I reviewed It Follows this week. It’s quite good! (The movie, I mean. Not my review, which is, at best, passable.) You should check it out. One of the things I really liked about the flick is how basic the horror at the center of the plot is: If you have sex with someone being followed by It—a phantasm of sorts that can take the form of anyone and cannot be stopped—It will now follow you and, if It catches you before you have sex with someone else to pass along the curse, It will kill you.
This sort of action is so bare bones that it can be interpreted virtually anyway you like.* As I joked with a friend, it’s the film that will launch a thousand dissertations.
But before the dissertations will come the think pieces. Allow me to suggest a few think pieces that would be perfect for It Follows, as well as the outlets to which you should pitch them.
It Follows is the best throwback to ’80s slasher flicks since the Me Decade ended. Eschewing the self-aware humor of Scream and Cabin in the Woods and skipping the camp qualities that marred so many of the reboots and re-imaginings and homages of recent years, It Follows embraces the horrifying nature of unstoppable, implacable evil.
Going to the movies is, generally, terrible.
This is a sad but undeniable fact. Audiences are awful: They talk, they use their cell phones, they kick chairs and step on feet and yell at the screen. They stink. I mean, they literally smell bad. I don’t know if hygiene standards are diminishing in this country or what, but they occasionally give off a rather rank odor.
Jonathan V. Last—one of my favorite people and the editor of the truly fantastic essay collection, The Seven Deadly Virtues—suggested the other day that the Mission: Impossible franchise is, pound for pound, the best franchise ever. EVER. He doubled down on that assertion the next day, suggesting that the breadth of styles within the MI film series, combined with the fact that it had no Crystal Skull-style embarrassments, should lead us to rank it highly.
This did not seem accurate to me. So I decided to engage in some data journalism! What does The Science tell us about which franchise is best?
A few thoughts, first:
I’m fascinated by this Wall Street Journal story, headlined “Israel Spied on Iran Nuclear Talks With U.S.” Seems that the administration wasn’t too terribly upset about the fact that Israel was spying on the talks. And, frankly, there’s not too much reason to be. Allies spy on each other all the time. Remember when we spied on Germany? We’re probably still spying on Germany right now. It’s not like we’re, say, kidnapping German officials and shoving their broken bodies into suitcases for disposal, The Americans-style. SigInt and pilfering info from third parties is not only routine, it’s more or less expected. It’s all in the game.* And, frankly, Israel has more at stake if Iran develops a nuclear weapon than we do. It’s not terribly shocking to me that they’d want actual intel as opposed to whatever lies Kerry and Co. deign to pass along.
Anyhoo, no one is very angry that Israel is listening in on the talks. No. What angers the administration is that one of our allies spied on the talks and then passed that intel along to United States congressmen. From the Journal:
So when she heard last fall that a student group had organized a debate about campus sexual assault between Jessica Valenti, the founder of feministing.com, and Wendy McElroy, a libertarian, and that Ms. McElroy was likely to criticize the term “rape culture,” Ms. Byron was alarmed. … Student volunteers put up posters advertising that a “safe space” would be available for anyone who found the debate too upsetting.
The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma.
“In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas,” March 21, 2015. The New York Times.
Another week of extremely problematic events is in the books. Highlights include Salon’s takedown of noted terrible person John Podhoretz and XO Jane’s critique of the remarkably sexist new video from Meghan Trainor. As always, dial up everythingsaproblem.tumblr.com to see what the latest outrages are.
Even for an action movie, The Gunman is ridiculously, almost courageously, dumb. It’s also boring. So it’s got that going for it.
I’ve probably written about this before, but bear with me for a moment while I repeat myself: Despite claims to the contrary by President Obama and others, increases to the minimum wage are not particularly good at alleviating poverty. Here’s Obama:
It is worth noting, briefly, that the outrage brigades do not exist solely on the left. Yes, they’re more vocal. Yes, they’re more easily riled. Yes, they seem to have an unending stream of things to be aggrieved about. But they’re not alone.
Consider the treatment of Liz Mair, who was recently hired by the Scott Walker campaign to provide some online outreach. (Full disclosure: I’ve met Liz a couple of times and I believe we are Facebook friends, though we do not follow each other on Twitter and I have yet to have her out to my villa in the Italian countryside.*) Turns out that Liz is a bit of a squish on immigration and the dread social issues. But, more damningly, she thinks it’s foolish to have the Iowa caucuses serve as the first event on the presidential primary calendar. And people in Iowa aren’t happy about this because people in Iowa love it that politicians have to suck up to them and their asinine policy preferences.