Thanks to Boing Boing for uncovering this hidden gem. Either way, the videos are surreal, totally unnecessary, and oddly mesmerizing. Their channel, Spamilton, takes things a step further by using cutouts of Miranda’s face to make him actually re-enact many of the musical’s songs solo (well, sort of). I’m sure you already know the old adage “Two Lin-Manuel Mirandas are better than one,” which is definitely a real saying and not something I just made up right now. That’s right: all Miranda, all the time, which, depending on how you feel about the man himself, is either a dream or a nightmare. But that evidently wasn’t enough for two very ambitious YouTubers. Hamilton creator Miranda has previously shared demos from the smash-hit musical where he sings every part, effectively already turning Hamilton into a one-man show.
Stackhouse appreciated the break. Wendy Davis’ 13-hour attempt to derail restrictive abortion regulations, which got a fictional analogue two years later when Scandal’s Mellie Grant took a stand against the attempt to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood. “The Stackhouse Filibuster,” The West Wing (2001)
The rare fictional example where the filibustering Senator is the antagonist, standing in the way of President Jed Bartlet’s Family Wellness Act." Bartlet initially labels Sen. The gas had pretty much run out by the fourth movie, though, a loose, uncredited Mr. Laughlin shoehorns in a fight scene and a chance for his character to show his resolve by smashing his fist through a glass table—why didn’t Jimmy Stewart think of that?—but the movie ends the same way, with Billy Jack collapsing on the Senator floor. Stackhouse a “crank,” but he discovers that the reason for his opposition is the bill’s inadequate funding for autism research. Smith remake in which Billy’s fill-in Senator runs afoul of the nuclear power industry. Mr. When Smith discloses his intent by slipping a thermos and an apple out of his suitcoats, the assembled reporters run for the doors to phone their editors, excitedly yelling “Filibuster!” One eager CBS hack later refers to it as “democracy’s finest show … the right to talk your head off.”
Billy Jack Goes to Washington (1977)
Tom Laughlin’s Billy Jack, a half-Navajo Vietnam veteran fighting authority in all its forms, cannily channeled countercultural sentiment to become a surprisingly durable franchise. With Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, invoking the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster and install Neil Gorsuch on the U.S. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Most people’s understanding of what a filibuster is still goes back to Frank Capra’s 1939 classic, in which Jimmy Stewart plays an idealistic but naïve freshman Senator who runs afoul of corrupt politicians and is eventually framed for corruption himself. Mellie didn’t pack so much as a pair of pink sneakers for her filibuster, but apparent West Wing fan Olivia Pope phoned in a suggestion for then-Veep Susan Ross to ask a question so that Mellie could sneak out for a pee. We’re not treated in its entirety to the one that has 22 separate parts, but no doubt Sen. Although Laughlin began work on a fifth Billy Jack movie in the mid-’80s, it was never completed. Supreme Court, that particular device has been removed from screenwriters’ bag of tricks—yes, it’s still possible to filibuster individual pieces of legislation, but given the filibuster’s very public dismantling, the dialogue necessary to explain that the Senate didn’t blow up that kind of filibuster would be more of a drag than most scripts could bear. Just as the Senate is about to vote to expel him, he seizes the floor and holds it for nearly 24 hours, until he faints dead away. The Man won that round. It’s been a long time since filibusters actually involved actually holding the Senate floor (not to mention your water) for hours for hours on end, but a lone figure standing up against injustice and the limitations of his or her calf muscles has been an image too good for film- and TV makers to pass up. *Correction, April 6: This post originally mispelled West Wing president Jed Bartlet’s last name. So let’s look back at some of the filibuster’s most glorious on-screen moments, knowing we will not see their like again. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” Scandal (2015)
The most famous of recent old-school filibusters was Texas State Sen. (He has an autistic grandchild but doesn’t want to exploit him for political gain.) So Bartlet’s staff sets about devising ways for Stackhouse to continue his filibuster without having to read out the rules of card games, by allowing him to take a load off while other senators ask him questions. Sisterhood is powerful.
Some of the very funny people he inspired over the years took to social media after his death to pay tribute, recount memories, and even get in one last put-down. Comedian Don Rickles, who died on Thursday at the age of 90, was the master of insult comedy. We’ve rounded up some of the best, below.
One of the highlights of Rickles’ career was his televised 1973 roast of Ronald Reagan, hosted by Dean Martin, who takes as much fire from Rickles as his ostensible target. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project. The list of comedians venerating Rickles on social media goes on for miles, with Patton Oswalt, Billy Eichner, John Hodgman, and Craig Ferguson among them. Rickles’ shtick was simple: Find people in the crowd and make fun of them. Don Rickles was an insult comic in the same way that Picasso painted squares. He shared an affectionately barbed Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld, which begins with Rickles calling Seinfeld a “voodoo Jew” for not touching a mezuzah, and was the subject of a feature-length documentary by John Landis, Mr. Rickles famously introduced himself to Frank Sinatra, whose mother, prompted by Rickles’ mother, had urged him to see Rickles’ show, by spotting him in the audience and quipping, “Make yourself at home, Frank. (This was back when the racist view that all Italian Americans were somehow connected to the Mafia was still widespread.) But watch how deftly Rickles changes speeds, prostrating himself before Sinatra one moment, zinging him the next, and devising nonsense Italianate names with dizzying speed:
Perhaps it’s fitting that Rickles also served as an inspiration for James Caan on the set of The Godfather, creating one of the most iconic Mafiosi of all time. Potato Head, and though he was much more than that, it’s a fine representation of his talents, his ability to invest even the briefest line with world-weary hostility and yet never allow a hint of bitterness to creep in. Rickles’ brand of comedy has more or less vanished apart from the occasional Comedy Central roast, but he’ll always be the master. Rickles, who died today of kidney failure at the age of 90, could seem antiquated to contemporary eyes, but there’s a reason fellow comedians revered him. Hit somebody.” Nearly 20 years later, when Rickles surprised Sinatra during an appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, the jokes hadn’t changed: Sinatra was a goombah, a mobbed-up celebrity whose pals had to cross themselves every time they started up their cars. Even by the standards of 2017, it’s a valiant drubbing, but what’s most striking about it is how Rickles can be cutting without being mean, ripping Reagan’s modest intellect and his presidential ambitions while never crossing a line that would allow his target to take offense. For many young moviegoers, Rickles is best known as the voice of the Toy Story series’ Mr. (He asked nightclub owners to seat the funny-looking patrons up front.) But even into his later years, he worked variations on that simple theme with dizzying speed and with a singular lack of fear.
