Weekend Reads: Prince, "WandaVision," Joss Whedon, MySpace Reborn, Enneagram, Cornerstone Festival

Recommended weekend reading material for February 13, 2021.

Every week, I compile a list of interesting and thought-provoking articles to offer you some enjoyable weekend reading material.

The Super Bowl was this past Sunday, and it featured a halftime show by The Weeknd (who pitched in $7 million of his own money to pay for it). As we all know, however, Prince’s 2007 halftime show was the greatest of all time.

On this day in 2007, Prince won Super Bowl XLI with a soaring halftime performance that climaxed with the skies opening up to honor his guitar solo. It is not just the best-regarded halftime show ever, but was to that point the most-viewed musical performance in American history.

Prince’s halftime show wasn’t just a fun diversion from a football game; it was a deeply personal statement on race, agency & artistry from an artist determined to cement his long-term legacy. And he did it on his own terms, as always.

Via Kottke.

Related: Alexis Petridis considers the enigma that surrounded Prince his entire life. “[He] remains the most mysterious major figure in pop history, a man who somehow contrived to be both globally famous for nearly 35 years and almost completely unknown.”

The 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees have been announced, and the list includes such luminaries as Devo, Foo Fighters, Iron Maiden, Tina Turner, and Dionne Warwick. But I personally love the fact that Kate Bush was also nominated (and for the second time).

If you’ve been watching WandaVision, then you might be wondering how Wanda Maximoff, who grew up in a (fictional) European country, knows so much about American pop culture. But that makes perfect sense to Petrana Radulovic.

What some Marvel fans peg as a plot hole I see as a remarkable case of fridge brilliance, the trope named for the realization that something initially questionable in movies or TV actually makes clicks into place when examining the full details. Hovering between Millennials and Gen Z, I can’t speak for all Kids These Days, but I am familiar with older sitcoms. And my experiences in Eastern Europe are the reason why — which is why Wanda’s perspective makes complete sense to me.

For what it’s worth, I’m thoroughly enjoying WandaVision, regardless of whether it’s riffing on American TV tropes from various decades, setting up potential ramifications for the MCU, or just being really weird. I thought I was burned out on the MCU, but I’m here for Wanda, Vision, and of course, Agent Jimmy Woo.

In a length Twitter statement, actress Charisma Carpenter (who played Cordelia Chase on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel) accused writer/director Joss Whedon of abusive behavior.

Carpenter details several specific instances of alleged abuse, including a closed-door meeting after she became pregnant where, she says, Whedon “asked me if I was ‘going to keep it’ and manipulatively weaponized my womanhood and faith against me. He processed to attack my character, mock my religious beliefs, accuse me of sabotaging the show, and then unceremoniously fired me the following season once I gave birth.” Carpenter claims he then forced her to work at 1:00 a.m. while six months pregnant which, she believes, was retaliation for becoming pregnant in the first place.

Shortly thereafter, several of Carpenter’s costars, including Sarah Michelle Gellar, lent her their support on social media.

This is not the first time that Whedon, who was once praised for creating and promoting strong female characters and stories in his various works, has been accused of such behavior. Last July, actor Ray Fisher leveled his own accusations at Whedon based on his experiences filming the Justice League movie.

Gina Carano, who played former Rebel trooper Cara Dune on The Mandalorian, has been fired from her role following offensive social media posts.

The former fighting champion turned actor shared a Tik Tok post today that compared the United States political climate to that of Nazi Germany and comparing the persecution of Jews to her conservative views. “Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors…even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views,” she wrote.

Lucasfilm had apparently been planning a Cara Dune spin-off series, but canceled it last year following Carano’s controversial social media activity.

Not surprisingly, some are seeing this as yet another example of “cancel culture” run amok and and are calling for people to cancel their Disney+ subscriptions.

Remember Myspace? It’s back (sort of), courtesy of a German teenager.

SpaceHey is a brand new social networking experience that focuses heavily on two aspects missing from most modern platforms: personalisation and privacy. Coded entirely by 18-year-old An from Germany, the site looks almost identical to how Myspace did in its heyday — complete with blogs, bulletins, an old school IM function and, most importantly, the ability to use HTML and CSS to fully customise your profile with cute layouts, pictures and music.

And of course, I’ve already created a profile. Let the online nostalgia commence!

An impending update to Google’s popular Chrome browser will make it harder for advertisers to track you. At first glance, that’s a great privacy win, but the update is not without criticism of its own.

Critics and regulators argue the move risks putting smaller advertising firms out of business and could harm websites that rely on adverts to make money. For most people, the change will be invisible but, behind the scenes, Google is planning to put Chrome in control of some of the advertising process. To do this it plans to use browser-based machine learning to log your browsing history and lump people into groups alongside others with similar interests.

Via Frontend Focus.

The Enneagram has become increasingly popular in certain Christian circles as a personality assessment tool, and in fact, my wife and I have found it beneficial for assessing our relationship (I’m a 5w4, FWIW). However, the Enneagram is not without controversy or challenges.

[W]ithout scientific evidence of its accuracy, many psychologists fear the Enneagram can propagate a false narrative about human personality. Certainly, many people do grow from Enneagram-based programs or curricula. But it’s possible that growth originates through other components in these programs, such as meaningful discussion questions and empathy-building exercises. The Enneagram model itself may not even be necessary for those mechanisms to promote growth.

The winner of a recent contest by Sweden’s Göteborg Film Festival got to spend a week alone on an isolated lighthouse island, watching movies.

Back on the ground, Enroth would tuck into a second breakfast and get ready to enjoy the day, delving into the Göteborg film festival schedule but also painting, walking and creating a video diary.

Enroth had left her cellphone and laptop on dry land, as instructed. Being without them was a freeing experience, “a relief,” she says.

“It was great not being attached to your phone, and just watching a movie without the distraction.”

The most popular role-playing game in Japan is Chaosium’s Lovecraft-inspired Call of Cthulhu, with an audience that’s comprised primarily of women aged 17-35. (Which stands in stark contrast to, say, D&D’s audience, which definitely skews male.)

Call of Cthulhu’s success is in part thanks to video replays that have introduced a new generation of players to the classic RPG. In comparison to live actual plays that feature players roleplaying together in person, such as immensely successful US D&D series Critical Role, replays typically consist of written logs or audio readthroughs of session transcripts. Call of Cthulhu replays often introduce an additional element of comedy to the game’s cosmic horror, Kitkowski added, which has boosted the game’s popularity with younger fans.

Call of Cthulhu’s Japanese sales are greater than all other languages combined, including English.

Let’s end this newsletter on an upbeat note, shall we? Chappelle’s Show is back on Netflix following the resolution of Dave Chappelle’s dispute with Comedy Central. Given how I started this newsletter, it seems only fitting to go watch the legendary “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories” bit featuring Chappelle as Prince.

From the Blog

I spent last week re-scanning all of my old Cornerstone Festival photos and uploading them to Opus. Suffice to say, it’s been a real trip down memory lane.

The following posts contain hundreds of photos that my friends and I took during those heady days. It serves as a tribute to both the Festival itself and its goal of celebrating outsider Christian art as well as the many, many bands that played its various stages (both authorized and unauthorized). While many of those bands have long since disappeared, it would be a true shame if they were completely forgotten.

Click here for all of Opus’ Cornerstone-related posts, including videos, interviews, and festival diaries.

Image courtesy of the NFL.

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