Rapid fire is the publishing world’s new normal, but inspiring long-form content is not a thing of the past. Enter #LongReads: a weekly post containing what we believe to be 5 of the most compelling pieces of long-form, entertainment-related content circulating around the web.
For your post-Sunday Mother’s Day Brunch pleasure, here are our 5 picks. We hope they will help you exercise your brain and prepare you for the week ahead.
We take cop dramas on television for granted. But if it weren’t for “Hill Street Blues” some thirty years ago, we wouldn’t have had “NYPD Blue,” “Law & Order” or even “The Wire” for that matter. With “Hill Street Blues,” co-creators Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll completely re-imagined the television cop drama by fearlessly tackling controversial subjects that had never been seen before on a primetime network show. To commemorate Shout Factory’s release of a thirty year anniversary DVD box set of the complete series, Indiewire’s Will Harris sat down with four members of the original “Hill Street Blues” cast – Charles Haid, Ed Marinaro, James B. Sikking, and Bruce Weitz – to discuss their experiences making the show, as well as their impressions of its lasting impact on television.
“The Paradox of Art as Work” by A.O. Scott
Given the sweeping quality of A.O. Scott’s title for his most recent New York Times column, readers cannot be faulted for expecting a philosophical meditation on the relationship between art and labor. Scott’s piece, however, is much more than just a lamentation for the plight of the modern-day artist. Although he may have been initially prompted to write the article due to a certain amount of mournfulness for how much artists must struggle for monetary compensation in the 21st century, Scott focuses on understanding the struggle in terms of current socioeconomic conditions. One of Scott’s most salient points comes towards the end of his piece where he compares the “stratification” in the arts to the income disparity that has effectively destroyed the American concept of a “middle class.” The top, Scott says, is inhabited by “[a] concentration of big stars, blockbusters and best sellers – Beyonce, “The Avengers” and their ilk.” At the bottom, on the the other hand, lives “[a]n army of striving self-starters” who are aching to get noticed. Which leaves very little room for the artistic middle class – what Scott describes as “modestly selling writers, semi-popular bands, working actors, local museums and orchestras” – to make a living.
“It All Began with O. J.” by Lili Anolik
Lili Anolik marks the twentieth anniversary of the O.J. Simpson trial with a fierce Vanity Fair article in which she characterizes the trial as television’s first reality program and subsequently goes on to explain its lasting impact on popular culture over the past two decades. Anolik’s prose is both captivating and unsettling. She isn’t shy about her distaste for the subject on which she is writing – fashioning vivid descriptions from violent adjectives and frequently throwing in snarky parenthetical asides. At the same time, however, her attention to detail suggests that she holds a certain degree of reverence for the analytical opportunity it offers.
“The Confidence Gap” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
Most of the recent rhetoric around the gender inequality in the workplace has been focused on using statistics as a “call to arms” for employers, the federal government and, of course, the working female community. A “call to arms,” while necessary, does little to provide the working female population with actionable steps in the present. Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s article for “The Atlantic,” however, takes a well-calculated leap with a thesis that suggests confidence levels may lie at the root of the gender inequality problem in the workplace. Although this thesis may sound sexist, Kay and Shipman support their claim with research data that reminds us how the phrase “mind over matter” really can make a difference at the end of the day.
“How A Nerd-Hero Writer Became The Breakout Star Of This Summer’s Most Unlikely Blockbuster” by Doree Shafrir
No matter the genre, bestselling author who have had their books adapted for the screen – whether it be J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer or even Nicholas Sparks – share the same burden; which is to oversee the massive fandom that oftentimes ends up transcending the books’ pages and taking on a life of its own. Unlike Rowling, Meyer and Sparks, John Green, author of “The Fault In Our Stars,” is a proud, self-professed fanboy – as he so aptly demonstrates through the long-running Vlogbrothers series he continues to produce with his brother. Fox 2000’s feature adaptation of “The Fault In Our Stars” will be released later this summer with Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort starring as two cancer patients who fall in love as they both battle their respective illnesses. In an uncharacteristic move, Fox 2000 allowed Green to document the film’s production process on social media. Nonetheless, Buzzfeed staff writer Doree Shafrir’s piece on Green seems to stress that Green’s experiences as a fanboy strengthen his credibility with not only in the eyes of the viewer but also the Fox brand. At the end of the day, as Shafrir points out, Green is not worried about his next victory. In fact at one point she quotes him saying, “I know that this will never happen to me again. I’ll write other books and their lives will look more like my previous books and that’s okay with me. I remain interested in fandom and the relationship we have with the things that we love.”