That’s right, Mark Hamill provides the voice of the scruffy-looking nerfherder in this Bad Lip Reading video for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which reimagines Han’s dialogue so that he scolds Leia about her frap-buying habits and makes fun of Admiral Ackbar’s accent. Also in Slate:
Ever Wish Yoda Did Less Droning On and On About the Force and More Singing About Seagulls? Elsewhere in the video, Chewie gets a little too friendly with a rebel doctor, Leia shot a clown, and just when you thought he couldn’t possibly get any creepier, Kylo Ren made you a bird puppet. *Update, April 7: The video has been pulled from YouTube due to an “erroneous” copyright claim, but should be restored soon. The newest Star Wars reinterpretaton from Bad Lip Reading got an extra dose of authenticity by including the voice of Luke Skywalker himself—except he’s playing Han Solo. Chewbacca Ate Han’s Brisket in the Bad Lip Reading of Star Wars: A New Hope
In fact, it’s so tricky that many bands themselves are not consistent, including Foo Fighters, the Grateful Dead, the Backstreet Boys, Misfits, the Melvins, and the Pixies. So because there’s nothing more punk rock than the proper use of the definite article, we made the quiz below. Wait, sorry: new albums from the Chainsmokers, the New Pornographers, and Future Islands (no the). Remembering whether a band name (especially a plural-noun band name) starts with the can be tricky. Apparently, some rock bands are in desperate need of a copy editor. This Friday marks the release of new albums by Chainsmokers, New Pornographers, and the Future Islands.
In Spin, after he says that transgender people have a tough road ahead, he jokes, “In fact, I think the ‘T’ should stand for ‘tough road ahead.’” It’s a very silly joke, but a clever contrast of the seriousness of topic and the dumbness of punch line.)
Opinion- or argument-based stand-up tends to succeed based on the originality of point, and the strength with which it’s made—this is where Chappelle fails most significantly. But it is, maybe more than anything else, what makes C.K.’s joke better executed. Soon, someone will have a better joke than Louis C.K.’s. Comedy progresses. This is what C.K. It’s possible that one might find any joke involving a trans person to be offensive—the time for jokes, one could argue, is when hate crimes against trans people aren’t on the rise. The difference is, to many, Chappelle’s jokes, already seem like they’re from the past. subtly but purposefully shifts his pronouns right after he introduces the fact that Jeff came out as transgender, as a signifier of support. I imagine some people will look at the last joke and focus on the part where Chappelle adds, “I support anyone’s right to be who they are inside.” The argument here would be, “He says he is on their side, who cares about a couple jokes?” It’s the “just joking around” defense that has allowed many comedians to build careers out of throwing old stereotypes around. That’s what’s interesting, though: It’s very possible that the live audience loved Chappelle’s jokes. For example, C.K. Let’s take a closer look at C.K.’s joke. (Of course, a trans woman can be attracted to a woman, but that is besides the point C.K. Maybe! Coyote off the cliff’s edge, leaving him one downward look away from peril. But at its root are two hack ideas: transgender women are just men dressed up as women and, worse yet, transgender women are physically disgusting. One of the most controversial conversations comedians are adding their voices to right now is trans rights, two of the most prominent examples being Dave Chappelle and Louis C.K., both of whom have jokes involving a trans person or trans people in their recent Netflix specials. Must a good joke make you laugh? Chappelle filmed these two specials without definite plans of releasing them, so he didn’t take into account that certain jokes would play differently to an audience that wasn’t there, to people who weren’t already die-hard fans ready to offer him a lot of leeway. It is a part of what makes him so special. The same cannot be said about Chappelle’s jokes, which are built around his opinions, namely: transgender people are going to have a hard time because, (a) it’s hard to understand changing your gender, and (b) the fight for transgender rights is inconvenient for him. He took his bits further, not unlike Chappelle, based on the audience’s reaction. Similarly unoriginal is Chappelle’s focus on the physicality of transgender women. In both cases, Chappelle’s trans sections are positioned as if he’s going to be making a point about trans people or the trans movement. This comparative lack of specificity is at the core of Chappelle’s jokes failing. If a subject is in the ether, they are going to talk about it because people are thinking about these topics, and perk up when they are mentioned. I, a cisgender male, cannot and should not say what will offend anyone. It’s not perfect—what would that even mean?—but the observation is more distinct, the punch line more surprising, and the structure more thoughtfully composed. Unlike C.K.’s joke, the specific trans people Chappelle mentions are not treated as individuals, but as generalizations to make his case. C.K. This is in part because a large portion of the comedy-consuming public expects comedians to address the issues of the day. Or possibly you believe—reasonably, I might add—that jokes about trans issues should be left to actual trans people. His opinion is not novel, and neither is his case for it. The stories he tells in those sections—about Caitlyn and the gallery woman, respectively—are examples he uses to arrive at that point. directed his special, and he did so with intention. shoots it like how you’d watch him if you were in the audience. (He does have one good bit from this section. First, a disclaimer. Chappelle is an incredibly present comedian—it is at the core of what makes him so great—and thinking of one’s performance outside of the moment might distract him. It starts with the framing. C.K.’s joke is a story about himself, which eventually involves a trans person, but throughout, it stays personal. I suggest you go watch them, if you have Netflix. I’m not suggesting that Chappelle lifted Burr’s bit, but that there is an unoriginality problem. But what is clear is that a good joke is better than a bad one. This article originally appeared in Vulture. Comedians can say whatever they want. C.K.’s special just came out on Tuesday, and it’s possible his material will cause