Hey there! It’s been a little over two years since the last issue. I’m going to try and write this on a regular basis.
(You’re getting this because you subscribed on my website, jrubenoff.com, or maybe through Twitter @joshsj.)
When I saw this last weekend at the SF Independent Film Festival, I kept thinking it felt like Get Out for second-generation immigrants. To be clear, it’s nowhere near as good as Get Out: the characters are barely fleshed out, and the tone feels somewhat misanthropic. But, like Peele’s horror story, it takes an issue that’s especially resonant for an underrepresented group in cinema and elevates it to a surreal extreme.
Here’s the premise: Imagine your parents were so disappointed in you that they stranded you in their oppressive country of origin against your will. Yes, it’s as bonkers as it sounds. The lead character grows up in Norway, and her parents kidnap her and send her to Pakistan after they catch her fooling around with her white boyfriend. I’ve linked to the trailer above, but although the latter half is edited to seem heartwarming, don’t be fooled. The whole thing plays like a thriller, and the core concept is haunting enough that I’m still thinking about it days later.
The father’s character arc mirrored a dynamic I saw in my own parents when I was growing up. If you’re unwilling or incapable of collaborating with your child to envision a future you can both aspire to, you’re left with a torturous dilemma. On the one hand, I can understand the parental impulse to go to incredible lengths to give a “difficult” child the future you want for them. On the other hand, the parent presumably loves their kid. How much suffering can you inflict upon someone you love before accepting that they must forge their own path?
Click through to see if they’re playing in a theater near you.
These are my idiosyncratic habits for dealing with the hellscape of social media. It’s okay if you have different rules, but hopefully you’ll learn something from mine?
First, I found that frequent context-switching was a big source of exhaustion after reading my timeline for 30 minutes or so. So, instead of following people, use private lists sorted by topic (“Design”, “Film”, “Managers”, etc.) with 60 people max per list.
Instantly unfollow anyone who:
Engages in self-righteous political grandstanding
Makes bad-faith arguments
Tweets or retweets the phrase “Retweet if you agree”
Strongly consider unfollowing anyone who:
Tweets more than 10 times a day (if they’re a person)
Tweets more than 4 times a week (if they’re an organization)
Puts a dot in front of the tweet when angrily @’ing other people or businesses
Panders to your intelligence by making obviously true statements or straw-man arguments
Posts content that actively makes you feel dumber by reading it: dumb jokes, TV live-tweets, etc. (To be clear, this is not a knock on this person’s intelligence, just what they post.)
Comments obsessively on political horserace news / White House palace intrigue
Begins a 50-tweet thread, or retweets said thread, with the phrase “We need to talk about […]”
If you decide to tweet:
Seriously rethink your decision
Delete it after 3 days max
Amplify and promote under-seen work
Reply to others with a question if you’re curious
Never argue (it will rarely be productive)
It’s OK to congratulate others on their accomplishments
When you shouldn’t use Twitter:
Reading a book is usually preferable to following an expert
Don’t use Twitter for current events. Instead, read books, longform journalism, and news outlets, where you can scan headlines and emotionally prepare yourself for anxiety-provoking stories
If you find that Twitter helps you discover interesting Medium articles related to your profession, disabuse yourself of that notion and read a book instead
Donating to or volunteering for a nonprofit / political movement are infinitely more effective forms of activism than RT’ing shit or reading woke accounts
Why do this? My goals for Twitter are: to feel calm during the day while I’m reading it, maintain control over my attention and dopamine levels, refine my taste instead of getting complacent, get exposed to new and intelligent viewpoints, and get recommendations for new things I should check out.
One big flaw I’ve noticed in the rules above: they’re arguably biased against groups that are marginalized or underrepresented in media organizations, who are thus forced to use attention-grabbing tactics (like those 50-tweet-long threads) and emotionally triggering language to get their message out. I try to include these folks in my media diet by visiting their profile page directly, like I’m an old person.
Princess Cyd, a bisexual coming-of-age dramedy that’s in my 2017 top 10, is currently on Netflix
Touki Bouki (streaming on Filmstruck) makes a great double feature alongside Black Panther
If you loved Get Out but haven’t seen the original The Stepford Wives (1975)… what are you doing? Rent it at your video store, pirate it, get on it
Here’s what to expect in future issues:
Thoughts on design and organizational culture
A playbook on how to effectively work remotely
More cultural recommendations
More reviews of films you may never have heard of before
I hope you’ll stick around.