Film Lists

9 Beloved Childhood Movies (That Permanently Traumatized Us)

What were these scenes even doing in kids' movies?

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Do you remember the first time a sad scene in a movie left you sobbing? Or the first time a scary movie kept you up all night?

When you're a kid, your mind is still so malleable, and you haven't built up that callous that keeps movies at a distance. You might even wish — while you're watching the latest Conjuring movie — that you could get back to that credulous mindset that makes the horrors onscreen come alive in the dark corners of the room.

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Film Features

Anne Hathaway's "Witches" Apology, and the Problem with Body Horror

Is it even possible to separate what is frightening and disturbing from what is harmful and offensive?

On Thursday Anne Hathaway took to Instagram to apologize for her role in the HBO Max original movie The Witches and its depiction of the titular villains as having so-called "limb differences."

The movie is based on Roald Dahl's 1983 novel—which was previously adapted into the classic 1990 version of The Witches. It tells the story of a young boy who stumbles upon a convention of horrifying witches with the power to turn children into mice. Hathaway portrays their leader, the Grand High Witch—a role previously played by Anjelica Houston with sinister glee.
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Culture Feature

Matt Lauer vs. Ronan Farrow, and the Pushback Against the MeToo Movement

The former "Today Show" host seems to think nitpicking Ronan Farrow's book will relaunch his career

In a new opinion piece published in Mediaite, former Today Show host and alleged rapist Matt Lauer claims that Ronan Farrow abandoned journalistic integrity in pursuit of book sales.

Farrow's book Catch and Kill, which came out last October, details allegations of sexual misconduct against Matt Lauer in two of its nearly sixty chapters—the rest being devoted to Harvey Weinstein and other prominent sexual predators—and the particular challenges involved in reporting on these crimes.

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Even though I was born in Seoul, South Korea, I don't consider myself to be a "Seoul girl." What is a "Seoul girl," you ask? I dunno, ask Rebel Wilson.

According to Deadline, Seoul Girls is the upcoming K-Pop comedy written and produced by the Pitch Perfect and Cats star. Lionsgate has acquired the rights to the film, which will feature "a Korean American high school girl and her friends who enter a worldwide talent competition to be the opening act for the world's biggest K-pop boy band. With help from an ex-member of a British girl group and a former K-pop trainee, the Seoul Girls find their voices on the world's biggest stage." Wilson will play a role in the film, most likely the British ex-pop star.

The script for this unholy mash-up of Pitch Perfect and Camp Rock was reported to be "revised" by Billions screenwriter Young Il Kim, who joked about his involvement on Twitter: "This Kpop project is gonna get me at least a 10% discount in K-town restaurants!"


Sadly, a street cred discount and a "nice try but no" might be all he gets, judging by Asian Twitter's responses. Criticism ranged from disbelief at the kitschy title ("'Seoul Sisters' was right there!" wrote one user) to the flimsy plot (K-Pop aficionados pointed out that K-Pop performances don't usually include opening acts).




Granted, details about the film are scarce, but what information we have doesn't bode well, considering the mind-boggling history of Hollywood white-washing, exoticizing, and fetishizing Asian characters. One user posted, "If this is all about stereotypes, please @RebelWilson, no. I love you and I don't want you to be dragged for being misinformed and reinforcing stereotypes please. I love you, dont." Others commented on the demoralizing pattern of Hollywood "encroaching on Korean culture once they realize it's profitable."


Setting aside jokes about Scarlett Johansson or Emma Stone being perfect for the role, we're somewhat confident that the studio wouldn't be dumb enough to cast a non-Asian for any of the leading roles. Yes, we know that a studio exec once suggested Julia Roberts play Harriet Tubman, but… that was in 1994. Now we live in a post-Crazy Rich Asians world; the celebration of which made it seem like American media was about to be flooded with more Asian and Asian-American representation. (Nevermind that the only Asian screenwriter had to quit the sequel because she was offered one fraction of her white co-writer's salary). Now we collectively mock Johannsson playing a character originally named Motoko Kusanagi because the tide has turned against Hollywood white-washing the eastern sh*t out of Asian characters—right?

Attached to produce Seoul Girls are some of the least-Asian producers in the business: Meredith Wieck and Scott O'Brien from Lionsgate and Alison Owen and Debra Hayward from Monumental (the culprit behind the whole live-action Cats nightmare). At least there's hope that Seoul Girls will feature (seriously, at the very least) an all-Asian cast. After all, it's surely not possible that a fundamentally, literally Korean storyline would ever feature non-Korean actors...right?

Music Lists

In “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway Shows Us Love Can’t Fix Bipolar Disorder

The show, based on Terri Cheney's column of the same title, provides a uniquely nuanced depiction of mental illness—and highlights the gaps that still exist in the ways we tell stories about it.

