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31 Jan 17:24

Re-Touching the Consequences of Extreme Thinness

by Lisa Wade, PhD

We’re celebrating the end of the year with our most popular posts from 2013, plus a few of our favorites tossed in.  Enjoy!

A former editor at Cosmopolitan, Leah Hardy, recently wrote an exposé about the practice of photoshopping models to hide the health and aesthetic costs of extreme thinness. Below is an example featuring Cameron Diaz:

The story about Diaz, in The Telegraph, includes the following description of the image’s manipulation:

  • Face: Cheeks appear filled out
  • Bust: Levelled
  • Thighs: Wider in the picture on the right
  • Hip: The bony definition has been smoothed away
  • Stomach: A fuller, more natural look
  • Arms: A bit more bulk in the arms and shoulders

Another example was posted at The Daily What. Notice that her prominent ribcage has been photoshopped out of the photograph on the right, which ran in the October 2012 issue of  Numéro.

Hardy, the editor at Cosmo, explains that she frequently re-touched models who were “frighteningly thin.”  Others have reported similar practices:

Jane Druker, the editor of Healthy magazine — which is sold in health food stores — admitted retouching a cover girl who pitched up at a shoot looking “really thin and unwell”…

The editor of the top-selling health and fitness magazine in the U.S., Self, has admitted: “We retouch to make the models look bigger and healthier”…

And the editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, has quietly confessed to being appalled by some of the models on shoots for her own magazine, saying: “I have found myself saying to the photographers, ‘Can you not make them look too thin?’”

Robin Derrick, creative director of Vogue, has admitted: “I spent the first ten years of my career making girls look thinner — and the last ten making them look larger.”

Hardy described her position as a “dilemma” between offering healthy images and reproducing the mythology that extreme thinness is healthy:

At the time, when we pored over the raw images, creating the appearance of smooth flesh over protruding ribs, softening the look of collarbones that stuck out like coat hangers, adding curves to flat bottoms and cleavage to pigeon chests, we felt we were doing the right thing… We knew our readers would be repelled by these grotesquely skinny women, and we also felt they were bad role models and it would be irresponsible to show them as they really were.

But now, I wonder. Because for all our retouching, it was still clear to the reader that these women were very, very thin. But, hey, they still looked great!

They had 22-inch waists (those were never made bigger), but they also had breasts and great skin. They had teeny tiny ankles and thin thighs, but they still had luscious hair and full cheeks.

Thanks to retouching, our readers… never saw the horrible, hungry downside of skinny. That these underweight girls didn’t look glamorous in the flesh. Their skeletal bodies, dull, thinning hair, spots and dark circles under their eyes were magicked away by technology, leaving only the allure of coltish limbs and Bambi eyes.

Insightfully, Hardy describes this as a “vision of perfection that simply didn’t exist” and concludes, “[n]o wonder women yearn to be super-thin when they never see how ugly [super-]thin can be.”

UPDATE:  A comment has brought up the point that it’s bad to police people’s bodies, no matter whether they’re thin or fat.  And this is an important point (made well here) and, while I agree that some of the language is harsh, that’s not what’s going on here.  The vast majority of the models who need reverse photoshopping aren’t women who just happen to have that body type.  They are part of an social institution that demands extreme thinness and they’re working hard on their bodies to be able to deliver it.  This isn’t, then, about shaming naturally thin women, it’s about (1) calling out an industry that requires women to be unhealthy and then hides the harmful consequences and (2) acknowledging that even people who are a part of that industry don’t necessarily have the power to change it.

Cross-posted at Business Insider.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

(View original at

24 Jan 21:07

If Dr. Seuss books were titled according to their subtexts

by Jason Kottke

If Dr. Seuss books were titled more like academic journal articles, that might look something like this:

Seuss Gets Real

(thx, jeffrey)

Tags: books   Dr. Seuss
24 Jan 19:19

People are awesome 2013

by Aaron Cohen

this made me happy today (p.s. incredible box jump at 2:14, basically the guy jumps on something *almost as tall as he is*. wut.)

