Required Reading

This week, bus seat ridicule, rewatching The Apprentice, Dunkirk’s colonialism problem, the White House as West Wing, and the future of fake news.

A Norwegian anti-immigrant group has been ridiculed after members apparently mistook a photograph of six empty bus seats posted on its Facebook page for a group of women wearing burqas. Insanity ensued. (via Nettavisen and Guardian)

As it happens, most episodes of Trump on “The Apprentice” are curiously hard to find: they’re not available to stream or download. Only first-season DVDs are for sale, legally, online—and only used ones. The show is not at the Paley Center for Media’s research library, either. (M-G-M, which owns the rights, declined to comment.) To watch, you’ll need occult methods. But at the Paley you can catch something nearly as illuminating: a video of a panel discussion about the show, from 2004, following its first season. It was filmed the day after “The Apprentice” lost the Emmy for best reality show to “The Amazing Race.” The moderator is the “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush, who, a year later, played Trump’s wingman in the pussy-grabbing tape.

Yet Britain’s fixation with the war doesn’t do justice to the complexity of the subject. The focus on Britain “standing alone” sometimes risks diminishing how the war brought pain in many places, right across the globe. The war, especially when viewed from the East, was about two empires locking horns rather than a nation taking on fascism. Above all, the narrative of a plucky island nation beating back the Germans omits the imperial dimension of the war. Many people living in the colonies were caught up in a vicious conflict beyond their control.

To begin with, for me there is something deeply satisfying about handling a well made book. You would imagine that books per se don’t have much, if any, character. After all, they’re just a bunch of pages held together by a cover (case). But it really goes beyond that. Given we have to touch photobooks when we look at them, we feel how that handle. We feel how they react to us turning their pages. We feel how easy or difficult the handling is.

For me, the key is not to get an incredibly fancy and/or elaborate photobook into my hands. Instead, I derive deep pleasure from photobooks where the form of the object and its intended function work together. That could be a fancy photobook, or it could be some very basic, cheaply printed book. In other words, the point that I want to make here and in the following articles is simply to point out what happens when everything comes together well. I have not been involved in the making of any of these books, so my discussions are going to be based on what I see as working.

He has his own cottage adjacent to the pool; it was recently given a secure perimeter by the Secret Service, leading to the inevitable joke that it’s the only wall Trump has successfully built. Chatting with some members before a recent round of golf, he explained his frequent appearances: “That White House is a real dump.” (A White House spokesperson denies this occurred.)


This plot line has been dragging on for months. How could it be possible that the various puzzle pieces still don’t fit together to prove the President’s traitorous relationship with Vladimir Putin? It’s getting ridiculous. We don’t need another Josh and Donna will-they-or-won’t-they. Let’s resolve this, writers!

  • What is digital blackface, and what does it mean? None of this conversation is new, but this is a clear article about the topic:

Now, I’m not suggesting that white and nonblack people refrain from ever circulating a black person’s image for amusement or otherwise (except maybe lynching photos, Emmett Till’s casket, and videos of cops killing us, y’all can stop cycling those, thanks). There’s no prescriptive or proscriptive step-by-step rulebook to follow, nobody’s coming to take GIFs away. But no digital behavior exists in a deracialized vacuum. We all need to be cognizant of what we share, how we share, and to what extent that sharing dramatizes preexisting racial formulas inherited from “real life.” The Internet isn’t a fantasy — it’s real life.

  • The reviewers of the new “affordable” Tesla car are cooing. Writing for Futurism, Karla Lant says:

“It’s not so much that Tesla is ushering in the future,” Holley argued. “After riding in the Model 3, I’m more inclined to think that Tesla is single-handedly pulling the automotive industry into the present — the way anyone born before the Internet thought 2017 would look like decades earlier.”

You only have to look at the University of Washington’s Synthesizing Obama project, where they took the audio from one of Obama’s speeches and used it to animate his face in an entirely different video with incredible accuracy (thanks to training a recurrent neural network with hours of footage), to get a sense of how insidious these adulterations can be.

Beyond fake news there are many other implications, said Nitesh Saxena, associate professor and research director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s department of computer science. “You could leave fake voice messages posing as someone’s mum. Or defame someone and post the audio samples online.”

  • After the announcement this week that the Attorney General’s office will pursue cases of supposed discrimination against white applicants to college, many people were scratching their heads. One tweeter addressed the myth that many black people in the US go to college for free. It’s an excellent thread:

  • A chilling 43-tweet thread about the slave trade on ISIS territory by Lebanese journalist Jenn Moussa:

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning ET, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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