On the episode of Modern Love called "Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am," Anne Hathaway's character Lexi spends half her time in bed.

She spends the other half of her life gallivanting around New York City, wearing sparkles and styling herself after famous actresses, asking out men in grocery stores and making up for the time and the lovers she lost while she was catatonically depressed.

zeleb.es

At best, the episode is a uniquely nuanced depiction of real mental illness, emphasizing the fact that Hathaway's illness may not be easily curable, refusing the temptation to glamorize her symptoms or suffocate her with pity and pessimism. At worst, it still falls into some old traps and perhaps could've done a better job of explaining the specifics of Lexi's diagnosis and the actuality of what bipolar is and is not.

Like all the episodes of Amazon Prime's new series Modern Love, it's based on a real-life story published in The New York Times' column of the same name. Hathaway's character is based on an essay by a woman named Terri Cheney, who specifies in the first paragraph that she suffers from what she refers to as "ultrararidian rapid cycling."

There are many different forms of bipolar disorder, far more than the typical binary of Bipolar I and II imply. Bipolar I, the best-known type, involves periods of severe mania and severe depression, whereas with Bipolar II, the manic episodes are usually slightly less severe, though periods of depression can be extremely intense. With both of these types, lengths and symptoms of manic and depressive episodes can vary, though most people experience one or two cycles per year, with episodes lasting around 13 weeks, according to a 2010 study. Episodes can be triggered by events such as seasonal changes, trauma, or grief, but they can also happen naturally due to to the vicissitudes of brain chemistry and daily life. Sometimes symptoms of mania and depression can co-occur, and this is referred to as a mixed episode.

There are many other variants of bipolar disorder, including cyclothymic disorder, which describes brief periods of mania and depression that are slightly less severe than full-on Bipolar I or II. Then there's the kind of extremely rapid switching that Hathaway's character experienced. Affecting 10-15% of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, rapid cycling is officially diagnosed when someone experiences four or more cycles in one year. Ultra-rapid cycling is when a person cycles through episodes in one month or less, and the sort that Cheney and Lexi have is called ultra-ultra-rapid cycling or ultradian cycling, which means that cycles can occur within a 24-hour period.

As with most mental illnesses, every person's diagnosis is different. For Cheney, ultradian cycling means that she'd often spend days or weeks in bed, only to awaken suddenly to the sound of birdsong and a feeling of euphoria. Like her TV adaption, Cheney tells us that she tried dozens of treatments, including dangerous electroshock therapy, while keeping her illness secret from friends and family and making up for her down periods by exceeding expectations when she was up. She was able to pull together a life, but all this didn't make dating easy. "When dating me, you might go to bed with Madame Bovary and wake up with Hester Prynne," she wrote in her Times column.

Refreshingly, neither Cheney's essay nor the TV adaption equates the right treatment or the perfect person with a cure and a happy ending. Instead, after following their protagonist through a failed relationship that began during a manic episode and quickly tanked when her mood turned, the essay and show end with a bit of realistic hope. "I've finally accepted that there is no cure for the chemical imbalance in my brain, any more than there is a cure for love," Cheney writes, lines that Hathaway repeats in the episode's conclusion. "But there's a little yellow pill I'm very fond of, and a pale blue one, and some pretty pink capsules, and a handful of other colors that have turned my life around."

MODERN LOVE Extended Trailer (NEW 2019) Anne Hathaway, Love Comedy Series www.youtube.com

Battling the Stigma Onscreen: Violence, Love, and Bipolar Representation

While illnesses like depression and anxiety have become more socially acceptable and widely understood (although too often they're still not viewed as valid illnesses, instead treated like something that can be willfully overcome with a little yoga), bipolar and other personality disorders are still heavily stigmatized and misunderstood.

For example, people who suffer from personality disorders are far too frequently blamed for things like mass shootings, when actually only 3-5% of violent crimes are perpetrated by people with mental illnesses (and 97% of mass shooters are white males with histories of misogyny and domestic violence).

In reality, bipolar disorder has absolutely nothing to do with violence. It's also completely untrue that people with bipolar are unable to have relationships. Everyone is different, and people with bipolar disorder are just as capable (or incapable) of loving and being loved as anybody else.

While Hathaway/Cheney's illness appears to be unusually unpredictable, many people with mental illnesses can and do thrive in relationships. While unstable relationships can have particularly negative and triggering effects on people who suffer from mental illnesses, stable relationships of any kind can be incredibly beneficial. And while no one should use their mental illness as an excuse to use others as therapists or sole support systems, supportive friends, partners, and family members can be vital in terms of providing the kind of acceptance and structure that people with mental illness may have trouble giving themselves.