The People are Awesome videos usually come out in October (2010, 2011), but I'll accept it a couple months late. Four and a half minutes of people doing awesome things.

(via ★acoleman)

Tags: video
24 Jan 16:16

Please don't help my kids

by Jason Kottke

One parent's plea to the other parents at the playground: please don't help my kids.

They're not here to be at the top of the ladder; they are here to learn to climb. If they can't do it on their own, they will survive the disappointment. What's more, they will have a goal and the incentive to work to achieve it.

In the meantime, they can use the stairs. I want them to tire of their own limitations and decide to push past them and put in the effort to make that happen without any help from me.

It is not my job -- and it is certainly not yours -- to prevent my children from feeling frustration, fear, or discomfort. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that those things are not the end of the world, and can be overcome or used to their advantage.

If they get stuck, it is not my job to save them immediately. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn to calm themselves, assess their situation, and try to problem solve their own way out of it.

It is not my job to keep them from falling. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that falling is possible but worth the risk, and that they can, in fact, get up again.

(via @delfuego)

Tags: parenting
22 Jan 21:22

What a little hart-braker

by Kerry

Our submitter in Vancouver, Washington says this note was slipped under her door after her daughter was sent to her room following a disagreement about doing the dishes. Adds Mom: “I like that the poop is just there — not telling me I smell like poop, or to eat poop. Just…poop.”

Never doing anything for you ever again ever for Mom —Emily (hart brok) P.S. Running away (Poop)

related: Buckets of my tears

17 Jan 16:19

Everyone’s a poet, including this microbe

by editor

click the link to macleans for the full, awesome story

Christian Bök is part poet, part mad scientist. He’s read the entirety of Webster’s Dictionary three times, invented a language for a sci-fi TV show, and, most recently, brushed up on his genetic engineering skills to create the world’s first “living poem.”

According to Macleans, the project, called Xenotext, is a “short stanza enciphered into a string of DNA and injected into an ‘unkillable’ bacterium, Bök’s poem is designed to trigger the micro-organism to create a corresponding protein that, when decoded, is a verse created by the organism.”

So what’s wrong with writing poetry in your Moleskine, or on a coffee-stained paper napkin at a local open mic? Nothing, I guess. But it’s clearly not enough for Bök, and his imagination—”the biggest in the room” as he calls it—is inspired by less traditional sources (more Watson & Crick than a red wheelbarrow). “I am amazed that poets will continue to write about their divorces, even though there is currently a robot taking pictures of orange ethane lakes on Titan.”


Benjamin Samuel is co-editor of Electric Literature. He looks forward to the day when natural selection will be our first line of defense for bad poetry. You can find him here.

16 Jan 14:13

One does not simply walk into Mordor and see an angry vagina.

by Jenny the bloggess

now i can't unsee the angry vagina

What it’s like being friends with non-geeky girls:

Friend: Why did you just send me a picture of an angry vagina?

me:  I didn’t.  I sent you a picture of a kick-ass cake.

friend:  No.  It was a hat.  With an angry vagina on it.

me:  It’s a cake with the Eye of Sauron on it.


quickly-becoming-not-my-friend:  The what of what?

me:  The giant, flaming eye.  From Lord of the Rings?

friend:  Really?  Looks like a vagina hat to me.

me:  Great.  Now all I can see is an irritated vagina.  You’re goddam contagious.

Friend:  Angry.  The damn thing is furious.  And why is it surrounded by Arabic?

me:  That’s Elvish.

Friend:  Sometimes I wonder why we’re friends.

me:  Sometimes I wonder the same thing.

16 Jan 14:12

Tolkien family not impressed with Peter Jackson

by Aaron Cohen

In a profile this summer from Le Monde, Christopher Tolkien, the 88 year-old son of J.R.R. Tolkien blasted Peter Jackson and The Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit movies. (If you can't speak French, you should see the translation of the profile.) Tolkien, who drew the maps for the Lord of the Rings books, has spent most of his life protecting the legacy of his father's works, and the movies are, apparently, a bridge too far.

Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? "They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25," Christopher says regretfully. "And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film."

This divorce has been systematically driven by the logic of Hollywood. "Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time," Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. "The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away."

(via ★Stellar)

Tags: books   Christopher Tolkien   JRR Tolkien   movies   Peter Jackson   The Hobbit   The Lord of the Rings
16 Jan 13:41

Do we look like the kind of store that sells “I Just Called to Say I Love You?”

by Kerry

hahaha ‘Who the fuck is Johnny Rotten?’)

Kay spotted these signs while shopping for CDs at a store named JB Hi-Fi in Melbourne. “I personally agree with everything said on there,” Kay says, “but the two 17-year-olds who brought the note to my attention clearly didn’t. (One of them actually said ‘Who the fuck is Johnny Rotten?’) I thought it was priceless.”

New Rules for the Punk/Emo/Hardcore Section

And the old rules stand: No asking why The Clash are in the Punk section — you will be removed! No sitting on the floor! No complaining about Green Day! I don't care if you like their old stuff better than their new stuff because it's not punk now. Unless you're G.G. Allin or Johnny Rotten you ain't punk either so shut up! Listening to hardcore does not make you tough. Just saying! Behave. The Game is watchin.

related: Top five musical crimes perpetrated by record store customers in the 90s and 2000s

15 Jan 19:01

Pain is routine in the NFL

by Jason Kottke

Former NFL star Jason Taylor was so injured (and yet still playing every week) that for a period of two years, the 6'6" 240-pound linebacker couldn't lift his kids into bed. So how did he play? Shots to kill the pain and then more shots to kill the pain of the first shots. And so on. Until he almost had to have his leg amputated.

The trainer rushed to Taylor's house. Taylor thought he was overreacting. The trainer told him they were immediately going to the hospital. A test kit came out. Taylor's blood pressure was so high that the doctors thought the test kit was faulty. Another test. Same crazy numbers. Doctors demanded immediate surgery. Taylor said absolutely not, that he wanted to call his wife and his agent and the famed Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. Andrews also recommended surgery, and fast. Taylor said, fine, he'd fly out in owner Daniel Snyder's private jet in the morning. Andrews said that was fine but that he'd have to cut off Taylor's leg upon arrival. Taylor thought he was joking. Andrews wasn't. Compartment syndrome. Muscle bleeds into the cavity, causing nerve damage. Two more hours, and Taylor would have had one fewer leg. Fans later sent him supportive notes about their own compartment syndrome, many of them in wheelchairs.

Taylor's reaction?

"I was mad because I had to sit out three weeks," he says. "I was hot."

He had seven to nine inches of nerve damage.

"The things we do," he explains. "Players play. It is who we are. We always think we can overcome."

At the New Yorker, Reeves Wiedeman reminds us that the NFL is unlikely to change because so much of what happens with injuries is hidden from view.

As we watch a game that we know is dangerous, we soothe ourselves with the idea that these men must be aware of the risks, too; that they are being well compensated to take on those risks; and that, at least when they're on the field, in front of the cameras, they are living the dream that we all craved as kids, and they're having fun.

But what we can take from this story, and from the fact that, on the surface, this weekend's games were filled with such excitement, is the fact that so much of football's barbarism takes place beyond our vision and behind closed doors.

(thx, meg)

Tags: football   Jason Taylor   medicine   NFL   sports
15 Jan 14:40

White House response to Death Star petition

by Aaron Cohen

In November, some serious individuals created a petition on the The White House's We the People website requesting the construction of a Death Star in 2016. The petition received the 25K signatures required for a response, and in a Friday night news dump, the White House responded with a memo full of Star Wars puns.

Reasons for rejection include:

*The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
*The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
*Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

The petitions submitted to the We the People site aren't always treated as a joke, here's the response to the people who signed petitions about seceding from the United States.

