The FAR goes behind the scenes of the five most discussed pieces of culture this week: Jonah Hill, the soundtrack to Drive, a New Zealand Matrix fan film, YouTube DIY videos, wikipedia articles on Nazism, and that very special episode of Family Matters about police harassment.
Thanks to scb0212 and Rosy Fingers for contributing this week, may their new drafts always avoid studio notes. Send articles throughout the next week to ploughmanplods [at] gmail, post articles from the past week below for discussion, and Have a Happy Friday!
At The Atlantic, Hannah Giorgis does in-depth work on the pitfalls of the past and the possibly promising present of Black representation in television writers’ rooms:
During the season that they worked together on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Felicia Henderson and Larry Wilmore were the only Black writers on the show, which had been created by a white couple, Susan and Andy Borowitz. When we spoke, Henderson recalled that much of her job amounted to answering a single question: “Is that what Black people do?” She remembers white colleagues on another show looking her way and asking, “Does that sound right to you?,” as though there were a single specific way to be, or to sound, Black. Henderson would reply, “I was at a meeting of the All Black Writers Who Know What All Other Black People Think just last night …”
Adam McKay interviews Jonah Hill for GQ, covering the career, taking in culture, and danger of mythologizing the tortured artist:
[McKay] The Wolf of Wall Street’s one of my favorite movies of the last five, 10 years. And there’s two things happening in that movie. It’s this glorious release of our base instincts while at the same time being a total cautionary tale. But I think you can do both—you can play Grand Theft Auto, and do horrible, horrible things in Grand Theft Auto so that you don’t go on a subway car and bite someone’s arm.
[Hill] I think it’s an individual spectrum, though, right? For some people, yes, playing Grand Theft Auto is so they don’t go do that. I think it’s ultimately about knowing yourself. I can’t let too much negative shit in, or I get negative. You produce Succession, which is my favorite show on TV. But I can’t binge-watch Succession, because it’s letting too much negative shit into my brain. It seeps in too deep.
Sterogum‘s Ryan Leas looks back on Drive‘s otherworldly soundtrack:
A title like “Under Your Spell” goes a ways towards summarizing the effectiveness of these songs’ appearances earlier on in the movie. This is where Drive spins its fairytale, how it enchants you. In “Tick Of The Clock” and Kavinsky’s robotic drawl verses in “Nightcall,” you get the eerie undercurrents. But in the chorus of “Nightcall,” and in “A Real Hero” and “Under Your Spell,” you get the film’s romanticism. In interviews from the time, Refn loved to talk about the importance of music — how he and Gosling concocted elements of the film by driving around LA sharing songs, how the Driver could be a character so deeply alone that he occupies his nights driving listlessly with whatever soundtrack. While Drive may be patiently paced, it is also a movie with a heightened, not-quite-human emotional timbre. There is something fantastical in the use of these songs. And if Drive‘s world was recognizable but not quite our own, so too were these songs signifiers of distant, received memories while simultaneously playing as mutated echoes.
The world’s oldest bit torrent – a Matrix fan film – is now old enough to buy cigarettes! Ernesto Van der Sar has the story for TorrentFreak:
The oldest surviving torrent we can identify is a copy of the Matrix fan film “Fanimatrix.” The torrent was created in September 2003, which means that it will turn 18 this month. A remarkable achievement. The film was shot by a group of New Zealand friends. With a limited budget of just $800, nearly half of which was spent on a leather jacket, they managed to complete the project in nine days. While shooting the film was possible with these financial constraints, sharing it with the world was a bigger challenge. At the time there were no free video-sharing services and YouTube had yet to be invented.
For Wired, Noam Cohen chronicles the tireless armchair detective work of Ksenia Coffman who is attempting to edit wikipedia pages that soft-pedal Nazism:
Coffman navigates over to the Wikipedia article about one of the conspirators—Arthur Nebe, a high-ranking member of the SS. Apart from his role in the plot, Nebe’s main claim to notability is that he came up with the idea of turning vans into mobile gas chambers by piping in exhaust fumes. The article acknowledges both of these facts, along with the detail that Nebe tested his system on the mentally ill. But it also says that he worked to “reduce the atrocities committed,” going so far as to give his bloodthirsty superiors inflated death totals. […] The claim is attributed to War of Extermination, a compendium of academic essays originally published in 1995. Coffman knows the book is legit, because she happens to have a copy on loan from the library. When she goes to the cited page, she finds a paragraph that appears to confirm all the Wikipedia article’s wild claims. But then she reads the first sentence of the next paragraph: “This is, of course, nonsense.”
And finally, we may have missed out on collectively buying Tom Hanks’s old trailer a while ago, but I think we can all agree it’s time to pool our resources and enter the auction of the vehicles from Mad Max: Fury Road so that the world may WITNESS US:
Mutant lovechild of semi-trailer and hot rod, twin V8’s end-to-end, 6 wheel-drive, eighteen-wheeled leviathan charged with the barter of fluids and firearms that binds the three city-states of the Wasteland in tenuous alliance. She (and ‘she’ she most definitely is) bestrides the Fury Road, a beast of war as much a beast of burden, piloted by the most trusted warrior and heralded driver of the Citadel, Furiosa. A dozen elite War Boys hunker down on the truck and trailers of this massive machine and a convoy of cars and motorbikes track with her across the desert, a finger to the apocalypse and the downfall of man. Bring it on…
(Yes link is real, starting bid one Australian dollar. Who’s up to timeshare the Doof Wagon?)