House of Cards, which recently released its second season on Netflix, is a series “intent on congratulating the viewer for being suspicious of politicians,” says TV critic Todd VanDerWerff, ”but it’s not particularly interested in examining root causes for political corruption.” Is that so? My reaction to the show is different. As Ian Crouch argued in The New Yorker, its dark vision of Washington “expresses an implicit contempt for the American public,” since we are the ones “who tolerate and thus perpetuate” its “real-life theatre of venality and aggression.” The polity’s attitudes toward power is one root cause of D.C. corruption.
How many House of Cards viewers root for Frank Underwood’s rise, or at least condone his moral code of “ruthless pragmatism”? The show is certainly tempting us to do so, just as Breaking Bad’s writers tempted us to root for Walter White. Pondering that show, Ross Douthat wrote that it challenges audiences to actually justify their moral norms: “Why is it so wrong to kill strangers — often dangerous strangers! — so that your own family can survive and prosper? Why is it wrong to exploit people you don’t see or care about for the sake of those inside your circle? Why is Walter White’s empire-building — carried out with boldness, brilliance and guile — not an achievement to be admired?”
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
After 72 years as a leader among superheroes in the DC Comics universe, Wonder Woman is finally going to be in a movie. Someone else’s movie. This week, Warner Brothers announced that Gal Gadot will don the heroine’s bulletproof bracelets in Batman vs. Superman.
While it’s nice that Wonder Woman’s screen debut has arrived, it’s disappointing that it’s only as a sidekick: As Noah Berlatsky wrote here at The Atlantic on Thursday, Wonder Woman was originally meant to replace Superman, not back him up. Why not give her, or any other female superhero for that matter, her own film? Conventional wisdom dictates that Hollywood just doesn’t think it would make money. The twin flops of Halle Berry’s shoddy Catwoman film in 2004 and the ill-advised 2005 Daredevil spinoff, Elektra, are often invoked as a warning that films where the tights-wearing, crime-fighting protagonist is a woman are doomed to failure.
But times have changed and the conventional wisdom no longer applies, if it ever did. In the wake of the $580 million box-office haul for Catching Fire, the Hunger Games sequel starring Jennifer Lawrence, the economic case for the viability of a woman superhero in a starring role makes it look like a slam dunk. Here’s why.
Read more. [Image: Lionsgate / Murray Close]
Friends, we need your help.
Last week, Gregory Warner and David Kestenbaum reported on the afterlife of American clothes. Lots of t-shirts from used clothes bin in the U.S. eventually make their way to sub-Saharan Africa.
Including the one above. From Jennifer’s bat-mitzvah from November 20, 1993. We want to find Jennifer.
What we Know: Jennifer’s bat mitzvah was on November 20, 1993. The theme may have been cartoons. And there’s a nametag in the shirt labeled Rachel Williams.
That’s all we know. Which is where you come in.
Do you know Rachel? Do you know Jennifer? Help us solve the mystery. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and put “that’s my shirt” in the subject line. And please share this as much as you can. It would be really awesome to find Jennifer and talk to her about her bat mitzvah t-shirt’s journey.
10 Women Google Doodles You Might Not Recognize
Google vice president Megan Smith has said she wants to use Google Doodles to highlight notable — though often overlooked — women in science and technology. But it’s not just STEM women that Google Doodles have honored in 2013, and here 10 female faces that showcase the diversity of women’s accomplishments around the world.
From top to bottom:
Maria Callas: renown American opera singer known for her impressive vocal range.
Wangari Maathai: Kenyan environmentalist, political activist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.
Mary Leakey: Archaeologist and anthropologist who discovered the first fossilized Proconsul skull and became known as one of the world’s most distinguished fossil hunters.
Edith Head: Iconic costume designer who won eight Academy Awards during her career.
Katherine Mansfield: New Zealand modernist short fiction writer.
Maria Mitchell: American astronomer who discovered the “Miss Mitchell’s Comet” in 1847.
Maria Elena Walsh: Argentine poet, novelist and musician, most lauded for her children’s literature, which has been compared to Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
Emma Gad: Danish writer, socialite and satirist best known for her book of etiquette.
Shoshana Damari: Yemenite–Israeli singer known as the “Queen of Hebrew Music.”
Shakuntala Devi: Indian writer and child prodigy, popularly known as the “human calculator.”