Tags: politics   Star Wars
11 Jan 19:54

2012 National Geographic Photography Contest Winners

The winners have been named in the 2012 National Geographic Photography contest. As a leader in capturing the world through brilliant imagery, National Geographic sets the standard for photographic excellence. This year's competition brought 22,000 entries from over 150 countries, professionals and amateurs participating. Photographs were submitted in three categories: people, places and nature; and entries judged on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of experts. There was a Grand Prize winner, a winner in each category and a collection of Viewer's Choice Winners as well. Enjoy. -- Paula Nelson ( 14 photos total)
Grand Prize Winner and 1st Place/Nature: THE EXPLOSION! - The subject's name is Busaba, a well cared for Indochinese Tigress whose home is at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand. I had taken many portraits of Busaba previously and it was becoming more and more difficult to come up with an image that appeared any different to the others. Which is why I took to observing her more carefully during my visits in the hope of capturing something of a behavioral shot. The opportunity finally presented itself while watching Busaba enjoying her private pool then shaking herself dry. In all humility I have to say that Mother Nature smiled favorably on me that day! (Photo and caption by Ashley Vincent/National Geographic Photo Contest)

Add to Facebook Add to Twitter Add to digg Add to StumbleUpon Add to Reddit Add to Email this Article

11 Jan 19:53

125 Years of National Geographic

I've been a fan of the photography and the stories featured in National Geographic Magazine since I was a child. I explored the world by simply turning the pages. It featured some of the most amazing and groundbreaking photography then and it's never stopped finding new ways to surprise. On January 13, 2013, the National Geographic Society will celebrate its 125th anniversary and its evolution from a small scientific body to one of the world's largest educational and scientific organizations committed to inspiring people to care about the planet. The Society has shared some images that represent those moments of discovery and will continue in its 126th year, to provide a front-row seat to what's happening at the extremes of exploration - bringing everyone along for the ride through its storytelling and photography. You can even "hangout" with some of it's more prominent explorers Jane Goodall, James Cameron and Robert Ballard, on the anniversary date, 1 p.m. EST -- Paula Nelson ( 23 photos total)
1909 | CANADA - National Geographic funded Cmdr. Robert E. Peary’s 1909 expedition to the North Pole. Whether Peary and his assistant, Matthew Henson, reached the Pole or not, they came closer to that goal than anyone before them. (Photo © Robert E. Peary Collection, NGS)

11 Jan 14:57


Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomicCopy this into your blog, website, etc. <a href=""><img alt="Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic" src="" border=0></a><br />Cyanide & Happiness @ <a href=""></a> ...or into a forum [URL=""]
Cyanide & Happiness @ [URL=""][/URL] <—- Share this comic!
08 Jan 16:47

The 100 best lists of all time

by Jason Kottke

craigslist with a cool #3 finish. noice.

08 Jan 13:57

The Dronenet

by Jason Kottke

i love living in the future.

John Robb imagines a drone delivery service that will replace UPS, FedEx, the USPS, bicycle messengers, Kozmo-type services, etc. in the short-hop delivery of small items.

Here's a simplified version of what I'm talking about:

1. I put package onto a landing pad at my home.

2. Drone arrives, takes package and flies away.

3. Drone delivers package to landing pad at delivery location.

There's almost nothing technically in the way of this happening right now. Here's how it would work in practice:

- My brother left his iphone at my house. I want to get it to him, but he lives 30 mi away (as the crow flies, 50 by driving).

- I put it into a delivery container and put it on a small landing pad outside my home.

- I order a drone on my phone and put the ID of the container into the order (I could just as easily use a drone I buy to do it P2P).

- A drone arrives 10 minutes later, picks up the container automatically.

- After a couple of hops, it arrives at my brother's landing pad, where it drops off the container and alerts him with an e-mail/text.

- Costs? Probably less than $0.25 per 10 mi. or so. So, about $0.75 in this instance. Time? An hour or so.

This is a compelling idea but I doubt it'll happen in a decentralized way. More likely that Amazon will buy a fledgling drone delivery company in the next year or two and begin rolling out same-day delivery of items weighing less than 2 pounds in non-urban areas where drone flights are permitted. Unless the FAA or Homeland Security gets in the way, which they might. But if not, Wal-Mart, Target, and everyone else will follow suit, including (likely too late) FedEx and UPS.