a blowback. Must a good joke be inoffensive? C.K.’s comes around the 53-minute mark of 2017.) But to give you a general sense, Chappelle’s joke in Spin is about how, of the members of the LGBTQ community, transgender people “got the longest mental gap to bridge,” using how hard it was for him to personally accept Caitlyn Jenner’s transition as an example of why. wrote and shot his trans joke in a way that more people could understand him. And I cannot think of any comedian alive who gets more of it than Dave Chappelle. C.K. The problem is, when talking about complicated subjects, this benefit of the doubt can work against you. Similarly, C.K. Both C.K. is deliberate in considering how the material would play at home. While I am disclaiming, this is also not a piece about whether or not comedians should be allowed to say something onstage. Since C.K.’s joke and Chappelle’s two jokes are fairly long, I won’t print them in their entirety. has always been best at—deriving comedy from a point of inner truth—and it’s why these jokes work and, at the very least, feel at home in the special. And so on. Or take another cliché, from Texas, where the story builds to this punch line: “I support anyone’s right to be who they are inside, but to what degree do I have to participate in your self-image? To that, if you are unfamiliar, I direct you to Ian Harvie’s Seeso special from last year, and some of the comedy of Riley Silverman and Patti Harrison. Chappelle’s jokes—one per his two specials, released March 21—were widely derided. But the people streaming it at home on Netflix are not in that audience. Another defense might be that since Chappelle explicitly says he is a supporter, maybe the jokes aren’t transphobic, but commenting on transphobia. But on a few levels, his jokes succeed where Chappelle’s fail. In so much as a joke is an attempt to communicate, C.K. (Chappelle’s jokes happen around the 33-minute mark and 38-minute mark in The Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas, respectively. and Chappelle are using the transgender community to ramp up the relevance and tension of their jokes, but where Chappelle paints with a broad brush, C.K.’s use is deliberately drawn. They are both great comedians, with great Netflix specials, but Louis C.K.’s trans jokes are better than Dave Chappelle’s. This piece is not about offensiveness. Sometimes, like with these trans jokes, the audience is like an unintentional Road Runner, accidentally coaxing Chappelle’s Wile E. Upon reading on Facebook that Jeff, the boy who stole his date, transitioned years later, C.K.’s response is, “Hooray for transgender people, but fuck you.” Though C.K.’s joke involves him expressing anger toward this person, it ultimately affirms their personhood. Being offended, like laughing, is a deeply subjective, largely involuntary reaction. Why do I have to switch up my pronoun game for this motherfucker?” My complaint here is not that it’s wrong for Chappelle to have the incorrect opinion on an issue, but that this opinion, this aversion to changing for the sake of another person, is an overused comedic premise. Comedians, in their capacity as cultural commentators, go where the conversation is. And I get it. See also: Jen Kirkman Turned Real-life Catcalling Into One of the Best Street Harassment Jokes Ever What is a good joke? Chappelle is essentially in conversation with the audience, and how they respond to certain jokes tells him where to push and retract. In Texas, the joke is about going to a gallery party and seeing a trans person pass out from drugs; Chappelle recounts how he tried to help, and was called out by the other people at the party when he referred to her using the wrong pronoun. The thing is, that demands a tremendous benefit of the doubt. Both jokes will likely seem dated in the hopefully not-so-distant future. Already in those brief descriptions, you can begin to see why C.K.’s joke is stronger. What is good comedy? And in these cases, Chappelle’s jokes are not good, where C.K.’s are, at minimum, better. And as comedians will surely continue to weigh in on hot-button issues, there’s value in looking at how two of the greatest living stand-up comedians involved themselves in this conversation, and analyze the quality of the specific jokes they tell. On Netflix, he is disciplined and careful. It’s a point that has been made a lot over the last couple weeks, but Chappelle, unlike Chris Rock, has never been at his best when acting as a social critic; and as a result, these sections are the weakest of his specials. He jokes, “I’d give a million dollars to wake up, ‘Oh, I’m an owl.’” Though the joke isn’t perfect in terms of its word choice (a word like “fix” won’t age well) or its glibness, it has the advantage of coming clearly from a feeling of insecurity, and not the more common trope, which Chappelle uses, of being out of step with the times. C.K.’s joke isn’t really a joke about transgender people (at least not at first), as much as it is a story about the first girl who agreed to go to a dance with him when he was a kid, and how midway through, she left him to dance with someone else, who later came out as a trans woman. For example, his take on “missing” Bruce Jenner is nearly identical to a bit Bill Burr was doing at the same time. is making—his joke is about the moment he had a very dude response to the Facebook post, not a reasoned appraisal.) In the less convincing portion of C.K.’s trans section, he talks about being envious of trans people, who in the face of the “tough road ahead” (both he and Chappelle refer to the fight as such, oddly enough) have figured out what was wrong with them, and were able to “fix” it. As I said before, what makes you laugh or feel offended is subjective. Unlike Chappelle’s special, where you constantly see the audience, you never see it in C.K.’s 2017. Chappelle’s playfulness is at work here, as he acts out a joke where a transgender business associate walks around an office in heels, and then throws her old dick on a conference table to intimidate the people she is meeting with. People trust him to be funny, which allows Chappelle to take his time arriving at a joke, building tension with long, laughless stretches and making the punch line hit that much harder. When I saw him perform a version of the set he eventually filmed for Netflix, it was looser. They are allowed to tell offensive jokes, but that doesn’t mean the jokes are good, or that they cannot be critiqued. Benefit of the doubt is a complicated tool in stand-up.
