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Daily Reads: ‘Fifty Shades’ vs. ‘Secretary,’ What ISIS Learned From Hollywood, and More

Daily Reads: 'Fifty Shades' vs. 'Secretary,' What ISIS Learned From Hollywood, and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential
news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. “Fifty Shades” vs. “Secretary.” Many of those condemning “Fifty Shades of Grey” hold “Secretary” up as a better representation of BSDM. Judy Berman of Flavorwire says that it isn’t, but it is a better film and a more appealing representation.

As a model for the BDSM community, which in real life requires things like safe words, discussions of limits, and “aftercare” to protect against abuse and sexual assault, the relationship in “Secretary” is the farthest thing from “safe, sane, and consensual.” But in that film’s world, which is undeniably a fantasy world, that is precisely what makes it a romantic fantasy that is practically universal: understanding so complete that no discussion is ever required. Read more.

2. Cubans and American Television. Netflix is the first entertainment provider to move into Cuba. How do Cubans watch American television? Vulture’s Yasmin S. Portales-Machado and Ted Henken investigate.

Consumer preferences vary depending on whatever is available on the PKT in their region. Javier, a distributor from the Playa section of Havana, noted that his customers prefer fantasy shows from the U.S. It’s unlikely Cubans will be watching “Conan‘s” Cuba episode, or any late-night show, for that matter — adapting the inside jokes would require a sophisticated level of translation. According to distributors in Havana, some of the most popular shows currently in rotation are: “Arrow,” “The Blacklist,” “Game of Thrones” (some have already reserved and paid for the upcoming season), “The Big Bang Theory”…Read more.

3. Bringing Back the Dead. The Lazarus Effect” is the latest film to play with the idea of science bringing the dead back to life, but what’s the actual science behind the idea? Anthony Kaufman of Sloan Science & Film talks to Dr. Benjamin S. Abella about the subject:

SSF: What exactly happens to the body after an hour that makes resuscitation essentially impossible?

BA: That’s a very central question, and we really don’t have good answers. One of the least understood areas of the field is what are the injury pathways that make this such a time-sensitive issue. Cardiac arrest is one of the most exquisitely time-sensitive diseases known to medicine. Every minute you’re in unsafe cardiac arrest without CPR or shocks, your survival rate drops 10%. This helps put in context why it’s so mortal. Let’s say someone collapses in your house, and you call an ambulance. Response time might be seven minutes, so already you have lost up to 50-70% of your chance of successful resuscitation. So the question is: What’s going on here? Read more.

4. In Danger of Oversimplification. Adam Curtis’ “Bitter Lake” looks at this history of Afghanistan without telling simple tales of good and evil, but Sight & Sound’s Jason Burke writes that it might risk oversimplification because of it.

The film has already usefully explained that at some stage in the 1980s or 1990s conflicts that were once seen as political, and with causes in the real world, in dirty nasty politics and people, and in the deep complexities of societies, became problems for the West to solve. It has mentioned how the Saudi Arabian monarchy had used its massive oil wealth, vastly inflated following the 1973-74 embargo, to fund the export of rigorous, intolerant and conservative ‘Wahhabi’ strands of Islam around the Muslim world – a move it made both to bolster internal support after a bid by domestic extremists to prompt an Islamist revolution by seizing the Grand Mosque at Mecca, and to spread its influence throughout the Islamic world following the Iranian revolution. Curtis has also weaved in various strands of the US and UK reliance on Saudi Arabia, a supplier of oil for the former, and a key customer of arms for the latter. Read more.

5. Confessions of a “Fucking Plagiarist.” According to Javier Grillo-Marxauch, “plagiarists” are people who can at least plausibly claim they didn’t mean to plagiarize while “fucking plagiarists” are people who know damn well what they did. Grillo-Marxauch writes in the Los Angeles Review of Books of his time as a fucking plagiarist.

On May 15 of 1982, the third-to-last sketch of “Saturday Night Live” was a two-hander entitled “Table Talk.” The premise: cast member Tony Rosato played a rough-around-the-edges vulgarian food critic using a first-person, break-the-fourth-wall monologue to teach the audience how to defraud good restaurants of their wine. A less-than-competent waiter served as his foil…Sometime in 1986, I wrote a short play about a stuck-up, manners-obsessed restaurant critic using a first-person, break-the-fourth-wall monologue to teach the audience the make-up of a perfect meal and the way a proper restaurant ought to go about serving it….An incompetent waiter and grotesquely stereotypical French maître d’ — who was more than a little derivative of John Cleese in “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life” — served as his foils. Read more.

6. The Increasing Sophistication of ISIS Videos. ISIS’ terror videos are becoming slicker and more polished. The Los Angeles Times’ Jeffrey Fleishman reports:

The most recent films unfold with almost surreal matter-of-factness, taking their time before death is carried out. Cameras pan and glance from different angles; anxiety builds. The executioners are masked and often dressed in black, including the militant who beheaded American hostage James Foley in August. In those videos and in the one in which 21 Coptic Christians were decapitated on the Libyan coast, the killers speak in English and relish in lurid exhibitionism. Read more.

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