Tags: drones   John Robb
07 Jan 15:16

Commander Riker lorem ipsum

by Jason Kottke

i may love this just a little bit too much.

This is perfect...Riker Ipsum is lorem ipsum dummy text from Commander Riker's dialogue on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Our neural pathways have become accustomed to your sensory input patterns. Computer, belay that order. The game's not big enough unless it scares you a little. When has justice ever been as simple as a rule book? What's a knock-out like you doing in a computer-generated gin joint like this? Did you come here for something in particular or just general Riker-bashing?

(via ★interesting)

Tags: language   lorem ipsum   Star Trek
07 Jan 14:35

David Jacoby: Reality Fantasy League … New Year, Same Drunk Idiots Downton Double-Down: Andy Greenwald's Season 3 Preview ♦ Abbey-to-EPL Converter: Django, the N-Word, and How We Talk About Race in 2013

by Rembert Browne

By Rembert Browne on January 3, 2013 1:44 PM ET Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

2013 is going to be incredible, if for no other reason than because this will undoubtedly be the year the cultural discourse shifts from simple discussions of "race" or "racism" to the majestic land of "how we talk about and react to race in mixed settings." While ideas of a "post-racial" society are but a single cute step below thinking the world was going to end on December 21 on the "awwww, that's cute" scale, what we are in 2013 is post–"race and things typically associated with a single race existing only within that racial silo." Finally.

As 2012 came to a close, a few things in the media's racial-discourse sphere took place that hinted the cup was set to runneth over. In December, we had a black sports commentator call a black quarterback essentially "not black enough," and the result was supporters of all races coming to the defense of the Third Griffin, telling this black commentator that he had no right to define what was black. And then, to top it off, he was reprimanded by his superiors, many of whom are white. Bonkers. In the past, passing judgment on a matter like this, whether against or in favor, could really only come from other esteemed blacks, because who else had the right to comment on what was "black" and what was not? That, as was made evident, is no longer the case.

Another example, one that has existed for years: white writers critiquing hip-hop. In a December 20 album review in Spin, writer Jordan Sargent gave young, misguided, controversial Chicago rapper Chief Keef's album Finally Rich an above-average review. Upon reading the review, journalist Brian Miller, known in some circles as "B.Dot" of the hip-hop site Rap Radar, took to Twitter to air out his feelings about what he saw as Sargent's (a white guy's) take on hip-hop culture (a culture that he very much sees as in line with being black).

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While this dispute, which didn't really make much noise beyond Twitter that day, is nothing compared to the statements made by Parker on national television, I still haven't been able to shake it, because it's such a clear sign of the new problems we'll encounter as we continue to exist in each other's formerly clearly demarcated worlds. The confrontation of racial issues in an increasingly mixed society. The idea of ownership. Possessive pronouns. And declarations of who gets to dictate the rules, who is allowed to play, and who is stuck watching from the sidelines. Who's right? Personally, I think the Chief Keef story is easier to digest if you don't see a part of him when you look in the mirror, but at the same time, I think B.Dot has as much ownership over hip-hop and who gets a seat at the critics' table as Rob Parker does in dictating who gets a seat at the black table. But that's not what matters. What's important is that these conversations, once conducted behind closed doors, are now being pushed to the forefront, and it's getting harder for anyone to pretend that they don't exist.

A third example, perhaps the most mainstream, and also from the final month of 2012, centers on the movie Django Unchained. After almost two weeks of hearing and reading things about the film, as well as turning down offers to see it because of the company I'd be keeping and the projected demographics of the theater (I've watched Roots in an all-white classroom before; not trying to go back to that dark, lonely place), I stepped into the film last night to witness it. Going into Django, outside of the slave-revenge theme, I knew of four controversial facts about the film.

