The Rise of Open Marriages, the Demise of Comey, dogecoin and Pixar: This Week’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. This week, we read fascinating pieces on a pretty wide range of subjects, from the Comey affair to the decline of an obscure cryptocurrency and the rise of open marriages.

The biggest story of the week was undoubtedly Donald Trump firing FBI director James Comey. There’s plenty of analysis of the whole sorry business, the reasons behind it, the potential ramifications, and the associated Trumpian tweetstorm — the latter including a fine piece by our own Jason Bailey — but as an overview, you could do worse than this Politico article, which does a pretty good job of summing up the batshit craziness of it all:

On the night of the announcement, White House officials were left to scramble. “It was chaos, there was no direction, no marching orders, no execution, it was like people were having to learn what to do before they could do it. Instead of knowing what happens in a crisis PR situation, here’s what we’re doing,” said one White House official. This person noted that Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, had crafted a better message and held a news conference within an hour — while it took White House officials three hours to put surrogates on TV… “Trump goes out there and creates a total mess, and then blames others for not being able to fix it,” [another] adviser said. ”I don’t pity them.”

Actual, not-Clickhole news: sadly, as of this week, dogecoin — a doge-centric cryptocurrency along the lines of Bitcoin — is no more. This Gizmodo piece, by friend of Flavorwire Peter Yeh and with additional reporting by Flavorwire alumna (and, full disclosure, your correspondent’s girlfriend) Sophie Weiner, explores the alternately hilarious and kinda sad story of the demise of dogecoin and its associated company Wow Such Company Inc:

In 2014, the creator of the Dogetipbot, Josh Mohland, told Money & Tech that his bot was the most popular cryptocurrency tipping service on the internet. At that point, according to Mohland, 56,000 Reddit users had traded the equivalent of $150,000 in Dogecoin tips. Later that year, Mohland decided that the free service dogetipbot offered was a feasible business. He set up a company named Wow Such Business Inc. to run it. Shockingly, the company was not a success. The dogetipbot website emphasized that the service was always free. Yet, somehow Mohland believed his creation could support a business model. He tried to get investors, but who would want to invest in dog meme tokens with no path to monetization?

The answer, apparently: no-one. It’s hard out there for a cryptocurrency founder.

Vice’s new(ish) politics correspondent Eve Peyser devoted her first “Evesplaining” column to something that could certainly do with an evesplanation: the fact that the left is as enamored of its selective reading of the news as the right is of its own parallel guns-‘n’-freedom reality. Peyser examines the news that did the rounds last week about a potential FCC investigation of Stephen Colbert, and how liberal news sites essentially beat it up into a far bigger story than it should have been, and then profited merrily off the outrage (and clickzzzz) of its readers:

Why were prominent liberals up in arms about this routine FCC investigation? In part, it had to do with how the media framed this non-story. Most people don’t know how the FCC process works, and “investigation” is a scary word. Moreover, the “resistance” thinks of Trump — who is notoriously hostile to the media and political comedy — as an authoritarian trying to stifle free speech. The idea that the FCC is now engaging in witch hunts of anti-Trump jokesters is a convenient falsehood. There are lots of legitimate reasons to criticize the Trump administration’s relationship to free press and the First Amendment — this FCC story is not one of them. And in an age of mass misinformation, especially from the conservative media, it’s bad for the public to have these false stories circulating. Fighting fake news with more fake news only creates mass confusion.

I’m not big on stories about the nature of other people’s romantic relationships — each to their own, etc — but the New York Times magazine’s story on the pros and cons of open marriages made for fascinating reading. It’s important to note that it’s marriages that are under examination here, not all relationships: the institution of marriage comes with its own (mountains of) baggage, and reading about the ways in which the couples in this story negotiate the expectation of monogamy and the desire for something more made for an experience both intriguing and often surprisingly moving:

Divorce, or not marrying in the first place, might seem like a more logical response to a desire for openness. But even as marriage rates have declined in this country, the institution has retained a seductive status for Americans… And yet open marriages — and to a lesser degree open but nonmarital committed relationships — are still considered so taboo that many of the people I interviewed over the last year resisted giving their names, for fear of social disapprobation and of jeopardizing their jobs. It is no surprise that most conservatives would perceive the concept as a degradation of marriage, of a key foundation of society. But even among progressives I talked to, the subject typically provoked a curled lip or a slack jaw. The thought bubble, or expressed thought: How? How could any married person be comfortable with, or encouraging of, a spouse’s extramarital sex? The subject seemed offensive to many at some primal level, or at least ridiculously self-indulgent, as if those involved — working, married people, people with children — were indecently preoccupied with sexual adventure instead of channeling their energies toward, say, their children, or composting.

And finally, I flew back from Australia last week, and on the plane I re-watched Pixar’s Up, a film that remains the studio’s crowning achievement and its last great movie. It’s a masterpiece of animation, making for a shining vindication of Walt Disney’s pioneering vision of animation of an artform that can make people cry just as much as it can make them laugh. And then I watched Brave, which was, y’know, nice. Up is from 2009, and Brave was released three years later; the contrast between them was a neat summation of the way Pixar’s magic faded slowly during that period. In a long essay for The Atlantic, Christopher Orr argues that, ironically enough, it was Disney buying Pixar that catalyzed its decline:

The theme that the studio mined with greatest success during its first decade and a half was parenthood, whether real (Finding Nemo, The Incredibles) or implicit (Monsters, Inc., Up). Pixar’s distinctive insight into parent–child relations stood out from the start, in Toy Story, and lost none of its power in two innovative and unified sequels. “Who would want to see a movie about a little boy who plays with dolls?,” Michael Eisner, then the CEO of Disney, obtusely asked when told of plans for the Pixar debut. (Disney was to co-finance it.) But the film’s creative premise is precisely—and crucially—the reverse: Toy Story is a movie about dolls who want to be played with by a little boy.