Love him or hate him, he is THE director of our generation.
"Find you a man who can do both."
A bit of advice that began life as a meme, became general relationship advice, and finally settled in the culture as an identifier of any multi-talented individual. "A man who can do both" is what this generation demands of its lovers and heroes alike. It is the embodying cry of a generation that was forced via technology to adapt to multiple circumstances, to code-switch at will between professional and text speak, to lead a meaningful life in the midst of unavoidably-publicized global crises and catastrophe. We "do both" by necessity. We have built our culture around "doing both." This duality is what made Tom Hooper the perfect director for these times.
While Tom Hooper's name isn't exactly among household names like Steven Spielberg, Greta Gerwig, or Quentin Tarantino, he has been putting out critically and commercially acclaimed work for the last decade, enough to vault him into the same category as the aforementioned by any metric. His 2010 film, The King's Speech, cleaned up at the Oscars. Nominated for an astounding 12 awards, it won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Colin Firth) and Best Screenplay. He followed that up in 2012 with the best version of Les Miserables ever put to film, an enormously expensive production in which the actors sung live during each take, something that was previously unheard of for a movie musical. He finished his winning streak with The Danish Girl in 2015, a tragically under-seen powerhouse film that showcased two little-known actors who would go on to win Oscars: Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, the latter of whom won for Danish Girl.
Bruno Chatelin | Flickr live.staticflickr.com
Hooper became known in film circles for the performances he drew from his actors, his sweeping wide shots, his careful shot construction, and his intensely-purposeful plotting. He became quickly associated with other contemporary masters like Paul Thomas Anderson and David Fincher. After three consecutive films that garnered rave critical reviews and made their budgets back at the box office (Les Miserables made almost $500 million worldwide), the world waited with bated breath to see what Tom Hooper's next move would be. If you still hadn't heard of him after Danish Girl came out, you can be forgiven for your ignorance, because Hooper went into hibernation for the next four years. He emerged after all that time for one final masterwork, the film he is now most famous for, and the one he will undoubtedly be remembered for:
In an unbelievable turn of events, Tom Hooper, who a decade earlier owned the Oscars, tried his hand again at making musicals, adapting Andrew Lloyd Webber's surrealist broadway smash-hit for the screen. It did not turn out well.
Cats!, released just last December, was an expensive disaster for a multitude of reasons. It was critically panned. It lost $25 million dollars on an estimated $100 million-dollar budget, much of which was invested in special-effects like "Digital Fur Technology" (i.e. digitally covering every actor in fur so they appeared more convincingly like anthropomorphic cats than if they were to wear costumes). Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian Mckellen, British thespians of the highest-degree, shared scenes with Jason Derulo and Taylor Swift. But weird sometimes works. It just didn't work here.
At least during its wide release, it didn't. Although still under a year old, Cats is gaining new life in a cult-film scene that includes movies such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Room. There is a growing contingent of the population interested in watching and re-watching the objectively awful CatsCats for the sake of its unintended hilarity and for how well it mixes with drugs or alcohol. This is the great coup of Tom Hooper. This is why he embodies this generation's defining decade better than any other director: he can do both.
Tom Hooper spent the better part of the 2010s proving he was a director of the highest caliber, who could create compelling films with varied budgets, varied casts, and in varied genres. Tom Hooper also spent the final month of the 2010s proving he could screw up almost every part of a film and still find success in it. There is an unprecedented and exciting element in his career. While it's not at all uncommon for acclaimed directors to make career missteps, none of his caliber has ever made such an appalling dud of a film after such a profound string of successes. Regardless of where his movies will eventually settle in cinematographic academia or how they will age, you can't look away from them. What does it say about his work that Cats is probably his best known film? But watch any of his three earlier hits, and one can see they're obvious masterpieces, smart and funny and often heartbreaking, well-acted and well-shot and well-written.
