Google’s Go Win, the Rise of Reaction Videos as a Genre, 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 we have a look at the climate at a Go tournament after Google’s AI beat a top player, a piece on the popularizing of the reaction video, an article on how new legislation in Texas makes abortion a near-impossibility for illegal immigrants, and more.

At A.V. Club, the website has posted another entry in their AVQ&A column — this week addressing adaptations that altered the ways people viewed the works they came from. Mike Vago writes about how he found Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting to ultimately be an improvement on the Irvine Welsh novel:

By streamlining the cast of characters, and sticking to the stories tied to Marc Renton, who’s a recurring figure in the book, but absent from large stretches of it, Boyle and Hodge make a terrific case for narrative economy, as from the thundering beat of “Lust For Life” that opens the film, to the nerve-racking closing, they turn what was a meandering series of snapshots into a clear, propulsive narrative. Boyle’s movie remains one of my favorites, and while I still like Welsh’s novel, it now seems scattered and self-indulgent by comparison.

Following Lilly Wachowski’s perfectly-stated letter about too-narrow views of trans identity (after having come out as trans before a tabloid could do it), The Guardian looks at how a quote Wachowski used in that letter — by queer theorist José Esteban Muñoz — is helpful in understanding the themes of the Wachowski’s body of work. (The Muñoz quote posits that “queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality for another world.”):

“I’ve been thinking about life and all of the mistakes that I’ve made. The ones that stayed with me, the ones I regret, are the ones I made because of fear. For a long time I was afraid to be who I am because I was taught by my parents there’s something wrong with someone like me. Something offensive. Something you could avoid, maybe even pity.” Those aren’t the words Lilly, formerly Andy, Wachowski chose to use when coming out as a transgender person earlier this week. In fact, they’re spoken by Nomi, a trans character in the sci-fi series Sense8, co-created, written and directed for Netflix by the Wachowskis. Nomi, a trans blogger living in San Francisco, is the best-written character in the show. We are introduced to her by way of a sunny sex scene in which she’s being pleasured by her girlfriend with a strap-on. Nomi is unique in mainstream entertainment: she is a trans character, played by a trans actor (Jamie Clayton), in a series made by trans film-makers. In art as in life, the Wachowskis continue to break boundaries.

In the Atlantic, Megan Garber mines the popularity of reaction videos to Beyoncé’s “Formation” and discusses the reaction video as its own genre, within the rich history of “watching people watching things”:

The reaction video is related to “David After Dentist” and unboxing videos and those uber-popular streams that allow their viewers to watch other people play video games, but it is, in the end, distinct: The reaction video takes the Internet’s implicit recursiveness—its genetically determined tendency to feast upon itself—and renders it as culture. It takes the unpredictability of human emotion and turns it into literature. It is improv, played out at the scale of the Internet.

Vice published a piece on how new legislation in Texas — instituted to make minors get the consent of a parent of a judge — has also had a prohibitive effect for undocumented (non-Canadian) immigrants in its requirement of American or Canadian government-issued ID:

In the face of these obstacles, undocumented women are increasingly turning to DIY abortions. As many as 240,000 females in Texas have attempted a self-induced abortion, according to a study released in November by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. The report also found that Latina women living in counties that bordered Mexico were “significantly more likely to know someone who had attempted self-induction or to have done it themselves.”

Wired reports on the sense of pervasive sadness among Go masters and spectators following a tournament between top player Lee Sudol and A.I. pioneered by Google, in which the artificial intelligence won with a move that people found “beautiful” and, yes, inhuman:

Oh-hyoung Kwon, a Korean who helps run a startup incubator in Seoul, later told me that he experienced that same sadness—not because Lee Sedol was a fellow Korean but because he was a fellow human. Kwon even went so far as to say that he is now more aware of the potential for machines to break free from the control of humans, echoing words we’ve long heard from people like Elon Musk and Sam Altman. “There was an inflection point for all human beings,” he said of AlphaGo’s win. “It made us realize that AI is really near us—and realize the dangers of it too.”