In January 2017, I listened to an interview with UC Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild on National Public Radio about her New York Times bestseller. But it was not until a friend of mine recommended Strangers in Their Own Land that I actually read it. My friend commended the book less for a more informed understanding of the rise of the Tea Party and – by implication Trump – but rather for providing an empathetic, humane perspective of the supporters of the American conservative party, especially its populist right wing.
Imagine you get home and see a bunch of your friends, let’s say friends whose taste in films and shows you usually trust, watching a show. A really weird cartoon show you can’t make any sense of, because, let’s say, one of the show’s constantly burping characters turned himself into a talking pickle just to avoid a family counseling session. And suddenly the talking pickle calls itself “Pickle Rick” and slaughters giant rats in the sewer. You see your friends’ faces, their eyes fixed on the screen. Heartfelt laughter alternates with quiet curiosity. “In which world is this an actual show?!” you may ask yourself before you decide to sit down and give it a try… Read more
“I write emotive stories about Natives who have been absent in history.”
(Gerald Vizenor, personal interview)
Gerald Vizenor’s historical novel, Native Tributes, will be published in August 2018. And here is one important reason why you should read it: Native Tributes will encourage you to re-visit the aftermath of World War I – from a Native American perspective.
Newspapers always make good movies: the dare-devil reporter, the overachieving assistant, and the crusty editor up against the power of a dishonest government. There is wonderful symbolism in the heavy lead type spelling out a scandal and the broad sheets of newsprint rolling off the presses to cover the nation. The audience is assured that the truth will come out.
The publication of the Pentagon Papers is a perfect crusading newspaper story. It starts with the intellectual, once hawkish, Marine veteran stealing and photocopying secret papers and giving them to The New York Times for publication, revealing 30 years of the government misleading the populace about the Vietnam War. The Post, directed by Steven Spielberg, begins in Chapter 2, with editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) frustrated and embarrassed by having been scooped, once again, by The Times. When the government gets an injunction, barring The Times from further publication, The Post, in the words of Bradlee, is “in the game.”
“Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they
have when they wake up from a nightmare.”
A beautiful blonde woman takes a relaxing shower, somebody enters the room, positions himself behind the shower curtain, then there’s a knife and shrieking violins. Does that ring a bell?
To this day, Alfred Hitchcock is considered one of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers, and his masterpiece, Psycho (1960), has become part of our collective memory. Especially the shower scene is often described as the most powerful and haunting scene in film history. Since the release of Psycho, not a single year has gone by in which the movie – and especially its one-of-a-kind three-minute shower sequence – has not been referenced, imitated, or parodied in popular culture. What is it about that scene that causes people to look three ways before taking a shower? Well, for one the bathroom – normally associated with privacy and safety – turns into an anxiety-inducing place where danger lurks behind the shower curtain. Anything could happen here – and apparently sometimes does.
The title font, reminiscent of 1980s horror-thriller novels, buzzes over the flat screen TV or laptop monitor to the eerily pulsating beat of electronic music. We could pause and quickly answer a WhatsApp message before the episode starts. After all, this is 2018, and we’re streaming via Netflix. But wait, is it really 2018? I’m not so sure anymore. Put your smartphone away, it might as well be…
1983 in a normal American small town called Hawkins. On the way home from a nicely nerdy night of playing Dungeons and Dragons in a cozy basement with his three best friends, twelve-year-old Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) encounters a strange thing and disappears without a trace. Will’s worried single mother Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) turns to local Police Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) – a guy whose morning grooming ritual includes beer and cigarettes and who at first doesn’t take the case seriously. But Will’s friends Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) take matters like these seriously and into their own young hands. While searching for their missing friend, they encounter Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), a mysterious girl with a shaved head and the number 11 tattooed on her arm. The trio will soon find out that these features are not the strangest things about the girl. This American small town with a secretive research lab nearby may not be so normal after all, and even a reluctant Chief Hopper comes to realizes that stranger things of a paranormal nature are afoot in Hawkins. Read more