Defining this decade of film is a really heartening endeavor. Careers like Greta Gerwig's (Lady Bird, Little Women) and Ari Aster's (Hereditary, Midsommar) and Damian Chazelle's (Whiplash, La La Land) thundered to life. The masters like Tarantino (Django Unchained, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman, The Revenant) made some of their best work. Female directors were criminally under-utilized and under-recognized (only Gerwig was even nominated for Best Director this decade, joining only five women, ever), and perhaps that is the defining story of the decade.
But the defining director still must be decided, and Tom Hooper is the one with the most range, who created a classic Oscar darling, revolutionized movie-musicals, and crafted the next great midnight cult film. The defining director of the decade is the one who can and did do both. Tom Hooper may not be the best director, but his whiplashing career reflects the chaos of the 2010s, and the generation of millennials who claimed it as their own.
Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
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It's not the advice they want, but it's the advice that they need
With the year coming to an end, the annual announcement of New Year's resolutions are kicking off.
People want to make changes in their lives, and a new calendar gives people the occasion to rethink their habits and try to live better in 2020. But so often we are not the best judges of our own problems. Like the friend who announces that he's going to start eating more kale as he downs his eighth shot of tequila, it's sometimes necessary to get some outside perspective from the people who love you most. With that in mind, it's time to take a cold, critical look at our best celebrity friends, and give them the advice they need for the new year—whether they want it or not.
Kanye West: Don't Start a Cult
Kanye, you've never been the kind of person who does things the easy way. You could have stuck with being a musical genius, but you decided to be a fashion icon too, and you created the Yeezy. When they gave a Grammy to Taylor Swift instead of Beyonce, you didn't tweet something passive aggressive—you got up on stage and did something about it. When you were in debt, you didn't talk to your bank, you asked Mark Zuckerberg for $50 million. And more than a decade after you said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people," when it seemed like the whole world was finally ready to stand up and condemn a Republican president's bigotry, you declared that Donald Trump was your brother because you're both "dragon energy."
So now that you've started your Sunday Services, released an album of spirituals, and produced a Christian Opera—Oratorio?—you are fully set up to devote the rest of your life to developing and running the cult of Yeezus. But is that really how the greatest artist of all time should be focusing his energy? Sure you could convert your fans into an insular flock of devout followers who would die for you. But at this point, that would honestly be too easy. It's time to shake things up. It's probably not too late to decide to be the most influential sculptor of our generation, or the greatest therapy patient of all time. Even if you decide to focus your energy on your 2024 presidential run, that's cool, as long as you avoid taking the easy path: Don't start a cult. Also, please don't tell T.I. that investigating his daughter's hymen is "god approved..."
Kim Kardashian West: Fix the American Justice System
Kim, you've honestly been doing some amazing stuff in the past couple years, and we all kind of feel like we were underestimating you. For too long we thought of you as just a reality show star and a fashion model—an artifact of America's vapid celebrity obsession. But you are so much more than that. Since 2017 you have helped free dozens of prisoners who were falsely convicted or hit with overly punitive sentences. In 2020, we're going to start setting our expectations higher to really help you reach your full potential. Starting January 1st, you have twelve months to fully fix the problems with the American justice system. If you finish early, maybe try to solve climate change too. And maybe check on your husband—seems like he's trying to start a cult.
Tom Hooper: Don't Make Any More Musicals
Tom, after you directed The King's Speech, you won the Oscars for both Best Picture and Best Director in 2010, and you clearly felt empowered to pursue your true passion—making star-studded movie versions of classic musicals. Les Miserables was a hit at the box office, and it even won some awards, but the reviews were mixed. You could have asked yourself why you cast Russel Crowe in a movie that required him to sing, or you could have taken that as a sign that your passion for musicals may not be aligned with your particular talents as a filmmaker, but you were undeterred, and we admire your perseverance. That said, with the selection of your second musical adaptation, you revealed something important about yourself: You have terrible taste in musicals.
