Like many people I know, I spend much of my time on social media avoiding information. There are days when, to invoke the long-running memes, I simply “can’t even”. Maybe it’s bad news about the economy or opioid addiction or climate change; or maybe I just can’t stand to hear about  Trump’s latest outrage. But I also expend a lot of energy avoiding potentially good news. (More…)

Berlin might as well be a wilderness area. During the winter months, the homeless go into hibernation underground, taking refuge in the German capital’s vast network of heated subway stations like they were nests specially prepared for them to sit out the worst part of the year. (More…)

Every photograph is a cliché. That is if you consume news every day. Whether it’s on your smartphone, or your laptop, a computer at work, or on TV, we are subject to an overwhelming barrage of programmed sameness. The same holds for social media. When a story goes viral, it has the same reach as a planned advertising campaign. The only difference is how it reaches us. (More…)

Like a whole lot of people around the world, I went to see Black Panther during its four-day opening “weekend”. Although I am not usually that keen on superhero comic books or the movies made from them, I absolutely loved the experience of watching the film. But it wasn’t just for the admittedly awesome hand-to-hand combat scenes. From the opening minutes, I wanted desperately to debate it. (More…)

Year end lists aren’t what they used to be. Once a staple of newspaper writing, particularly alternative weeklies in the US, they’ve since faded in importance. Not only because the publications they once featured in have largely disappeared. More importantly, because popular culture no longer holds the same importance it had for young people until the War on Terror. (More…)

The revelations of sexual misconduct by men dominating American media are having a profound impact on how people feel about their world. Last week, I stopped by the home of a senior citizen who needed help with something and heard, the second I opened the door, that M*A*S*H was playing on her television. But in place of nostalgia, I felt a surprising revulsion. (More…)

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…)

We live in confining times. Prison narratives proliferate and disappear quickly. Yet only the occasional narrative, such as Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s Guantánamo Diary (2015), receives sustained attention and then due to its obvious political import. Prison writing is difficult because it forces a double confrontation, both with state and self. (More…)

When you pay close attention to the way people use bumper stickers in the United States right now, it becomes apparent that they usually serve a countercultural purpose. Because the perception of which culture needs to be countered varies widely, however, it is emphatically not the case that a coherent counterculture, whether left or right-wing, can be discerned from them. (More…)

We seem to be living through a renaissance of American TV shows, from Twin Peaks to House of Cards. Some of us spend dozens of hours a week just sitting in front of our laptops working our way through episode after episode, season after season. This is the other side to the work day for a lot of people. (More…)

I was ecstatic when I got the opportunity to view an advanced screening for the new film adaptation of Stephen King’s It. Although I’m aware of the novel’s faults — for one thing, the ending drags on too long, full of overwrought imagery — I still love the whole thing, even the “bad” bits. My love doesn’t center on the scares King is famous for, but the coming-of-age story that frames the horror. (More…)

After watching Dunkirk, you’ll likely spend some time silently processing the film. The interwoven timelines, the high pressure soundtrack and the constant threat of death can easily captivate the viewer. (More…)