Weekend Reads: “Squid Game,” Netflix, “Eleanor Rigby,” New Zealand’s Wizard
Recommended reading material for the weekend of October 23, 2021.
Every week, I compile a list of interesting and thought-provoking articles to offer you some enjoyable weekend reading material.
Squid Game is officially one of Netflix’s biggest hits in recent memory, with nearly 1 in 4 Americans saying that they’ve watched the Korean series. The increasing popularity of Netflix’s international titles also reveals the latest development in the age-old “subtitles vs. dubbing” debate: adults prefer dubbing while younger viewers prefer subtitles. I guess the kids really are OK.
Indeed, just to give you an idea of Squid Game’s massive success, the series’ nine episodes cost Netflix $21.4 million to produce (which is less than a single Dave Chappelle comedy special). But to date, it’s generated nearly $900 million of value for the streaming service. And so far, Netflix subscribers have spent over 1.4 billion hours watching the show.
Via Numlock News.
Speaking of Dave Chappelle, numerous Netflix employees staged a walkout in Los Angeles earlier this week to protest his new comedy special The Closer, which contains several jokes about transgender people. Employees also presented a list of demands.
As the Verge first reported, trans employees at Netflix and their allies have made a list of demands for the company, including creating a fund to develop trans and non-binary talent; increasing investment in trans and non-binary content on Netflix; revising the company’s internal processes for releasing potentially harmful content; and acknowledging Netflix’s responsibility for the harm of its transphobic content.
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos has refused any and all requests to take down Chappelle’s special, citing support of artistic freedom, even as he’s admitted that he handled the situation poorly.
Adding another wrinkle to the story, the family of the transgender comedian who Chappelle talks about in The Closer has come to Chappelle’s defense, calling him an LGBTQ ally who loved and respected their sister.
If you were looking forward to seeing the next Thor or Black Panther movie, you’ll need to wait a little longer.
Disney has delayed release plans for several upcoming films, including “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” from March 25 to May 6, “Thor: Love and Thunder” from May 6 to July 8 and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” from July 8 to Nov. 11. With the “Black Panther” sequel jumping to November, “The Marvels” has been postponed to early 2023 and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” was bumped from Feb. 17 to July 28, 2023.
Disney also pushed back the release of the fifth Indiana Jones movie by almost a year, to June 30, 2023. (Did you even know there was going to be a fifth Indiana Jones movie?)
Via Morning Brew.
We came this close to having a Radiohead song used as the theme for a James Bond movie. The movie in question was 2015’s Spectre, and although Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” was ultimately used, some are calling Radiohead’s unused song the perfect James Bond theme.
As part of their 25th anniversary celebration, Pitchfork asked 33 musicians to name their favorite albums from the last 25 years. The list of musicians include ANOHNI, Beach House, Carly Rae Jepsen, Low, Stephin Merritt (The Magnetic Fields), Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), and Kamasi Washington.
Ted Gioia has 12 predictions for the future of music, and frankly, most of them suck. Not because I think he’s wrong, but because I think he’s spot on. For example:
Musician incomes will continue to shrink, but some young musicians will still earn large sums of money — however, their big paydays will come more from branding, licensing, and ancillary deals than recordings. Side deals will increasingly be seen as more desirable than record contracts. In other words, you become a musician in order to make money as an influencer.
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it again and again: if you like an artist and truly want to support them, then buy their music from Bandcamp, iTunes, wherever. And while you’re at it, buy some of their merch, like a T-shirt or poster. Streaming services are great for consumers but they pay a pittance to the vast majority of musicians.
Via Morning Brew.
“Eleanor Rigby” is one of the Beatles’ greatest songs, and in this excerpt from his upcoming book, Paul McCartney explains how it came to be while also ruminating on the Beatles’ origins.
The song itself was consciously written to evoke the subject of loneliness, with the hope that we could get listeners to empathize. Those opening lines — “Eleanor Rigby / Picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been / Lives in a dream.” It’s a little strange to be picking up rice after a wedding. Does that mean she was a cleaner, someone not invited to the wedding, and only viewing the celebrations from afar? Why would she be doing that? I wanted to make it more poignant than her just cleaning up afterward, so it became more about someone who was lonely. Someone not likely to have her own wedding, but only the dream of one.
