Kanye West Has Deleted His Pro-Trump Tweets

(This was in contrast to records showing he’d donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the summer of 2015.) He canceled the remaining dates on his U.S. In December, upon his release from hospitalization, West argued for communication and aligning with President Trump as a goal, saying “I feel it is important to have a direct line of communication with our future President if we truly want change.”
It’s worth noting that Kanye has deleted tweets en masse before, especially as they’ve related to specific individuals and controversies. The hip hop artist, who’d previously expressed support for his candidacy and appeared with him in December for a highly publicized meeting at Trump Tower, has apparently deleted all tweets originally written in support of the president. This comes after months of intense backlash to Kanye’s election-themed commentary. “The ‘Muslim ban’ and other actions have turned him against the prez.” TMZ has provided no additional or clarifying details, and Slate has not confirmed any specific motive behind the deletion of Kanye’s Trump-related tweets. Further, TMZ is reporting that there is a clear motivation behind Kanye’s apparent change of heart: He’s not pleased with Trump’s performance as president. After the election, Kanye admitted to not having voted, but he addeded that, if he had cast a ballot, it would have been for Trump. “Our sources say Kanye’s decision to remove the tweets were all his,” TMZ’s post on the news reads. Kanye West may be finished with Donald Trump. Saint Pablo Tour a few days later in response to a disastrous performance in Sacramento where he attacked Beyoncé and public radio, and shortly afterwards was placed under medical observation for his own health and safety.

Sean Spicer Says Melissa McCarthy Needs to “Dial Back,” and SNL Is Too “Mean”

“SNL used to be really funny. McCarthy’s performance primarily mocked Spicer’s aggro channeling of the Trump administration’s unending insecurities, closely mirroring that now-infamous press conference that mixed aimless griping with erroneous crowd-size measuring. As McCarthy’s SNL caricature of Spicer described Trump’s Supreme Court nomination announcement: “When [Trump] entered the room, the crowd greeted him with a standing ovation, which lasted a full 15 minutes. Of course, by the time Spicer weighed in, McCarthy’s performance had already gone viral to an intensely positive response. There’s a streak of meanness now that they’ve crossed over to mean.” Yikes. And you check the tape on that—everyone was smiling, everyone was happy!” So while Spicer may be right about the exaggeration, it’s hard to deny that McCarthy perfectly captured his hapless, screamy essence. Calloway at Sunday’s Super Bowl that while he thought she was “funny,” the comic actress could stand to “dial back” her exaggerated portrayal. In recent weeks, President Trump has abstained from complaining about SNL on Twitter, but Spicer, good soldier that he is, assumed the responsibility of SNL critic on Sunday—and in doing so, he all but validated McCarthy’s intuitive take on him as a whiny Trump lapdog. “Alec has gone from funny to mean, and that’s unfortunate,” Spicer lamented to Extra. Sean Spicer had a decidedly mixed reaction to Melissa McCarthy’s brash (and strikingly accurate) SNL impersonation, telling Extra’s A.J. Before long, he’ll be demanding an apology and refusing to accept one in the same breath. David Itzkoff wrote for the New York Times that she “stole the show,” Elahe Izadi argued that she “absolutely crushed it” for the Washington Post, and the Twitterverse lit up with high praise. Since Alec Baldwin debuted his rather unflattering Trump impression, we’ve endured the perverse, periodic ritual of waking up on Sunday mornings and being greeted by the commander in chief’s online attacks on a popular comedy program.

Stephen Colbert Tosses His Hat in the Ring as a Potential 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner Host

Full Frontal’s Samantha Bee, an outspoken Trump critic, is already planning her own alternative dinner to ensure that the president will at least be properly ridiculed, regardless of who headlines the official event. Bush to his face—and that he has already ridiculed Trump’s policies,  compared him to a Nazi, and accused him of stealing Colbert’s old Colbert Report persona—Trump might be less than willing to sit by and listen to Colbert’s jokes. That’s probably why Colbert isn’t expecting an invitation to repeat his performance at this year’s dinner, though he said it would be “an honor.” “I mean, when else are you going to stand next to the President and make jokes?” said Colbert. Though the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner is still on, Donald Trump hasn’t acknowledged whether or not he’ll deign to join the “dishonest media” and peddlers of “fake news” at the traditional event that unites the press and the president every year. He followed up with a performance of—appropriately enough—the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.” “Everyone who wasn’t in that room loved [the 2006 speech],” said Colbert, borrowing one of Trump’s own spin tactics. “But no one will ever ask again.”
Colbert made his comments to Variety at a benefit concert for the Montclair Film Festival, for which Colbert’s wife, Evelyn, serves as board president. The Late Show host famously headlined the 2006 dinner in character as his alter ego, the conservative pundit “Stephen Colbert,” delivering a sarcastic, blistering roast of the Bush administration and a largely unamused crowd of reporters. Now, he told Variety, he’d “love” to do it again. But there is at least one comedian who wouldn’t mind an invitation to the real thing: Stephen Colbert. But it’s true that despite the chilly reception he received from the audience, video of his performance quickly went viral and became one of the most memorable speeches ever to come out of the annual event. Colbert has said that he’d be willing to have Trump on the Late Show again, but that he’d have to interview him “with some modicum of respect, because he is the president of the United States.” But given that Colbert had no qualms about mocking George W.

