pops off the jar’s lid, pulls out a condom, and gets down to business. Afterward, he points out to Christine, who is white, that the jar is kind of racist, and she’s shocked.

Racist?”
“You can’t use that shade of black to depict African-American people!”
“No one else has ever been offended by it.”

When Dev asks whether any black people have ever seen the jar, a gift from one of her friends, she responds, “I haven’t had any African-American guests.” She is genuinely surprised that this jar would be considered offensive—not to mention incredulous that Dev had sex with her despite thinking she’s a bigot. When she kicks him out of her apartment, he suggests that maybe she show it to a black person sometime and gauge his or her reaction.

May 24 2017 10:04 PM

Leslie Jones Will Host the 2017 BET Awards

Comedian, Saturday Night Live cast member, and Olympics mega-fan Leslie Jones will be hosting the 2017 BET Awards, Billboard reports. It’s Jones’ first major awards show gig, and, although she isn’t quite in American flag jumpsuit territory, she’s still pretty excited:

Jones has good reason to be thrilled, as she explained in a statement. “BET was the first network and place where I was on TV—I am looking to turn this whole experience into a joyful homecoming,” she said. Last year’s show was hosted by Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, but the overtly political tone made a bigger impression than the hosts. From a great performance of “Freedom” by Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to a fiery speech from Jesse Williams, the show’s highlights were all in tune with the political moment—and that was before Trump and his band of white nationalists made their way to the White House. This year, anything’s possible, from the guests or from Jones herself—joyful homecoming or no, it seems likely she’ll at least break out her Donald Trump impression. We’ll find out for sure on June 25, when the BET Awards will be broadcast live from Los Angeles.

May 24 2017 9:13 PM

The First Trailer for Netflix’s Animated Castlevania Series Imagines Netflix on Nintendo

The first trailer for Netflix’s upcoming animated series based on the Castlevania video games was released Wednesday, and it is definitely an animated series based on Castlevania video games. Beyond that, the trailer gives little more than a glimpse of the show: a vampire rising from a coffin, Simon Belmont’s whip, a castle vaguely resembling the map from the original 1986 video game, and no explanation whatsoever for the title “Castlevania.” Is it a castle named after an Eastern European country? An Eastern European country named after a castle? A Dracula—or group of Draculas—named after both a castle and a country? The trailer has no information about this crucial question.

What it does have, though, is a pretty credible mock-up of Netflix as it might look if it ran on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and on the basis of the trailer alone, this seems like an avenue Netflix should pursue post haste. Kevin Spacey’s performance as Frank Underwood on House of Cards might seem unsubtle on a high-definition TV, but convert it to 8-bit NES graphics and title it HOUSE-OF-CARDS and suddenly the nuances shine through—at least judging from still images. Sadly, the only video we get to see rendered in NES graphics is part of the trailer for Castlevania, which ends up looking like static. As for the non-Nintendoed footage from the show, if Netflix’s Castlevania is going to be, as producer Adi Shankar promised, “R-rated as fuck,” “in the vein of Game of Thrones,” “the best fucking video game adaptation we’ve had to date,” or “America’s first animated series for adults,” those facts are not yet in evidence.

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Netflix’s series arrives in July. In the meantime, here’s a slightly more brightly colored 8-bit Castlevania:

May 24 2017 4:00 PM

Logan Is So Good That Its Honest Trailer Had to Recruit the Most Sarcastic Superhero Alive for Backup

It’s hard to find anything to dislike about Logan, James Mangold’s excellent X-Men Western that toys with the very idea of what a superhero movie should be. Even the Honest Trailer for the film heaps praise on its performances, especially Jackman as an aging Wolverine fighting “new villains” like coughing fits, alcoholism, depression, and Mel Gibson–style facial hair. It’s so good that it “makes the last 17 years of X-Men movies look meh by comparison.”

But in an effort to find something mockable in Manigold’s masterpiece, Screen Junkies turned to another Marvel star for backup: Ryan Reynolds, in character as Deadpool, who can surely find something to get snarky about. But don’t expect him to feel threatened by another R-rated superhero—not only does he think the movie is worthy of an Oscar nomination, he has his own ideas for a Logan-inspired Deadpool sequel.

May 24 2017 2:43 PM

Dan Stevens Wearing His Morph Suit and Moon Shoes Will Forever Change How You Watch Beauty and the Beast

May 24 2017 1:55 PM

In the Official Trailer for Game of Thrones Season 7, the End Is Coming

 

After brief teases, we finally have our first full look at Game of Thrones’ seventh season. The official trailer feels especially doom-and-gloomy (yes, even for this show), as the HBO epic approaches its long-awaited climax. Season 7 will consist of an abbreviated seven episodes, before the eighth and final installment premieres next year.

It's all about preparation for the final battle to come: Cersei (Lena Headey) gathering her army for the coming challengers, Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) hitching his wagon to Sansa (Sophie Turner) as his “last hope,” and Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) surprisingly returning to action after having been banished. Then there’s Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), ready to assume the throne she has sought since the series’ beginning: “I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms,” she asserts. “And I will.” As the trailer fades to black, we hear an ominous official declaration: “The Great War is here.”

 

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