All posts tagged: subject matter

The Case That Has Some Liberals Defending Big Tech

The Case That Has Some Liberals Defending Big Tech

[ad_1] As a progressive legal scholar and activist, I never would have expected to end up on the same side as Greg Abbott, the conservative governor of Texas, in a Supreme Court dispute. But a pair of cases being argued next week have scrambled traditional ideological alliances. The arguments concern laws in Texas and Florida, passed in 2021, that if allowed to go into effect would largely prevent the biggest social-media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, X (formerly Twitter), and TikTok, from moderating their content. The tech companies have challenged those laws—which stem from Republican complaints about “shadowbanning” and “censorship”—under the First Amendment, arguing that they have a constitutional right to allow, or not allow, whatever content they want. Because the laws would limit the platforms’ ability to police hate speech, conspiracy theories, and vaccine misinformation, many liberal organizations and Democratic officials have lined up to defend giant corporations that they otherwise tend to vilify. On the flip side, many conservative groups have taken a break from dismantling the administrative state to support the government’s …

The Spiky, Unsentimental Visions of Diana Athill

The Spiky, Unsentimental Visions of Diana Athill

[ad_1] One of American fiction’s core preoccupations, these days, seems to be the question of what causes unhappiness. Many of our major writers are earnest anatomists of discontent and its social, psychological, and existential causes. This kind of fiction can be very powerful. Reading about loneliness when you’re lonely can provide both diagnosis and solace; encountering a character trapped by student debt or patriarchal expectation can inspire a sense of camaraderie in a reader facing similar frustrations. But more often than not, contemporary novelists handle their subject matter with immersive seriousness and sincerity—and sincerity, after a while, gets tiring. Misery may love company, but sometimes a miserable person wants cheering up too. If you’re looking to make a little light of sadness, as I have been, the work of Diana Athill might be the perfect place to turn. The legendary writer and editor is one of a loose cadre of 20th-century English and Irish women authors gaining resurgent attention for their brilliantly drawn characters and sharply witty prose; others in this camp include Penelope Fitzgerald, …

It’s Time for Hollywood to Step Away From the Opioid Crisis

It’s Time for Hollywood to Step Away From the Opioid Crisis

[ad_1] Pain Hustlers tries to turn the epidemic into a snarky comedy. It doesn’t work. Brian Douglas / Netflix October 25, 2023, 7 AM ET The opioid crisis is the deadliest drug epidemic in American history—and, of late, irresistible source material for Hollywood. TV shows such as Hulu’s Dopesick and Netflix’s Painkiller explored the rise of Purdue Pharma, the company behind Oxycontin, and its many victims. Crime dramas such as Starz’s Hightown and HBO’s Mare of Easttown, and films such as 2021’s Cherry and 2018’s Little Woods, wove addiction into their storytelling. Opioids have even played a key role in comedies; AMC’s sitcom send-up Kevin Can F**k Himself, for instance, included a plot about orchestrating an accidental overdose. Some projects have taken a more sensitive approach than others, but for the most part, they portray their subject matter as the staggering tragedy it is. Pain Hustlers, a new addition to the genre that begins streaming Friday on Netflix, takes a different tack. Directed by David Yates, who’s best known for shepherding the back half of …

Pete Davidson Shines in an ‘SNL’ Return Full of Surprises

Pete Davidson Shines in an ‘SNL’ Return Full of Surprises

[ad_1] The first Saturday Night Live episode since the end of the months-long writers’ strike started with a somber message from the series alum Pete Davidson. He began his cold open by referencing “the horrible images and stories from Israel and Gaza,” then quickly addressed the elephant in Studio 8H: “I know what you’re thinking—who better to comment on it than Pete Davidson?” But however preposterous that premise might sound, Davidson’s cold open and his later monologue made the case for what entertainers—and comedians, especially—can offer audiences in moments of crisis. The 29-year-old comic reminded viewers that his own life had been shaped by a violent attack: When he was 7, Davidson lost his father, a firefighter who died on 9/11. “I saw so many terrible pictures this week of children suffering—Israeli children and Palestinian children—and it took me back to a really horrible, horrible place,” he said. He recalled his mother trying anything she could to lift his spirits after his father died, including buying him what she thought was a Disney movie but …

A Poem by Donald Hall: ‘Distressed Haiku’

A Poem by Donald Hall: ‘Distressed Haiku’

[ad_1] Miki Lowe Published in The Atlantic in 2000 By Donald Hall Illustrations by Miki Lowe September 20, 2023, 9 AM ET Donald Hall wasn’t supposed to outlive Jane Kenyon, his wife and fellow poet. He was 19 years her senior, and in 1989, he was diagnosed with colon cancer that subsequently metastasized to his liver. Doctors told him he had a one in three chance of living more than five years. But Hall lived for roughly three more decades; Kenyon died of leukemia in 1995, when she was 47. Hall may once have thought his own cancer diagnosis was the major turning point of his life, but it was Kenyon’s death that divided his story between a before and an after. In the after, much of Hall’s work was about grief, or Kenyon herself, including the collections Without and The Painted Bed, and his memoir of a marriage, The Best Day the Worst Day: Life With Jane Kenyon. In a December 1997 interview, he said that in the months after his wife’s death, he’d …

The Brain of a Man Who Is Always Thinking About Ancient Rome

The Brain of a Man Who Is Always Thinking About Ancient Rome

[ad_1] Do you find yourself constantly closing your eyes and seeing marble? Do thoughts of Caesar and chariot races and a nascent republic punctuate your daily goings? All roads lead to Rome—and apparently so do all male thoughts. Across social media, women have been encouraged to ask the men in their life how often they think about the Roman empire and to record the answer. To their surprise (recounted in videos posted all over TikTok, Instagram, and more), many men purport to think about the Roman empire quite a bit. One reveals that his iPhone background is Jacques-Louis David’s Oath of the Horatii, a painting depicting a Roman legend. “Men Are Thinking About the Roman Empire All the Time” has quickly become a meme of its own. Even those who don’t cop to this behavior still sometimes do it. “Probably not a lot, why?” one confused man replies when asked, before admitting thathe thinks about the Romans three or four times a month. “The Roman empire was a very big part of history,” he says …

Can PEN Preserve Intellectual Freedom?

Can PEN Preserve Intellectual Freedom?

[ad_1] In June 1953, at the height of the McCarthy era, while congressional investigators and private groups were hunting down “subversive” or merely “objectionable” books and authors in the name of national security, the American Library Association and the Association Book Publishers Council issued a manifesto called “The Freedom to Read.” The document defended free expression and denounced censorship and conformity in language whose clarity and force are startling today. It argued for “the widest diversity of views and expressions” and against purging work based on “the personal history or political affiliations of the author.” It urged publishers and librarians to resist government and private suppression, and to “give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought.” The manifesto took on not just official censorship, but the broader atmosphere of coercion and groupthink. It concluded: “We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be …