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President Biden to Replace Hyde Amendment with “Rawhide Amendment”

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In one of his first acts as President of the Divided States of America, Biden has purposed to not only eliminate the Hyde Amendment, but to replace it with what he is calling the Rawhide Amendment. During a press conference awkwardly scheduled on the National Sanctity of Human Life Day, Biden said, “Why call it Rawhide? Well, why not? I mean, it even rhymes with Hyde. It’s perfect!” He continued: “We have a language problem, and it needs to stop. So many d**n people keep injecting the abortion debate with a vulgar vernacular. As such, I am introducing a legislative provision to make it a legal requirement to use only scientific terms.” First, Biden proposes that pre-born humans be referred to as fetuses—not babies. “A fetus is not yet a baby,” he said. “Science must be the determining factor here—not our emotions or personal preferences. Let’s stick to the facts, people! Our nation’s rich history illustrates how humans aren’t fully human until the United States government says th

The Top 20 of 2020

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When it comes to life itself, sometimes it’s easier to see the road in the rearview mirror. When it comes to public blogging, it’s nice to sometimes take a look back and see what worked best—that is, what got the most traction and feedback. I know it has been popular to joke about how horrible the last year was ( this is my favorite 2020 meme ), but a lot of good happened too. In my own narrow corner of cyberspace, below are what you might call my Top 20 of 2020: the ten most popular blog posts of the year, and ten notable writing (or related) events that took place last year. First up, the ten most popular blog posts of 2020, listed in reverse order. 10. How Skipping Movies with Sex Scenes Prepared Me for the Coronavirus Early in the year, COVID-19 started to dominate the news, as well as our daily lives. As we all were forced to adjust to a new normal, I made a surprising discovery: one particular practice I put into place a few years ago had helped prepare me for responding be

How Pixar Helped Me Better Understand Christopher Nolan

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On the surface, there’s no discernible relationship between Pixar Animation Studios and Christopher Nolan. After all, the former produces exclusively animated fare, whereas the latter produces dark and gritty live-action films. And while Pixar movies often tug at the heartstrings, Nolan’s films often act as cinematic brainteasers. Upon further reflection, however, there are more similarities between Pixar and Christopher Nolan than one might expect. Consider film critic Scott Renshaw’s somewhat humorous summation of Pixar’s output : As wonderfully crafted and emotionally affecting as those films have been, they all seemed to start from a very similar place: What if toys had feelings? What if insects had feelings? What if monsters had feelings? What if cars had feelings? What if  feelings  had feelings? Similarly, Christopher Nolan’s intricately crafted and cerebrally affecting films tend to start from a similar place : How does memory loss affect perception of reality? How do dr

The Three Phases of Christopher Nolan’s Films

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If you take Christopher Nolan’s work as a whole, it’s possible to discern the emergence of a common concept—what we might call a narrative MacGuffin unifying all his movies: How does memory loss affect perception of reality? How do dreams affect perception of reality? How do magic tricks affect perception of reality? How does insomnia affect perception of reality? How does time inversion affect perception of reality? Nolan has established himself as a director adept at exploring the relationship between time, memory, and reality—as well as how these concepts can be perceived, rearranged, and distorted. But even if his feature-length oeuvre is fairly cohesive, it can still be divided into three separate epochs, each with its own distinct characteristics. Others have argued that Nolan’s career has mirrored the three stages of a magic act: the pledge, the turn, and the prestige . This concept is clever, insightful, and thought provoking. Nevertheless, it is, in my opinion, insufficien

On Actor Exploitation: Confessions of an Alleged Killjoy

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Regular visitors to this blog are well aware of a particular thematic drum I keep beating: the sexual exploitation of our entertainers . It is a drum I will continue to beat. From time to time, however, it is helpful to zoom out and take in the larger picture. Now is one of those times. Over the years, I have highlighted dramas like Fifty Shades of Grey , television shows like Game of Thrones , and comedies like  Knocked Up  and  The 40 Year Old Virgin . I have also highlighted the experience of individual actors , including Jennifer Lawrence , Evangeline Lilly , and Margot Robbie . Reading these exposés might lead some to think of me as a pessimistic killjoy with a Pharisaic dedication to condemning anything and everything I can lock my sights on. My point, however, is not to condemn the filmmaking industry outright, nor to condemn all use of sexual themes in entertainment. (In fact, I have defended both on this blog, including here and here .) Nor has my point been to mischaracte

Salma Hayek and the Sexual Cost of Stardom

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After two decades in Hollywood, actress Salma Hayek did an interview with The Orange County Register . She was asked if she realized being a sex symbol was the only way to open doors in the entertainment industry, or if she “found out later and had to accept.” She answered, “I did not know that in advance, but I saw that it was the only way to sneak in.” [1] When she moved from Mexico to Los Angeles back in 1991, the only way for her to “sneak in” was through the use of her body as a bargaining chip. She discovered Latino actresses like her were “typecast as the mistress maid or local prostitute.” Being viewed primarily as a sexual object didn’t just last for a brief stint. It lasted for years. In 1995, Hayek got a big break as a lead actor in Desperado , but this career advancement came at a high cost: having a sex scene sprung on her. Says Hayek , “[The scene] was not in the original script, I have to say. I think it was one of the notes that came after they showed the screen test

The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen

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“There’s nothing to watch.” How many of us have said that? More importantly, how many of us have made that complaint while scrolling through hundreds of options on our television? The problem really isn’t that there’s nothing available—only that there’s nothing good available. That’s the elusive nature of visual media—finding something good to watch. Movie trailers can be helpful, but they can also be misleading. A particular trailer might steer you away from a film you wouldn’t like, but it won’t necessarily provide a guarantee of what you will like. That’s one reason why I follow a small handful of film critics. Reading their collective thoughts on a film of particular interest can help me better ascertain whether or not said movie will please my emotional and mental palette. And one of those critics has just made finding the right movie a lot easier. A NEW AND WELCOME RESOURCE There’s a new book in town: The Best Movies You Never Saw . Recently released by film critic Joseph