One, Quentin Tarantino directed a movie about slavery. A white guy tackling the still very sensitive issue of that one time when whites brought Africans over to America and enslaved them for hundreds of years. Obviously, there is a backlash to him doing this, with some thinking perhaps a black director would be more equipped (or at least have more of a "right"). This isn't new (Steven Spielberg adapting Alice Walker's The Color Purple wasn't without criticism), but still, to many, from many races, it seems in bad taste — or, if nothing else, insensitive. And to others, also from a slew of races, it's fantastic.

Two, and seemingly very much tied to the first fact, is that director Spike Lee is vehemently against Django, not based on what he saw in the film, but on the premise that it was even made. The catch, however, is that he refuses to see it, telling Vibe that he "can't speak on it 'cause I'm not gonna see it. I'm not seeing it. All I'm going to say is that it's disrespectful to my ancestors, to see that film," as well as tweeting:

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 8.27.04 AM

My third point of controversy going into Django: the loose use of the big boy N-word by all of the white co-stars, especially delivered from the mouths of actors you know well, such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Don Johnson. While this is of course the word that would have been used by the characters they're portraying, by many accounts it's still startling to hear it repeated, at such a high clip, knowing that at the end of the day it's still Leo and Don.

And finally, there's the controversial act of seeing the film in mixed company in a theater, an act that produces something Gawker writer Cord Jefferson refers to as "the Django Moment."

My personal Django Moment came when an Australian slaver, played by Tarantino himself, haphazardly threw a bag full of dynamite into a cage of captive blacks before mocking their very real fear that they might be exploded to nothingness. A white man behind me let out a quick trumpet blast of a guffaw, and then fell silent. My face got hot, and my nephew, who was sitting at my right, shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Throughout the film, I'd laughed along with everyone in the theater as a lynch mob of bumbling rednecks planned to slaughter the "fancypants nigger" Django, and when the villainous house slave Stephen, played pitch perfectly by Samuel L. Jackson, limped dumbly around his master's plantation, kowtowing to every absurd demand with an acerbic and foulmouthed loyalty. But for whatever reason, the dynamite in the slave cage was a bridge too far for me. What the fuck is he laughing at? I thought, and just like that, the theater went from a place of communal revelry to a battleground.

While not the same, because it's much more complex, this "Django Moment" is an evolutionary advancement to my own personal "Jay-Z Moment," in which the decision has to be made, going into one of his shows, of how to attack the N-word. While most certainly not just tied to Mr. Carter, the overall sentiment of "I'm not black, but I want to say the N-word at this concert, because the rapper onstage is practically begging me to say it along with him" has long been something to note among his ever growing, ever more mainstream fan base. What's happening in Django is simply taking that premise to the next, more intense level.

Race conversations, especially those that default to black-white issues, usually come back to the famous N-word, whether it's Jay/Kanye/"Paris"-related or, more recently, in a new jam: rapper Trinidad James's "All Gold Everything," in which he has an ad lib ("n---- n---- n----") that to some is kind of incredible (for better or worse, the word just rolls off the tongue effortlessly) and to others is a blatant misuse of a word that will most certainly fall into the ever-excited hands of those who are dying to say the word behind closed doors and, ever increasingly, in public.

As I left the theater after Django, it was interesting to see how diverse the crowd was, and, based on the conversations being had in the lobby, how they were all impacted in some way, whether it was by the violence or the language or the fact that it was simply a really good movie. I left the theaters feeling oddly proud of Tarantino for making such a thought-provoking film, while feeling the exact opposite way about Spike Lee for not giving Django a chance. I was slightly shocked at how numb I became to Leo's use of the N-word, to the point that I almost started to marvel at the bravado with which he uttered it. As for my "Django Moment," yes, there was the horrible foreign couple behind me that thought everything was hilarious, but mine came from a more unexpected place: the laughter that filled the room when Samuel L. Jackson and Jamie Foxx would say the N-word — less like we imagine blacks would have in the 1800s, and more like they were two of the four Kings of Comedy.

Jackson: I count six bullets, n----.

Foxx: I count two guns, n----.

