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"why Frozen left me cold"

The problem with false feminism: "My friends have asked for it and I feel like the internet needs it, so I’m going to go through, point-by-point and in no particular order, the top handful of reasons people have given for thinking Frozen is a feminist triumph, and I’m going to debunk them all." [more inside]
posted by flex on Jun 29, 2014 - 201 comments

The empty version of self-esteem proved infectious

"In 1986, Californian legislators created the State Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility... [Its] final report became a the foundational works of the self-esteem movement. It concluded that:
"Self-esteem is the likeliest candidate for a social vaccine, something that empowers us to live responsibly and that inoculates us against the lures of crime, violence, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, child abuse, chronic welfare dependency and educational failure. The lack of self-esteem is central to most personal and social ills plaguing our state and nation as we approach the end of the 20th century."
Is the relentless pursuit of self-esteem really all cracked up to be? The man who destroyed America's ego tells the story of social psychologist Roy Baumeister, and how his efforts have shed light on some of the core tenets of the self-esteem movement. (via) [more inside]
posted by tybeet on Mar 9, 2014 - 48 comments

"Overall, I think that Diamond is like Mao: 70% right and 30% wrong."

Anthropologists weigh in on Jared Diamond's latest: lack of citations, ethnographic carelessness, and the smoothing of complex narratives into quotable fables. The World Until Yesterday has prompted a flurry of commentary from anthropologists unenthusiastic about the physiologist turned evolutionary biologist turned geographer. In a recent London Review of Books, leading political anthropologist James C. Scott doesn't buy Diamond's description of the modern nation-state arising to curtail primitive tribal violence "[i]n a passage that recapitulates the fable of the social contract" given how "slaving was at the very centre of state-making." Anthropologist Alex Golub, who shares Papua New Guinea as a major research site, wrote "Still, it is telling that we live in an age when a member of America’s National Academy of Sciences and one of the world’s foremost public intellectuals has less concern for citations and footnotes than do the contributors to Wikipedia." David Correia pulls no punches in his opinion piece "F*ck Jared Diamond" calling Diamond's resurrection of environmental determinism as racist apologia and his latest book as essentializing primitivism in order to define Western industrialized exceptionalism. [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on Nov 19, 2013 - 268 comments

Poor Seems Kind

On Sunday, Rachel Shteir, a theater professor at DePaul University, wrote a critique of three Chicago-focused books for the New York Times Book Review. Many Chicagoans were none too happy. [more inside]
posted by theuninvitedguest on Apr 24, 2013 - 32 comments

We’re going to Mars! WITH A SPACEGIRL, TWO CATS AND A MISSIONARY

In 1964, Zambia joined the Space Race with help from Edward Makuka Nkoloso, an enthusiastic, if overly optimistic, primary school teacher (partial transcript, video very much of its time). Though the rocket never left Lusaka, and there was never any real support from either the Zambian government or UNESCO, Nkoloso's project caught the imagination of Spanish artist Cristina de Middel in her short film, The Afronauts. Middel explains, "The images are beautiful and the story is pleasant at a first level, but it is built on the fact that nobody believes that Africa will ever reach the moon. It hides a very subtle critique to our position towards the whole continent and our prejudices. It's just like saying strong words with a beautiful smile." via.
posted by ChuraChura on Dec 3, 2012 - 8 comments

To be read as a pair

The Rise of the Internet (Anti) Intellectual
posted by infini on Jul 22, 2012 - 72 comments

A Serious Business

Sure, the follies of art-speak are easy to laugh at, but often criticism of it begins and ends with a dismissive chuckle – which ignores profounder problems. Why should academic terminology be the default vehicle for discussing art? Why is there such an emphasis on newness, schism and radicality? Even when the art itself may be enjoyably throwaway, language pins it to deathlessly auratic registers of exchange. This suggests a subliminal fear that, if the subject in question is not talked up as Big and Culturally Significant, then the point of fussing over it in the first place might be called into question, bringing the whole house of cards tumbling down - Dan Fox, the associate editor of frieze magazine, discusses the contemporary art scene in detail.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 12, 2012 - 43 comments

A Longer Time Ago, Two Galaxies Crossed Paths...

Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer explains how Star Wars has dulled the edge that made science fiction such a pertinent film genre. A Galaxy Far, Far Away My Ass... Pt. Two, Pt. Three [more inside]
posted by infinite intimation on Dec 31, 2011 - 43 comments

The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists

"I don’t particularly care for fantasy per se. What I actually cherish is something far more rare: the elevated prose poetry, mythopoeic subcreation, and thematic richness that only the best fantasy achieves, and that echoes in important particulars the myths and fables of old. This realization eliminates, at a stroke, virtually everything written under the banner of fantasy today."
posted by never used baby shoes on Feb 16, 2011 - 203 comments

Nollywood

Nigeria's film industry produces 50 films a week. "Nigerian films are as popular abroad as they are at home. Ivorian rebels in the bush stop fighting when a shipment of DVDs arrives from Lagos. Zambian mothers say their children talk with accents learnt from Nigerian television. When the president of Sierra Leone asked Genevieve Nnaji, a Lagosian screen goddess, to join him on the campaign trail he attracted record crowds at rallies. Millions of Africans watch Nigerian films every day, many more than see American fare. And yet Africans have mixed feelings about Nollywood."
posted by artof.mulata on Dec 29, 2010 - 10 comments

Critters online genre fiction workshop

Are you an aspiring writer of genre fiction? Would you like to workshop your stuff before submitting it to magazines and publishers, but you don't happen to have a group of local friends that you can workshop with? Critters.org is an online, highly automated fiction workshop. You submit your manuscript, it waits in a queue until its time comes up, and then it gets sent out to all the active subscribers, some of whom will hopefully send you some helpful feedback! Make sure to critique at least one story every week, though, or you lose your privileges to post your own stories to the queue. [more inside]
posted by kavasa on Aug 1, 2010 - 19 comments

"You're like my personal brand of herion." My god, are you -twelve-?"