Long Overdue

A study conducted in the 1990s found that the average child in Beverly Hills, California, had four times as many books at home as the average child in Compton, California, had in her classroom library. In some districts, up to 35 percent of patrons have had their borrowing privileges revoked because of unpaid fines. Only these days, it’s librarians themselves who often lament what the Detroit reporter called “a tragedy enacted in this little court of equity.” Now some libraries are deciding that the money isn’t worth the hassle—not only that, but that fining patrons works against everything that public libraries ought to stand for. Staff members are happy, because they no longer spend time locked in awkward exchanges with patrons who are angry, distraught, or indignant about their overdue fines. (The average Compton kid, meanwhile, had 2.7 books at home.) More recent research has identified many poor neighborhoods as “book deserts,” with dramatically fewer reading resources than wealthier areas. With unpredictable costs hovering over each checkout, too many families decide it’s safer not to use the library at all. But the system also got rid of most of its expensive credit-card machines and stopped leasing a change-counting machine that it had needed to process the avalanche of dimes and quarters. And when these children are adults, it will cost the library more than $25.00 to convince them that the library is a welcoming and supportive place for their children. “We’re disproportionately affecting the people we’re most interested in getting to the library,” said Meg DePriest, the author of a 2016 white paper recommending that Colorado libraries eliminate fines on children’s materials, “the people who can’t afford to buy books themselves.”
This is a conversation that has been percolating among librarians for several decades now. A child hands an overdue book to a stern librarian perched behind a desk, and with a “sinister expression,” the librarian demands payment of a late fine. Since 2010, districts in northern Illinois, Massachusetts, California, and Ohio—to name a few—have eliminated some or all late fines. But one user’s nominal is another’s exorbitant. In 1906, a reporter for the Detroit Free Press described a scene that had become all too common at the city’s public libraries. But in others—often at the city’s smaller, poorer library branches—the offender cannot pay, and his borrowing privileges are revoked. Low-income children are dramatically less likely to have access to books at home or to spend time reading with their parents. More than a century later, similar dramas are still enacted in libraries across the country every day. But does it make sense for libraries to perform both of those jobs? The district has now had about 18 months to assess what it means to survive only on fines from DVDs and lost-material fees. The Columbus library system expects to forfeit between $500,000 and $600,000 this year. [But] it will cost the library more than $25.00 to convince this mother to return to the library. As one California mother told the New York Times last spring, “I try to explain to [my daughter], ‘Don’t take books out. But that represents less than 1 percent of its overall budget. Others are dramatically lowering penalties for late returns; last year, San Jose, California, halved daily fines to 25 cents and slashed the maximum payment per item to $5 from $20. Executive director Janine Reid says the overall financial impact has been neutral. In Columbus, Ohio, the library board announced in December that it would eliminate overdue fines starting on Jan. It’s so expensive.’ ”
The good news is that librarians are noticing. In fact, fines rarely make up a meaningful source of income for library systems. Late fines and replacement fees can have a huge cost to the communities libraries are meant to serve. “Scarcely a day passes but it does not leave its record of tears and sighs and vain regrets in little hearts,” the reporter lamented. Eliminating fines, of course, also eliminates a revenue stream for a public institution that is often underfunded. The move came when the board realized that fines not only weren’t encouraging the timely return of materials—the little existing research on the topic suggests that small fees do not affect overdue rates—but that fines were actively working against the library’s very reason for existence. “We just felt fines ultimately were counter to the overall purpose and vision of our library.” Instead of issuing daily fines, the library now blocks borrowing privileges for anyone with material more than 21 days late and charges replacement fees after 35 days that are refunded if the item is returned. In her 2005 journal article on libraries and “socially excluded communities,” librarian Annette DeFaveri described a scenario in which a mother is charged $25 for a lost children’s book:

If the library does not charge for the damaged book, it loses about $25.00. In the summer of 2015, the 13 libraries of the High Plains Library District in northern Colorado decided to eliminate almost all their late fines. For low-income users, however, it can be a prohibitively expensive penalty. For middle-class patrons, that may feel like a slap on the wrist, or even a feel-good donation. Meanwhile, circulation rose, including a 16 percent rise within the children’s department. It already offers a separate kids’ card, which allows children to borrow up to three books at a time and doesn’t charge overdue fines. Naturally, revenue from fines and fees dropped, from about $180,000 in 2014 to an estimated $95,000 last year. Overdue fines have always operated as a hedge on that communal trust, the nagging little stick that comes with the big, beautiful carrot. “We’ve had 150 years to try to teach customers timeliness or responsibility, and I don’t know that that’s our greatest success story,” said Losinski, a few days after his library system abandoned late fees. And the fear that fines were the only thing between civilization and chaos has proved unfounded: 95 percent of materials are returned within a week of their due date. Fines imply that a library’s mission is not only to encourage reading but to perform a kind of moral instruction. … It will cost the library more than $25.00 to persuade this mother that the library is a welcoming community place willing to mount literacy programs aimed at her children, who will not benefit from regular library visits and programs. If a child checks out 10 picture books, the kind of haul librarians love to encourage, and then his mother’s work schedule prevents her from returning them for a week past the due date, that’s $7. “We’ve shut off access to the library when one of our staunchest principles is trying to provide the widest access to materials that we can,” the system’s CEO, Patrick Losinski, said. Is this “the end of overdue fines?” wondered the Public Library Association as the trend continued to gather steam a few years later. 1. Free public libraries are so interwoven into American life that it can be hard to appreciate their radical premise: Anyone in town can take home any book, for free. The American Library Association issued a policy brief on services for the poor in 2012 whose first point was a vow to promote the removal of fees and fines. Reid put it more simply when she explained the message she wanted residents of High Plains to take away: “We trust you.” In some cases, the child grumbles and pays the penny or two. Library fines in most places remain quaintly low, sometimes just 10 cents per day.

