This Week In Culture: September 5–11, 2020

September 9, 2020
Stories about several new movies, the activism in the NBA, and a tween drum sensation all added words to this week's list of timely words from the culture, sports, and tech worlds.
The trailer for the new film version of Frank Herbert's Dune dropped on YouTube and caused quite a stir. The 1965 book is widely hailed as one of the best sci-fi novels of all time, and previous efforts based on it — a 1984 movie and two TV miniseries in 2000 and 2003 — were not well received. The baroque was a period in European history at the beginning of the seventeenth century marked by high levels of decoration and embellishment in art, architecture, and music.
Not everything needs to happen in minimalist austerity, and I still love David Lynch’s film adaptation for leaning into that imperial baroque aesthetic.
The Verge (Sep 9, 2020)
Amanda Palmer and Rhiannon Giddens teamed up to cover the 1994 Portishead song It's a Fire. Backed by strings, the duo trade verses on the moody, moving track that they released on Bandcamp. All the profits will be donated to the Free Black University Fund.
"We all need to take a collective breath together, and breathe on…it’s all of us or none of us.”
Spin (Sep 9, 2020)
Th Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their new guidelines, which are meant to foster diversity in the film industry by requiring productions to meet certain standards of inclusivity. They are wide-ranging, covering on and off-screen talent, but also allow studios to easily fulfill a number of the criteria without making any significant changes.
Since only two of the four standards must be met for a film to qualify for the Oscars top prize, and Standards C and D are so easy for most studios to satisfy, best-picture contenders could remain fairly homogeneous both behind and in front of the camera.
New York Times (Sep 9, 2020)
Andre Iguodala, vice president of the NBA players' union and forward for the Miami Heat, gave an interview about the recent walk-out and subsequent agreement with the league that brought the players back. He spoke about the politics of sports, about the decision to strike, and about maintaining mental health in a time of extraordinary stress. In promptu is Latin for "ready" or "at hand," and that became one word with a changed letter when it entered French.
The Bucks were one of the thirteen N.B.A. teams remaining in the playoff “bubble” in Orlando; after the Buck’s decision, all the teams held an impromptu meeting and agreed to stop play until the league and its owners agreed to specific commitments on racial justice and voting access.
New Yorker (Sep 6, 2020)
Halle Berry, the first and only Black woman to win an Oscar for best actress, has directed her first feature. Bruised made its debut at the Toronto Film Festival this week. Despite her many awards and global fame, she says that it was a long, hard fight to be able to direct.
When Berry got hurt on “Bruised,” after taking a knee to the chest from co-star Valentina Shevchenko, she wasn’t surprised. But this time, the stakes felt momentous.
Variety (Sep 8, 2020)
The ten-year-old multi-instrumentalist and YouTube sensation Nandi Bushell continues to win fans through her ongoing drum duel with Dave Grohl. The Nirvana and Foo Fighters drummer responded to her recent challenge of a drum-off, and the two have been trading videos. Bushell won round one, and Grohl has said he'll be giving her another challenge soon.
The epic drum battle between Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl and 10-year-old English prodigy Nandi Bushell continues after the latter declared victory in the first round with her rockin’ cover of Them Crooked Vultures’ “Dead End Friends.”
LA Times (Sep 5, 2020)
The new Mulan movie is drawing criticism for having been partly filmed in Xinjiang, the region of China with a large Muslim population that the government has been repressing harshly. In addition to laws forbidding Muslim dress, names, and other cultural expressions, the Chinese government has also built huge reeducation camps meant to force ethnic and religious minorities in the region to be more Chinese. Critics have called for a boycott of the film.
The final credits in the film, which was released on Disney Plus last week and is being rolled out in several countries this month, thank propaganda departments in Xinjiang and the public security bureau of Turpan, a Uighur-majority city in the region.
AP (Sep 9, 2020)
Researchers have shown that Central and South America contain more than twice the biodiversity of Africa. The study comes at a time when large portions of the Amazon jungle are on fire, causing global concern and outrage. The study also shows that Southeast Asia is as biologically diverse as Latin America, but it occupies a fraction of the land.
While it has long been understood that Latin America is richer in plant species than tropical Africa, the paper quantifies that difference for the first time by providing a precise number of vascular plant species in the Afrotropical Region and Latin America.
Phys.org (Sep 9, 2020)
Video of Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris disembarking from an airplane wearing Converse Chuck Taylors went viral, getting shared 8 million times by the morning after it was first posted. People loved her choice of the over 100-year-old brand, which supporters said made her look cool, accessible, and practical.
The response to Harris’s Chucks was more organic, less forced than the campaign’s attempts to make logos of Biden’s trademark aviators, less performative than revelatory.
Washington Post (Sep 8, 2020)
Serena Williams beat Tsvetana Pironkova in three sets to advance to the U.S. Open semifinals, meaning she's two matches away from her 24th Grand Slam victory, which would tie the all-time record. On the men's side, top-ranked Novak Djokovic was expelled from the tournament for smacking a ball in anger after losing an important point. The ball hit an umpire in the throat.
Williams also experienced a three-set contest in her last-16 match, but her stamina appeared to increase as this match went on.
BBC (Sep 9, 2020)

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