Modern online media is all about the signal boost, so every Friday here at Flavorwire, we take a moment to spotlight some of the best stuff we’ve read online this week. Today, analysis of Monday night’s Emmys, blistering profiles of a right-wing gadfly and a messy actor, and a harrowing look at a small-town rape case.
Judy Berman on the Emmys.
This was a big week for Flavorwire pride, because it was the first week of former editor-in-chief Judy Berman’s new gig as TV critic for Time. And luckily enough, that week also included the industry’s annual awards ceremony which, true to form, was a bit of a snooze and didn’t have much in common with what’s actually great about the art, as Judy noted:
Maybe the Emmys just haven’t caught up with our current overabundance of great, challenging television. They are, after all, aired on and hosted by personalities from the same ailing Big 5 networks that only picked up awards last night for SNL and the Oscars. Maybe there’s too much of a disconnect between a Television Academy membership that worships staid, glossy mega-hits and a wider TV landscape flooded with radical new voices and unprecedented creativity. (That could explain why the unexplained appearance of Atlanta‘s Teddy Perkins seemed more inspired than anything that happened onstage.) Maybe no one felt up to cheering an industry run, in large part, by alleged serial predators like Les Moonves (whose downfall didn’t get a single mention during the telecast). Maybe NBC shouldn’t have treated the Emmys as a vehicle to promote “Weekend Update.”
Alice B. Lloyd on Dinesh D’Souza.
A couple of weeks back, we pointed you in the direction of Lyz Lenz’s excellent profile of Tucker Carlson, which tracked his descent from genuinely insightful intellectual conservative to white grievance-airing Fox News goblin. At the Weekly Standard, Lloyd does a similar number an equally juicy target: Dinesh D’Souza, conservative pundit turned convicted felon turned professional troll.
Peter Robinson, another Dartmouth Review-er, worked with D’Souza in the Reagan White House. Journalism, Robinson recalls, was a better match for D’Souza’s talents than toiling away in near-anonymity as a West Wing policy wonk: “I can’t remember anything he did in the administration,” Robinson admits. But he remembers his articles and his fearless reporting, particularly a 1986 article for Crisis magazine. After a pastoral letter condemning the administration’s defense and economics policies, D’Souza called around to various bishops asking elementary economic questions—which none of them could answer. “Dinesh as a journalist was extremely clever, devastatingly funny,” Robinson says. In those days, “He was a polemicist and a true journalist.”
The two men were close in Washington, less so later at Hoover, where Robinson remains a fellow—although they’d meet for a meal on D’Souza’s occasional visits to campus. “It pains me to remember the last time Dinesh crossed my mind,” Robinson says. “It was a movie poster for a coming attraction, and there was a big, larger-than-life-sized face: Lincoln spliced with Trump to convey that Trump is a second Lincoln.” Robinson wandered on to his movie, some light summer fare, but the image—advertising D’Souza’s Death of a Nation—stuck with him. “I thought to myself, Oh, Dinesh . . .”
Geoff Edgers on Chevy Chase.
In the 1970s and 1980s, there were few bigger comedy stars than Chevy Chase. And while his contemporaries (Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Martin Short, David Letterman) have cruised into icon status, Chase has become an industry pariah, known for his terrible career choices and loathsome personal behavior. In a Washington Post profile, Edgers tries to understand what made Chase this way, and why his particular kind of humor has become so tone-deaf.
Chase is a key piece of SNL’s history, whether establishing “Weekend Update” or pioneering the path from Studio 8H to Hollywood stardom. When asked what he thinks of the current show, he doesn’t hold back, delivering a foul-mouthed appraisal that’s as unforgiving as his critics. “First of all, between you and me and a lamppost, jeez, I don’t want to put down Lorne or the cast, but I’ll just say, maybe off the record, I’m amazed that Lorne has gone so low. I had to watch a little of it, and I just couldn’t f—— believe it.”
Maybe off the record? A microphone and digital recorder sit in front of him. He is reminded that SNL is immensely popular, with millions of viewers.
“That means a whole generation of shitheads laughs at the worst f—— humor in the world,” he says. “You know what I mean? How could you dare give that generation worse shit than they already have in their lives? It just drives me nuts.”
Elizabeth Bruenig asks, “What do we owe her now?”
There are stories like this one in a disturbing number of high schools, in towns small and big: the girl who said she was raped, and rumors swirled, and she was ostracized, and there were no consequences for her attacker(s). The Washington Post‘s Elizabeth Bruenig has never been able to shake that story from her school, so she spent three years investigating it, and analyzing her community’s response (or lack or response) to it.
Making sense of her ordeal meant tracing a web of failures, lies, abdications and predations, at the center of which was a node of power that, though anonymous and dispersed, was nonetheless tilted firmly against a young, vulnerable girl. Journalists, activists and advocates began to uncover that very same imbalance of power from Hollywood to Capitol Hill in the final year of this reporting, in an explosion of reporting and analysis we’ve come to call the #MeToo Movement. But the rot was always there — even in smaller and less remarkable places, where power takes mundane, suburban shapes.
There were personal reasons, too, for my investigation. I wanted to understand why it had to be as bad as it was — why she wasn’t just doubted but hated, not simply mocked but exiled — and why it had always lingered on my conscience like an article of unfinished business, something I had meant to do but hadn’t. I wanted to look directly at the dark things that are revealed when episodes of brutality unfold and all pretense of civilization temporarily fades, and I wanted to understand them completely.
Otherwise, I thought, they could at any time pull me under. And I could watch mutely while something like this happened again.