Black moviegoers would erupt in rapturous applause, cheering on Poitier, while white audiences were taken aback. Later in the evening’s conversation, Mankiewicz posited that while Rod Steiger’s flamboyant, showy role as Gillespie, the town’s racist police chief won him an Oscar, it was Poitier who does the heavy lifting in the film, having to “communicate everything without speaking … with his eyes, with his jaw, and with his movement.” Rewatching that performance, it’s hard to argue with Mankiewicz. In the Heat has a more conventional narrative, with Gillespie and Tibbs parting ways in a highly romanticized fashion, the former maybe a little less racist than he was before. Midcount, Gillespie grumbles, “Your money’s all there.” Tibbs pauses, flashes him a steely side-eye, and then, without missing a beat, proceeds to start over and count the cash again. Recall, for instance, his restrained bewilderment when an old white woman insinuates that he must be great in bed because he’s black. The coroner begrudgingly nods in the direction of the sink and grumbles, to which Tibbs just shakes his head and chuckles to himself, as if thinking, “This dude right here ….” Half a century later, Daniel Kaluuya made similar choices in his performance in Get Out—the sideways glances, the double takes, the awkward laughs meant to mask the discomfort that comes with facing a constant barrage of racism. (Spoilers for Get Out ahead.) Writer-director Jordan Peele turned decades of thriller and horror convention on its head by allowing a black protagonist to live through to the end of the movie and setting the audience up to cheer on his slaughter of the white family that has every intention of stealing his body and repurposing it for their own sadistic, racist desires. Based on the fervor of the cheers Get Out has elicited in theaters across the country, it seems clear that such expressions of black power and resistance still remain all too rare—but Poitier’s slap and his cool in In the Heat of the Night certainly helped pave the way. In a sign that we live in a more progressive era of filmmaking, Get Out makes many bolder choices than In the Heat of the Night. That response, from viewers starved for a representation of black agency on screen, feels akin to the ways in which nonwhite audiences have responded to Get Out’s thrilling final act. Later, Tibbs asks the flabbergasted coroner where he can wash his hands so that he can get to work inspecting the victim’s dead body. At one point during the Q&A that preceded the screening, Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz brought up “the slap”—the iconic moment when one of the murder suspects, a racist plantation owner played by Larry Gates, slaps Poitier’s Virgil Tibbs. All of us said that [was] the heart of the picture.” Indeed, that slap resonated with black audiences in a visceral, unprecedented way, as Mark Harris recounted in his book Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood. The 8th annual TCM Classic Film Festival kicked off on Thursday with a star-studded opening night screening of Best Picture winner In the Heat of the Night. It’s a small instance, but the rhythm is so perfect, his irritation so understated. The reactions said it all: To see a black man defend himself against a white man, and for him to not be punished in any way for doing so on screen was, until then, unheard of. Tibbs, a detective from Philadelphia, finds himself stuck in a town dripping with unabashed racists, and he’s forced to take it all in stride, though we always know that beneath the cool exterior, there lies years of experience learning to brush off unyielding prejudice. And Tibbs, without hesitation, slaps back. In response to whether he was nervous about including it at the time, Mirisch said, “We never gave it up. Likewise, Poitier’s slap pushed back against decades of blacks being put in “their place.”
There’s another parallel to be drawn between In the Heat of the Night and Get Out, which is the ways in which their protagonists come to represent, in many ways, a typical black experience. To celebrate the movie’s 50th anniversary, the festival assembled an impressive array of talent, including director Norman Jewison; producer Walter Mirisch; Lee Grant, who played the widow of the deceased man at the center of the murder mystery; and star Sidney Poitier, who made an appearance in the audience. There’s a moment early on in the movie when Tibbs, who was at first assumed to be the killer but has been absolved by his boss via a phone call, takes back his wallet and begins to count his cash to make sure Gillespie didn’t take any of it.
Sure, his many failures as populist leader, escalating tensions between him and Jared Kushner, and the fact that he remains, well, a white supremacist have all worked against him since Donald Trump took office. “I never would have called Steve Bannon the president if I knew it hurt your feelings so much.” Too bad he’s already commissioned a few Bannon presidential portraits that don’t exactly depict Trump in the best light. Ah, well: At least Meyers is feeling some remorse. “Oh my God, Donald, I am so sorry,” the Late Night host said Thursday night, barely containing his smirk. Perhaps this is a teachable moment for us all. But the real sticking point for the president, at least according to sources close to the White House, is a certain moniker that has been widely spread in liberal and anti-Trump circles: “President Bannon.”
Given that possibility, Seth Meyers very much thinks we should stop with the whole “President Bannon” joke. What best explains Steve Bannon’s abrupt removal from the National Security Council and the rumors of his exit from the White House altogether? So whatever you do, readers, don’t go around using these names to further irritate our thin-skinned president.
“Involved with others in illegal activity or wrongdoing,” read Colbert. “If being complicit is wanting to be a force of good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit,” she told Gayle King, going on to add, “I don’t know what it means to be complicit. “Oh wait, it does have ‘being a force for good and making a positive impact’ under ‘complicit, opposite of.’ ”
You can hear Colbert’s comments at around the 2:50 mark. Merriam-Webster reported a spike in look-ups of the word complicit after Ivanka’s interview, and Saturday Night Live even chose “Complicit” as the name of Ivanka’s fragrance in a parody commercial starring Scarlett Johannsson just a few weeks ago. In a recent CBS News interview, Ivanka Trump responded to criticism that she and her husband are complicit in furthering her father’s agenda and softening his image with an, er, unique definition of the word complicit. The #Ivanktionary has arrived not a moment too soon. But you know, I hope time will prove that I have done a good job and, much more importantly, that my father’s administration is the success I know it will be.”
Since Ivanka has apparently inherited her father’s trait of twisting words to make them mean just about anything you want them to, The Daily Show has provided an alternative dictionary with Ivanka-friendly definitions of other words that apply to Ivanka and to the Trump administration as a whole. The rest of late night also wasted no time in mocking Ivanka’s word manipulation: Stephen Colbert schooled the president’s daughter on the word’s definition in a Late Show monologue in which he pulled out an actual dictionary.
