Best Of The Web
“The “hot or not” lists of yore have, more direly, become “O.K./Not O.K.” Individuals are not necessarily permitted a say in the cancellation — or, for that matter, in the coronation — of artists or their work. A temperature is taken and you’re advised to dress accordingly. What’s bad for some people is deemed bad for everybody, and some compliance is in order, lest you wind up problematic, too.
That leads to something farcical like the Grammys’ rumored prophylactic shunning of the popular white musician Ed Sheeran from the three biggest award categories, lest he triumph over Kendrick Lamar or Childish Gambino and cause a firestorm of upset. It leads to the Oscars now being more a moral purity contest in addition to an artistic sporting event. At awards shows, the nominated works have become referendums on the moral state of the business; their quality has become secondary. Maybe the ratings are down because no one’s seen the movies and the broadcasts are too political. But maybe it’s because no one wants to watch an industry prosecute itself.
No event captures this anxious confusion of activism and criticism better than the time a group of artists descended upon the Whitney Museum during last year’s biennial and demanded, in a protest letter, for the destruction of a painting that morally offended them. Their issue wasn’t only with the painting but with the painter. Dana Schutz’s “Open Casket” depicted Emmett Till in a whirring rictus of earth tones. It’s a vague, unsure, respectfully deferential work, different from Schutz’s bigger, more dazzlingly audacious stuff. One problem, according to the protesters, was that Schutz, as a white woman, had no business painting this young black martyr. This was not, the letter argued, her story.
The writer Zadie Smith spent the latter part of a rich, enfolding critical essay saying she failed to see what the protesters saw. She, too, found the inciting work underwhelming. But some readers got fixated first on Smith’s being biracial, which, they argued, would make it implausible for her to relate to their protest, then on her use of the word “quadroons” in a hypothetical description of her children. Certain corners of Twitter erupted, both to shake their heads at Smith and to tsk her defenders. At least on the topic of “Open Casket,” Zadie Smith — and her text — had been canceled. As far as her critics were concerned, she’d made a moral typo. But shouldn’t her puzzlement stand?”
JJ Best Of The Web
"There's nothing democratic about forcing through a Brexit deal that voters in 2016 probably wouldn't have approved."
" Good negotiators use leverage (something they have, which their adversary wants) to obtain what are called “concessions” (something their adversary has, which they want). The result is what experts call “compromise.”"
"Some Israeli researchers and politicians are critical of a decision by the Hebrew University to teach more classes in English, but administrators believe such a switch is necessary to maintain the institutions status."
"A rumor that the TV show 'Friends' was leaving Netflix almost broke the Internet this week. Why do we love this show so much?"
"The U.S. economy is growing at the fastest pace in five years... So why are Wall Street and some economists suddenly worried about a recession?"
"What if Twitter is mostly a closed ecosystem, relevant only to and within itself? What if its ability to shape the real world is, as they say, greatly exaggerated?"
"Progressives are constantly checking their “white privilege,” but what about ideological privilege? Particularly for women, the prevailing assumption is that you aren’t normal unless you’re a liberal Democrat."
"Whether you want to dip into a novel that evokes Midge Maisel’s New York City or pick up a sparkling history of 1950s comedy, we’ve got some recommendations for you."
"Amid America’s reckoning with sexual harassment and violence, gender inequity, and discrimination, sex education is as fraught as it’s ever been."
"Bimbo Bakeries USA, which produces the Arnold, Sara Lee, Stroehmann and Freihofer brands, to remove certification, says exploring ‘alternative solutions’"
"Changes in colony behaviour due to past events are not the simple sum of ant memories, just as changes in what we remember, and what we say or do, are not a simple set of transformations, neuron by neuron."
"The Harry Potter series is a work of fiction. So, maybe we should just put the witchcraft debate aside and read it from a different perspective... there are a lot of lessons we can learn from the series that we also see in the Torah."