There Is No Redemption for Serena Joy in Season 3 of The Handmaid's Tale
Serena Joy is not simply a woman longing for a child. She is a Wife and war criminal who helped create the architecture of Gilead, actively advocated for the restriction of women’s rights and participated in the ritual rape of enslaved Handmaids. She directly contributed to the oppression of tens of thousands of women and still benefits from the limited privileges she made sure to allow for a woman of her station. Serena did not begin to question her devotion to Gilead until after she found herself caught in the crosshairs of its cruelty. There is no path for her redemption.
When They See Us: The Truth Is Hard To Watch
When They See Us is terrifying to watch. There’s an inevitability that seeps into every frame, not because we know the ending, but because the suffering feels so unavoidable. Of course a stable of white officers rounded up every black teen they could find regardless of their right to do so. Of course they substituted one for another when their case started to fall apart. Of course they interrogated the boys for hours without their parents. Of course they went along as the prosecutor led the evidence instead of letting it lead her. Of course the boys were naive enough to take the officers at their word. Of course a jury convicted despite a lack of forensic evidence and a litany of conflicting testimony. Of course, of course, of course…
The Perfection Turns the Rape Revenge Fantasy Into Spectacle
The movie pretends for as long as it can that its central conflict isn’t about rape, which ironically only serves to increase the ambient threat of sexual violence and make the inevitable reveal feel gratuitous and unnecessary. The attempts at misdirection do not work; the eventual confirmation feels less like a reveal and more like punishment. Smartly, The Perfection never depicts a rape, but it finds lots of time to substitute other, more traditional kinds of violence instead. The film starts off as a fun, relatively predictable horror film, then rapidly devolves into the grotesque as the narrative shifts and bends with its many twists.
The Promise of a Black Future Is Compromised in See You Yesterday
It’s hard not to be resentful of the very mechanics of the film. White teens get three rounds of fairly low-stakes hijinks with the classic Back to the Future trilogy that all have happy endings. […] Black youth do not get access to levity and hijinks. They do not get entertaining (if slightly incestuous) forays into their own pasts. Black teens get localized tragedies as big as any world-ending event; there are no terminators or loops to close, but death stalks them nonetheless.
Fast Color Places Family Heroics Over Superhero Powers
In those final moments, Ruth’s power symbolizes the ways in which the very world we live in turns on the labour of black women; we have the power to shift the axis of the world. Ruth and Lila’s renewed quest for an ancestral homeland for women like them speaks to much larger ideas about the lengths black women must go to protect themselves and ensure their safety. An ancestral homeland where they can be hidden from the world and in the company of those who don’t seek to exploit them is a tantalizing ray of home in a world that is crumbling around and constantly in pursuit of them.
Beyoncé’s Homecoming Makes The Past Present
Homecoming can be seen as the culmination of Beyoncé’s years-long exercise in constructing her own legacy. […] She constantly pulls from her own oeuvre and reimagines it in innovative and exciting ways, folding it in on itself and compounding how we are instructed to see her work. With each new musical outing, she invents a new frame through which to view her output, demonstrating the long arms of her creative imagination. Her music has always had the ability to be molded and reconfigured in this way; shaped to match the myriad visions she has for the ways she wishes to present herself to the world. Beychella was the culmination of this vision, a seismic flexing of her creative dexterity.
Obsessed Set the Blueprint for Enjoyably Mediocre Black Thrillers
Terrible as it was, Obsessed set the stage for the black thrillers that have continued to pop up in regular intervals since the movie’s 2009 release. The plots of these films tend to be paper thin after-thoughts that place black (heterosexual) couples in opposition to an outside antagonist, usually with a focus on the interiority of the black woman and the struggles she faces, up to and including the inciting incident. Whether it’s Gabrielle Union fending off home invaders in 2018’s Breaking In or Sharon Leal being stalked by the lover she took during the throes of her sex addiction in 2014’s Addicted,this hyper-specific genre is chock full of scenarios that put black women in the role of both the damsel in distress and the righteous wronged heroine, often allowing them to save themselves.
Broad City Is Over But Its Friendship Is Forever
In the end, Broad City was radical in the way it repeatedly asserted that the primary, most beautiful, intimate, and meaningful romance of your life can be the relationship you have with your best friend; its closing shots were a nod to the fact that the city they love is full to the brim with such friendships, blooming and growing everyday, and deepening in their significance as they endure. Abbi and Ilana were a perfect encapsulation of a very specific millennial experience, and the show will stand as a monument to the intensity and devotion that women can have for one another when they stop squirming under men’s gaze and reject its existence altogether.