Demetrius Shipp Jr. Tupac Shakur has been portrayed in films for years now, from the MC Hammer docudrama Too Legit to the N.W.A.-focused Straight Outta Compton. It looks to be more of a warts-and-all portrait than a reverential one, to the film’s clear benefit. We’ll see if the film as a whole lives up to expectations upon its June 16 release. All Eyez on Me is in the hands of Benny Boom, best known for his prolific work behind some of the biggest names in the music business; he’s helmed videos for 50 Cent, LL Cool J, Nicki Minaj, and countless more. Now, a little over 20 years after his death, Pac is finally getting a biopic of his own. His familiarity with the hip-hop scene translates well to this explosive new trailer. But for he most part, he has existed on the margins, a larger-than-life figure operating in the corners of other people’s stories. (His father reportedly worked with Tupac on the song “Toss It Up.”) And of course, credit for the nuanced portrayal should go to the film’s director as well. All Eyez on Me provides a sweeping exploration of the rapper’s short life, interrogating his overlapping roles as artist and activist. appears to be a force in the title role, stepping into some very big shoes for his on-screen debut.
It’s like seeing a grown-up with his shoelaces untied, at once triggering concern and the sense of empathy—I too, have forgotten to wear a belt—that makes it possible. It has since declined by 40 percent. But some light investigation reveals that Kushner has been eschewing that staple of the male wardrobe for some time now. Here he is walking off Air Force One at Palm Beach International airport before spending some time with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago this past February:
Does he hold his pants up with scotch tape? But then he wore pants without belt loops. One Slate colleague suggests a corollary: Apparently beltlessness is, in certain very rarified circles, an indication of how expensive your pants are. When the Wall Street Journal asked, in November, “Do Guys Still Need to Wear a Belt With a Suit?” the alternative the paper imagined was a pair of pants with built-in buckled straps. So too, perhaps, has the cachet of a very rich man wearing a belt. One such man is Jared Kushner, the senior adviser to Donald Trump, and his belt loops are emptier than the White House science and technology office. When I see a man wearing slacks without a belt, I have to wonder: Are his pants falling down? Or perhaps a pair of suspenders. It was such a simpler time:
And in the preceding years, he wore plenty of belts:
Now, it’s true that Cary Grant looked great without a belt in North by Northwest. At first I thought that Kushner—who, at 36, in charge of peace in the Middle East and innovating the American government, among other intractable challenges—might have left his belt at airport security on his jaunt to Iraq this week. (Those pants do not come with belt loops, to be clear.)
This seems to be where Kushner gets it—from his fashionable Euro-slacks:
But the practice spread from there to more normal pants, because once you’re out of the habit of wearing a belt, you forget to wear a belt:
Interestingly, 2014—the end of Kushner’s belt period—was the year that the price index for leather products hit its all time high. Naturally, custom-made European slacks fit so well that the very idea of a belt is uncouth. Not mass-market khakis with belt loops hanging open like basketball hoops. The last time Slate could find a photo of Kushner wearing a belt was at a Trump golf tournament in Westchester in 2014.
To Die For swept to a well-deserved victory over Paddington, and The Others rightfully trounced Lion. Jackson so often do, because there is no usual thing. Variety critic Guy Lodge was similar dismayed at the lack of Kidman propers. HBO’s Big Little Lies has caused many people to notice that Nicole Kidman is very good at acting. Kidman, Petersen writes, has been described as “a revelation” over and over again, as if the depth of her talent were a continual surprise, and although she’s taken on plenty of “serious” roles, Kidman has never quite succeeded in branding herself as a capital-A actor the way, say, Cate Blanchett has. So he created the Kidman World Cup, a bracket-style tournament of Twitter polls designed to determine the one Kidman performance to rule them all. What that final four underlines, among other things, is that Kidman has become a movie star without a star persona. by only a 2-point margin, with Birth enjoying a 6-point lead over The Others. When the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s John Ourlser pitted the two against each other in a Twitter poll, he found, to his horror, that Blanchett wiped the floor with her fellow Aussie redhead, by a margin of 2 to 1. This may seem like a surprising discovery, given that on the night the second episode of Big Little Lies debuted, Kidman was attending the Academy Awards, where she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the movie Lion. (Twitter will show you the current standings after you cast your own vote.) As an impartial journalist, I would, of course, never suggest how you should vote, but if you want to listen to the director of the Oscar-winning Moonlight, well, that’s your business. But as soon as the round of 16, the decisions started to get tough. Update, April 8: The Kidman World Cup final is underway. At the moment, with over 800 votes cast in each, To Die For leads Moulin Rouge! At worst, that leaves some of her performances feeling superficial and technique-bound; she can’t fall back on her usual thing, the way Robert DeNiro or Samuel L. The Kidman World Cup is down to its final rounds, but there is still time to make your voice heard—and to remember that no matter which performance comes out ahead, the Kidmannaissance is always with us. But movie stars’ worth dwindles if it is not constantly renewed, and, as Anne Helen Petersen argued at BuzzFeed, Kidman has never stopped having to prove herself. The quarter-finals were brutal, and the semis promise to be more brutal still. *Correction, April 8, 2017: This post originally misstated that Kidman’s Oscar nomination for Rabbit Hole was as a supporting actress. Look how tight the last two rounds are! Tightest of all was the head-to-head battle between The Hours, which won Kidman a Best Actress Oscar, and Rabbit Hole, which got her another nomination for her raw-nerve performance as a grieving mother.* If more people had seen Rabbit Hole, that last one might well have swung the other way. The first round, composed of eight four-way contests, had plenty of clunkers: Strangerland netted a fitting 1 percent of its bracket’s 716 votes, with such forgotten films as Billy Bathgate and The Interpreter lagging not far behind. It was for Best Actress, not supporting actress. If she seems aloof or icy, a refrain that, Petersen notes, has followed her throughout her career, perhaps it’s because she’s never reduced herself to one, easily knowable thing. There is no Nicole Kidman type. Vote! But it also means that Kidman always maintains the ability to surprise us, and if the tantalizing images of her turn in Campion’s upcoming second season of Top of the Lake are any indication, she’s about to do it again. How do you measure the naked simplicity of Birth against the heightened artifice of Dogville, or the satirical stylization of To Die For against the soul-scraping honesty of Eyes Wide Shut? But picking between Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! Some actors, even great ones, are defined by a single performance, but Kidman has been so good in so many different ways that it’s almost impossible to choose. and Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady was a tough call, and while Birth is a masterpiece and features what may be the best performance of Kidman’s entire career, it hurt to pass over the also-deserving Stoker.
