Best Of The Web
““This isn’t a scene from The Handmaid’s Tale,” Kamala Harris wrote in recent a fundraising email, “This is happening in our country.” In his late night monologue, Stephen Colbert joked that a rash of new abortion laws felt like “some pretty intense viral marketing for the new season of The Handmaid’s Tale.” Protestors dressed in red cloaks with winged bonnets, the costume of enslaved handmaids in both the novel and the television show, surrounded the Alabama courthouse to protest the state’s severely restrictive abortion law. The Handmaid Coalition is a new nonprofit organization dedicated to sewing handmaids costumes for protest in the “fight to keep fiction from becoming a reality.”
Over the last few years, references to The Handmaid’s Tale—Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, now a Hulu series whose third season debuts on June 5—have increasingly served as a quick and easy pop-cultural shorthand for the extremity of our moment. People type “under his eye” (the religious mantra of the restrictive, fundamentalist country of Gilead) when sharing links to articles, or “nolite te bastardes carborundorum” (a Latin phrase used by the underground Gilead resistance movement Mayday, which means “don’t let the bastards get you down”). The idiom of the show, which Atwood invented in her book, has become a way to communicate that you know that things have gotten really bad—that this timeline feels like that terrifying thing you saw on streaming television.
There is nothing inherently wrong with these references: People have always turned to film and literature in order to make sense of the world, to process and provide context for complex, frightening times. But watching the first episodes of the new season, what strikes me is that the set of symbols that the show unleashed has far outpaced what the show actually provides. The striking metaphors The Handmaid’s Tale birthed all belong to the book and to the show’s first season, in which the horrifying vision of a patriarchal fascist state and all its paraphernalia becomes clear. The Hulu show has since become a long-running soap opera about women’s trauma, and like any good soap, it needs the drama to continue endlessly, and to raise the stakes continuously.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"‘Great-power competition” is increasingly a central concern in Washington foreign-policy circles. The 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy warns that “China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode..."
"Just to be sure I heard it correctly, I replayed former vice president Joe Biden’s eye-popping gaffe from Thursday night’s debate instructing poor parents to put the record player on to help their children learn. “#Record player” was trending on..."
"For many people, getting away from it all means decamping to a cabin in the woods or a house by the beach. Soon there may be another option: lifting off to a hotel serenely orbiting high above the planet. Though space hotels have long belonged..."
"I didn’t lead a life of any particular hardship growing up, but as a kid in New York in the 1980s, I did have to do without certain things that many of today’s middle-class parents deem essential — a yard, for example — and my dad tells me..."
"Not too long ago, the “gig economy” looked as if it just might be the future of work in America.The rapid rise of digital platforms that let people earn money by driving passengers, delivering groceries, walking dogs or running errands for..."
""The Goldfinch" has a painting at its center, but despite a classy palette of ingredients conjures a lifeless, disjointed picture. Adapted from a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the movie represents a transparent bid to bring the book's prestige..."
"To make sense of what's going on as Israelis head to the polls Tuesday, one would need to be part mathematician and part psychologist. Determining who will sit with who in a prospective coalition is like choosing sides at a schoolyard pick-up..."
"It’s humiliating to consider the things we know instead of the things we should know. I can’t tell you exactly how the Michigan Republicans are trying to illegally gerrymander their state, but I know why Lana Del Rey is angry on Twitter. So it..."