Outside Reading — The Last Frame of the Last Reel edition

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In Praise Of Movies That Just End (Because They Used To Know When To End) by Mike Ryan

This is exactly the sort of grumpy-old-man movie criticism I’m looking for these days. I’ve been slow to reengage in the moviegoing process for a variety of reasons — led by the most obvious reason, of course — one of which is a preemptive weariness over bloated runtimes. Protracted and redundant endings are definitely a component of that, and I think Mike Ryan is correct when he carbon dates the beginning of the trend to Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. This article is published by Uproxx.

THE CULTURAL REVISIONISM INDUSTRY by R.E. Hawley

In this essay for Gawker, R.E. Hawley expertly breaks down the frustrating cycle of the most sensationalized stories in the media, from high-volume alarm stoked by irresponsible speculation through the hardening process into ill-informed conventional wisdom all the way through to retrospective clarification and truth-telling. As Hawley points out, most of these situations have people striving to be the voices of reason the whole time, but they’re bounced out of the club of cackling commentators. Why is examining, understanding, and pushing back against the media’s treatment of Britney Spears back in the day important? It’s because that poisonous approach to covering celebrity has been transferred over, with all its toxicity intact, to coverage of politics and governance, and that’s doing untold damage to legions of people, including those who don’t have lucrative Las Vegas residencies as an option when formulating their bounce-back plans.

Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books (2020) by Ken Quattro

This is simultaneously a formidable work or scholarship and an inspiring anthology of vintage comic book storytelling. Ken Quattro commits himself to finding and sharing the stories of Black artists who contributed to comic books in the Golden and Silver Ages of the form. The biographical sketches are economical and lively, and they absolutely brim with social history that provides useful context. Newly attuned to my own ignorance of historic affronts against the Black population, exemplified by my late-in-life education on the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, I especially appreciate that Quattro calls attention to other similarly obscured events (such Philadelphia riots in the nineteen-tens that were arguably caused by, and unquestionably escalated by, law enforcement abuse of the Black population). Fittingly, the real treasure of this book is the preservation and celebration of the work of the men it documents. I want to live in the record store Jay Paul Jackson renders in his Home Folks comic, and I’m convinced that Clarence Matthew Baker‘s images of female beauty deserve to be spoken of with the same reverence given to the likes of Alberto Vargas and George Petty.

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