Author: Charlie Bertsch
Charlie Bertsch lives in Tucson, Arizona. A founding editor and regular contributor to one of the world's first online magazines, Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life, his work has appeared in numerous publications since including The Oxford American, Punk Planet, Phoenix New Times, Cleveland Scene, Tucson Sentinel, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

When the second season of Netflix’s Stranger Things went live on October 27th, millions of people rushed to finish the whole season. Some just wanted to avoid spoilers. But for others, this mode of consumption was necessitated by their desire to participate fully in conversations about the show. (More…)

Like most Americans, I witnessed the scenes from the right-wing march on Charlottesville, Virginia with horror and dread and was delighted to see the President’s response to the violence excoriated by Republican leaders. But the more denunciations I saw, the more I worried. (More…)

Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake is a searing indictment of the 21st UK, which has been subcontracting many traditional functions of the state to private corporations. But the film also asks probing questions about the direction in which every society in the developed world is headed. What will happen to our humanity as more and more decisions are made by computers or people who act like them? (More…)

How do you register the passage of time? It’s a question that dominates the new season of Twin Peaks. This was probably inevitable, once Mark Frost and David Lynch decided to bring back members of the original cast over twenty-five years later. But their decision to confront the strangeness of this return head-on has made it resonate with a bracing profundity. (More…)

“Is it me or are a lot of people struggling with depression and insomnia right now?” When a friend in the United Kingdom posted this question a while back, most commenters focused on the winter weather there. I didn’t have that excuse. It’s almost always sunny in the Arizona desert. But that isn’t helping me this year, I responded, because “Trump creates his own weather.” (More…)

In the United States right now, little has been able to compete with Donald Trump for headlines. Police killings, mostly of black men, and the protests against them have managed. So have mass shootings, particularly when they could be connected to “radical Islam.” Besides those obvious above-the-fold stories, though, perhaps the most durable subject in the news has been the nation’s epidemic of overdoses. (More…)

Once you’ve seen the original photograph, this exercise in “Photoshopping” is understandable. But my first-year university students, trying to make sense of Claudia Rankine’s brilliant book Citizen have not. To them, it’s just a perplexing image of white people from long ago, turning around to look at the camera in front of the dark shape of a tree looming against an even darker sky. (More…)

When conservative American pundits berated black gymnast Gabby Douglas for not putting her hand over her heart during the national anthem during her team’s medal ceremony at this summer’s Olympics, the subsequent furor recalled the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the meaning of patriotism was called radically into question by the counterculture and Richard Nixon’s “silent majority” answered back harshly. (More…)

In some ways, Americans have never felt closer to Europe than they do today. Social media collapse our sense of distance, so that people who live thousands of miles away can seem as proximate as our own neighbors. All it takes is knowing a few people who have recently spent time somewhere between Iceland and Turkey to appreciate the significance of today’s vote in the United Kingdom. (More…)

What makes Donald Trump special? This is a question the man himself would presumably have little trouble answering. But for those of us interested in projecting his political future, trying to determine whether he represents an outlier or something far more significant, it is proving considerably more tricky. (More…)

Walking out of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster the other night, I felt like I’d been holding my breath for two-plus hours. Rarely has my intellectual judgment of a film differed more sharply from my immediate emotional response to it. I never doubted that it was “good”, but I also wondered if it was good for me. (More…)

Many believe that Donald Trump’s apparent victory in the Republican primaries will ultimately lead to the party’s downfall. Others have countered that Hillary Clinton’s unpopularity with independent voters and the young people who support Bernie Sanders means the GOP might yet have the last laugh in November. (More…)