The Week in Review: February 15th, 2015

30 Rock: SNL40

It’s been a rough week, friends, between a pretty harsh anxiety spiral and the Apple Store holding my laptop hostage during a routine battery replacement. But I’ve had a friend from college come visit this weekend, which has been lovely, and SNL40 is tonight. As you can see, I am so ready.

Links
Several years ago, graphic novelist Adrian Tomine tackled his relationship with Gedde Watanabe, perhaps best known as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. It’s a one page comic and highlights both the reality of Watanabe’s life (he’s a working actor in a racist industry, can he afford to be idealistic?) and the pain of his choices.

Albums have never really made sense, except economically for the music industry: as a consumer, if you love “Twist & Shout” or “Call Me Maybe” or whatever, the idea that you should have to pay for a dozen other songs that aren’t the one that you want in order to have it is bizarre. But the rent on a record store is the same whether you’re selling singles for $1 or albums for $15, and a single or a full album take up the same amount of space in the bins, require the same number of employees to sell, et cera, et cera. The album, as a format, made sense in an era of record stores and physical media.

It makes much less sense in an era of digital downloads, when, for the most part, every song is available for $1.29 from iTunes and albums are merely the province of the superfan.

But when Beyoncé released Beyoncé, the math shifted a bit: the price of the album was the price of a cultural moment, a surprise album by one of the biggest stars in the world, featuring a massive production team and number of guest artists (Jay-Z, Drake, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, and more). Plus there was the value-added proposition of the seventeen videos that make the album something much more than just a collection of songs. And the fact that it was Beyoncé at the height of her powers, with a statement record that challenged preconceptions of what a woman like Beyoncé had to say, made it much more than a gimmick. When the history of digital music is written, Beyoncé will be a chapter with color plates.

Anne Helen Petersen considers the YouTube empire of Grace Helbig.

The film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey is upon us. Face front, thinkpieces:

Spider-Man will be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe starting from now on—in a move that bumps both Black Panther and Captain Marvel. Hmm.
A pilot for a television adaptation of The Wheel of Time aired in the dead of night on FXX for copyright reasons this week. Wired has it all.
At Vox, Alex Abad-Santos talks about the new sitcom Fresh off the Boat, Asian-American culture, and the value of representation.
After fifteen years, Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show, ending an era. Many names are being floated for his replacement, but the discussion stops at Jessica Williams. JESSICA WILLIAMS!
The grotesque melodrama Amy orchestrates is prodigious, but still I found her more sympathetic than Nick, who is so convinced that he has tried, at every moment, to do the right thing. His father was an abusive misogynist, but Nick says, “I’ve tried all my life to be a decent guy, a man who loved and respected women, a man without hang-ups.” When his issues with women do leak through, like when he becomes momentarily furious that a female detective is telling him what to do in his own home, he blames it on being raised by his father and thinks his self-awareness will absolve him. He is the classic male victim. Even his misogyny is something that was done to him. This is why Nick’s is the more damning characterization: because Amy bears no resemblance to any person who has ever walked the planet, but she bears a resemblance to women as conceived of in the nightmares of men like Nick, and there are many of those men walking the planet. For “decent” guys like Nick, comfortably vested with patriarchal authority, the nightmare is to no longer be the narrator of their own story. InGone Girl, Flynn cracks open the culture and lets Nick say one of our unsayable beliefs: that it is scarier for a man to be accused than to be killed.
The first trailer for Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck is here and it looks amazing. The cast is just… I mean, Tilda Swinton as Schumer’s leathery boss, Vanessa Bayer as her best friend, Brie Larson as her sister, LeBron James as LeBron James, and Bill Hader as a romantic lead? LET IT BEGIN.
Alex Brown at Tor.com highlights ten of her favorite black comic characters to celebrate Black History Month.
At Vice, Max Landis hosts a brief video on the life of Casanova, an eighties party robot from LA. It’s amazing and bittersweet.

Acquisitions

Books
Purchased: None
Added: None

Films
Purchased: None
Added: Studio 54 (via the Dissolve), Kiss Me Stupid (via the A.V. Club), Live From New York (via the Dissolve)

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