Investigation Finds No Animals Were Harmed on the Set of A Dog’s Purpose

— During the last scene, handlers immediately assisted the dog out of the water, at which point he was placed in a warming tent and received an examination that found no signs of stress. An independent, third-party investigation has found that no animals were harmed on the set of A Dog’s Purpose, American Humane announced Friday on its website. But other animal rights organizations such as PETA still called for a total boycott, citing the video as evidence of “cruelty.” (According to Deadline, the film’s opening weekend numbers were “doggone good” nonetheless.)
American Humane, which provides the "No animals were harmed" certification found in the credits of Hollywood movies, did say that the leaked video should not be altogether discredited. — The dog was selected for his love of the water, and had been professionally trained and conditioned for the water scenes over the course of six weeks, using positive training techniques. Still, out of an abundance of caution, American Humane stopped filming of any more scenes with the dog. Eyewitnesses report that the dog wanted to go back in the water. — The first video scene was stopped after the dog showed signs of stress. The dog was not forced to swim in the water at any time. Further, the animal welfare organization stated that the disturbing leaked video first published by TMZ, which shows a German Shepherd forced into water before being submerged, “mischaracterized the events on set.”
As backlash to A Dog’s Purpose settled in after TMZ’s video first went viral, those involved with the film—ranging from author W. Bruce Cameron to actor Dennis Quaid—maintained that there was no mistreatment of animals during the shooting of the film. “That being said, it is important to note that this was recognized and the scene did not proceed as insinuated by the misleadingly edited video.”
The organization also laid out several further conclusions in bullet-point form:

— The video was deliberately edited for the purpose of misleading the public and stoking outrage. “American Humane believes that the handling of the dog in the first scene in the video should have been gentler and signs of stress recognized earlier,” the statement explained. — Prior to shooting the scene, safety meetings were held to go over and reinforce safety precautions and protocols. — In addition to one of American Humane’s Certified Animal Safety Representatives, five experts—including safety specialists and animal handlers—were present to supervise and safeguard the dog throughout the water scene. — A veterinary checkup was performed last week at the request of American Humane, which confirmed that the dog is healthy. In fact, the two scenes shown in the edited video were filmed at different times.

