After two weeks of accumulating articles, no time for preamble, let’s get to the reading!
Although we must take time to thank scb0212, Drunk Napoleon, Casper, and Devourer Skulking Croc-ford for contributing and getting the New Year started right. Send articles throughout the next week to ploughmanplods [at] gmail, post articles from the past week below for discussion and Have a Happy Friday!
The title for the article by Slashfilm‘s BJ Colangelo tells it all: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Spoilers (Thanks To Wrestling).
I genuinely believe my life-long wrestling fandom has wired my brain in a way that makes me not give a single f*** about spoilers. The results of wrestling matches are pre-determined, and keen observers can pretty much predict who is going to win the fight long before they step foot in the squared circle. The rapper Bad Bunny was a special guest for a tag-team match during “Wrestlemania 37,” and since celebrity guests notoriously win their matches, we knew he was walking away victorious. What we didn’t know was that Bad Bunny was going to hit John Morrison with a Canadian Destroyer. The excitement of that match lied not in the outcome, but in the storytelling that got them from bell ring to bell ring.
Sight and Sound updates their list of 100 overlooked films directed by women, with particular emphasis on the pre-digital 20th century ages:
‘Forgotten’ and ‘overlooked’ are nebulous terms, particularly in the internet age, when everything is supposedly rediscovered, and our list of 100 films reflects that – including both undeniable obscurities (The Enchanted Desna by Yuliya Solntseva, who was name-checked by Sarris merely as “Dovzhenko’s widow”), as well as films by relatively lauded directors (such as Elaine May and Kira Muratova) that are either hard to find or not regarded nearly as highly as we feel they should be. […] Few female filmmakers have had the luxury of making more than a couple of features. So how do you achieve auteur status with so few films to your name? And how much more quickly do your films fade from history as a result? As the number of films listed here by actresses turned directors shows, women have often had to acquire power in front of the camera before being allowed behind it.
Lindsay Ellis walked away from twitter and her popular YouTube channel a week ago. Her essay explaining the decision is available only through her Patreon so we offer a half-assed Newsweek explainer article in its stead:
The title of Ellis’ Patreon essay is a reference to the 1974 short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin. The award-winning story is about the utopian city of Omelas, the prosperity of which depends on a disturbing social contract—the perpetual misery and torture of one child. It follows the individuals who leave the perfect city when they learn the truth. Since its publication, the story has become a metaphor for people who feel they are leaving an unjust system behind them. In this case, Ellis is leaving social media behind her.
Quinn Myers interviews the composer Jonathan Wolff for Mel Magazine about creating the iconic theme for Seinfeld – as well as performing custom versions for every episode and the one episode where Jerry insisted on adding scat singing:
Knowing Seinfeld and Larry David were going for something that would stand out as an anti-sitcom sitcom, Wolff drew from his experience writing music for shows like Who’s the Boss? and Married with Children, and then did the opposite. “Themes in the late 1980s were melodic with silly lyrics and sassy saxophones, but I knew just another theme song wasn’t going to work for this,” he says. “It needed to be unique, so I set out to make an ‘audio signature,’ an earworm so instantly recognizable that people would hear it from the other room and have a Pavlovian response to it.”
At Vox, Constance Grady looks into why so much Obama-era pop culture feels so cringe now:
What distinguished the wholesome pop culture of the Trump era was that it seemed to be starting from zero. While pop culture’s Hillaries tended to be presented as fully-cooked good people whom we could all emulate, in the Trump era, wholesome pop culture tended to center itself around fundamentally flawed people who were trying to be good, and not always succeeding. The protagonists of The Good Place started in hell and had to work their way painfully up to heaven over the course of four seasons. The heroes of Queer Eye all had some major personality flaw or emotional obstacle to try to conquer over the course of each episode.
Gawker picks up Kate Wagner’s piece on resisting the Metaverse as advertised:
There is still a world worth fighting for, and this is worth insisting adamantly and repeatedly as more and more of this bullshit gets served to us as some kind of paradise or escape from problems that can still, albeit with tremendous political struggle, be solved. The more I see from the Metaverse, the more I want to scream, “I live in the real world and I will die in it.” I will not be coerced or persuaded by fake H&Ms and being a size two in the land of ones and zeros. I will not be seduced by maybe owning a digital house just because I’ve given up on buying a real one.
For the New York Times, Timothy Snyder takes a flamethrower to the new nonfiction book The Story Paradox: How Our Love of Storytelling Builds Societies and Tears Them Down by Jonathan Gottschall:
It is a “considerable bother,” says Jonathan Gottschall, to write a book; he lightens the task by writing about himself and excusing himself from extensive research. He sets a memorable scene of a morning spent in the lounge of a college psychology department flipping through the indexes of textbooks. He concludes from this that no one has ever undertaken his subject, the “science” of how stories work. Eureka.
And finally, Rolling Stone‘s David Browne tells the strange story of the 70s promoter who put on shows with dead rock icons recreated with plastic surgery:
Impersonating a dead pop star, or reviving them virtually, is one thing. But more than 40 years ago, Danny O’Day took imitation to a place no one imagined before or since. Rock and Roll Heaven, the touring extravaganza he conceived and promoted, didn’t just pay homage to one deceased icon, but four of them: Elvis, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jim Croce. And it didn’t do it merely with costumes or note-for-note vocal imitations: O’Day hired plastic surgeons to physically alter his tribute singers to look as much as possible like the people they were honoring. “Jesus Christ — that’s some twisted shit,” says Croce’s son A.J., who was only a grade schooler when O’Day hired an upstart to be resculpted as Croce’s father. “The first thing that comes to my mind is that plastic surgery is the highest form of flattery.”