The Political Radiohead, Defending Joel Schumacher, 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 an essay about an artist within the Brooklyn Museum protesting gentrification in the Brooklyn Museum, and a defense of director Joel Schumacher, who ruined Batman’s early movie career. We’ve also got a guide to Radiohead’s rise as the world’s biggest political band, and Ricky Gervais on why Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for President (unless some sort of GOP candidate ex machina appears to save us all.)

First, at Pitchfork, a nice reminder that Radiohead are more than Thom Yorke walking through supermarkets and snowbanks: they’ve also been, at times, the most important political voice in pop culture — though, of course, it’s hard sometimes to remember that they are even a part of pop culture. Most interesting is the shift that occurred during the OK Computer cycle, which placed Yorke & Co. on new ground.

But while The Bends didn’t push this blueprint much beyond Dark Side of the Moon-style lament, 1997’s OK Computer saw Yorke’s critique of the late-capitalist wasteland attain to new levels of clarity. With the gothic artwork of Stanley Donwood now acting as a sympathetic visual analogue, and with the album’s runaway success placing Radiohead at the heart of late-nineties cultural discourse, the half-world conjured in Yorke’s lyrics came to epitomize the outro of the twentieth century for countless malcontents across the planet. Indeed, among other things OK Computer was a perfectly realizedglobal-capitalist horror film: a cinematic masterpiece in which airplanes crashed, yuppies networked, and the specter of the next world war loomed, while the sound of a beautifully warped Spaghetti Western soundtrack crackled ominously in the background.

It’s hard to remember a time when films based on comic books weren’t a sure thing, and also how that time gave birth to four Batman films, two from Tim Burton and two from Joel Schumacher. Maybe it’s not that these times are hard to remember, but that they’re easy to forget — because these films were not so good. For most of the world, they permanently stained Schumacher’s career, but this is the internet, and of course some apologists have come out of the woodwork. Here, read about why we should give this Schu-schmuck another chance.

Schumacher’s output through the 1990s and early 2000s was mostly devoted to Batman, Grisham adaptations The Client and A Time to Kill (Matthew McConaughey’s launch pad to mainstream stardom), and gritty thrillers likeFalling Down, 8mm, and Phone Booth. In 2004, though, he finally got his chance to direct a musical, adapting Andrew Lloyd Webber’s corny-yet-crowd-pleasing The Phantom of the Opera for the big screen—a project he’d been plotting with Webber for nearly two decades. It’s a gorgeous rendering of the gothic story (so many gondolas, candles, and capes!) but there’s one oddity that nudges the movie into ever-campier territory. That is, of course, the casting of Gerard Butler as the Phantom.

Ricky Gervais is one of the most-hated men in show business, and that’s totally fine, because he wants to be the most hated man in show business. For this he was commissioned by The Hollywood Reporter, where he wrote about how the fact that he is so hated for not being PC has, in a way, allowed Donald Trump’s frightening rise to power. He also really feels the need to defend some of his own jokes here, which is endearing or awful, depending on how you already feel about him.

The problem with offense, particularly in comedy, is that it usually comes from people who mistake the target of the joke with the subject of the joke, and they’re rarely the same. Personally, I don’t want to make jokes about things people can’t help — the color of their skin, their sex, when they were born — but everything else is pretty much up for grabs. And when I do stand-up, I often tell anecdotes, and the joke comes at the end. Usually with a joke, you know it’s a joke, and you’re waiting for the surprise. With my material, often you don’t know it’s a joke until the surprise. I used to do this Nelson Mandela joke. “What a guy,” I’d say, “incarcerated for 25 years, and he’s been out now for 10 years, and he hasn’t re-offended.” And then I drop it: “which shows you prison does work.” They think I’m going one way, it gets a round of applause, and then I’m actually an idiot. Or I say: “Stephen Hawking, they say he’s a genius. He’s not, though. He’s born in Kent, and he talks with an American accent.” So I’m an idiot because I think that voice box is pretentious. Most people know what I’m doing, but there’s a small percentage of people who don’t who complain.

Alicia Boyd is an artist, both performance and otherwise, who is currently exhibiting at the Brooklyn Museum. Her art in the exhibit focuses on the not-so-subtle way rezoning sections of neighborhoods encourages gentrification. On May 7, Boyd and a group of protestors enacted the art in the exhibit, and were eventually escorted out of the museum, resulting in a kind of double-layered protesting of the very neighborhood and Museum that had hosted her work. And maybe even beyond.

Musing on the ejection of protesters from the protest-art exhibit, DCF activist and cultural scholar Nick Mirzoeff drew parallels between two forms of dispossession: “This museum is in fact supporting 1 percent realtors in Brooklyn, and the 1 percent who support settlements and the [Israeli Defense Force] in Palestine. So it’s displacement here and displacement there.” To pro-Palestinian activists, This Place’s detached portraits of Israeli society effectively erased the brutality facing colonized communities. DCF traced the private international funders behind the exhibit, documenting alleged ties to Israeli military and business interests. Despite the veneer of “balance,” activists read the works as a manipulative, propagandistic representation that “effaces Palestinians and lends the cultural capital of these artists—and the Brooklyn Museum itself—to a sanitized vision of the region.”