The Beautiful World

The novel’s title, and the role of attachment in detaining the spirits in their limbo-like semi-existence, suggests an underlying Buddhist cosmology. Every day brings a new, preposterous travesty. It gave us hope.”
Those ghosts who linger in the graveyard do so because they can’t relinquish some attachment to what they refer to as “the previous place”: three daughters left in the care of a loathed husband; a lifetime’s worth of jealously hoarded possessions; a body of unpublished scholarly work demonstrating the author’s “genius.” The two primary speakers are a frustrated bridegroom, felled by a building collapse just before his marriage could be consummated, and a young man who committed suicide in despair over his homosexuality only to regret the loss of the beautiful world when it was too late. I can’t help hoping he’ll come back to it soon. One thing is certain: The ghosts of children who tarry in the cemetery are in great peril, subject to a horrific transformation in which they become encased in a carapace of tiny, teeming, angry souls (a scenario with an unsettling resemblance to the body thetans of Scientology doctrine). The centerpiece of the ballyhoo was a New York Times Magazine profile pronouncing it “the best book you’ll read all year,” and the public responded by making Tenth of December the rare literary story collection to land on the best-seller list. They cling to false comforts, flimsy self-help nostrums, and dreams corrupted by marketing kitsch (“When will I have sufficient leisure/wealth to sit on hay bale watching moon rise, while in luxurious mansion family sleeps? Jaded readers may suspect that Saunders needed to contrive a selfless cause—saving Willie—to unite all the ghosts in a group effort, thereby providing a plot and the opportunity for redemption in community. His characters are typically pitiable—hirelings and underdogs, experimental subjects and neglected children, the cowed members of families and workplaces dominated by unchecked malignant narcissists—but each one harbors a tiny flame of decency that remains stubbornly lit despite the humiliations and disappointments heaped upon him. The metaphysical apparatus must be explained to some extent, and those explanations are both a bit tedious and at odds with the moral center of the book, which is the grief of Lincoln. It definitely marks an advance into new formal territory. Now more than ever, we occupy a bizarre, artificial, demoralizing, and terrifying world, and George Saunders might just be the only writer able to do justice to it. Saunders is a writer whose satire has long seemed a bit too monstrous for mainstream success, yet now that he has published what was is surely his most gently accessible work, reality has abruptly caught up to his darkest visions. The longer the ghosts remain, the more diminished they become, reduced to tiny forms symbolic of the desires they can’t relinquish. Fewer still can also make you laugh while they’re doing it. Novels take a long time to write and publish, and no doubt this one was finished before the American polity took a four-year detour through the kingdom of the grotesque. Random House. What a difference a few years and a catastrophic presidential election make! I can think of only one who can consistently persuade his readers that some of our essential humanity will survive the assault of all that banality. The bridegroom appears to other specters with an enormous erection; the suicide appears as a freakish vision with multiple noses and sets of eyes, rhapsodizing about the glories of the senses: “…the peach orchards and haystacks and young girls and ancient wild meadows drove him nearly mad with their beauty, and strange animals moved in lazy mobs along muddy rivers, rivers crossable only with the aid of some old rowing hermit who spoke a language barely English, and all of it, all of that bounty, was for everyone, for everyone to use, seemingly put here to teach a man to be free.”
Most of these ghosts refuse to acknowledge that they’re dead and clutch at the hope that they can somehow communicate with, and affect, those still residing in “the previous place.” They are subjected to visitations from radiant beings who try to persuade them to “go on,” promising them paradise in the next place, but the revenants shun these demonic tempters and regard the ghosts who succumb, leaving the cemetery forever, with pity. But one of the ghosts, a former reverend, claims to have glimpsed beyond this world a place of terrible judgement and punishment, so it’s possible that Saunders means the afterlife to be a reflection of whatever the individual soul expects to see. An early Saunders story, that is, not the melancholy, inward-looking, often lovely and moving but fundamentally private novel that is Lincoln in the Bardo. It’s just that the timing on this thing is really, really bad. It was cheering. Can anyone doubt that the inner monologue of Sean Spicer, under orders to parrot and defend the manifest falsehoods embraced by his delusional boss as he stands squirming like a bug under the gaze the nation’s press, would sound exactly like a George Saunders story? But I’ve always suspected that Saunders regards such knowingness as merely a more sophisticated mirage: Just because you’ve clocked how power and consumer capitalism operate doesn’t make you any less their bitch. And it is … a historical novel. Read the rest of the pieces in the Slate Book Review. Why this should be the case, nobody knows. That Saunders might have something enlightening to say about our age of ambient rage occurred to the editors of the New Yorker, who sent him off to a few Trump rallies last year, severely testing the author’s capacity for empathy. (He passed.) The result, currently a finalist for a National Magazine Award in feature writing, observes that “the tragedy of the Trump movement is that one set of struggling people has been pitted against other groups of struggling people by someone who has known little struggle, at least in the material sense, and hence seems to have little empathy for anyone struggling, and even to consider struggling a symptom of weakness.” A Saundersian scenario if I’ve ever heard one. Some reviewers, while praising Tenth of December, noted that Saunders’ satirical glosses on life under corporate capitalism are a bit obvious, or that for all the originality of his voice, his work hasn’t evolved much over the years. It has many moments of power, and even passages of the sort of lushly sensual prose that hasn’t previously been a Saunders specialty. The subjects of loss and mortal regret are momentous ones, which probably explains why (to the browsing critic, at least) seemingly every other literary novel is about grief. A George Saunders novel seems like just what we need right now, but chances are Lincoln in the Bardo is not the George Saunders novel you’re looking for. As for the ghosts themselves, they persist in a suspended state familiar to any reader of Samuel Beckett, a condition only slightly more existentially pointless than that occupied by the living. It’s not that Lincoln in the Bardo isn’t worthwhile. Using a format that combines a play-like assemblage of voices alternating with chapters composed of quotations from historical sources, it depicts how the ghosts respond to the arrival of Willie Lincoln, the president’s son, who died of typhoid at age 11. About grief. For anyone who’d been following Saunders’ work since 1992, when his groundbreaking story “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline”—set in a theme park degenerating into dystopia under callous management—appeared in the Kenyon Review, the acclaim, however tardy, has been welcome. You could argue, as some have, that the accentuated irony in Saunders’ fiction, the gap between how the characters view their plight and how the reader perceives it, flatters his audience’s superior understanding. Now comes Saunders’ long-awaited first novel, just at the moment when his capacity to hold onto that slender thread of humanity running through the direst social circumstances seems most needed. Anyone can write a “serious” novel when they choose such serious themes, which is why, in addition to the great ones, so many mediocre writers with nothing especially interesting to say are drawn to them. And yet there were detectable mutterings underneath it all. This causes a sensation in the cemetery because, as one of the spirits puts it, “to be touched so lovingly, so fondly, as if one were still…worthy of affection and respect? Lincoln himself appears, the night after his son’s funeral, pulling the dead boy’s body out of its coffin to embrace it. The bardo is an element of Tibetan Buddhism, a way station between incarnations in which souls prepare themselves for their next life. And Abraham Lincoln. The particular flavor of Saunders’ fiction combines pathos with a submerged but fiercely sardonic humor. Very few writers, however, can write about the crap we actually live with—theme parks and lawn ornaments and customer service reps and petty autocrats—in a way that teases out the desperation and cruelty lurking within. At that time, will have chance to reflect deeply on meaning of life, etc., etc.”), but it is the clinging itself, and their refusal to jettison their own nagging consciences, that makes them heroic. —
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Lincoln was a great man, and the loss of a child is a shattering blow to absorb—especially if you also happen to be a leader of conscience aware that your decisions will cost other parents their own sons. Lincoln in the Bardo is set in a Washington cemetery in 1862, amid the resident population of ghosts. George Saunders’ Tenth of December, his fourth short story collection, was published to much fanfare in 2013.

Why Fifty Shades’ New Director Is the Schlockmeister the Franchise Needs and Deserves