Savvy campaign strategy on Trump’s part, or a sign of things to come? In that moment, as commentators from across the political spectrum were quick to proclaim, Trump truly became president. There’s no throne constructed of human bones in the State Dining Room—and even if there were, it’s outlandish to believe, as Trump did, that Obama was harnishing barely understood demonic magicks to bind the souls of his victims into the very warp and weave of his chair, causing it to emit an unceasing shriek of agony. But now that rumors of a “lights-out” zone in the Trump White House are beginning to surface, this looks oddly prescient. But will this tweet read any differently after we’ve all served our mandatory stints in the American Heroes Volunteer Corps? To find out, we studied Trump’s timeline, on the lookout for clues and warnings. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
No one knew what Trump was talking about at the time, and his follow-up appearance on Fox & Friends, in which he repeatedly claimed it was essential Obama be impeached “before Pluto is in retrograde” didn’t clarify matters. Seen in that light, do any of Trump’s other past tweets give us information on what he might be planning now that the presidency is his? Only the dead-eyed construction workers shuffling mindlessly in and out of Trump Tower all day and night know for sure! Trump was roundly criticized for referring to the president’s daughters as “ravenous, demonic hatchlings” in this tweet, and the Secret Service quickly reassured the public that no agents had gone missing. Did he know something we didn’t about Obama, or was he subconsciously talking about himself? Someone should ask him, if he ever emerges from the gigantic orrery tower he’s constructed on the White House grounds. It sounds like the menu will be unmissable: According to a White House official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the record about the matter, “You might say we’re serving … soul food. The few mainstream pundits who were reading Trump’s Twitter feed back in 2013 were baffled by this tweet, given that Obama was not, in fact, covering the Lincoln bedroom windows with tin foil. So far, that hasn’t changed under a Trump administration—a Secret Service representative emailed to reassure us that “all of our agents are happy, healthy humans who grow plumper and jucier by the day.” But given Trump’s track record with golfing, will this tweet someday look like a warning we should have heeded? Journalists have discovered a curious thing about Donald Trump’s Twitter history: Any time Our Dumb President manages to fuck things up in a new and surprising way, it’s a safe bet he spent the last administration railing against Obama for doing the exact same thing—even if Obama didn’t actually do it. Fortunately, after a visit to the program’s headquarters and processing facility that morning, Trump emerged visibly re-energized, flush with good health, and eager to encourage all Americans to ask what they could do for their country. Uh, check the date, doofus, you’re already President! Ha ha! Not only did Trump seem to be unfamiliar with the American system of government—almost as though he couldn’t believe it had been so easy to amass more political power than any other human on the planet—he ruined the surprise rollout of his signature program, the American Heroes Volunteer Corps, later that day! Although Hillary’s economic stimulus package did not contain any plans to reduce our planet to a scorched hellscape where a constant superacidic drizzle melts human flesh like butter, that didn’t stop the Clinton campaign from spending an entire week in a tailspin after her initial response—a three-emoji tweet reading “☔️”—was widely misinterpreted as a confirmation. Take Trump’s well-documented habit of spending his time golfing instead of being president. As you’ll see from these 100 percent real tweets Trump sent over the past few years that are definitely not made up, the results were not reassuring. It’s bad enough the new president can’t deal with the pressures of the job, but it’s especially hard to take in light of past tweets like this one about Obama:
Similarly, now that Trump has launched missiles into Syria, this 2013 tweet looks even more ominous than it did at the time:
It seems clear that Trump’s vision of Obama was based almost entirely on projection; he assumed Obama would want to do the same terrible things he is now enthusiastically doing himself. Jesus, does this guy ever say what he means? Ha ha ha ha ha! Trump has kept reporters out of the State Dining Room since moving in, so here’s hoping Trump’s upcoming, hastily announced, “Normal White House Correspondents Dinner for White House Correspondents at the White House” won’t have any unpleasant surprises.
Like he says in the monologue, “I’ve been doing this for 32 years now. also finds time for some whimsical bits about silly-looking animals and a supremely unflattering story about his white privilege–laden interactions with hotel staff now that he’s rich and successful. But as long as they do, what’s going on at this hotel? And it’s been going great for four years.” It’s wrong. It’s usually a catastrophe, no matter how many cast members get dragged on stage to help. The vast majority of white Saturday Night Live hosts could probably tell a similar story—their assistants definitely could tell it on their behalf—but it’s impossible to imagine most celebrities making themselves look morally reprehensible for the sake of a laugh. It’s wrong that white people get preferential treatment. C.K. For that kind of thing, you need a professional, and that’s exactly what Louis C.K. I’m supposed to get the best! takes risks no publicist would ever allow a celebrity plugging a movie to get within a mile of, from his shocking opening joke to this perfectly constructed, appalling one-liner:
I’m thinking of buying a goat, because I want to have a trash can that I can make love to. But besides going places NBC would probably prefer he didn’t (the sperm pool!), C.K. is. Because I’m white—which is awful! This week, however, the show had a real stand-up in Louis C.K., and as his opening monologue shows, experience makes all the difference. One of Saturday Night Live’s proudest traditions is forcing the actors and actresses who host to kick off the show with their best attempt at stand-up. And wrong!—but where is it right now?
