The Atlantic

In Praise of Fact-checking

The media has been making plenty of apologies lately, for articles that caused a splash and, just as quickly, were exposed as fraudulent. First, it was Rolling Stone‘s exposé about rape on college campuses, and now it’s New York Magazine’s tiny feature on the 17-year-old Stuyvesant High School student who claimed to have made $72 million in the stock market. Turns out the kid made it all up. … Read More

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No, ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Doesn’t Need to Focus on Men’s Stories

This morning, The Atlantic published a piece by Noah Berlatsky about the “irresponsible portrayal of men” on Orange Is the New BlackOrange, a groundbreaking show with a wonderful and admirably diverse cast, is set inside a women’s prison, and the characters definitely reflect that setting. It’s a show created by a woman (Jenji Kohan), based on a memoir written by a woman (Piper Kerman). It’s a show that aims to tell women’s stories — and it succeeds masterfully — but Berlatsky’s complaint, naturally, is that the show “barely, and inadequately” represents men. … Read More

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You Must Remember This: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations”

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case For Reparations,” in The Atlantic, is a 15,000-word piece that argues passionately and clearly that America needs to reckon with 400 years of systematic racism and laws that have disproportionately affected the black community. The hype behind it is massive, in magazine terms. It was even promoted with a trailer. … Read More

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Will “Vera” Be the Literary World’s “Normcore”?

A good way to get your work noticed in the era of the hashtag is to attach a sticky name to something in hopes of keeping the conversation going. You don’t necessarily have to have a strong idea attached to it, so as long as you have something people can causally drop in their conversation. One example would be “normcore,” a term made popular by Fiona Duncan at The Cut this past February. Meant to describe cool kids who dressed like “middle-aged, middle-American tourists,” the term has gotten so popular (New York Times-trend-piece popular), that people are using it to describe anything and everything that falls short of Comme des Garçons. … Read More

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What Critics Who Want Us to Ignore “Microaggressions” Don’t Understand

“We may wish for a world in which people say only kind things about each other, but until we get there, we should not take umbrage at every negative note or adjective that is employed.” That’s the straw-man argument put forward by venerable sociologist Amitai Etzioni in a Tuesday op-ed for The Atlantic‘s website. Titled “Don’t Sweat the Microaggressions,” Etzioni’s piece follows a more evenhanded New York Times article (“Students See Many Slights as Racial ‘Microaggressions’“) and another skeptical take by linguist and sometime cultural commentator John McWhorter (“‘Microaggression’ Is the New Racism on Campus“). Etzioni and McWhorter, who’s quoted in the NYT writeup, share a common view towards the concept of microaggressions that could charitably be described as dismissive. … Read More

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‘Dead Poets Society’ Doesn’t Owe Academia Anything

In case there was any doubt that we’re rapidly approaching Peak Internet Outrage, I refer you to The Atlantic, where the order of the day is issuing sharply worded rebukes to the crimes of 25-year-old Disney movies. In the 3500-plus-word (!) essay Dead Poets Society Is a Terrible Defense of the Humanities,” Pomona College English Department Chair Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, PhD Kevin J.H. Dettmar takes Peter Weir’s 1989 drama to task for inaccuracy, romanticism, and anti-intellectualism, and blames it for the current crisis in the humanities. He stops short of pinning climate change and the infant mortality rate on the picture; maybe that’s in the 5000-word version. … Read More

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The Problem With Netflix’s Goofy Sub-Genre Algorithms

Because we love to hear about the secretly complicated ways in which the things we take for granted work, Alexis C. Madrigal’s recent Atlantic deep dive into Netflix’s ultra-specific genre-generation algorithm has been inspiring quite a bit of discussion. And for good reason — it’s a fun piece, a painstakingly researched (with said research painstakingly described) examination of one of the streaming service’s goofiest elements, complete with charts and graphs and a “Netflix-Genre Generator” and even a lengthy, on-the-record interview with the folks at Netflix (who aren’t always so open about the nuts and bolts of their organization). But its underlying assumptions and conclusions are a little dodgy, the result of a bit too much consumption of the Netflix Kool-Aid. … Read More

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Stop Lecturing College-Aged Women About Our Love Lives

Fifteen years ago, the very first question Carrie Bradshaw “couldn’t help but wonder” was simple, provocative, and in its own way, progressive: Can women have sex like men? That query was questionably relevant even a decade and a half ago, when Sex and the City sought to answer it for 30-something urban professionals. Unbelievably enough, we’re still having that conversation, except writers have turned their sights from themselves and their peers to a different group entirely: college-aged women. “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too,” Kate Taylor’s lengthy study of Penn undergrads for The New York Times’ Styles section, isn’t the first subtly judgmental, distressingly inaccurate portrait of the supposedly post-feminist, post-relationship college dating scene. Sadly, it probably won’t be the last. But the practice of telling college-aged women how we should lead our romantic lives is patronizing, condescending, and — above all — needs to stop. … Read More

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Here’s Some Charts to Make You Sad About Movies

Hey there, reader! Feeling sad about how awful most of the big summer blockbuster movies have been? How about the… Read More

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