Category Archives: Essays

Hamburg, and My Issue with Riot Porn

By Natasha Lennard

We call it riot porn — it’s a pretty self-evident term to describe videos of riots and protests, viewed and shared for enjoyment. They contain a few standard aesthetic elements: fire, smoke, black bloc participants, and confrontation, preferably in which the protesters appear to have the upper hand. They give little room for context, relying instead on the idea that we know an insurrectionary spectacle when we see one. Between online denizens of the far left, eager to share in what revolution looks like, riot porn gains swift social media traction and memefication. Continue reading

Orphan Black Season Five, “Ease for Idle Millionaires”: Corporate Runs the Science

By Everett Hamner

This is the fifth in a series of episode-by-episode reflections on Orphan Black season 5 (preview; episode 1 ; episode 2; episode 3; episode 4). These pieces do not provide thorough plot summaries but do include spoilers; they assume readers have already been viewers. Responses via  Twitter  continue to be very welcome! Continue reading

A Century Later, a Protest March for the Rights of Black Americans is More Necessary Than Ever

By David A. Canton

The noose is making a comeback. In spite of the long, sordid and abhorrent history of lynching, some recently continue to hang nooses in public spaces because they understand the power of the symbol. Someone hung a noose recently at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and another was hung with bananas at American University. Continue reading

At a Crossroads: The La Jolla Crossroads Shooting

By Lisa Brackmann

On Sunday, April 30, a white man said to be despondent over his financial situation and a recent breakup with his girlfriend opened fire on a birthday pool party in a San Diego apartment complex. 49-year-old Peter Selis had sat in a lounge chair by the pool until the host of the party came over to invite him to have a drink and something to eat. He responded by shooting the host, the man whose birthday was being celebrated, twice. He then called his ex-girlfriend and made her listen to what he did next: continue to shoot, while sitting in the lounge chair, “his beer in one hand and his gun in the other,” according to one witness. Continue reading

The Mystery of Melania

By Tracy Quan

Melania Trump normalized her first lady status last month by moving to the White House, but this shouldn’t prevent us from appreciating her disruptive qualities, apparent in February when Teen Vogue defended her against “slut shaming.” We’ve arrived at a new place when a first lady of the United States represents the occupational right to nude self-expression. Continue reading

Remembering Adam West: Batman and 1960s America 

By Ryan Donovan Purcell

As we remember the late Adam West, who passed on June 9, many will consider the meaning of his signature role in the 1960s television series Batman, as well as in the broad context of American popular culture. Adam West was not merely a camp actor. His performance as Batman articulated a particular set of American values that shaped a generation of young viewers. Adam West himself, in a 1966 interview, understood his role as an American “folk hero,” a “legend,” which represented distinct cultural values in 1960s America. The series, which ran from 1966 to 1968, outlined a strong moral compass and emphasized social values such as individualism and self-reliance. Batman ran parallel to the law and order rhetoric of contemporary politicians, including Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon, who comprised the emergent strain of conservatism in American political thought. As we remember the life of Adam West, we might consider the historical context in which Batman, his signature role, was produced. Continue reading

Searching for Batya

By Donna Myrow

On a late afternoon I heard a knock on the office door. It’s usually a teenager scheduled for a meeting to work on a story with one of my editors, but I didn’t recognize the person who walked in. Her name was Batya Brummer, a pretty girl with brown hair and startling blue eyes. She asked for Amanda, the editor assigned to our foster youth writing project. Continue reading

Orphan Black Season Five, “Let the Children and Childbearers Toil”: Monsters All

By Everett Hamner

This is the fourth in a series of episode-by-episode reflections on Orphan Black season five (preview article; episode 1 ; episode 2; episode 3). These pieces do not provide thorough plot summaries but do include spoilers; they assume readers have already been viewers. Responses via Twitter continue to be very welcome! Continue reading