Foley took a detour with Penn’s then-wife Madonna on Who’s That Girl (1987) before returning to his favored hard-boiled young men in After Dark, My Sweet (1990), based on a Jim Thompson novel. But soon Foley, who is 63 and has been going at it for three decades, may finally earn his place in the pantheon. Here, too, Foley shows a special appreciation for well-toned male bodies, as Penn struggles to move around in his T-shirt, when he wears one at all. (She reportedly feuded with the series’ protective author.) Foley’s hiring was understandably lamented, especially among feminist foes of the franchise, who found small solace in a female filmmaker using it to make rare Hollywood inroads. The movie is all over the place, but it is never less than magnificently strange, roving from icky paternal drama to Calvin Klein-era Wahlberg abs to genuinely disturbing violence. By the time the hero drives a motorcycle through his high school, it’s clear we’re in the hands of a director with a certain … élan. Foley’s instinct to embrace the excess, the overheated sex, and the camp potential of his material suggests he will make a fine steward for a franchise whose main ambition should be making audiences yell at the screen. That is hard to dispute. That’s because two years ago he was named the new director in charge of the Fifty Shades franchise, taking command of the next two film adaptations of the infamous E.L. Foley went on to make mainstream movies both well received (1992’s Glengarry Glen Ross) and less so (1996’s The Chamber) before finding himself back on his natural turf with Fear. The director, James Foley, specializes in this sort of thing—moody men and women who court each other with furtive glances, over-the-top passion, and an escalating sense of danger. In the decade after Fear, Foley worked steadily in film (including a contribution to the Halle Berry thriller canon), and he’s recently been hired mostly for television (including Showtime’s Billions, a hysterical series for which he could not be better suited). It proceeds like any other adolescent Rust Belt drama—until it virtually shuts down in its second act for what is essentially a movie-spanning sex scene. In what might be Foley’s most acclaimed movie, Jason Patric stars as a boxer-turned-drifter who, despite having lost his mind, earns the various romantic affections of a beautiful alcoholic (Rachel Ward) and a genteel doctor (George Dickerson). They kiss. Still, tell a Fear fan that the director is taking on the Fifty Shades franchise, and you’re likely to get excited groans, because it makes Fifty Shades Darker required viewing for a special subspecies of moviegoer. Foley has never quite earned the status of fellow smut auteurs like Adrian Lyne (Unfaithful, 9 ½ Weeks), but his gifts are similar: He takes dime-novel premises and makes them into movies both far more erotic and far more entertaining than they have any right to be. He replaced Sam Taylor-Johnson, who became one of the top-grossing female directors ever on Fifty Shades of Grey, and was one of the rare women to helm a blockbuster movie. Reckless, Foley’s 1984 debut, starts like many teen romances: a motorcycle-riding boy (Aidan Quinn, also in his debut) has eyes for a well-to-do girl (Daryl Hannah) and tries to court her by pretending he doesn’t care. A young man and woman stare into each other’s eyes. There is a long sequence where the couple stares each other down poolside, undressing with comic overstatement; there is school-basement sex and parents’-house sex; there is startling frontal nudity for young actors. It is the film all good Lifetime movies want to be: zany, ridiculous, but also charged with real sexual energy and unafraid of the brutality built into its premise. Foley makes fine use of Patric’s blue eyes and vague menace as the boxer broods, kidnaps a child, and descends into madness. The Sundays’ cover of “Wild Horses” plays. She takes his hand, and as they climb to the peak, one of the most guffaw-worthy sex scenes in recent movie history comes to life. Somewhere in a Hollywood screening room a couple years ago, watching Mark Wahlberg snarl into a peephole as they assessed Foley’s qualifications, they must have known they had another hit on their hands. But he has never quite hit the same deranged heights. If the original Fifty Shades’ greatest sin is that it is simply boring—elegant and far more cogent than the material deserved—Foley promises the messier, unapologetically crazed movies these were born to be. James books, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. (That’s not to mention his historical reverence for the male form, from Quinn to Penn to Wahlberg, which promises nice things for devotees of Jamie Dornan.)
I have yet to see the new movie—after all, I must not spoil my Valentine’s Day plans—but I have to imagine Universal executives are already pleased with themselves. The movie, a failure at the time but destined to become a cult classic, concerns a well-off Seattle girl (Witherspoon) who unwisely falls for the clear serial-killer charms of an older boy (Wahlberg). With the Seattle skyline as backdrop, he helps her onto a rollercoaster with a conveniently loose-fitting safety bar. The camera has a notable fondness for the young Quinn’s body, with lingering shots of him in the shower that go on a few beats longer than they should. As any scholar of quality screen trash can tell you, the man is Mark Wahlberg, the woman is Reese Witherspoon, and the movie is 1996’s Fear, the notorious thriller about a teen romance gone very wrong. But for those who see Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey’s adventures solely as a venue for the communal appreciation of lurid celluloid garbage, Foley at the helm is a little bit of a dream. The rollercoaster sequence, which is hard to interpret as anything but a demented “climax” metaphor, remains a favorite of shrieking repertory crowds. He soon goes full lunatic and enters a bizarro psychosexual duel with the girl’s father (William Petersen). Foley cemented his talents for bonkers bad-boy thrillers with 1986’s At Close Range, featuring a 25-year-old Sean Penn who gets wrapped up in an overwrought criminal scheme (and a young Mary Stuart Masterson).

