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One Year Later, Twitter Is In Shambles
Also: Should 'Killers of the Flower Moon' have an intermission?
Today I’m trying something a little different: I’m going to brazenly rip off a format from, one of my favorite newsletters, and run down a list of news stories/curiosities from the past week, providing some commentary on each. Here’s what’s been on my mind recently in the world of TV, film, tech, and the media:
Matthew Perry passed away at the age of 54. I was never a huge Friends fan but I have to confess that Perry’s passing has really hit me hard. Perry’s work on Friends is legendary and the remembrances and accolades he’s receiving are well-deserved. But the work of his that sticks with me is all the stuff he did after Friends, like his performances on shows like The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Perry always felt like he knew how to balance his sarcastic, self-deprecating persona with a sense of gravitas. That was a rare quality. Even more recently, I was moved by the extended interview he did with Diane Sawyer last year discussing his memoir (here’s part 1 of 5 on YouTube). Perry was open about his struggles with addiction in the hopes that his radical honesty might help others. At the time of the interview, he seemed like he had peace about what he’d gone through and a lot of hope for the future. Watching the interview this week, it was heartbreaking to see a life that had endured so much being cut so short.
It’s been one year since Elon Musk took over Twitter. In the time since, according to The Washington Post, “the number of people actively tweeting has dropped by more than 30 percent […] and the company — which the entrepreneur behind Tesla and SpaceX has renamed X — is hemorrhaging advertisers and revenue.” The company is now officially valued at less than half the $44 billion Elon Musk paid for it. Asput it, “You can’t reach an audience on X. You can’t organize on X. You can’t follow breaking news on X. The people who made Twitter fun have all given up. There’s nothing worth sticking around for anymore.” If Musk’s quest was to destroy a valuable tool for information sharing, creating connection, and speaking truth to power, he’s certainly succeeded (Note: that was probably his quest). On a personal level, it’s been tragic to watch a platform I dedicated so much time to get run into the ground by horrible business decisionmaking but as I wrote last year, it’s important not to get too sentimental about these platforms. Their only worth is their ability to get your ideas out to people who want to follow your work. Once they stop doing that, it’s time to move on.
- that Threads is Twitter’s heir apparent.
The Five Nights at Freddy’s movie is a massive hit. The movie was only tracking to make around $50-60MM this weekend on a $20MM budget. Instead it opened with around $78MM, becoming one of the biggest horror movie openings of the year and the second-biggest videogame movie opening of all time right after Super Mario Bros. More notably, according to The Wakeup, 36% of the opening night audience were between 13-17 years old. Maybe moviegoing has a future after all! I watched Freddy’s and thought the movie was dreadfully boring. The animatronic effects are great, but the film is glacially paced and the tone feels wobbly throughout. But after talking with my Decoding TV co-host Patrick Klepek about it, I have a deeper understanding of why folks are so into this film. Even prior to the movie’s release, Freddy’s had already transcended its beloved status as a videogame and become a cultural phenomenon via memes, streams, and YouTube videos. Freddy’s on the big screen is simply its latest step towards this property dominating the hearts and minds of all the youths. You can listen to our convo about the film on Decoding TV or watch it below.
Apple and Paramount are unhappy about theaters putting intermissions into ‘Killers of the Flower Moon.’ According to Variety, a bunch of theaters around the world (and one lone indie theater in Colorado) were putting intermissions into Scorsese’s film ranging from six to fifteen minutes long. As a result, Paramount and Apple have reached out to ask them to knock it off. I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, Martin Scorsese (and any artist, really) should have the right to have their work exhibited how they wish. And theaters should not be allowed to unilaterally insert breaks or otherwise change the work in any way — it would set a very bad precedent. On the other hand: really? This is where Paramount is going to hold the line? Intermissions make a 3-hour-and-26-mins film like Killers more accessible. And it’s not like all movies are exhibited in perfect format all the time anyways. I’m sure we’ve all experienced movies that have dim projection or terrible sound. In short: Scorsese/Apple/Paramount are totally within their rights to demand no intermissions for Killers. I just wish they wouldn’t exercise that right in this particular instance.
Hasan Minhaj responded to The New Yorker’s story about him with a 21-minute video. Clare Malone/The New Yorker also issued a statement in response to Hasan’s response. A few folks have been asking my opinion on this matter since I’ve spent some time writing about my disappointment with Minhaj. Sadly, my opinion hasn’t changed very much! I still think what Minhaj did was wrong and I still think he’s worth evaluating with different criteria than a typical comedian. Minhaj’s video spends about 10 minutes providing more context about his prom story from Homecoming King and that’s the most damning part of the video (and likely why he opened with it and spent so much dedicated to it). While Malone’s statement doesn’t do a great job of addressing Minhaj’s points, a lot of people who watched Minhaj’s video don’t seem to understand that Malone’s job is not to present Minhaj in the best light possible. In fact, Malone might have had access to information that we/Minhaj don’t! (For instance, perhaps the woman in Minhaj’s story has changed her opinion on their relationship in the years since the Minhaj’s email “receipts” occurred. We don’t know because journalists like Malone generally don’t reveal their sources). For the rest of the video, Minhaj again provides more context on two of his on-stage stories, but he affirms the fundamental truths of the New Yorker piece: that he fabricated or embellished events to make them more dramatic. Minhaj also does nothing to address any of the allegations of a toxic workplace on Patriot Act, which were also raised in the New Yorker piece. It’s been truly bizarre watching the internet turn its opinion on this story because while Minhaj’s video is slick and seems exculpatory, he spends the vast majority of it agreeing with Malone’s accusations.
According to Matt Belloni in The Town podcast, Minhaj’s trajectory to take over the hosting chair on The Daily Show was pretty much a done deal before The New Yorker story hit, which then caused panic at Comedy Central and prompted them to reset their host search. Belloni speculates we might see Minhaj sue one or more parties involved before this is all over, unless he’s otherwise paid off. We’ll see.
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Other Stuff David Chen Has Made
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[PAID ONLY] On my personal Patreon, I shared some life updates and did some mini-reviews of Anatomy of a Fall, Priscilla, and The Killer. Listen here!