GIFs seem to have become a ubiquitous presence on the internet—the driving force for hugely popular websites, and a bone of contention for pronunciation-snobs the world over. But amid a superfluity of cats and reality show soundbites, there exist thoughtful, intricately executed GIFs that suggest the form is much more worthy of the label “art” than the casual visitor to BuzzFeed might think.
I’m not sure if I would be happy being a traveling writer, but my face would probably be sun-kissed rather than aglow with a laptop screen tan. However, writing “You Are What You Watched” has taken me from Litchfield Penitentiary, the prison that holds “Orange is the New Black,” to McKinley High, the school where students burst into song in the name of “Glee,” and even 16th-century France, the site of Mary Queen of Scots’s scandalous teenage romps, at least as depicted by “Reign.”
The CW’s new series, “Reign,” is one of many series that attempts to inject sex into history. The teen drama about Mary, Queen of Scots, is not the first—nor will it be the last—television show to force historic figures into every sex position and pairing possible and lead to wonderfully misinformed high school history papers. Recently, however, “Reign” has caught the attention of critics because of the CW’s decision to cut a masturbation scene from the pilot episode, highlighting network television’s aversion to self-pleasure.
I haven’t watched "Glee," Fox’s teen musical comedy-drama series, since I was a senior in high school. While watching this week’s episode "The Quarterback," I found myself thinking about SAT practice and high school drama—the elements of my life circa 2009. This nostalgia reminded me of how young Cory Monteith, the late actor who was memorialized in "The Quarterback," was when he died this past July. Monteith, 31, was much older than his on-screen persona, Finn Hudson, when he died of a toxic combination of heroin and alcohol after a lifetime of battling drug addiction. Yet, the series’ poignant—if awkward—tribute to Monteith makes the tragic loss of his potential clear.
This past Saturday, Mindy Kaling of “The Office” fame was featured on the cover of Parade Magazine. Wait for it, I haven’t gotten to the exciting part. Yes, she is one of the few female leads on television—as the creator and star of Fox’s “The Mindy Project”—and one of even fewer non-white leads. And yes, the magazine industry is notoriously reluctant to use non-white cover subjects. Even the gorgeous Halle Berry’s turn as a Cosmopolitan cover girl was described as an “improbable feat” by David Carr in the New York Times.
Holding her tray, wide-eyed Piper Chapman enters the prison lunchroom in her new orange jumpsuit, uncertain of where to sit. A nearby inmate tells her out of pity, “Go sit there, she’s a nice white lady,” and Piper, relieved, obeys. During this scene from the new Netflix dramedy series “Orange is the New Black,” one phrase comes to mind: one of these things is not like the other.
The artistic merits of the overt advertising I’ve seen in Shanghai are debatable. It’s art for the masses and by definition; it’s not art for art’s sake. Yet, aestheticism is definitely a chief concern.
It would be overly simplistic to say that Shanghai is a duplicate of New York City with Mandarin and smog. My transition to Shanghai has not been seamless, but that was not due to culture shock but rather unexpected moments of recognition.