Dogged Reporter, Truth-Seeker, Kind of a Jerk

His recent contretemps with BuzzFeed over that website’s decision to share the specific contents of the “golden shower” memo, a story CNN first broke, is another example of Tapper calling out a hypocrisy and, in so doing, missing the forest to yell at another tree. He made a show of defending Kellyanne Conway on Twitter, from a Slate piece, it should be said, saying that “either the truth matters or it doesn’t”—the white knight stampeding into battle perhaps less on behalf of Conway herself than on behalf of his own ideals and image. But Tapper legitimately doesn’t shy away from a fight. “CNN is in the business of sussing out what is true and what is false,” Tapper said at the time, aligning himself and CNN with virtuous journalism and BuzzFeed with lowly muckraking. Tapper become the host of The Lead and CNN’s Sunday morning news show State of the Nation without parroting the most popular anchor modes of our time, the righteously or satirically partisan talking head. Tapper’s confidence is a not altogether uncharming element of his confrontational style (see that “no” to Bannon), though it can wear thin. Tapper defended Trump from BuzzFeed, saying, “The president has a right to be mad,” as though what mattered was Tapper’s infallible sense of right and wrong and not the larger picture. Jake Tapper, CNN’s chief Washington correspondent, has been a journalist for nearly 20 years, during which time he has earned a reputation as a hard-nosed newsman and equal-opportunity tough interviewer. But he has only started going viral recently. For those who see all of the press as the “opposition party,” there’s not a lot of daylight in this distinction. Edward R. In a recent roundtable he shut down Democratic talking heads for comparing Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s nominee for the Office of Management and Budget who owes taxes for a domestic laborer, to Tom Daschle, whose nomination to the Obama Cabinet was scuttled by the same charges: Tapper pointed out that Democrats had pulled Daschle’s nomination themselves, so it wasn’t analogous. This past Thursday, an eternity in Trump time, Jake Tapper began his daily CNN show The Lead by addressing Donald Trump’s undermensch Steve Bannon’s recent comments that the media ought to “keep its mouth shut.” With disdain in his eyes and a sneering smile on his face, Tapper succinctly responded, “No”—a no swiftly shared around social media. This is why the New York Times media critic sees him as a paragon of “uncompromising journalism.” It’s why Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show awarded Tapper with a “Shit Catcher Award” for not getting spun by Conway. While there are certainly people, Trump among them, who reflexively scoff at the notion of CNN’s nonpartisanship, it is still the only cable news network with notable segments of its audience that voted for Trump or for Hillary Clinton. Tapper has moderated Republican debates and made himself as irksome to Clinton as to Trump, peppering the former with queries about her foundation and the latter about endorsements from the KKK. It’s like tossing a wet blanket on liberal adoration that only makes that adoration smolder further: The guy really has integrity! Faced with a president-elect who lies as a matter of course, Tapper has turned to the hypocrisies of the Trump administration, the most pressing ones at hand. It makes a good case for Tapper being both a little bit of a smarm and also fundamentally decent. But since Trump’s election, Tapper’s fiery but establishment-entrenched objectivity has morphed into a kind of radicalism, as the establishment, or at least the president, cuts ties with the truth. Tapper recast a genuinely thorny question of journalistic ethics as simplistic, supporting the bully who yells “fake news” and perpetuating a paradigm of “good media” and “bad media” to indemnify his institution from a president who iced CNN out anyway. But Tapper’s overconfidence in the distinction is exactly why he’s found his moment: The idea of facts is so under siege that any bravado on their behalf, even misguided bravado, is palpably reassuring. Tapper framed the stories as though they were in opposition to each other when they were actually mutually reinforcing, with BuzzFeed’s elevating CNN’s above a kind of high-level blind item. There are plenty of cable news anchors currently on the air who have spent years pioneering ways to disguise spinelessness as impartiality. It’s why his tweets and clips are getting passed around social media attached to hyperbolic words such as destroy and eviscerate. “No to be hysterical, but this is a matter of life and death,” Tapper said, excusing himself for not moving on to other topics. Unlike Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, Sean Hannity, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, or even CNN’s rising star Van Jones—whose show, The Messy Truth, is now CNN’s most-watched—Tapper has built his brand on a kind of performative neutrality: an old-school news anchor refashioned for the present day. To maintain his air of authority, Tapper doesn’t just tenaciously question politicians or assess Trump’s actions; he calls out Democratic hypocrisy whenever he can. Evidence of Tapper’s style can be found even back in his Washington City Paper cover story about going on a date with Monica Lewinsky, in which he mixes a small amount of self-deprecation—he’s just another hack who wants a part of the Lewinsky story—with extreme confidence in his own judgment—she was a little too breezy, but at least, unlike many other women, she asked questions—to come to a morally magnanimous conclusion: Monica deserves better. When you’re watching Jake Tapper, the truth is still something you can feel smug about. A sensible “not to be hysterical” followed by “matter of life and death”—it was the perfect Tapperism, a cri de coeur dressed up with enough calm self-awareness to make it land all the more persuasively. Just this past Sunday, he pressured Republican Ohio Sen. At a moment in which believing in “facts” is a partisan stance, Tapper has become an occasional liberal hero and poster boy, in a nonpartisan patterned tie, of the resistance. Murrow himself would be dismissed by Trumpies as a partisan hack disseminating fake news. This persona made him an asset to CNN: the “reasonable” journalist on the hunt for bullshit wherever it lived, proof of CNN’s seriousness of purpose, even as his even-handedness held back his ratings and kept him from overtly decrying the more insidious recalcitrance and obstructionism of the Republican Party. Rob Portman, who was already lightly criticizing the recent executive order on immigration, to get more concrete. Channeling the ethos of his network, Tapper is combative less about party than the “truth.” A notorious bulldog for answers, he methodically rephrases questions over and over again until he gets, or doesn’t get, a response, as when he asked Trump if his comments on Judge Gonzalo Curiel were racist—23 times. In a 2014 profile for Politico, Tapper described himself as “besieging [the Obama White House] with calls and complaints and accusations and whatever.” In the leaked Podesta emails, Podesta wondered, “Why is Jake Tapper such a dick?” Tapper responded to this dig with good humor, tweeting in response: “It’s a question that has confounded millions of people for hundreds of years.”
A dogged reporter, a truth-seeker, kind of a dick: This is a pretty accurate distillation of the Tapper brand, one cultivated over years of unsparing interviews and pugnacious tweets. This past week The Lead included a segment that could have been straight of The Daily Show, but for the restrained delivery: a gotcha clip reel of Sean Spicer blaming the media for calling the Muslim ban a ban, and then proceeding to, himself, call it a ban. Tapper’s smugness—that resolute faith in his own judgment, that earnest sense of himself as unerring adjudicator and master bullshit detector—is a fundamental part of his vibe and sometimes his appeal.

