Westworld, Barbara Bush, and Emily West Weinstein

  • The creators of HBO award-winning Westworld are planning on making nude scenes between men and women more equal. There has been much discussion of nudity on HBO, and on cable TV in general. Is it — this obsession with the heterosexual male gaze — necessary? Isn't it the quality of the drama that is propelling the “business” of shows like Game of Thrones? Jessica Mason, in The Mary Sue, argues that there is a subtle feminism that runs through the high-powered HBO science fiction series. “I know you’re thinking that a show with so much nudity and violence against women couldn’t possibly have a deeply feminist message, but it’s not the violent events onscreen that define Westworld; it’s what they mean to the audience, and how they affect the characters,” she writes. “Onscreen, park creator Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) posits that it’s suffering that creates the basis for our consciousness, because it gives us the desire to experience better, and that is exactly how the feminism of Westworld functions.” WestWorld season 2, which is getting strong critical reviews, begins this week.


  • Former First lady Barbara Bush died on Tuesday at the impressive age of 92. Though she will be remembered as a typical old school First Lady, she was, in her time, somewhat radical – especially for the Republican Party. “During H.W. Bush’s presidential campaigns, Bush would coyly decline to answer questions about her personal views on abortion. ‘I’m not going to tell you my opinion,’ she’d say to reporters, ‘I’m not running for President, so I am not going to tell you my position on abortion. But I would love to tell you what George’s is.’ Many heard this as a tacit admission that she supported abortion rights,” notes Christina Cauterucci for Slate. Along with Abigail Adams, Bush shares the honor and distinction of having both married and raised a President of the United States.


  • Is it time to let Matt Lauer out of media jail? Most would say, “he’s hardly even served his first few months.” The disgraced NBC Today Show host is apparently already planning a comeback, according to Vanity Fair. The story adds that disgraced foodie Mario Batali is also “eyeing his second act.” This leads Jezebel’s Stassa Edwards to pen the story “Redemption is Inevitable for Powerful Men.” Edwards points out that WBUR Tom Ashbrook, who was one of the media men originally felled by the #MeToo movement, serves as the perfect example of this media redemption. He recently apologized publicly, less than a year after his firing after allegations of bullying and sexual harassment. “The transformation recounted here is swift, as it always seems to be. Lifetimes of abusive behavior are magically rectified, unraveled, and unlearned by the simple acts of introspection and reflection, in mere months.” It seems remarkably early for these #MeToo men to be bouncing back, as if they have not fully appreciated their transgressions. “#MeToo Men Keep Bouncing Back. We Should Make That F*cking Difficult,” is a post written by Erin Gloria Michael for The Daily Beast. Such are the mysteries of the redemption of powerful dudes found to have done wrongs against women.


  • Emily Meg Weinstein penned an article for Longreads called “To Hug, or Not To Hug,” about what she has found on the blind internet dating beat. Is there an implicit consent when one agrees to go out on an internet date? Is this it? “A not insignificant percentage of my internet dates have touched me in intimate ways without my invitation or consent,” she writes. “Several men have placed their hands on my knee or inner thigh within the first half-hour of meeting me, while we sat sipping our first and only drink.” Yikes.


  • Alexandra Petri does an astonishing effective job at taking down Kevin Williamson. Williamson, who was shamed and forced to leave The Atlantic after saying the monumentally idiotic thing that women who have abortions should be hanged, whines to, of all places, the Wall Street Journal. This brings us back to Alexandra Petri, who writes mockingly, in the voice of a conservative snowflake. “My life is (metaphorically!) over. These very words are invisible to you. Simply for having the temerity to breathe (this opinion in the pages of an august publication) I have had my liberty stripped from me and I am now confined, for life, to the pages of the Wall Street Journal.” How embarrassing!


  • Rebecca Solnit is on fire in the online essay “Whose Story (and Country) is This?” for Lithub. She begins with a critique of a recent movie where the lead character has been valorized. Solnit brings up some interesting questions that I myself have wondered about, to be frank. “Watching the film Phantom Thread, I kept wondering why I was supposed to be interested in a control freak who is consistently unpleasant to all the people around him. I kept looking at the other characters— his sister who manages his couture business, his seamstresses, eventually the furniture (as a child, I read a very nice story about the romance between two chairs) — wondering why we couldn’t have a story about one of them instead.” The essay goes on to ask which perspective, a white, male, Protestant or everything else, will ultimately win out and define American reality.

Cover photo via The Daily Beast