Still, it's a blessing that "Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am" doesn't over-glamorize the effects or importance of relationships. Anne Hathaway's Lexi finds relief in confessing to a coworker about her illness, but there is no implication that the coworker will be able to heal her or support her in any way. Confession and interpersonal love are perhaps over-emphasized in some forms of modern mental health discourse, but premature or forced confessions can have negative consequences, and confession by no means make up for actual treatment, large systemic changes, or genuine external and acceptance. Sometimes, acceptance means accepting the reality of illness and treatment in all their ugly and unpalatable forms, a reality that is too often forgotten in exchange for the more palatable narrative that tells us that love can heal all wounds.

The Future of Bipolar on TV: Hopefully More Diverse, and Created by People Who Really Suffer from Mental Illness

For her part, Terri Cheney, a prolific writer who has written several memoirs about her experience with mental illness, is apparently very satisfied with Hathaway's nuanced portrayal. "When you think of the illness in terms of a familiar face, it's less frightening and easier to understand," she told Glamour. "That's why having someone as famous as Anne portray a woman with bipolar disorder is so terrific: It's an antidote to shame."

As in her essay, Cheney is quick to emphasize the fact that sometimes there is no cure to mental illness; it's not like you can just confess that you have it and expunge it from your brain chemistry. "After a lifetime of living with a mental illness, I've discovered that the most helpful thing someone can say to me when I'm suffering is, 'Tell me where it hurts,'" she added. "I don't want advice. I don't want to be cheered up. I just want to be listened to and truly heard."

Terri Cheney

Hathaway also seems to understand the importance of her role. "I have people in my life who I love so deeply who have received various mental health diagnoses, and that's not the whole story of who they are," she said. "But in many cases, because of an intolerant society, that's the space of fear they're kept in."

As there's more mental illness representation on TV, hopefully we'll see more nuanced portrayals of people with mental illness. Many Hollywood shows and movies have heavily exaggerated the symptoms of bipolar disorder, giving characters who suffer from the disorder violent narratives or dramatic breakdowns (Empire, Silver Linings Playbook), painting them as anti-medication (Law and Order: SVU) and using episodes as plot devices (Homeland), despite gaining praise for featuring characters who suffer from it.

Perhaps in the future, shows will also begin discussing the disorder in more precise terms and becoming as open and explicit about treatments, medication, therapy, and the messy vicissitudes of daily life as they are with dramatizing mental breakdowns and choreographing manic episodes.

Maybe they could also try to focus on people of different race and class backgrounds, as mental illness is frequently whitewashed, though it cannot be separated from things like race and class, and certainly not everyone with bipolar has a swanky entertainment law job or lives in an apartment like Anne Hathaway's utterly absurd one. Perhaps Modern Love itself shouldn't be expected to get real about mental illness, for even this episode does feel lost in the show's saccharine, wealth-buoyed rom-com vibe, caught up in the "permanent delusion that New York makes people fall into a special kind of love, unattainable anyplace else (unless on a brief trip abroad)," as The Washington Post writes, a delusion that anyone who actually lives in New York knows is utterly untrue (but that always makes for a hit TV show).

Still, when all is said and done, there will never be a singular or perfect depiction of bipolar disorder, and a depiction of mental illness on a show like this one will certainly expose lots of people to a sympathetic narrative they otherwise might not have encountered.

Like all illnesses, bipolar disorder is an ongoing process that affects everyone in a completely unique way, and there is no quick fix for it. But with medication and support, it's something that's possible to live and thrive with—and yes, to love with.

Though Lexi never finds true love, she finds something else. She finds self-acceptance, openness, a growth mindset, and the belief that she isn't in need of fixing. And in this life, perhaps that's the best kind of fairy-tale ending we can ask for.

TV

Top 8 Celebrity Lip Sync Battles, Ever

Anne Hathaway really did that.

If you haven't seen clips of Lip Sync Battle, then you probably haven't been down a YouTube rabbit hole at 3 AM while elbow deep in a family-sized bag of Cheese Nipz.

If that's the case, good for you, you functional member of society. Now follow me to wonderland, motherf*cker.

If you are too wearied by climate despair and capitalism to infer what the show's about from the title, don't worry, we'll explain. The show essentially pits two celebrities against each other in a lip sync battle, wherein both contestants try to outdo each other by performing theatrical, dance-heavy lip sync performances of well-known songs. Created by John Krasinski and Stephen Merchant and hosted by Twitter queen Chrissy Teigen and rapper LL Cool J, the concept was first realized as a segment on the The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon before being turned into a hit show on Paramount network (formerly known as Spike).


It's honestly worth checking out the show just to watch Chrissy Teigen do anything, but it's a bonus that there have been some pretty iconic moments throughout the show's five seasons. Here are the top 8 lip sync battles, ever!

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