Why A-List Actresses Don’t Make Romantic Comedies Anymore

Back in the day, Bullock, Roberts, and Witherspoon all had studio development deals where they could tailor material to their talents, but now, our best young women are increasingly dependent on what the male-driven, foreign-angling marketplace brings them—and it ain’t rom-coms. While the romantic-comedy genre was once the provenance of our biggest and best-liked women, it eventually became the domain of semi-popular actresses with little critical respect, like Katherine Heigl, Jennifer Lopez, and Kate Hudson … basically, the B team. So maybe this is the moment in the story where the heroine and her muse, split by contrivance, realize that they should get back together. In the land of the romantic comedy, these women acted as its smiling stewards: Meet-cutes were had, misunderstandings were worked through, and mixed-up matches generally became couples by the final reel. In the age of Marvel, only the most critically acclaimed directors still get to make mid-budget movies, and they’re all men who’d rather make Oscar vehicles than strictly defined rom-coms. “When people called Silver Linings Playbook a romantic comedy, my head snapped,” Russell once told Indiewire, though his Oscar-winning film hits many of that genre’s most familiar beats. And while Katherine Heigl may have hoped, once upon a time, to become the next Julia Roberts, it’s safe to say that Margot Robbie doesn’t aspire to become the next Katherine Heigl. When I think about recent romantic comedies that have really popped, they’re left-of-center movies with stars who don’t traditionally get to make movies like this, including Trainwreck (which gave Amy Schumer her first proper big-screen bow), Obvious Child (an abortion-themed comedy that let Jenny Slate play the lead instead of the wise-cracking best friend), and the recent Sundance sensation The Big Sick (a Pakistani-American culture clash starring Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan). Great work is being done in the romantic-comedy space right now, and for a crop of actresses intent on shoring up their critical bona fides, they’d be unwise to overlook it. And can you even imagine Kristen Stewart in a light-and-fluffy high-heels vehicle? Their cold shoulder is contagious: New recruits to the lady A-list, like Margot Robbie, Brie Larson, and Shailene Woodley, have no romantic comedies on their docket. In its heyday, a film like Pretty Woman was the fourth-highest-grossing film of 1990, but in 2016, there’s not a romantic comedy to be found in the year’s 50 biggest movies. What happened? Margot Robbie’s breakthrough came courtesy of Martin Scorsese, while Kristen Stewart is seeking out art-cinema’s finest to work with. In the beginning, we had Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan. That’s important, because our current crop of in-demand young women is unusually focused on working with critically acclaimed, high-level directors out of the gate. In part, this is because Hollywood let the genre become disreputable. Tentpole blockbusters, animated spectaculars, and the occasional horror hit are the new order of the day, and mid-budget movies aimed at and starring women are increasingly lucky to eke out even a sliver of that studio pie. Hell, the biggest romantic comedy of all time is still My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which writer-star Nia Vardalos told with winning cultural specificity. Much has been written about how the romantic-comedy genre, once a cinematic staple, has fallen on hard times as of late. Movies about women will always have a tough time garnering the same amount of respect as movies about men—the umpteenth superhero film arrives with much more pomp and circumstance than a rom-com about a klutzy art restorer choosing between two suitors—but when Hollywood finally had to pick the heirs to Julia, Meg, Sandra, and Reese, they didn’t send their best. All of those movies were able to use the very familiar rom-com structure as a Trojan horse to get unfamiliar ideas and faces onto the big screen, which produced an interesting friction for a genre that can sometimes run too smooth. Yes, there are all sorts of flashy, handsome studio suitors willing to woo our new A-listers, but in the end, perhaps it’s the humble, patient rom-com—a genre that has stuck around and shown real character growth—that’s most deserving of an embrace. If they so much as flirt with the genre, it’s under the critical auspices of Oscar-friendly auteurs like David O. Christened “America’s Sweetheart,” Roberts lent her girl-next-door star power to many a 1990s romantic comedy, including Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Runaway Bride, and Notting Hill, while Ryan gave the genre some of its biggest hits, like When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail. In a way, though, the A-list’s absence from the rom-com rolls has allowed the genre to find new life, powered by unexpected faces. Just ask Lawrence, who recently shot the thriller Mother with Best Director nominee Darren Aronofsky, and will soon make the fact-based Bad Blood with another Best Director nominee, Adam McKay. For years, this was a genre that would mint superstars, and now young women are content to bypass it entirely. Russell, Woody Allen, or Cameron Crowe, the kind of men who would strenuously object to their films being defined that way. Emma Stone is only 28, and she’s already starred in three films nominated for Best Picture, one of which won that prize (Birdman) and another of which is about to (La La Land). In time, they begot Sandra Bullock—of While You Were Sleeping, Two Weeks Notice, and The Proposal—and Reese Witherspoon, who faithfully served a stint as the lead of films like Sweet Home Alabama and Just Like Heaven. See also: The Best British TV Romantic Comedies to Stream Right Now Box-office records are regularly rewritten in every genre but this one, where the list of the highest-grossing romantic comedies of all time has sat untouched for years. Years ago in Crazy, Stupid, Love, Emma Stone sparkled like a classic rom-com heroine, but now she’d rather work with auteurs than make the next Bridget Jones. In short, journeyman rom-com directors like Marc Lawrence and Anne Fletcher aren’t getting anywhere near these young women. This article originally appeared in Vulture. Up against those long odds, the cruelest hand the romantic-comedy genre has been dealt is that our new class of A-list actresses has shown little interest in doing that kind of movie. Jennifer Lawrence is better known for her franchise films and dramatic work than for making like Meg Ryan. The usual tried-and-true career arc, where a star like Sandra Bullock would make mainstream Hollywood movies for ages before finally feinting towards more highbrow fare, has been upended. Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for her first Oscar at age 20, for the indie Winter’s Bone, before she ever went on to commercial success, and her biggest hit, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, didn’t come until she had already won the second Oscar she was nominated for. Who have we got now?