Cats has always been a bad musical, and there was probably no way you could have made it into a good movie. You may have misunderstood the appeal that allowed the show to run for 18 years on Broadway—people liked the wild costumes, and the way the performers moved through the audience. The music itself was only ever decent at best, and your ambitious plan to put Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, and Dame Judi Dench in motion capture suits, and digitally convert them into cat creatures would have been misguided even if the result hadn't turned out so deeply unsettling. So, while you've scrambled to recover something watchable from the ashes of this disastrous movie (please don't—it's better as a disaster), we want to make sure you go into 2020 with this important lesson: never again.
Jeremy Renner: Make a "Cats" Movie
Jeremy, no one appreciates your genius. People spent much of 2019 mocking your musical ambitions and using your personal app to embarrass you. It's time for you to show the world that you have nothing to be embarrassed of. Take your incredible singing voice and your untamed energy to a project that truly deserves you: Cats.
We know it's not what people expect, but you're unpredictable, we gotta tell you. And sure, they tried to make a Cats movie this year, but they forgot the secret ingredient—that certain, special Rennergy. You could play every role! And also, all the characters names could be changed to Jeremy Renner, and instead of CGI, you could just be buck naked, covered in body paint. All us Renner heads would go crazy for it. It's a good idea, and it's how you should spend 2020.
Eddie Murphy: Don't Leave Us Again
Eddie, you were gone too long, and your comeback has been too good. Don't be a Mickey Rourke. Be a Michael Keaton—come back for good. Dolemite Is My Name is an amazing movie, and your recent appearance on SNL destroyed their usual ratings. So don't just tease us that you might get back into stand-up or you're thinking about another movie. Make 2020 your year. That is all.
Bill Maher: Lose a Lot of Weight
Bill, you made headlines in September by advocating for fat shaming saying that "it needs to make a comeback" and, "Shame is the first step to reform," and you couched it in terms that made it sound like you were helping people get healthy. You seemed to be implying that people who struggle with obesity don't even realize there's an issue, and they need your bullying in order to see themselves clearly. We were shocked, not because you were ignoring the fact that a shame spiral of yo-yo dieting is actually more detrimental to cardiovascular health than obesity itself, but because you delivered your proclamation with such the smug sense of superiority. It meant that you were absolutely right—that you can't even see what a disgusting pig you are.
Bill, you may think that you are as slim and svelte as ever, but the jowls beginning to form on your cheeks tell a different story. We have to wonder what you even see when you look in the mirror, because for must of us it's hard to even stomach looking at you. To put it bluntly, if you don't have the decency to be ashamed of yourself, we'll have to shame you into dropping some of the excess weight you're lugging around. An adult male skeleton typically weighs around 25 pounds, so our best estimate suggests that you should aim to lose about 135 pounds in 2020. That might sound like overkill, but trust us, no one will miss it when it's gone.
Elon Musk: Get Off the Internet
Elon, remember last summer in the aftermath of the Thai soccer team cave rescue, when people were criticizing your ill-conceived submarine plan, so you called that rescue worker "pedo guy?" And remember how now he's suing you? Or what about the people who have taken issue with your "mass transit" plan that involves drilling a new, single-lane car-tunnel every time traffic gets backed up? Remember how you called your critics "subway stalinists," and dismissed the recognized phenomenon of induced demand as "irrational?" And that's not even getting into all the abuse you took over the botched Cybertruck demo. That must have been hard for you, but not as hard as it was for the rest of the world when you tweeted that image of Tesla stock reaching 420.69...
The point is, you just don't seem to be mature enough to handle the internet. You are not alone, a lot of billionaires—and even "billionaires"—seem to have trouble controlling themselves on Twitter. The good news is, you can still have an active, vibrant life. By all means, keep developing new battery tech and launching free-internet satellites for the world to use. Just don't use the Internet yourself. Make 2020 the year of Elon unplugged. You'll be much happier without being confronted by all the people trying to poke holes in your genius, and we can maybe go back to thinking you're kind of cool.
Grimes: Leave Elon Musk
You're way too cool for him, and you know it.
Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders: Please Save Us
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