This Week In Culture: October 17–23, 2020

October 21, 2020
Quibi folds, Bennu coughs up some dust, and the Flaming Lips take "Covid bubble" to a new level: these stories and more contributed words to this week's list from the culture, tech, and sports worlds.
After six months and nearly $2 billion invested, Quibi is shutting down. The app, which featured short shows and films by a variety of high-profile performers, was meant to bring streamed content into the mobile, short-attention-span era. But the pandemic, which kept everyone home for months watching larger screens, upended the media market and sank the business.
The mobile platform, which offered quick bites, known as “Quibis”, launched in April with almost $2bn in investment, yet failed to meet its subscriber targets, amassing a string of negative reviews along the way despite big star names such as Jennifer Lopez, Reese Witherspoon, LeBron James and Steven Spielberg getting involved.
Guardian (Oct 21, 2020)
The NFL has announced that it might move the Super Bowl to March because of continuing positive Covid-19 tests among players. A number of games have already been rescheduled due to positive tests and the league is trying to stay flexible to allow for more such disruptions.
Entering the 2020 season, the NFL formed multiple contingency plans in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Sports Illustrated (Oct 21, 2020)
Tom Lehrer, 92, announced that he's putting all his lyrics and music into the public domain, where they can be used freely by anyone without paying royalties. Lehrer, widely acknowledged as the greatest satirical songwriter of all time, became famous in the 1950s and 60s for his songs, which were dark, witty, and extremely edgy for that era. He abruptly walked away from his musical career in the early 1970s, returning to his life as a math professor until his retirement.
“There is empirical research showing that when material enters the public domain, it actually gets used more,” she said.
Marketplace (Oct 21, 2020)
The film of David Byrne's American Utopia, directed by Spike Lee, premiered on HBO. The movie was shot on stage on Broadway during the show's limited run, and features Byrne and a dozen musician-singer-dancers, all wearing identical grey suits which recall the oversized suit he wore in 1984's Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense.
“He’s a handsome, freaky golem. When he dances, it isn’t as if he were moving the suit—the suit seems to move him.”
New Yorker (Oct 21, 2020)
Roald Dahl's The Witches has been remade by director Robert Zemeckis and it premiered this week. Anne Hathaway plays the Grand High Witch, who transforms the hero — an orphaned boy living with his grandmother in Alabama — into a mouse. The movie recounts his efforts to undo the spell and save other children from a similar fate. Hauteur is French. The English word haughty shares the same root: the Latin altus, meaning "high," via the French haut.
But their arrival coincides with a convention of the International Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, a typically mordant Dahl-esque cover-up for a large gathering of witches, presided over with withering hauteur by Hathaway's all-powerful queen bee.
Hollywood Reporter (Oct 21, 2020)
NASA's OSIRIS-REx touched down on the Bennu asteroid, which is 332 million miles from Earth, and collected a sample from the surface. The spacecraft launched four years ago. Since the asteroid is too small to have much gravity — it's only 500 meters across — the vehicle moved in extremely close and used a jet of gas to disturb dust on the surface, catching some. Once scientists confirm that a sample was collected, the craft will return to Earth, arriving in 2023. Bennu is 4.5 billion years old.
This momentous event took more than four years to get to and the task is far from over.
CBC (Oct 21, 2020)
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, some street artists who created art on boarded up storefronts and other temporary structures are trying to save their work from destruction. New York has a law that specifically protects some forms of street art, but one artist named Amir Diop had his work taken down before he was notified about it and given the chance to save it. That work, ironically, was painted on plywood protecting the Museum of Modern Art's Design Store in Soho.
The Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) that was passed in 1990 gives artists rights to protect their work. It is intended to prevent the intentional destruction, distortion, or mutilation of works of art.
Dutch scientists believe that they have discovered some previously unknown glands in the human body. Called tubarial glands, and located where the nasal passages meet the throat, it's not clear whether they're a distinct organ or part of the salivary gland system. Onkos is Greek for "mass" or "tumor," and -ology means "the study of."
The discovery was "thrilling" but the authors were "a bit skeptical" at first, said the study's lead author Matthijs H. Valstar, a surgeon in the department of head and neck oncology and surgery at The Netherlands Cancer Institute.
CNN (Oct 21, 2020)
Tyler Perry was named Variety's Showman of the Year this year, and was also listed on Forbes' list of billionaires for the first time. The performer/director/producer is becoming politically active, supporting the Biden/Harris campaign, as he also reopens his huge studio outside Atlanta to resume production on a number of projects. Over 350 people are living at the studio, safely separated from the outside world, shooting shows and movies.
It’s hard to stay positive in 2020, a year rife with so much political and social turmoil.
Variety (Oct 21, 2020)
The Flaming Lips held a concert where every member of the band and audience was enclosed in a personal plastic bubble. The band has performed in the past with frontman Wayne Coyne in a similar bubble, but this time everyone got one. The show, which had around 200 attendees, was both a concert and a video shoot.
"Then (I did another drawing with) The Flaming Lips playing a show in 2020. The exact same scenario, but I'm in a bubble, and so is everybody else."
CNN (Oct 18, 2020)

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