Lady Gaga’s Halftime Show Was a Patriotic Tribute to a Pluralistic (and Pretty Queer) America

But Meryl Streeping it is not the only way to go. There’s potential for ire in everything from not singing the right song to not being the right person. When she caught a bedazzled football and jumped off screen during the show’s final moments, you couldn’t help but applaud her skill as a performer. We got to hear the best of Gaga’s anthems, including “Poker Face,” “Telephone” (notably sans Beyoncé cameo 🙁 ), “Bad Romance,” and “Just Dance.” The most overtly political moment of the show—if you can call singing the standard lyric of a 7-year-old chart-topper political—was “Born This Way,” with its explicit shoutout to LGBT people and the existence of various racial and ethnic identities. But Gaga’s show was a flashy, sneaky reminder that there are other possibilities. While not an official part of the program, a strange ad for Tiffany’s featuring Gaga aired just before halftime—and it didn’t inspire much hope. That’s no small feat—especially if even Macro Rubio got caught up in the spirit. Wanna feel good with us?” We usually think being political means registering clear statements of protest—and artists can and should do that when they can. But instead, she dove into the middle of our annual celebration of American bellicosity and, for a few, magical minutes, queered it into a shimmering fever dream of floating lights and ecstatic music, where dancers of every color and gender transformed football uniforms from blunt tools of violence into high-fashion trappings of joy. And really, when you think about it, Gaga’s handling of the politics issue was actually pretty damn skillful. Would I have preferred that she hacked the drones to fly her and Madonna to the White House with a payload of glitter-bombs? The cool part about this wasn’t so much Gaga as it was the swarm of colorful drones (powered by Intel™!) hovering and making pictures in the sky behind her. And in the temple to masculinist American nationalism that is the football stadium, the likelihood of political offense is particularly high. Gaga—channeling Pink in full Cirque du Soleil mode—flew and danced around that scaffolding, singing and even occasionally playing instruments live. After Mother Monster safely landed in a Mad Max-esque set, things improved. And on Sunday night, her answer appeared to be … not very. In one of very few spoken moments in the show, Gaga called out: “We’re here to make you feel good. She didn’t miss a step, and, during “A Million Reasons,” the truly gorgeous ballad off her most recent record Joanne, she even managed to work in a cute shout-out to her parents. You couldn’t help but grimace as the singer attempted to connect her rebellious creativity to a luxury brand whose New York flagship is literally next door to Trump Tower. As the first Super Bowl performer under the Trump administration—and the first after Beyoncé’s infamous Black Panther-inspired “Formation” debut in 2016—Lady Gaga certainly had to grapple with the problem of how political to make her show. The role of Super Bowl halftime show performer is a thankless one: Artists must compress all the choreography and spectacle of a greatest hits concert into under 15 minutes, perform it in a less-than-ideal venue to a viewership of millions, and then, for their efforts, almost certainly piss off some segment of the audience. Cool, at least, until you think about all the civilians that American drones have killed … but fortunately there wasn’t too much time to ponder this before she jumped. Showing people what a more inclusive world could look like can be just as powerful than telling them. Political expectations aside, the show was unquestionably fun. These days, many Americans aren’t feeling too good. “You know you will have a truly special moment if you go to the Tiffany’s store,” Gaga says, rolling around on a rug—the special moment presumably being a sharp reminder of how rich (or not) you happen to be. As the proper show began, we found Gaga on the roof of Houston’ NRG Stadium, working a techoglittter Catwoman-on-Europa look and singing a medley of patriotic American ditties. Of course.

Watch Hamilton’s Schuyler Sisters Give a Shout-Out to “Sisterhood” at the Super Bowl

When a broadcast as patriotic-to-the-point-of-jingoism as the Super Bowl starts implying that a president has gone too far, things are really off the rails. When they reached the lyric “crown thy good with brotherhood,” the singers paused to add the line “and sisterhood,” to cheers from the crowd. (The cast later read a statement to Pence encouraging him to “uphold our American values.”) Even if it’s unlikely to make much difference, this performance of “America the Beautiful” is yet another sign of broadening resistance to the Trump administration. The three women, who originated the roles of the Schuyler sisters in Broadway’s Hamilton, slightly modified the song to be more inclusive. Among the people saluting the changed lyric on Twitter was none other than Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who endorsed his former castmates’ addition:
It wasn’t the first time the popular musical was a flashpoint in the culture wars—in November, Vice-President Mike Pence, then Vice-President-Elect, was booed by the audience at a performance he attended in New York. Inevitably, however, some people in the audience read the change as a message to Trump:
It’s a sorry state of affairs when a mild nod to gender equality can be plausibly read as an implicit condemnation of the current administration, but that’s where we’re at. The Super Bowl got a very tiny bit political this year with the pre-show performance of “America the Beautiful” by Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Jasmine Cephas Jones.

Go Back to the ’80s With This Stranger Things Season 2 Teaser

The teaser quotes Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, dresses one of the characters like Indiana Jones, and features the kind of Halloween costumes that could drive someone to throw a tantrum over an all-female Ghostbusters reboot years later. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial:
Ghostbusters, you can track down on your own. (That last movie isn’t Spielberg, but it’s not like they were gonna do Hook.) Still, sometimes a Spielberg pastiche is exactly what you’re looking for, and Netflix’s is lovingly done. A teaser for the second season of Stranger Things aired on the Super Bowl this weekend, and it promises to be even more of a Spielberg pastiche than the first season. For reference, here’s the clip from Close Encounters of the Third Kind:
And here’s the bike chase sequence from E.