Melissa Harris-Perry’s Email to Her Staff, Lenny Abrahamson’s Letter to Emma Donoghue, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the Internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘Net are doing, too. Today there’s an interview with the transhumanist trying to get the Australian government to deem aging a disease, an essay on how short film has thrived in the internet age, the letter from the director of Room that got him hired, an essay examining the philosophical importance of #TheDress on its anniversary, and an email from Melissa Harris Perry (who just walked off her MSNBC show) to her staff.

At Vice, author Eliza Graves-Brown interviews Peter Xing, co-founder of a group that’s attempting to encourage the Australian government to enact preliminary means of stopping… aging. The first step: acknowledging it as a disease. The second step: immortality, obviously:

While the concept of immortality feels as though it’s verging on science fiction, Xing insists this resistance is misled. “It’s very poetic to say there is a narrative arc with life and death,” he says. “But it’s a social construct. As society matures, we’re starting to see this.” Xing tells me that recent scientific studies support the idea that aging is not a fixed certainty. Earlier this month, the lifespan of mice was extended by 35 percent after removing stagnant cells, a study that has the potential to be adapted to humans. Trials of Metformin also start this year, a drug that could possibly increase human lifespan to 120 years.

Writing for The Atlantic, Katherine Schwab discusses the morphing status of short films, lauds the ways that their unfortunate unprofitability has at least led to a cinematic mode that’s open to vast experimentalism, and how the Internet has become a new space for them to actually reach audiences:

Defined by the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences as any film under 40 minutes, the medium has never quite established a model for profitability, and only a few shorts attain the hundreds of thousands of views that most Buzzfeed videos gather within a matter of hours. But more recently, the Internet has allowed people outside the studio system to create and distribute their own work, and has helped filmmakers reach viewers around the world with unprecedented ease. As a result, short film is again becoming a vibrant and original medium in a blockbuster-driven, reboot-riddled industry.

Indiewire published the letter Room director Lenny Abrahamson wrote the novel’s author, Emma Donoghue — essentially a five-page cover letter stating what his intents would be that now provides extensive insight into how the film actually ended up getting made, and how it became a success by focusing on a relationship rather than sensationalizing the traumas the characters endure. Abrahamson wrote:

Jack shields us from a too raw encounter with the terrible facts of room which might otherwise reduce the expressive range of the novel to a single note of horror. Thinking about this, the main challenge which arises for me in imagining a film adaptation is how to achieve something similar without a first person narrator. In the end, it won’t be any single stylistic choice which will answer this question. There will be many things that will make this Jack’s film. At the most basic, physical level, we should always be with Jack, never seeing or hearing anything he wouldn’t be able to see or hear; when he’s in the wardrobe, we’re in the wardrobe with him, when he’s wrapped in the rug playing dead we’ll be with him, on his face, or seeing what little he can see, and not relieving the claustrophobic closeness with a wide shot until he frees himself and is assailed by a vast and overwhelming outside world.

#TheDress came, it [was seen], it conquered. And it’s still quietly ruling us, to this day. Surrounding its one-year anniversary in existence (at least, as the garment that divided the world), the writer who initially discussed the science of why nobody agreed on its color scheme in Wired has penned another article for the publication on #TheDress its philosophical implications:

What I didn’t write about last year, though, is the philosophical question of what color is and why we see it the way we do. You think the scientists have problems? Oy. As soon as you tell a philosopher that the subatomic particles that comprise all matter don’t have color as such, because photons don’t really interact with them in any meaningful way, or that the photons that bounce off of matter don’t make it past the back of the eyeball and instead transduce to electrical signals, manifested as images in brain-meat somehow … well, that’s how you blow a philosopher’s mind, my friend.

Today, the New York Times reported that Melissa Harris-Perry had walked off her MSNBC series due to a “loss of editorial control” and having been preempted repeatedly by election coverage. Shortly after, MTV News Senior National Correspondent Jamil Smith posted the email the host sent her staff on Medium, at Perry’s request. Perry writes:

MSNBC would like me to appear for four inconsequential hours to read news that they deem relevant without returning to our team any of the editorial control and authority that makes MHP Show distinctive… The purpose of this decision seems to be to provide cover for MSNBC, not to provide voice for MHP Show. I will not be used as a tool for their purposes. I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin, or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back. I have wept more tears than I can count and I find this deeply painful, but I don’t want back on air at any cost. I am only willing to return when that return happens under certain terms.