Shrill Expands Television's Treatment of Fatphobia and Body Image
Shrill is undeniably a show about navigating the world while fat, but it’s also about self-esteem, loneliness, friendship, and righteous anger. The first episode features a devastatingly accurate read of the emotional calculus many fat people perform to justify the ways in which they diminish themselves; finding elaborate ways to try to be “enough” and finally deserve affection. But it also features a guilt-free abortion that ends not with the patient feeling sad or regretful, but proud and powerful that she was finally able to take control of her life. That, too, is a radical moment of television in an increasingly conservative political landscape.
Captain Marvel Pulls Off Charm But Carries the Baggage of the MCU Universe
Captain Marvel’s biggest issue is that it is narratively hobbled by appearing so late in the MCU’s canon. Instead of being able to function as a relatively standalone introductory film like the franchise’s other origin stories, its primary purpose is to act as a bridge to Avengers: Endgame. As with last summer’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, shifting the stakes after the end of Infinity War is a difficult task. It’s harder to care about lost mothers or lost memories when the literal fate of the universe hangs in the balance.
Lady Gaga’s “Bad” Pop Song From A Star Is Born Actually Rules
The problem is not with “Why Did You Do That?” but with the fact that A Star Is Born is largely framed through the eyes of Jackson, played by Bradley Cooper. His resentment of Ally’s rising success as his own star declines colors the way he perceives her music, and by extension, the way the film frames the music’s quality. The movie thinks “Why Did You Do That?” is a bad song because Jackson thinks it’s a bad record, and the movie is by and large a reflection of his experiences of their relationship.
Widows Is the Rare Heist Film That Explores Women's Sacrifice
Betrayal is intrinsic to Widows: In order to right their husbands’ wrongs, they must accept that they were intentionally left in the dark by the men they loved. When men err in these narratives, women feel justified in wrestling back control of their lives, even in ways that are unambiguously criminal. In Widows, these women’s actions are driven not just by the need to get even, but by their need to survive.
Creed II Lacks the Spark to Rewrite Rocky History Again
The film doesn’t seem to realize that Viktor is this film’s Creed—an upstart underdog saddled with a legacy he never asked for and fighting like hell prove to himself worthy of a name he didn’t choose. Both men are actors in a decades-long stage play, and their much-touted fight is the rising action of a final act for which they’ve both written different endings. Both are simply doing as the rigid rules of masculinity require: defeating their foes through violence. The problem is that none of this is ever fully articulated at any point during the film.
Green Book Is Another Film About Race for White People
Despite its frustrating politics, Green Book is the type of film tailor-made to court awards consideration from an Academy that had to be shamed into diversifying its ranks. With its insistence on the pretense of loving our way into racial harmony, the movie exists almost exclusively to allow white moviegoers to nod sagely about “how far we’ve come” before calling the cops on their black neighbors for not waving hello.
Well-Read Black Girl's Glory Edim On Her Book Club and the Importance of Representation
“The responsibility of a writer representing an oppressed people is to make revolution irresistible,” said Toni Cade Bambara in 1976. It’s a sentiment that women working in the black feminist literary tradition understand intimately, making it a fitting guiding ethos for Glory Edim’s second annual Well-Read Black Girl Fest.
Taylor Swift Can’t Save You
In a way, this would seem like the Occam’s razor—an event of such political significance occurred that Swift finally felt a moral obligation to break her public silence. But even if we accept this as true, it only brings more questions to mind, primarily: Why did it take the public flagellation of a white woman to get her to shift her stance? Was it simply the first time she’d seen her privilege challenged in such a definitive way?
Assassination Nation and the Cathartic Power of Female Rage
The witch hunt has historically been about decimating the women who refuse to conform; who fail to perfect the delicate balancing act between “sexually available” and “slut,” “chaste” and “prude.” But men have co-opted even that, claiming the term to describe any call for long overdue consequences of their wanton disregard for female personhood in all its forms. So why shouldn’t we just take up arms, raze it all down and reclaim the world as our own?
Natalie Portman Embodies Pop Spectacle in Brady Corbet’s Vox Lux
With Vox Lux, Corbet speaks to how pop music is far more about the spectacle than the music, but he also examines how unnecessary intellectual rigor or technical skill is to the process. The modern pop star’s job is not to tell us how to feel, but to provide us with a template upon which to project our feelings. They bring the melodic frame and we bring the emotional heft. It is a symbiotic relationship of sorts: we pay them to reflect ourselves back to us.
Where Hands Touch Can't Make a Nazi Love Story Work
While expertly made, the film fails because it refuses to meaningfully acknowledge the basic truth of the terrifying power dynamics between the two lovers. […] Where Hands Touch focuses so much on the idea that love can traverse any boundary that it forgets there’s no love strong enough to bridge a genocide.