Independence Day in the U.S. arrives as the world ponders its heroes. 9/11 joke writers gain in stature. The Golden Girls, falter. The future is a tricky place to be.
Thanks to our heroes Rosy Fingers, scb0212, and Miller for their contributions. Send articles during the next week to ploughmanplods [at] gmail, post and discuss articles from the past week below, and have a Happy and Safe Friday.
A.O. Scott ponders a Summer without superhero movies, and suggests it’s a good thing:
The role of the audience, like the role of the anonymous millions whose lives and deaths are fodder for digital action sequences, is to show up and have fun, to root for the overdogs, assured that they know what’s best for the rest of us. This has been one of the dominant modes of entertainment: to enjoy the spectacle of our own domination.
Mel Magazine’s oral history of The Onion‘s 9/11 issue looks back at the threading of an extremely tricky needle and finding humor in tragedy – in their first print edition in New York, no less:
“American Life Turns Into Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie” was the first story that I think we all agreed on. That was either a Joe Garden or a Todd Hanson headline, and once we realized that there was a way to do an issue about this, the pressure came off a lot. Then suddenly the floodgates opened, but it was still the hardest issue we’d ever put together.
At Vulture, Steven W. Thrasher digs into how Golden Girls had much worse going on than mud blackface, and how to reckon with that.
Navigating racism in this way to me is a form of something I have been thinking about a lot lately: harm reduction. As epidemiologist Julia Marcus explains, harm reduction means allowing people to choose options that mitigate harm, even if those options don’t achieve the dubious goal of eliminating 100 percent of all risk. For me, when navigating prejudice in a show like The Golden Girls, it means avoiding the most racist episodes. For some, the rape of Dorothy Zbornak may be reason to avoid the series altogether. For others, it may be something in between. This is all okay, just as using harm-reduction approaches to navigating the inevitable racism in museums or academia is okay.
Lest the Americans monopolize the conversation on problematic media, upon the removal of Australian comedy star Chris Lilley’s series from Netflix for reasons of brownface, the kid that his character “Jonah from Tonga” was likely based on tells his side of the story:
He is also upset by the cheeky way Jonah spoke to his parents. “I can 100 per cent say that, if any Tongan kid was to speak that way to their parents, they would have got a smack to the mouth,” he said. “We just don’t speak that way.”
And as our big explosive finale, Mara Reinstein at the Ringer ranks every single July 4th weekend movie release since 1986. Boom! Swish! Ooooh! Aaaaahhh!
28. The Patriot (2000) – Look, a seemingly ideal Fourth of July entry! Except, um, that’s Mel Gibson leading the charge of the American Revolution in a violent 158-minute epic made by the Independence Day guys and let’s just say that staging 1917-esque historical battle scenes isn’t their forte.