This is a special day at Act Four: After a year at The Washington Post, the blog is about to get bigger. Some of you have read Stacia Brown and Sonny Bunch’s guest-blogging here while I’ve been on vacation, and as of Monday, they’ll be weekly contributors to the site.
As a reminder, Stacia is the founder of Beyond Baby Mamas, a blog and online support community for single mothers of color. She has been published at the Atlantic, Salon, the New Republic, Fusion, Buzzfeed, Poets & Writers, and various other publications. Stacia has appeared on the “Today” Show, NPR, PBS NewsHour, “NewsNation with Tamron Hall” and HuffPost Live to discuss pop culture, race and parenting. And Sonny is executive editor for the Washington Free Beacon, for which he writes about culture and politics. Sonny’s work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Review, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Reason and other outlets. He is a member of the Washington Area Film Critics Association.
Both Stacia and Sonny have been big influences on my thinking. I’m delighted to have them here on a regular basis. I hope you’ll welcome them warmly.
And now, to the links!
• “A Girl, A Shoe, A Prince: The Endlessly Evolving Cinderella,” by Linda Holmes: Holmes goes deep on the common elements that show up in all the hundreds of variants in the “Cinderella” story on the occasion of Disney’s latest live-action adaptation of the classic.
“The actual Cinderella tale, while a nebulous thing that can be hard to pin down with precision, is more than that. There’s very little that’s common to every variant of the story, but in general, you have a mistreated young woman, forced to do menial work, either cast out or unloved by her family,” Holmes explains. “She has an opportunity to marry well and escape her situation, but she gets that chance only after being mistaken for a higher-status person, so she has to get the man who may marry her to recognize her in her low-status form, which often happens either via a shoe that fits or some kind of food that she prepares. It’s partly a fantasy about simplifying the relationships between social standing and coupling — one that makes the most sense in a world in which class differences are an accepted barrier to a good man choosing to marry a woman. If the prince is a man who believes from the outset that love conquers all, the story doesn’t really make any sense. It would be hard to set ‘Cinderella’ on a properly functioning egalitarian collective.”
• “Why We Need Terry Pratchett’s Brand of Moral Outrage,” by Kieron Gillen: This is a lovely obituary for the late fantasy author that gets at the core of his appeal — and his moral power.
“Across the 40, with a 41st to be published posthumously, I struggle to think of a big issue he didn’t go to the mat and have a best of three with,” Gillen argues. “The jokes, the wordplay, the sentences were the style. We came to Pratchett for the substance, what he said about people. Pratchett fundamentally understood fantasy as a device for emphasizing humanity rather than escaping from it. You use the fantasy to make the point more precise, more undeniable, easier to digest, and impossible to refute. We can see ourselves more clearly. As core character and general force of nature Granny Weatherwax once put it: ‘Sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself.’ Despite the core moral compass, a sermon wasn’t the point. This is moral rather than moralizing. When your core moral compass, as suggested above, is a militant empathy, then the characters have to embody that, even the villains — especially the villains. ”
• “Here Lies My Hatred,” by Anonymous: GamePolitics published this interesting piece by an ex-member of GamerGate. It doesn’t necessarily have much to say about the movement itself, but it’s a very interesting reflection on the rewards and risks of getting caught up in an online community.
“What if the community I had joined would turn on me if I said something they did not agree with? I was walking on a tightrope,” the contributor writes. “I desperately wanted people to like me, it’s a character flaw I possess. I would say whatever I thought people wanted to hear. I was terrified of losing what I had gained. I would do anything to not be lonely anymore. I constructed every tweet carefully to avoid this outcome. My family member came back from their business trip and I returned home to be with my partner, but things were tense between us. I spoke to my partner constantly about GG. It was all I could talk about. All I seemed to care about. Gleefully divulging the latest news, though I could tell they didn’t care.”