Truth be told, most of this laughter came from me. Somehow, maybe because I had imagined so many people would be using the film as a "get out of jail free" card to laugh at the N-word, hearing Jamie and Samuel drop the "-er" and say it the way I imagined they said it when the cameras stopped rolling almost became a relief. Or a troubling return to normalcy. And this somehow brought me joy? Yes, yes it did. And just like that, in one sitting, I had gone from laughing only in my head to quietly chuckling to becoming uncomfortable by the guffaws coming from certain pockets of the theater to becoming the loudest one in the theater, all in the name of the N-word. What the hell was going on?

Being uncomfortable. False ownership of terms. False ownership of cultures. Troubled histories. Finger-pointing. Segregation in an integrated world (or is it integration in a segregated world?). All of these things contributed to the myriad emotions I felt in that theater. But these were just my emotions. There were hundreds of people in that theater alone, and hundreds of thousands more have already viewed the movie. Everyone's seeing Django. That's what makes it an important work, beyond the quality, because we're all having to deal with it, together.

Right before Django's release, film critic Jake Hamilton interviewed Samuel L. Jackson, and actually asked him about the controversy surrounding the "N-word." Firing back, Samuel takes a potentially awkward question and flips it on Hamilton, producing a moment that sheds light on what's going on in our culture better than I could ever explain (skip to 13:56).

Hamilton: There's been a lot of controversy surrounding the usage of, uh, the N-word, in this movie.
Jackson: No? Nobody? None ... the word would be?
Hamilton: [Whispered.] I don't want to say it.
Jackson: Why not?
Hamilton: I don't like to say it.
Jackson: Have you ever said it?
Hamilton: No, sir.
Jackson: Try it.
Hamilton: I don't like to say it.
Hamilton: Really? Seriously?
Jackson: We're not going to have this conversation unless you say it.
Jackson: Wanna move on to another question?
Hamilton: OK. Awesome.
Jackson: [Laughs.]
Hamilton: I don't like — I don't want to say it.
Jackson: Oh, come on.
Hamilton: Will you say it?
Jackson: No, fuck no. It's not the same thing.
Hamilton: Why do you want me to —
Jackson: They're gonna bleep it when you say it on the show. SAY IT.
Hamilton: I, I can't say it. If I say it, this question won't make air.
Jackson: OK, forget it.
Hamilton: I'll skip it. Sorry, guys. It was a good question.
Jackson: No it wasn't.
Hamilton: It was a great question.
Jackson: It wasn't a great question if you can't say the word.

Such is the case with these things: these discussions, these dares, these laughs, these hesitations, these tiffs, these struggles — they aren't new. They're just being carried out differently, and more publicly, and with fear of fewer repercussions. And in the world we live in today, where access to various modes of public expression is becoming increasingly accessible, the walls around "talking about race" are rapidly crumbling. Finally. And, just as a heads-up, if this makes you uncomfortable, if the idea of potentially offending someone is your greatest fear, or if you're content to discuss it like a simpleton, then 2013 might not be your year.

This, my friends, is the new apocalypse. Buckle up.

Tagsdjango unchained, django unchained, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Samuel L. Jackson Rembert Browne

Rembert Browne (@rembert) is a staff writer for Grantland.

Previously from Rembert Browne:
13 Dec 18:28

What your favorite Nintendo game says about you

by Jason Kottke

Contra: You have wet the bed exactly twice: once as a child, once as an adult.
Super Mario Bros. 3: You have attempted to carbonate milk.

one of those is true!

Let's see, my favorite game was probably the original Legend of Zelda, so:

You have carried a piece of string cheese behind your ear for a whole day.

Not the whole day, but certainly longer than was socially or hygienically acceptable. (via @tcarmody)

Tags: Nintendo   video games
13 Dec 15:53

Good deal: 'The Complete Sherlock Holmes' free for Kindle

by Adi Robertson
Arthur Conan Doyle Good Deal

Many of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories are already in the public domain and free online, though the character himself occupies a murky legal morass. Now, you can read every one in a single volume. Simon & Schuster has compiled four novels (including A Study in Scarlet, which introduced Holmes, and The Hound of the Baskervilles) and a host of short stories and packaged them for Kindle, offering the whole thing for free through Amazon's site. The Complete Sherlock Holmes was released today, and it looks to be free for the foreseeable future, much like other Kindle public domain works.

