MUSIC

The Legacy of Kanye's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"

The rapper's magnum opus turned 10 years old over the weekend.

It's almost eerie how accurately Kanye West predicted his own fate when he uttered the words "I miss the old Kanye" on 2016's The Life of Pablo.

In my head, and likely in the memories of many others, there are two Kanyes: a then and a now. Both are cocky, self-important, certifiable jerks, but then, he at least still felt a marginal need to continue proving himself.

Now, he's so immeasurably detached from reality that it's a little hard to take anything he does or creates seriously—at this point, I find it difficult to even care. I don't want to explicitly cite a certain presidential election and its aftermath as the dividing line between the Kanye of then and now in my conscience, but...yeah, Kanye rubbing elbows with Trump was pretty much the last straw for me.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Colbert, Fallon, and Kimmel to Host a COVID-19 Benefit That Could Be the Biggest in TV History

One World: Together at Home is likely to draw a huge global audience

Global Citizen

On Saturday, April 18th, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy Fallon will be joining late-night forces to host a global television event.

The event, entitled One World: Together at Home, will promote the international fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic and raise money for the World Health Organization. From 8-10PM EST, it will be broadcast live on the big three American TV networks—ABC, CBS, and NBC—as well as around the world and on a number of cable networks and streaming platforms.

Any TV event set to be broadcast on all three of those networks would automatically be a pretty big deal, but with a huge portion of the world currently under some form of shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order—and a lot of TV and movies being shut down or delayed—this event has the potential to draw in a truly historic number of viewers. Of course that depends on whether the organizers can put together the kind of entertainment that will convince people to put down Animal Crossing to tune in. With that in mind, let's take a look at the lineup as it currently stands.

Along with the hosts of The Late Show, The Tonight Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the event—which has been curated by Lady Gaga in cooperation with Global Citizen—will feature appearances from Alanis Morissette, Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli, Billie Eilish, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Nigerian singer Burna Boy, Chris Martin of Coldplay, David Beckham, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Elton John, Idris Elba, Colombian Singer J Balvin, John Legend, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Kerry Washington, Chinese pianist Lang Lang, Lizzo, Colombian Singer Maluma, Paul McCartney, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan, Stevie Wonder and some of the muppets of Sesame Street.

In other words, there will be recognizable stars for just about any part of the world and any age group. While it might not reach the level of the World Cup final—which draws an audience of over 500 million—One World: Together at Home has the potential to far-surpass the viewing numbers of an event like the Oscars. With any luck, it will, because the money raised will go to the WHO's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which equips healthcare workers around the world and helps to provide food, shelter, and healthcare to people in need.

So tune in on Saturday at 8:00 PM, and donate if you can afford to. Because right now everyone could use the entertainment, and the whole world needs some help.

MUSIC

This Week, Lady Gaga Released the "Chromatica" Album Cover—and Raised $35 Million for COVID-19 Relief

Gaga's album has been delayed, but she's rolling out imagery that reminds us of the fashion that made her famous—and channeling all her time into raising money for coronavirus funds.

Lady Gaga has performed so many different roles over the past decade that it's easy to forget that in her early days, she was a fashion pioneer.

Gaga's wild outfits—from the iconic meat dress to the Haus of Gaga "Bad Romance" music video creations—earned her a front page spot on tabloids and helped launch her pop career.

She's just released the cover art for her new album, Chromatica, and it's as futuristic, complex, and opulent as anything we've seen from her before.

Gaga's album release has been delayed due to COVID-19, which she announced in another Instagram post:

That doesn't mean that the perpetually and often mind-blowingly active star has been taking a break, though. Tonight, she's speaking (virtually) at the World Health Organization's press conference to announce the next #TogetherAtHome virtual concert series, slotted for April 18, which will feature Paul McCartney, Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Alanis Morissette, Billie Joe Armstrong, Common, Kacey Musgraves, J Balvin, and of course, Lady Gaga herself.

The show will be co-hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, and Stephen Colbert.


In a recent briefing, Gaga announced that along with Global Citizen, she's raised $35 million in the last week for The Who's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.


In the meantime, while we wait for Chromatica, we can rewatch the futuristic "Stupid Love" video and bask in the glory of Gaga's "kindness punks" dance cult.

Lady Gaga - Stupid Love (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

TV Features

Welcome to Guerilla Late Night: What's So Funny?

Filming segments on iPhones, conducting interviews through video chats, and forced to recruit their spouses and children as their lighting and camera operators, this is the age of guerillla late night.

Late night talk show hosts are a strange cohort.

They're invited into our living rooms every week night, like filthy rich close family friends. but if they don't entertain us we get to mute, cancel, or tweet mean things at them at no personal cost. But with regular filming schedules interrupted by current events, late night hosts have been forced to continue their torrid relationship with the American public from their own homes. Filming segments on iPhones, conducting interviews through video chats, and forced to recruit their spouses and children as their lighting and camera operators, this is the age of guerillla late night.

So is it funny?

