Gold!: Eric Reads the Week, #59
Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
This week: Two times the Goldblum, a Black Panther interview, Justin's adequate Bowl performance, plus OH. SO. MUCH. 'LYMPICS.
On a cross-country flight, I found that they were showing Three Billboard outside Ebbing, Missouri. I had wanted to see the movie because I like the people in it, I liked the trailer, and I often like the writer/director Martin McDonagh. My enthusiasm about it had waned a bit recently because many of the reviews and thinkpieces about the film took it to task for being overly sympathetic toward its racist characters while portraying its few characters of color in barely one-dimension. It sucks when a movie you're psyched about turns out to be problematic. Some might say the solution is for everyone to lighten up and not take things so seriously. But, spoiler alert, the solution is actually for people making art, making policy, making statements, to not be problematic.
Anyway, the movie was free on the plane so I figured I wouldn't be betraying my core values by watching it. I'd know what I was talking about if ever anyone invited me on a nightly talk show to discuss a movie that came out 3 months ago but I wouldn't run the risk of financially supporting something I had issues with. Also, it's important to see work that you find unsuccessful or frustrating, I think. Especially if it's possible to be in conversation with that work without traumatizing yourself. This was my thought process, squeezed into the middle seat on a United flight across the nation.
I also decided to watch the movie because I get really self-conscious about sleeping on planes if I'm not against the window. David was next to me on one side but a stranger was on the other side and I didn't want this seemingly normal student to be terrified by my non-stop ballet of sleep-drooping, head-lolling, sleep apnea-ing, and wake-gasping. It's exhausting for me so I'm sure it's a real workout for any witnesses present.
Why don't I just get one of those little donut pillows? I don't know. We all sabotage ourselves in large and small ways.
So, in an effort to be polite to the stranger next to me, I queued up a hyper-violent movie about vengeance.
One of the important things about Martin McDonagh's work is his poetic facility with profanity. Like Mamet, he's able to string together symphonies of expletives and as a writer and a listener I really enjoy that sometimes. Don't tell my parents, who raised me better than this, but sometimes a florid stream of curses really hits the spot.
I was initially worried about damaging the innocent mien of the student sitting next to me (he was, like, 22, but you never know) but I figured with the closed captions off and my earbuds in, he would remain unperturbed and pure of heart.
I will now tell you what happens in the first five minutes of Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. There are no spoilers here.
We look at the three billboards for a long time, from a lot of different angles while sad music plays. They are pretty run down. I presume we are outside of Ebbing, Missouri, but I cannot be sure.
Frances McDormand's character drives by the three billboards. She stops, she backs up. She gets an idea. Her hair is down in this scene.
Next scene: Frances McDormand walks into the Ebbing Billboard office. Her hair is up. She says to the brother from Get Out, "Hi, I'd like to rent the three billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri." The brother from Get Out says "We don't have three billboards outside of--oh, well, look at that. We do."
Frances McDormand says, "I assume there's words you can't say on a billboard. What would those be? Farby Corn?"
R. Eric Thomas pauses the movie and rewinds.
Frances McDormand: Here is a profanity: Farby Corn! Any questions?
R. Eric Thomas turns the movie off. I should have known they would dub over the profanity because apparently airplanes are the last bastion of decency in the world, but this just seemed ridiculous. Fran (as Holly Hunter calls her) has just listed three Grade A curse words and all I heard was Farby Corn, which sounds like the lead character in a southern gothic novel. I knew it would be hard to take this movie seriously. If you're dubbing over profanity, why are you having the characters say nonsense?! Why not just bleep it? Or have her say something like "Fart, burp, or creep" as her three naughty words. Who knows what the rules of billboard decorum are, anyway? You ever seen the word creep on a billboard? That would really disturb me, to be honest. Just the word creep in big letters. I would vote against that if there were an election about it of some sort. I'm an upstanding person of good moral carriage who likes non-stop profanity and doesn't want to see the word creep on a 40-foot billboard. I'm an American!
This week's columns are all very American! From a Man of the Woods at a national championship game, to the very chill idea of giving our terrible president a parade. But first! OLYMPIC HOTTIES!
A Deep Dive Into the 'Grams of the Olympic Hotties
We have put an entire team of researchers on this subject; we will not rest until we have discovered every hot Olympian and awarded them the gold medal for Thirst. I have committed my life to this important study. If you are a hot Olympian, please email me directly. I will not stop until the truth is revealed. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
DANAI GURIRA ON WHY BLACK PANTHER'S STORY NEEDS TO BE TOLD
"What I thought was really interesting was the idea of when someone has the responsibility of the longevity and the thriving of a nation on their shoulders, which is very much what her job is. The idea of protecting the leadership of this nation, the sovereignty of this nation, even if you don't like what's happening. That struggle and complexity, I found really compelling." [READ THE FULL INTERVIEW]
The Shirtless Tongan Flag Bearer is Back, and Shirtless, in PyeongChang
Wow, amazing that the 2018 Olympic Winter Games just began and already Tonga has been declared the winner of every event. Hard to believe, but them's the rules. Congratulations to Tonga and all of its extremely attractive citizens. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
All the Perplexing Justin Timberlake Halftime Show Moments
Justin began his set by giving us a glimpse of everyone's favorite thing about the concert-going experience: staring at the back of a bunch of people's heads and their glowing phones. Who doesn't love being reminded that a bunch of people paid more than you did for the pleasure of taking a video that no one will watch? Also, where was he in this part? Why does the basement of the Minnesota football stadium include a seedy Berlin after hours club? Please welcome to the stage, special guest Fraulein Sally Bowles! [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Inside the Planning of Trump's Very Chill Military Parade
Trump also wanted to include tanks and rocket launchers as part of his Inauguration Parade. A request to which everyone responded, "Yikes." So... I guess we're doing this. That should be the new motto of the country: America—I guess we're doing this. One does wonder, however, how a fever dream in the mind of a megalomaniac that will be used to great metaphorical effect in future dramas about the present became literal marching orders for an army. Here's how I imagine it went down. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Bekah's Missing Person Saga Is the Most Interesting Thing About The Bachelor
The police called Bekah M., who was like, “Whoops! Totes not missing, guys. Sorry! I’ve been doing this thing with this dude. It’s a whole thing.” She told her mother she was going to work on a marijuana farm and instead filmed a television show about marrying a stranger. All of this tracks. God bless the mother who was like, “Marijuana farms? Live your life. But don’t call for two weeks and I’m sending in the troops.” [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Jeep's Super Bowl Commercial Gives You Two Sexy Jeff Goldblums
In a play on Jurassic Park, Goldblum, the only silver fox whose hair is actually made of silver, appears first as his younger self in the role of Dr. Ian Malcolm, and then as his present day self, Dr. Sexual Healing. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Are You Happy to Be in Paris?: Arbitrary Rankings from Bachelor, Ep. 6
The most intriguing moment of the whole thing comes after Krystal has told Arie that Kendall isn't ready for a relationship and then Arie tells Kendall this. Instead of a) being like "she doesn't know me and neither do you, so let's all find our lanes and get into them," or b) pulling Krystal's hair out, Kendall sits down with Krystal and reads her for filth in a conversational tone.
That's not even true. It wasn't a read. It was a psychological evaluation. It was a "Come to Jesus" talk. It was five minutes of Kendall finding new and creative ways of saying "Bless your heart." [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Random thing from the internet...
This Quincy Jones interview on Vulture took me all. the. way. out. It's a work of art. Don't play around with black elders, y'all. They have shade and gossip shut up in their bones.
Stay gold, Farby,