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How I Got Radicalized

I never thought I could be the star. Barbra and Fanny showed me the way.

Welcome to “How I Got Radicalized,” a series from GEN that tells the story of a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

There is something both horrifying and awe-inducing about the chorus girl. As a young girl, I was enraptured by this sort of pageantry, from the serene statues of the Ziegfeld Follies to the army of women in Busby Berkeley musicals. I loved the way the chorus girls, like rows of soldiers, swiveled and kicked in unison. I admired their commitment to bold lips, lashes, and pearls. …


Of all the stereotypically Gen X things about my taste and overall worldview, probably the most stereotypical of all is my goofy love for Dazed and Confused. That’s why I couldn’t be more delighted to point you to this excerpt from Matthew McConaughey’s new memoir, Greenlights. And not just any excerpt! It’s the origin story of “alright, alright, alright.”

Here’s a taste: “Matching him drink for drink, I had no interest in Don calming down either, so we were unpeacefully escorted out of the Hyatt. …


How I Got Radicalized

Before it was a camp classic, the 1995 film liberated me from the politics of taste

Welcome to How I Got Radicalized, a new series that tells a story about a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

I still don’t entirely understand the brief teenage phase I had in the mid-1990s, seeking out things I considered outright bad as entertainment. It lasted six to nine months, around the time I was gearing up to take my driver’s test. In retrospect, I don’t know what I was hiding from. This period of time, circa 1996, was a great run for pop culture with a noticeable edge: How weird can you go? People were


Learning to understand my Trump-supporting family

Growing up, I was always comforted by the idea that my conservative family members weren’t that bad. Yes, they’d always voted Republican, but they were reasonable Republicans, the type that simply had a different way of understanding the world. They liked the idea of universal health care, but they didn’t trust the government’s ability to effectively carry the policy out. They didn’t like the idea of poverty, but they figured raising the minimum wage too much would cause inflation and higher unemployment rates, and would end up harming the poor more than it helped.

These were all valid concerns, ones…


How I Got Radicalized

‘Paranormal Activity’ turns demonic possession into a curse for upwardly mobile homeowners

Welcome to “How I Got Radicalized,” a new series at GEN that tells a story about a cultural moment — a TV show, commercial, character, song, book, musical, etc. — that made you drastically rethink how society works. Here’s how you can pitch us.

It was the Summer of Covid and my partner and I decided the timing was perfect to watch the Paranormal Activity series, binging all five movies in quick succession to escape the dark reality of our day-to-day. For us, the Outside was full of the unseen danger of infection, rendering our little studio apartment a sanctuary…


In conversation with the author on her new book, ‘Shit, Actually’

As quarantine life stretches into its eighth month in the U.S., simultaneously sending us all looking for diverting entertainment and shutting down any new film releases, many of us are returning to the movies of our childhood and adolescence. Which ones were overrated? Which are better than we remembered? And which have just aged terribly? Lindy West — a writer best known for her book-turned-television show, Shrill — is here to answer those questions with her new book Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema.

The book is a critical romp through 23 contemporary classics like Top…


Should we blame pop culture for giving voters a warped sense of how politics works in the real world? As Alex Mell-Taylor writes, TV shows like The West Wing and House of Cards, and movies like Swing Vote and Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, & Blonde, have a bad habit of depicting politics as a reductive binary of two extremes: optimism vs. nihilism.

Fictional characters either leverage “the system” for good or they exploit it in their own self-interest. …


The movie illuminates how social media encourages girls to perform wildly exaggerated versions of womanhood

Probably the most frequently cited observation about pornography is former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous line about “knowing it when you see it.” But what happens when you don’t see it? Specifically, what happens when you refuse on principle to look at an image you’re certain is pornography, even when the creator of that image has clearly stated it was not intended to be? A few decades ago, you would have been dismissed as unsophisticated prude. Today, you get the backing of the highly sophisticated algorithms of Twitter, which never met a hysteria it couldn’t profit from.

This…


Column

Olivia Wilde shouldn’t be directing a Marvel movie. Here’s why.

Now is not the time to tell people that a rare piece of good news is actually bad news, but allow me to be King Asshole for a moment, won’t you? Here is the good news in question: A few weeks ago, Deadline reported that Olivia Wilde was signing to direct a Marvel movie. Not just any Marvel movie, but a Spider-Woman movie. Marvel is happy. Wilde is happy. Even fanboys and fangirls, an impossibly prickly lot, are happy, or at least as happy as that strain of humanity gets. And why wouldn’t they be? Marvel makes good movies. Wilde…


In the filmmaker’s new movie, ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things,’ he’s still using women as props for neurotic men

The young woman played by Jessie Buckley in the film I’m Thinking of Ending Things
The young woman played by Jessie Buckley in the film I’m Thinking of Ending Things

For the past 20 years, Charlie Kaufman has been making movies about the same guy. If you’ve seen a Kaufman movie, you know him: white, approaching middle age, with shabby clothes and hair that looks like he insulted his barber’s mother. He doesn’t smile easily, or shave often, or look like he sleeps too well; he’s got an intellectual profession (playwright, experimental puppet artist, screenwriter named Charlie Kaufman) so you can tell the weariness and lack of good cheer are probably meant to convey how hard it is to be an intellectual. Reviewers will use the word “neurotic” to describe…

GEN

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