‘Roots,’ Peter Thiel, Contemporary Sci-Fi, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading

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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 a talk with the cast and producers of the Roots remake, Indiewire’s list of the best contemporary sci-fi films, two pieces addressing the Peter Thiel/Gawker situation — one posted by Gawker founder Nick Denton himself — and more.

Vulture spoke with members of the cast of A&E Networks’ Roots revival (star Malachi Kirby, who plays Kunta Kinte, Regé-Jean Page, who plays Chicken George, his son, and Erica Tazel, who plays Chicken George’s wife, Matilda), as well as producers Mark Wolper and Will Packer. Writer Stacey Willis Hunt asks the cast members — who hadn’t been born when the original aired — what it meant to them when they finally did watch it (and what the story still means). Page said:

Contrary to what many people think, our history did not start with slavery. So this project for me is very much about about filling in a history that has been mistold, or in some cases, even erased. It’s about upgrading a lot of misinformation that we’ve been told for generations. And that’s a task that doesn’t ever really end.

In The Atlantic, Cass R. Sunstein states the obvious — essentially that Star Wars is all about daddy issues — before then delving into how George Lucas’ own relationship to his father in many ways paralleled that between Luke and Darth Vader:

His relationship with his own father, George Sr., was troubled—in some ways, even tortured. It contained disappointment and mandates and prohibitions. As one of Lucas’s interviewers has noted, George Sr. was known as a “domineering, ultra right-wing businessman,” and those who “know Lucas have always insisted that the tortured relationship between Darth and Luke springs, in many ways, from Lucas’s relationship with his own father.”

Indiewire actually posted their list of the 20 best sci-fi movies from the last 20 years two days ago, but in case you missed it, and in case you don’t have many plans for the weekend, feel free to use this to catch up on the last 20 years of the future. Of Galaxy Quest, one of the few lighthearted films on their list, Steve Greene writes:

If you scan through the other 19 picks on this list, you’ll see that laughs can often be in short supply. It’s a good thing this pitch-perfect execution of the “What if aliens thought ‘Star Trek’ was a real record of Earth history?” premise has enough for all the rest of them. But not only is “Galaxy Quest” rare as a sci-fi film built on comedy, it’s the rare parody that doesn’t look down on any of its characters.

At this point, you’ve likely heard the news that, through a personal vendetta, Paypal co-founding entrepreneur Peter Thiel (who was outed by Gawker Media in 2007) was actually financially backing the Hulk Hogan lawsuit and allegedly funneled up to $10 million into litigation against Gawker. Founder Nick Denton wrote an open letter to Thiel, posted on Gawker, contesting Thiel’s claims that his little project is “philanthropic,” and giving a rundown of the unsavory characters his cause is helping:

Your revenge has been served well, cold and (until now) anonymously. You admit you have been planning the punishment of Gawker and its writers for years, and that you have so far spent $10 million to fund litigation against the company. Charles Harder, the Hollywood plaintiff’s lawyer who has marshaled your legal campaign, is representing not just the wrestler Hulk Hogan on your behalf, but two other subjects of stories in suits against Gawker and its editorial staff… You told the New York Times that you are motivated by friends who had their lives ruined by Gawker coverage, and that your funding is a “philanthropic” project to help other “victims” of negative stories. Let us run through a few examples so that people can actually read the articles you find so illegitimate, and make their own judgment about their newsworthiness.

Meanwhile, The New Republic published a piece about how this particular case has also brought up how third parties will fund litigation for profit (rather than, in Thiel’s case, purported revenge), and delves into the history of litigation finance:

When Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel was unmasked this week as the funding source behind a series of lawsuits that could wipe out Gawker Media, it raised reasonable questions about the use of big money to chill freedom of the press. But it also shed light on an entire industry that has slipped mostly under the radar, in which third parties bankroll lawsuits that they think will reap a lucrative payout… It’s called litigation finance, and while Thiel confesses he was motivated in the Gawker lawsuit by revenge for the news outlet outing him as gay—and isn’t asking for any money from the cases—most of those who practice it are investment firms seeking a profit-making opportunity. It takes the casino-style gambling on equities and derivatives into the courtroom, with investors placing a bet on justice.