Via The AV Club.
Related: My introduction to “Eleanor Rigby” came not via the Beatles, but rather through The Violet Burning, who covered the song on their 1992 album Strength. The Violets’ version is definitive in my book, and as for Strength, it remains one of my favorite albums of all time.
In an excerpt from his new book, You Are Not Your Own, my friend Alan Noble confronts the “empty promise” of pornography.
Pornography assumes that we are each our own and belong to ourselves. It’s a tool that promises to give us a kind of personal validation, a sense of identity, a taste of meaningfulness, and a glimpse of intimate belonging. But by its own logic, pornography, like modernity, is an empty promise. Rather than helping us meet our responsibilities and cope with an inhuman world, it exacerbates our condition. Rather than bringing us closer to our humanity, it dehumanizes at every turn, turning our intimacy into instrumentality and leaving us addicted, depressed, exhausted, lonely, and bored — which also happens to be an accurate description of our society in general.
Related: David French considers how the “Left” and “Right” could unite in a battle against porn’s influence.
Also related: Back in 2013, I wrote about the Arcade Fire song “Porno” and its prophetic description of our porn-saturated age.
A recent Reddit thread asked people to list useful websites that more people should know about. Submitted sites include Tineye and Foto Forensics (can help determine if an image has been Photoshopped), Project Gutenberg (contains thousands of free e-books), Every Noise at Once (provides examples of countless music genres), and Terms of Service; Didn’t Read (summarizes and reviews all of those terms of service statements that you blindly agree to so you can get on with your life).
Within hours of its announcement, hackers penetrated and defaced Truth Social, the new social media platform announced by former president Donald Trump.
Within two hours, hackers had gained access to a private version of the social network, creating fake accounts for Mr. Trump; the far-right personality Stephen K. Bannon; Ron Watkins, the QAnon conspiracy theorist; and Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, who barred Mr. Trump from Twitter after his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Using a false “donaldjtrump” account, hackers posted images of defecating pigs, wrote expletive-laced rants aimed at Mr. Dorsey and inquired about the whereabouts of the former first lady Melania Trump. Images of the hackers’ handiwork were circulated on other social media platforms.
Trump’s Media and Technology Group (TMTG) announced Truth Social earlier this week, claiming that it will be a “big tent” platform that “stand[s] up to the tyranny of big tech.” Truth Social — which looks a lot like Twitter — will officially launch in early 2022 (though you can “pre-order” the iOS app right now). That is, if TMTG doesn’t get sued for failing to abide by the terms of the open source code that was used to create Truth Social.
TMTG also announced plans to launch a subscription-based video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will “feature ‘non-woke’ entertainment programming, news, podcasts, and more.” (What’s the over/under on TMTG+ getting hacked, too?)
Related: “Big tech” is currently one of the Right’s favorite targets, and they’ve criticized Facebook, Twitter, et al. for hypocrisy, silencing “conservative” voices, etc. While some of their claims and criticisms are ridiculous, they’re not entirely without merit.
Christchurch, New Zealand has fired its official city wizard after twenty-three years of arcane service, claiming that he no longer fits their vision of a “modern” city. While this story sounds rather quirky and humorous — after all, we’re talking about a city firing its official wizard — and seems like the perfect example of stuffy bureaucrats in action, it does have a darker aspect: earlier this year, the wizard in question (his name is the very wizardly sounding Ian Brackenbury Channell) made some rather controversial and misogynistic statements concerning abusing women.
Not surprisingly, there’s a Change.org petition asking Christchurch’s Council to rescind their decision, claiming that Channell’s “an iconic symbol” and “is interesting and fun in today’s harsh climate of covid and politics.”
From the Blog
My friend Karen Choi has just released her new single, and it’s a lovely cover of The Cure’s classic “Boys Don’t Cry.” I’m a sucker for pedal steel, and Karen’s cover contains oodles of pedal steel.
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