Instead, the heart of the skit is a 20-second reaction shot of Bennett’s face falling as he hears his sister’s initial reaction to his big, bad idea. Saturday Night Live joined the conversation this week with a behind-the-scenes look at the making of that terrible, terrible Pepsi ad. While other late-night shows beat it to the punch, SNL’s more measured approach—recognizing that the entire thing was so ridiculous on its face that it barely needed any jokes—made for a strong finish. It’s a rare example of wringing more laughs from something after the think-piece/late-night cycle has beaten a topic to death, and the secret turned out to be playing things relatively straight. By far, the most common reaction to Pepsi’s bizarre attempt to use protest to sell sodas has been simple disbelief that anyone thought this was a good idea. Bennett has a real talent for looking crestfallen and plays this perfectly—the brief insert of him fake-smiling as a co-worker walks by is spectacular—and the way the music swells each time he pitches his misbegotten ad before cutting off abruptly kills every time. Beck Bennett plays the director of the protest-inspired abomination, and SNL just gives him room to have the conversation that somehow everyone in the entire creative pipeline for a big-budget ad for a multinational corporation apparently avoided during production. But rather than reiterating all the reasons Pepsi should never have done this, SNL moves that side of the argument to the other end of an telephone call we don’t hear.
If there’s one thing we’ve all learned from Dead Ringers it’s that the best way to make a film about psychosexual obsessions is to cast the same actor in two roles. That’s the approach Saturday Night Live took this week with Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment scandal and Donald Trump’s bizarre defense of the embattled host, letting Alec Baldwn play both men in a head-to-head interview. Still, there’s no actor more generous to his co-stars than Alec Baldwin, and it’s heartworming to see him giving Alec Baldwin so many of the best lines here. Also perfect: Trump’s reaction when O’Reilly tells him to keep up the good work. Keep up the good work, Saturday Night Live! While the results aren’t exactly Cronenberg, both Alec Baldwin and Alec Baldwin do a great job of playing off each other, which can’t have been easy when half the segment was pre-taped. Maybe these were drawn from the parody ad slush-pile—it’s hard to imagine how the ad for “Dog Cocaine” could be drawn out to full a length ad, and although it’s easy to imagine a full-length ad for “Elequis: Cialis for Horses,” we’d recommend never, never imagining it—but as short bits mid-sketch, they’re perfect. But the biggest laughs come from the advertisers who’ve stuck with O’Reilly despite his ongoing fall from grace. Baldwin’s Trump impression sometimes seems like a facial expression looking for a reason to exist, so it’s worth noting his O’Reilly uses a single expression—O’Reilly’s resting simper—to devastating effect here, especially when he’s playing against Cecily Strong.
That’s what I heard. Of course, Letterman’s still Letterman, so he did tell the crowd that he and Neil Young “met a long time ago on farmersonly.com” and took the time to call Pearl Jam’s nemesis Ticketmaster “bloodsucking, beady-eyed weasels.” But Letterman’s utterly sincere enthusiasm for Pearl Jam’s music is charming and contagious, and it’s nice to see him working the other side of the irony fence for once. Letterman holds up a child-size acoustic guitar with the name “Harry” painted on it. It is a delight to be back here for this. And then it turned out that these guys in Pearl Jam were something more than a band. And at the end of the show, Eddie Vedder came up to me and he handed me this. 25 years, it’s an anthem, it’s a musical icon. And so here we have them, ladies and gentlemen. And when I came here to rehearsal this afternoon and heard live music again, I was reminded: Oh my God, what a gift live music is. Fishing for songs. I am honored to induct into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the legendary Pearl Jam. And the nice thing about knowing them for as long as I’ve known them, I know them as friends as well as cultural icons. There’s quite a few reasons why these people are in the Hall of Fame, but forgive me if this, personally, is the most important reason they’re in the Hall of Fame. From the people who are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and people who will be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This gives you an idea of the quality of the gentlemen behind this music. I wanted to change it to Mother Soup Bone and they said, “Get out.” And then in 1991, things in the whole musical culture changed with the album titled
Ten. “Hi, Harry. I wanted you to have this small guitar to start with. I know Neil Young was supposed to be here. Great, now we owe them a lot of money. Try it out, make a little noise. Now I’m gonna start reading a list of songs and you’re gonna start applauding and we won’t get out of here til Sunday. And I was almost 50 and even I was pissed off. I’ll make you a deal: if you learn even one song on this guitar, I’ll get you a nicer, bigger one for your birthday—maybe an electric one. And he sang “Better Man.” I like to tell myself it’s because it rhymed with “Letterman.” And there was something emotional in the air, because as the show wound down, the realization that we were saying goodbye—as I said before, what I miss most is the experience of live music every night—but that was in the air. I had three shows left to go, and Eddie Vedder was on that show. We were all in a—we were in a band called Mother Love Bone. One night on the show, I’m doing it, and the stage door bursts open. And I would be the president of that club except for things like this. We’ve had him in all the best clinics. I’ll read you this letter now, if you don’t mind. “Sirens.” “Given to Fly.” “Kung Fu Fighting.”
These guys, I used to have a television show, they were on my show for ten different times over the years. The sincere Letterman and his sincere retirement beard were both on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Pearl Jam Friday night, as Rolling Stone reports. I—by the way, I’ve known Neil Young for many, many years. I know all of these people. Pearl Jam’s next big cause should be getting him back on television. Vocals and guitar: Eddie Vedder. This letter to my son from Eddie Vedder, May 18, 2015. We met a long time ago on farmersonly.com. Letterman—tapped at the last minute to sub in for Neil Young, who was ill—delivered a funny, sincere, and deeply moving speech about what Pearl Jam had meant to him over the years, including an anecdote about his son that was positively sappy. In walks Eddie Vedder. And it was also easy to dance to, but that’s another deal. Stand up! For 33 years. Yours truly, Ed.”