Honestly, when was the last time any talk show was genuinely funny? In fact, why do we still tune into late night talk shows? For sardonic wit and mockery of public figures, we have Twitter. For average-looking middle-aged men in suits droning into microphones, we have Congress. For celebrities making fools of themselves, we have Instagram.

But why, then, did it feel so disruptive when the regular slog of late night talk shows came to a halt in mid-March? As TIME's Judy Berman wrote, losing the late night personalities felt "especially bleak," because "if news programs help us understand what's happening in the world around us, then it's talk shows that often aid us in processing that information." Without them, we're left with the average daily frenzy of bad news and angry talking heads, offering "neither perspective nor catharsis."

But late night wasn't dead; it took to YouTube, and it changed focus to reflect American experience and identity more than ever.

If there's a still-beating heart to American talk shows, then the current crisis has brought it to light: empathy.

Late night hosts aren't just inviting the public into their homes (and, if you're Stephen Colbert, your bathtub); they're also sharing their family dynamics. Jimmy Fallon has taken to allowing his daughters, Winnie and Frances, to steal the show. "For us, these shows have been about the presenting idea that we're all going through this together," said Gavin Purcell, an executive producer for The Tonight Show. "People are adjusting to working from home, and what is it like to be stuck there? People have let Jimmy into their homes forever, and he thought it might be cool to let them into his home."

Similarly, The Daily Show host Trevor Noah said, "We're in a weird space...It feels like the end of the world, and it's not, but we also cannot treat it like nothing is happening. So we do have to find that balance." Accordingly, this week marks the return of many programs to their normal time slots. The New York Times noted, "Now that their shows are up and running, the people behind them say their continuing challenge is to provide viewers—for whom television has become one of a few remaining outlets for information and fresh entertainment—with a sense of comfort and continuity while commenting on events that have turned increasingly dire."

While we make take comfort from seeing familiar late night hosts also taking drastic steps to follow social distancing rules and staying self-quarantined, we all need reminders about our safety now and then. So in addition to using their time slots to show that we're all in this together, some hosts are making sure to spread vital information. Last month, Trevor Noah was commended (and viewed over 10 million times) for his frank and straightforward interview with the director of the National institute of Allergy and infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.

More recently, delivering a similar safety message with his unique flair, Samuel L. Jackson used his video chat with Jimmy Kimmel to share a helpful clip of his dramatic reading on how to stay safe. For Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jackson read a new poem by Adam Mansbach, author of the bestseller Go the F**k to Sleep, called: "Stay the F**k At Home."

Samuel L. Jackson Says Stay the F**k at Home youtu.be

FILM

Will the Coronavirus Finally Settle the Streaming Movies vs. Theater Debate?

With COVID-19 now a full-blown pandemic, industries are struggling to adjust, but the film and TV industry may never be the same

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Less than a year ago, at the 2019 Cinemacon in Las Vegas, Oscar Winner Helen Mirren shared her opinion on streaming movies in no uncertain terms: "I love Netflix, but f*ck Netflix!"

The comment came amid controversy over the criteria by which a film qualifies for consideration for the Academy Awards and other major accolades. At the time, Netflix and other streaming platforms were pushing for their original productions to be included for consideration without the need for traditional theatrical releases, and many in the industry balked at the prospect. Yesterday, Regal and AMC—the largest cinema chains in the US—both announced that they will be closing all their theatres starting today. Together, the two companies operate nearly 50% of theater screens in the US. Other chains have restricted theater crowds, and more closures are certain to follow.

With no clear end in sight for the coronavirus pandemic, there is an open question about how the movie and television industries will cope. While social distancing is creating increased demand for streaming content, and numerous scheduled releases and production schedules have been delayed indefinitely, will studios be forced to release their existing projects online? Will selection criteria be adjusted for the 2021 award season? And will movie theaters ever recover?

Almost every aspect of our society is in the process of restructuring to adjust to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. More and more people are working from home. Entire regions are shutting down their restaurants and bars. And citizens and politicians alike are calling for measures that would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago—on the left, many people are pushing for freezes on evictions, as well as rent and mortgage payments, and even some Republicans (normally shills for heartless capitalism) are suggesting universal income measures to help people get by. In the short term it's causing unprecedented turmoil in the stock market, but in the long term, some industries are likely to never fully bounce back.

In some of the most dire cases—movie theaters being a prime example—the change has been a long time coming. American theater attendance peaked in 2002 and has been on a slow decline ever since—with audiences increasingly preferring the convenience of television and streaming services. Independent theaters have been hit hardest, with many closing down in recent years. Likewise, brick and mortar retail has been hit hard by the convenience of online shopping—with many local stores and even some major retail chains forced out of business. The restrictions imposed by the coronavirus—the latest guidelines advise against gatherings of more than ten people—are only accelerating the rate of change that was already occurring.