Continue reading…

12 Dec 22:40

My Parents Adopted a Murderer  |  XOJane  |  Dec. 12, 2012  |  8 Minutes (2,153 words)

by Amity Bitzel

one of the best personal essays i've read all year. some serious writing skillz: "Most of the photos were taken outside, so they are washed in a faint, glimmering light, like half-sucked butterscotch candy."

From Doree Shafrir's Best of Longreads picks: A woman looks back on her father's abuse—and how their relationship changed when her family adopted a teen who had killed his adoptive parents:

"He is sending these virtual photo bombs because I have stopped speaking to him. Three months ago, my sister and I mutually agreed that we were breaking off all contact -- divorcing him, disowning him -- and by extension, our mother, who apparently just doesn’t have it in her to defy him. We did this over email (admittedly, perhaps not the best way to do it, but you try verbally telling a parent it’s over -- it’s hard, y’all) and held our breath. After an initial barrage of angry emails, which devolved into apologetic emails, we’ve arrived at the photo bomb stage. No actual email, just the photos.

"The thing is, though, those happy little children in the photos? They’re nothing but ghosts, tiny spirit-girls haunting old Polaroids. When you are used to pretending that everything is ok, that you are a normal family with loving parents, you develop a really excellent false smile. You can do it on command, like a trained dog. But if we’re going to get real, if we’re to bring any semblance of verisimilitude into this, let’s look at the true pics: my father drunk and vicious, smashing up a bedroom suite, or beating the dog, or whipping my sister and me with a belt, or getting blind drunk and forcing us into the car, where he’d drive and scream at us for hours, or, in a series of nightmarish images, like some flipbook from hell, let’s see my father wrap his hands round my mother’s throat and strangle her. See me and my sister punching and kicking at his legs, trying to stop him? See our little teeth biting ineffectually at his pant cuffs?"
12 Dec 22:37

Where does all the wine come from in Game of Thrones?

by Jason Kottke

You need predictable and changing seasons to grow grapes and the Game of Thrones world features long unpredictable where does all that wine come from?

The seasons in George RR Martin's medieval fantasy are a random, unpredictable mess. They could last anywhere from a few months to a decade and there's no way to forecast them. As the story opens, the characters are near the end of a long, ten-year summer. They also worry about the coming winter, which will cause mass starvation if it also lasts years on end. This wonky climate is an irreplaceable part of Game of Thrones. Westeros would not be remotely the same without it.

But grapevines have a life cycle that depends on regular seasons. In winter, grapevines are dormant. Come spring they sprout leaves. As summer begins, they flower and tiny little grapes appear. Throughout the summer the grapes fill up with water, sugar and acid. The grapes are finally ready for picking in early autumn, then go back to sleep in winter. This cycle is why wineries can rely on a yearly grape yield. Obviously, in Westeros, something must be different about how grapes work.

(via bb)

Tags: food   Game of Thrones   TV   wine
11 Dec 19:09

Louis C.K.'s Proust questionnaire

by Jason Kottke

definitely click through to read the whole thing, here's one more:
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
I mean, who has time to think about shit like this? I have two kids. I have shit to do. We have to find a middle school for next year. Shit is getting real. Who has time to think about what they want to do in their next life?

Vanity Fair regularly runs a celebrity questionnaire in the pages of its magazine and for January they got Louis C.K. to do it. Somehow. Because he really didn't like doing it.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Not ever having to fill out this questionnaire.

What is your greatest fear?
You think I'm going to tell you that? You think I'm going to let you print my greatest fear in a national magazine? No sir. I will not, sir.

Tags: Louis C.K.
10 Dec 18:59

Worst Free Throw. Great Elbow.

by StateFans
A couple of basketball videos to start off the week. First comes what perhaps is the worst free throw in the history of college basketball that was making the rounds on Twitter on Saturday. I am not exaggerating here. This will put a smile on the faces of all NC State fans who remember Charles [...]