Critic’s Choice Awards Fashion Review: Brighter Times Ahead

Seeing so many all-white fashion looks on the Critic’s Choice Awards blue carpet Sunday night, you might have thought Hollywood was making another political statement, following last year’s all-black fashion action at the Golden Globes to protest gender inequality.
But the trend is just a trend, at least according to Allison Janney. “We’re all just feeling it,” she said, looking a bit like a superhero in a white Alberta Ferretti cape and pants look, piled high with Neil Lane diamonds.
“Perhaps it is a subconscious message of hope. Brighter times ahead,” added her stylist Tara Swennen.
Or perhaps Hollywood stars, like so many others this January, are obsessed with organization guru Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show, “Tidying Up!” Whatever the reason, the fashion news of the night was a clean sweep. Emily Blunt seemed to get the memo, wearing a crystal-embroidered white silk Prada gown that her stylist Jessica Paster described as “fresh and simple.” Constance Wu romanced in Rodarte, and Lady Gaga in billowy blush Calvin Klein (though sadly, without hair colored to match this time).
Women wore the pants—a lot, with Julia Roberts choosing a deconstructed tuxedo by Nicolas Ghesquiere for Louis Vuitton and Claire Foy projecting power in a navy blue asymmetrical

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Hedi Slimane Hits Back at Celine Critics in First Comments on Furor

RIGHT TO REPLY: Hedi Slimane has hit back at critics of his debut show for Celine, saying those who accused him of misogyny for showing women dressed in short skirts were conservative and puritanical, and suggesting there was a homophobic undertone to the outpouring of vitriol on social networks.
Slimane’s designs for women and men have polarized critics. In his program “5 Minutes de Mode by Loïc Prigent” on France’s TMC channel on Wednesday night, journalist Loïc Prigent featured some of the reactions, including the headline of Booth Moore’s review for the Hollywood Reporter: “Is Hedi Slimane the Donald Trump of Fashion?”
He also made public Slimane’s first comments on the brouhaha, in the form of quotes from an e-mailed statement shown on screen.
“It’s always very jarring and I always feel like people are talking about someone else. Besides, the spirit of the show was light and joyful, but lightness and insouciance are being called into question these days. I’ve already been through this at Saint Laurent,” Slimane was quoted as saying.
“You’re dealing with politics, conflicts of interest, cliques, a predictable attitude, but also staggering exaggerations of conservatism and puritanism,” the designer added. “Violence is a reflection of our time – the

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Kathy Griffin Nails The Hypocrisy Of Critics Calling On Michelle Wolf To Apologize

“So journalists are willing to demand that a comic hired to roast people apologize but they aren’t willing to demand that Trump or his staff apologize to people?” the comedian tweeted.
Comedy
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Trump Defends His Mental Stability, Lashes Out at Critics in Early Morning Tweetstorm

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump asserted that he is a “very stable genius” in a series of tweets early Saturday responding to concerns expressed in Michael Wolff’s red-hot new book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” that he has a diminished mental capacity. Trump has been attacking the author and the book for […]

Variety

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What Critics Said About ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Back In The 1980s

In 2017, Margaret Atwood is ascendant. The New Yorker has dubbed her the “Prophet of Dystopia.” The upcoming Hulu adaptation of her most well-known book, the feminist speculative novel The Handmaid’s Tale, long in the works, has turned out to be almost ludicrously well-timed to the political moment. Atwood, who has also written chilling speculative fiction about other timely issues (such as climate change), seems prescient to rattled liberals in a post-Trump election world. Everyone wants her thoughts on what’s happening and what’s to come.

The media can be fickle, however. The Handmaid’s Tale has become an oft-studied and -cited modern classic, but its initial reception didn’t necessarily foretell its induction into the canon. The New Yorker, per a perusal of its archives from the time, didn’t review it at all; The New York Times published a sniffy takedown by Mary McCarthy. At the time, the Christian Science Monitor described the book as mostly well-received by critics; meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle suggested that reviews had been poor enough as to make Atwood “defensive” during an interview with the publication.

We dug through the archives to remember what critics were saying about The Handmaid’s Tale back in 1986, when it was published in the U.S., and we found everything from tepid reactions to outright pans to glowing odes. The concept of a dystopia premised on the theocratic oppression of women, perhaps unsurprisingly, has always been polarizing.

Below, check out a selection of the original reviews of The Handmaid’s Tale:

The Ecstatic:

“Just as the world of Orwell’s 1984 gripped our imaginations, so will the world of Atwood’s handmaid. She has succeeded in finding a voice for her heroine that is direct, artless, utterly convincing. It is the voice of a woman we might know, of someone very close to us. In fact, it is Offred’s poignant sense of time that gives this novel its peculiar power. The immense changes in her life have come so fast that she is still in a state of shock and disbelief as she relates to us what she sees around her.” 

-Joyce Johnson, The Washington Post

“[A]mong other things, it is a political tract deploring nuclear energy, environmental waste, and antifeminist attitudes.

“But it so much more than that ― a taut thriller, a psychological study, a play on words. It has a sense of humor about itself, as well as an ambivalence toward even its worst villains, who aren’t revealed as such until the very end. Best of all, it holds out the possibility of redemption. After all, the Handmaid is also a writer. She has written this book. She may have survived.”

-Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

“Margaret Atwood’s cautionary tale of postfeminist future shock pictures a nation formed by a backlash against feminism, but also by nuclear accidents, chemical pollution, radiation poisoning, a host of our present problems run amok. Ms. Atwood draws as well on New England Puritan history for her repressive 22[n]d-century society. Her deft sardonic humor makes much of the action and dialogue in the novel funny and ominous at the same time.”

NYT Editor’s Choice pick, 1986 

The Ehhhh:

“Atwood, to her credit, creates a chillingly specific, imaginable night-mare. The book is short on characterization ― this is Atwood, never a warm writer, at her steeliest ― and long on cynicism ― it’s got none of the human credibility of a work such as Walker Percy’s Love In The Ruins. But the scariness is visceral, a world that’s like a dangerous and even fatal grid, an electrified fence. Tinny perhaps, but still a minutely rendered and impressively steady feminist vision of apocalypse.”

Kirkus

“Some details of Atwood’s bizarre anti-Utopia are at least as repellent as those in such forerunners as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in 1932 and George Orwell’s 1984 16 years later. Those two novels have come to be seen as fiercely moral tracts that jarred their readers to awaken them. Will Atwood, as different from Huxley and Orwell as they were from each other, join them in the accepted ranks of those disguised idealists who image the future as a nightmare in order that it may remain just that ― a fantasy? Certainly the early reviews of her book have been mainly positive.”

-Marilyn Gardner, The Christian Science Monitor

“Margaret Atwood’s new novel is being greeted as the long-awaited feminist dystopia and I am afraid that for some time it will be viewed as a test of the imaginative power of feminist paranoia […] As a dystopia, this is a thinly textured one. […] But if Offred is a sappy stand-in for Winston Smith, and Gilead seems at times to be only a coloring book version of Oceania, it may be because Atwood means to do more than scare us about the obvious consequences of a Falwellian coup d’état.”

-Barbara Ehrenreich, The New Republic 

“[Atwood’s] regime is a hodgepodge: a theocracy that’s not recognizably Christian, that most Christians don’t accept; a repressive measure borrowed from South Africa; an atrocity adopted by the Romanians. With no unifying vision, the center doesn’t hold.”

-Alix Madrigal, The San Francisco Chronicle

“As a cautionary tale, Atwood’s novel lacks the direct, chilling plausibility of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World. It warns against too much: heedless sex, excessive morality, chemical and nuclear pollution. All of these may be worthwhile targets, but such a future seems more complicated than dramatic. But Offred’s narrative is fascinating in a way that transcends tense and time: the record of an observant soul struggling against a harsh, mysterious world.”

-Paul Gray, TIME

The Harsh:

The Handmaid’s Tale is watchable, but it’s also paranoid poppycock — just like the book. The actors are imprisoned in Atwood’s grimly inhuman design. […]

“What finally takes the cake for absurdity is a subplot featuring Aidan Quinn as Richardson’s handsome savior. It’s as if Atwood, after all that didactic scrubbing, couldn’t quite wash the princess fantasy out of her story. The Handmaid’s Tale is a tract that strives for sensitivity ― it lacks even the courage of its own misanthropy.”

-Owen Gleiberman, EW (on the 1990 film adaptation)

“The writing of The Handmaid’s Tale is undistinguished in a double sense, ordinary if not glaringly so, but also indistinguishable from what one supposes would be Margaret Atwood’s normal way of expressing herself in the circumstances. This is a serious defect, unpardonable maybe for the genre: a future that has no language invented for it lacks a personality. That must be why, collectively, it is powerless to scare.” 

-Mary McCarthy, The New York Times

“This cri de coeur is certainly impassioned, and Atwood’s adept style renders the grim atmosphere of the future quite palpably. But the didacticism of the novel wears thin; the book is simply too obvious to support its fictional context. Still, Atwood is quite an esteemed fiction writer, the author of such well-received novels as Surfacing (1973) and Life before Man (1980). Demand for her latest effort, therefore, is bound to be high; unfortunately, the number of disappointed readers may be equally high.”

-Brad Hooper, Booklist

“Offred’s monotonous manner of expression just drones and drones.”

-Robert Linkous, San Francisco Review of Books  

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Critics, Ratings, and Society

Critics, Ratings, and Society


How do we make choices in an information-saturated world? Prior studies often assume that the problem is coping with the volume of information. They rarely ask how people judge the validity of new information. But we are all forced to depend on secondary sources that no one has the time or resources to verify. In Critics, Ratings, and Society Grant Blank confronts these issues through an investigation of independent evaluations and reviews. Reviews are widespread; they rank products ranging from books and films to automobiles and computers. They are important not just because they influence success and failure of products, they also make or break reputations and careers, and often play a critical role in stratification, power, and status. Reviews are shaped by the interaction of media editors, product makers, and consumers into credible cultural objects. These are processed into two types of rating systems: connoisseurial reviews that depend on the unique skills and experience of a single reviewer, a connoisseur; and procedural reviews that are based on the results of tests, well-defined procedures that allow reviewers to rank groups of similar products. Both rating systems construct hierarchies of products. Blank develops a new theory explaining the circumstances where economic concerns like price are overshadowed by review-constructed hierarchies. When this happens, culture constructs markets. He argues that review-constructed hierarchies are widespread as a consequence of inherent structural characteristics of contemporary capitalism and, as a result, reviews will become more important in the future.

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