Why Fan Theories Are Destroying Film Discourse

Fan theories are no substitute for critical analysis, yet they have quickly become inseparable for so many readers online. On one hand, it’s (sadly) a small encouragement that there’s any discussion about a movie that already exists, instead of a movie that will open in two years and only has a slew of set photos to its name. On the other, fan theories pose as critical analysis in spite of…


How The Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive

In Death of a Salesman, Biff impulsively steals Bill Oliver’s fountain pen. That would be roughly culturally equivalent to a modern Biff swiping a businessman’s custom iPhone case, rather than a modern pen. This history of the ballpoint argues that the new pens cut down on leaks, but in the process made handwriting more physically demanding. The ballpoint’s universal success has changed how most people experience ink. Its thicker ink…

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Thoughtful PopCult Analysis of ‘Peanuts’ Deserves Better than a Clickbaity Headline Hating on Snoopy

On a shelf in the slanty room under the stairs, next to her college textbooks, my mother kept a stash of inexpensive Peanuts paperbacks — dozens of them, which reprinted the newspaper strips, perhaps on a yearly basis, maybe more frequently. I spent many a summer afternoon reading through those books, and I remember sorting the books in chronological order and noticing how the drawing style changed over the years.…


Facebook Should Pay All of Us

The trick is that most people think they are getting a good deal out of Facebook; we think of Facebook to be “free,” and, as marketing professors explain, “consumers overreact to free.” Most people don’t feel like they are actually paying when the payment is personal data and when there is no specific sensation of having handed anything over. If you give each of your friends a hundred dollars, you…

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Sesame Street Is Moving to HBO, and the Symbolism Is Crushing

I’ve been fascinated by the rhetoric of headlines surrounding the “Sesame Street moves to HBO” story. * HBO gentrifies ‘Sesame Street’ –VentureBeat * Sesame Street Episodes Will Shrink to Half an Hour –Time * Sesame Street Is Heading to HBO, and Getting Even Bigger –Esquire * This episode of Sesame Street brought to you by the letters HBO –Financial Times In short, Sesame Street was founded to help low-income kids keep up…