While many industry insiders would decry the loss of the theater experience—the immersive scale and the communal environment—most Americans have gotten used to viewing even epic films on screens smaller than a sheet of paper. While directors like Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan will argue that movies are made to be viewed on the big screen, when your nose is six inches from the action, it hardly feels small. None of this is to say that there won't be something real lost if movie theaters disappear—just that it might be inevitable, and that the coronavirus pandemic has sped up the process. Empty movie theaters may soon join the suburban blight of empty malls and abandoned factories that dot the American landscape. They may go the way of the drive-in.

Abandoned Mall

With the narrow profit margins involved in the theater business, government intervention (as we've already seen with other industries) could help them stay afloat until things return to normal, but the more realistic scenario may be that things never return to normal. While AMC's closure is currently slated to last 6-12 weeks, there is no way of telling how long it will actually last, and it may end up consuming the rest of 2020 and beyond. Will the Hollywood Foreign Press and the Academy open consideration to streaming content and encourage studios to opt for Internet releases in the case of James Bond, Mulan, and others? Or will they cancel next year's award season entirely? Whatever the case, 2020 is looking increasingly likely to be the year that cements the supremacy of the Internet over going outside.

Meanwhile, with Stephen Colbert delivering his Late Show monologue from home (from his bathtub, to be specific), will we see other productions following suit—delivering much-needed entertainment to the isolated masses while limiting the spread of the virus? The term "bottle episode" refers to the trope—particularly common in 90s sitcoms—wherein a small number of characters are trapped together in a confined space. Will we see a resurgence of that concept with an influx of quarantine content? Or will television networks and studios take it to the next level and invest in concepts that allow performers to work remotely from the safety of home, either with animation, or with live-action shows that play with the fact that no one is in the same room (e.g. the episode of Modern Family that took place entirely on FaceTime) If not, TV may also be left behind by the vast array of independent content creators who are more than capable of working with the current conditions.

modern family

Whatever else happens in the coming months—and as much as this all feels like a throwback to a different era—we should all be thankful, for once, that culture has increasingly embraced isolation with streaming and delivery services that prevent the need to leave our homes. We all thought we were just being lazy. It turns out we were training for a pandemic.

TV

"The Simpsons'" Apu, as We Know Him, Is Dead

Hank Azaria will no longer be voicing Apu.

Fox

Apu is no more, or, at the very least, the Apu we knew is gone.

Ever since Hari Kondabolu's 2017 documentary, The Problem With Apu, the iconic Kwik-E-Mart owner has been widely viewed as a source of controversy. Kondabolu's documentary explores the culture surrounding Apu, the Indian immigrant stereotypes Apu enforced, and the effect it had on the children of Indian immigrants who grew up in the '90s and 2000s. On one hand, Apu was arguably "representation" for Indian immigrants at a time when there were no other Indian characters on TV. But on the other, Apu's stereotypical manner of speaking and catch phrases like, "Thank you, come again!" became a common source of ridicule for Indian people in the real world.

"I think particularly right now, people feel so aggrieved and crazed and powerless that they're picking the wrong battles," said Simpsons creator Matt Groening at the time. "I am sorry that The Simpsons would be criticized for having an Indian character that, because of our extraordinary popularity — I expected other people to do it. I go, maybe he's a problem, but who's better? Who's a better Indian animated character in the last 30 years?"

Apu Simpsons Fox

To Groening's point, even in 2020, there are very few Indian faces on American TV. But for Azaria, the diversity provided by Apu didn't necessarily make up for the real pain that the character caused so many young Indian-Americans.

"The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu on The Simpsons, the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing," said Azaria shortly after watching. "And especially in post-9/11 America, the idea that anybody was marginalized based on it or had a hard time was very upsetting to me personally and professionally."

Azaria immediately called for more South Asian representation in The Simpsons' writing room, but now, after 30 years of being the white voice actor behind the best known Indian character on American television, Hank Azaria has officially decided to step down from the role.

"Once I realized that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn't want to participate in it anymore," Azaria recently told the New York Times. "It just didn't feel right." However, he admitted being hesitant to give up the character. "I didn't want to knee-jerk drop it if I didn't feel that was right, nor did I want to stubbornly keep doing it if that wasn't right," he said. "But then I started thinking, if that character were the only representation of Jewish people in American culture for 20 years, which was the case with Apu, I might not love that."

"What happened with this character is a window into an important issue," Azaria said. "It's a good way to start the conversation. I can be accountable and try to make up for it as best I can."

Of course, that doesn't mean that Apu is actually gone. "Apu is beloved worldwide," said The Simpsons executive producersexecutive producers in a statement confirming Azaria's departure from the character. "We love him too. Stay tuned."

So what does the future hold for Apu? Can a character largely based on cultural stereotypes survive in the media landscape of 2020, or has Apu already failed the test of time? After all, times change, and culture changes, too. Things that were largely considered "okay" in 2019 can no longer hold up when we factor in the voices of non-white people who grew up experiencing the repercussions. But change is a good thing. That's how humanity grows and advances. Maybe Apu can grow and advance, too, with an Indian voice actor and Indian writers leading the way.