It turns out that my son does play a stringed instrument, but it’s the violin. And I would just like to say that one day I hope to come back here for the induction of my friend Warren Zevon. In 1994, these gentlemen risked their careers by going after those beady-eyed, bloodthirsty weasels at Ticketmaster. On bass, the guy that [inaudible] Montana: Jeff Ament. They actually blew the roof off the place. I want to say a couple of things about the music of this group. So much of David Letterman’s humor depends on a certain level of sardonic distance from the material itself—a winking acknowledgement that the entire enterprise (television, entertainment, life) was ridiculous—that he became an icon of ironic detachment almost without trying. And then, for two years, that went away. I’m just enjoying saying that. And people are saying to me, like I had something to do with it, “Why isn’t Neil Young here?” And the truth of it is, the poor guy just can’t stay up this late. Three shows left for me. For a lot of people, that song would be a career. Guitar: Mike McCready. They were a true, living cultural organism. Drums: Matt Cameron, Dave Krusen. I can’t even begin to tell you what an honor and privilege it is for me to be out of my house, honest to God. And my band and Paul Shaffer were tremendous. You know, the song “Black”—there was a period in my life when I couldn’t stop doing this:
Letterman sings the riff from “Black” then stops abruptly when the crowd joins in. But close enough! I want to tell you a story that I’m very fond of, and it’s about friendship with a guy who’s done something for me that I’ll remember my entire life. (David Foster Wallace, who called him “the ironic eighties’ true angel of death,” wrote an entire short story about a Letterman-induced case of irony poisoning.) But as anyone who watched the night he gave to Warren Zevon knows, sentiment isn’t as alien to him as he sometimes makes it seem. For two years, I did a show without a roof on the goddamned theater. And because they did, because they stood up the corporation, I’m happy to say, ladies and gentlemen, today every concert ticket in the United States of America is
free. As I’ve gotten to know these gentlemen, they’re very generous of spirit. “Hi, Harry.” This is Eddie talking to my son. It was palpable. Good luck, Harry, in all things. Rhythm guitar: Stone Gossard. Here’s the complete text of Letterman’s speech:
Thank you. So if you’re in show business, likely there’s a good strong streak of cynicism in you. “Jeremy.” “Corduroy.” “Rearviewmirror.” Now here’s one I like: the song “Yellow Ledbetter.” Doesn’t make
Ten, the first album. You let me know.” And my son loves to fish—Eddie adds here, “Playing guitar is kind of like fishing. CBS caught me abusing a copier and fired me. A photo of a young boy lighting a cigarette appears on screens, labeled “Harry Letterman.”
Look at that. Honest-to-God, that’s all I could hear running through my head, and I kept wondering, “How many times does this refrain occur in the song?” I finally had to go to a hypnotist to get it to stop. They would recognize injustice and they would stand up to it, whether it was human rights, whether it was environment, whether it was poverty, they didn’t let it wash over them, they would stand up and react. Either that, or he swallowed a harmonica, I’m not sure. I want you to give it to Harry.” I think we have a picture of my son, Harry? And I’m not talking figuratively. He gave me this letter and he said, “This letter is for your son. In 1988 is when I first met most of the people involved in Pearl Jam. I am so excited—and you people know this—but for 33 years, every night I got to experience the gift and the blessing of live music. And it was like a Chinook coming out of the Pacific Northwest, and it was, it had anger to it, and it appealed to twentysomething people who felt displaced and unemployed and left out. I don’t know if you can see that, but that’s the name of my son. Never take the opportunity for live music for granted, that’s the message I can bring to you folks tonight. He sings the song with Paul and the band, then he comes over to me and he looks me right in the eye and he says, “STOP DOING THAT.” And I was cured, ladies and gentlemen. And every time they were there, they would blow the roof off the place. Those bloodsucking, beady-eyed weasels! My name is Eddie Vedder and I’m a friend of your dad’s. Taking a gap year in middle school, I don’t know. As a matter of fact, listen to this, tonight the entire balcony is full of former Pearl Jam drummers. Doesn’t make
Ten because they have too much good material, they decide, “We don’t want to put this song on there with all this other really good material.” So later, it’s released as like a B-side.
And although you can buy a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Amazon today, it might be worth waiting to see on stage; Slate’s Dan Kois described the text as “a delivery device for extremely informed Potter fan fiction.” (Although J.K. Before Sunday’s ceremony, the most any play had won was seven, a mark hit by both Matilda and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. The play, which is performed in two parts on different nights, hasn’t come to the states yet, but producers were reportedly in talks to bring it to the Lyric Theater on Broadway in 2018. As Variety reports, the play broke the record for the most Olivier Awards ever, taking home nine. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child pulled off a virtual sweep, taking home trophies for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best New Play (well, technically, “Virgin Atlantic Best New Play”), among others, winning nine of the 11 categories in which it was nominated. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels currently running on London’s West End, must have used dark magic to beat out the other plays at the Olivier Awards, London’s equivalent of the Tonys. Rowling wrote the play’s story with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Thorne, not Rowling, wrote the play itself.) If you can’t wait until then, you can always apparate off to London, where it’s playing at the Palace Theatre. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the theatrical sequel to J.K.
Good luck keeping a smile from your face when Dodo’s theme song starts playing and Moynihan arrives on his tricycle. His signature trick—pulling yards and yards of ribbon from his mouth—is such a delight that you’ll have to explain to your co-workers why you’re so happy at the beginning of the work week. Just remember to put plastic down in the kitchen first, or it’ll end up being a whole thing. As Saturday Night Live’s Bobby Moynihan demonstrated this week, there’s no case of the blues so deep that a little razzmatazz can’t clear things right up. Playing “Dodo the Clown,” Moynihan takes viewers on a whirlwind tour of the greatest birthday party imaginable. And that’s before a special cameo from Frozen’s Elsa and Optimus Prime himself! Everybody comes down with the Mondays sometimes, so it’s important to make room in your life for the occasional touch of whimsy. In fact, you might even feel the urge to hire a hilarious and unsuspecting birthday clown like Dodo for your next party! And what could be more whimsical than birthday clowns? It’s like Moynihan somehow captured our fondest, most secret birthday wishes on film.