In Buffy Vs. Edward (Twilight Remixed), Edward Cullen from the Twilight Series meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer at Sunnydale High. It's an example of transformative storytelling serving as a visual critique of Edward's character and generally creepy behavior. Seen through Buffy's eyes some of the more patriarchal gender roles and sexist Hollywood tropes embedded in the Twilight saga are exposed in hilarious ways. (Previous Twilight discussion on MeFi )
posted by ShawnStruck on Jun 21, 2009 - 92 comments

"Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack."

The aircraft carrier, a majestic and grand symbol of American naval might... susceptible to swarming small-boat assault and weak against ballistic missiles, nevermind an anti-ship ballistic missile. Is it time to reevaluate the role of the aircraft carrier in a modern naval strategy?
posted by Keter on May 27, 2009 - 58 comments

"If the news goes down too easily, it can't be good for you."

Amusing Ourselves to Depth: Is The Onion our most intelligent newspaper?: "While other newspapers desperately add gardening sections, ask readers to share their favorite bratwurst recipes, or throw their staffers to ravenous packs of bloggers for online question-and-answer sessions, The Onion has focused on reporting the news. The fake news, sure, but still the news. It doesn’t ask readers to post their comments at the end of stories, allow them to rate stories on a scale of one to five, or encourage citizen-satire. It makes no effort to convince readers that it really does understand their needs and exists only to serve them. The Onion’s journalists concentrate on writing stories and then getting them out there in a variety of formats, and this relatively old-fashioned approach to newspapering has been tremendously successful." The article is based on the premises of the late media critic Neil Postman, especially from his book "Amusing Ourselves To Death: Public Discourse In The Age Of Show Business."
posted by amyms on Oct 20, 2007 - 47 comments

The Problem with Atheism

Sam Harris critiques contemporary atheism. Harris, best known for Atheist tracts "Letter to a Christian Nation" and "The End of Faith," calls for a more nuanced, modest atheism rationality.
posted by klangklangston on Oct 3, 2007 - 155 comments

"I have accomplished nothing and I am nothing."

[T]his pattern, grade for the sake of a grade, work for the sake of work, can be found everywhere. Ladies and gentlemen, the spirit of intellectual thought is lost. I speak today not to rant, complain or cause trouble, and certainly not to draw attention to myself. I have accomplished nothing and I am nothing. I know that. Rather, I was moved by the countless hours wasted in those halls. Today, you should focus on your child or loved one. This is meant to be a day of celebration, and if I’ve taken away from that, I’m sorry. But I know how highly this community values learning, and I urge you all to re-evaluate what it means to be educated.
- from a graduation speech by the valedictorian of Mainland Regional High School, Kareem Elnahal, critiquing his school's education process.

The principal's reaction? “My hope was they did not hear or understand what he was saying. ... He was belittling the diplomas of every one of those kids.”.
posted by divabat on Jul 5, 2006 - 156 comments

Crop it!

Great photography... critiqued by pros noobs. via MeCha and matteo.
posted by loquacious on Jun 28, 2006 - 40 comments

Are we winning?

An interesting assessment of the war on terrorism. I love it when blogs seem to be filling a void in media coverage. This one is taking a critical look at the war on terrorism and seems to be finding some holes. If you go past the partisan talk (and it seems like that blog is slanted, even though it claims to be centrist), there's a lot of interesting links in there.
posted by TNLNYC on Sep 16, 2004 - 9 comments

Critique Magazine's On Writing III

Critique Magazine's On Writing III - Each year, Critique Magazine's staff compiles essays by and interviews with writers, teachers, and translators of merit for inclusion in the special anniversary edition "On Writing".

Basically, a shitload of authors provide thoughts on, ahem, writing. {Both sites are worth a look, imo.}
posted by dobbs on Sep 15, 2004 - 18 comments

"A lot of you were jerks."

"A lot of you were jerks." It's one of those scenes that could've been lifted from a John Hughes teen coming-of-age movie. An unpopular kid gets the joke vote for class valedictorian, and he uses the opportunity provided by the valedictory speech to chastise them. Has this ever happened at your high school? If you had a chance to go back (or perhaps forward) in time and address your high school graduating class, what would you say?
posted by AccordionGuy on Dec 27, 2003 - 36 comments

You know that horrible Lee Performance Khakis commercial where the woman spills red wine on her pants? Well this article from Slate.com critiques it and then tests it...to surprising results.
posted by adrober on Oct 26, 2002 - 58 comments

AfterDinner relaunches!

AfterDinner relaunches! Man, where have I been? Or did I just hit it at the right moment? This is what the web is about.
posted by rich on Apr 19, 2002 - 13 comments

Steve Martin is a genius......

Steve Martin is a genius..........no, he's a desperate hack......well, he's no Bob Hope, that's for sure....or is he?
posted by briank on Mar 15, 2001 - 15 comments

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