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This story contains spoilers for Stranger Things 4
With the release of its final two episodes on July 1, Stranger Things 4 has ended—and a couple of major characters meet their end by the finale, too. Netflix’s flagship sci-fi show has never been afraid to kill off characters before (RIP Barb), and the final feature-length episodes included a couple of big deaths—and some near-death moments sure to have huge ramifications for the show as it heads into its fifth and final season.
Here’s everything to know about the major—and devastating—deaths of characters in season 4, the characters who nearly died, and the few whose fates remain unknown. (A full recap of the ending of season 4 is available here.)
Who died in Stranger Things 4?
Fans have long assumed that Doctor Martin Brenner (Mathew Modine), the researcher in charge of Hawkins Lab who studied and abused Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and the other telekinetic children, died when a Demogorgon attacked him in season 1. But in season 4, it’s revealed that Brenner survived his injuries and created the NINA Project—a top-secret lab in the Nevada desert designed to give Eleven her powers back.
While Eleven and her “Papa” maintain an uneasy alliance at first, and work together to unlock memories of Vecna’s origins and restore Eleven’s powers, Brenner eventually betrays her. Instead of allowing Eleven and Doctor Owens to leave for Hawkins, Brenner says Eleven isn’t “ready yet” and has his men handcuff Owens while he sedates Eleven and puts a power-inhabiting collar on her.
Just then, though, Lt. Colonel Jack Sullivan (Sherman Augustus)—the leader of a rival governmental faction who thinks Eleven is a threat who should be killed rather than empowered—attacks the base. Brenner attempts to flee with Eleven, but he’s shot multiple times by a sniper in a helicopter. Despite the collar, Eleven is able to use her powers to bring down the chopper. It’s too late for Brenner, though, and in his dying moments, he unlocks Eleven’s collar. He was a megalomaniacal monster who abused Eleven and many other children, but he did have an earnest if extremely toxic and warped affection for Eleven. Likewise, Eleven’s complicated past with “Papa” meant it was still a touching moment when he died.
Continuing Stranger Things’ grand tradition of introducing a new main character only to kill them off by the end of the same season they debuted in (See: Bob Newby, Alexei), Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) does not make it to the end of season 4 alive.
Eddie and Dustin had an important role in the plan to defeat Vecna. While Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Steve (Joe Keery), and Robin (Maya Hawke) went after his body, the pair would create a distraction to lure his hordes of demobats away. Eddie, in the most metal moment of the series, does this by crushing a Metallica solo on the roof of the Upside Down RV. Despite their fortifications, the bats are able to break into the RV. Eddie tricks Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) into retreating into the real world for safety, but he stays behind to buy his friends more time. All season, Eddie had been plagued by guilt for just running away when Chrissy (Grace Van Dien) died, horribly, in front of him back in the premiere. In the end, he finds his courage, first luring the bats away from the RV and then making a fateful decision to charge right into battle with them. The bats fatally wound him, and Dustin makes it back to the Upside Down just in time for Eddie to die in his arms.
Eddie died a hero, but the people of Hawkins think he’s a villain. He’s still the prime suspect in all the brutal murders, and people think his love of metal and Dungeons & Dragons is actually part of some satanic cult—a reference to the real-life satanic panic in the 1980s. Only his friends know how brave he was in the end, but Dustin attempts to tell Eddie’s uncle the truth. He can’t tell the whole truth, of course, but at least Eddie’s family can take some solace in knowing that he fought (against an earthquake?) for his friends. RIP Eddie, you’re shredding with the angels now.
Whose fate remains unclear in Stranger Things?
Max (Sadie Sink) almost dies in the first half of the season when she becomes Vecna’s target. Thanks to her favorite song—Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)”—that Max regains a tether to reality and escapes Vecna’s psychic realm. She spends the rest of the season with her Walkman nearby so she can blast the song again to keep Vecna at bay, but in order for the plan to fight Vecna to work, she needs to be bait. She forgoes the Walkman and makes a plan to avoid Vecna within her own memories since it’s her mind that he’s invading. The plan works—at first.
Disaster strikes when Vecna overpowers all of Max’s friends. His bats take out Eddie while his vine-like tentacles ensnare Nancy, Steve, and Robin. And, although Eleven comes to her rescue and projects into Max’s conciseness to battle Vecna, the villain is able to defeat Eleven. To make things worse, Chrissy’s psycho boyfriend Jason (Mason Dye) accosts Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) while he’s defending Max’s body, accusing him of being involved in Eddie’s “satanic” cult. Jason accidentally destroys the Walkman, which means Kate Bush can’t come to the rescue.
Max floats into the air, her eyes start bleeding, and her limbs begin to snap like twigs. Then, Eleven, with Mike’s encouragement, summons the strength to defeat Vecna while Nancy’s crew torches his physical body. Max falls to the ground before her eyeballs explode like past victims, but she’s been fatally wounded. She dies, scared, in Lucas’ arms. With her death, the fourth gate to the Upside Down opens.
Eleven won’t stand for this, though, and she uses her power to bring Max back to life. After a two-day time jump, we learn that Max is alive again, but barely. She’s in the hospital, all her limbs are horribly broken, and she’s in some sort of coma. The doctors don’t know if she’ll ever wake up, and when Eleven tries to go inside Max’s mind, nobody is there. Though Max is technically alive, it remains to be seen to what extent she’ll ever recover.
Doctor Sam Owens
It’s unclear if Doctor Owens (Paul Reiser) survives the season. We last see him handcuffed to a pipe after Brenner’s betrayal, begging Lt. Colonel Jack Sullivan not to kill Eleven. While Sullivan’s men have no qualms about killing, it’s unclear whether he would have Owens executed when he’s already got him captive as a prisoner. Owens may or may not be alive, but even if he survives the season, he is going to be in a bad place when season 5 begins.
Who is definitely still alive in Stranger Things?
Eleven defeats Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) in a psychic battle, Steve and Nancy light his body on fire, and Nancy shoots him several times with a sawed-off shotgun. But it’s not enough. Vecna’s body goes flying out the window of the Upside Down Creel house and he lands with a thud. However, the body soon disappears—almost certainly a direct homage to when Michael Myers does the same disappearing act at the end of Halloween.
Some of our heroes are hopeful that he died of his wounds after all and really is gone for good. But Will (Noah Schnapp), who was possessed by the Mind Flayer (revealed to have been a servant of Vecna) in season 2, has a connection with the Upside Down, and knows Vecna isn’t gone. His theory seems to be proven correct when, in the closing moments of the finale, ash starts falling from the sky as the Upside Down invades the real world.
It’s as Vecna warned: His defeat wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning of the end. He’s almost certainly still alive and our heroes will have to finish the fight in season 5. Let’s hope they all survive.
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This story contains spoilers for Stranger Things 4: Part Two
The final two episodes of the fourth season of Netflix’s Stranger Things have arrived. With runtimes of one hour and 25 minutes and two hours and 30 minutes, respectively, the episodes feel more like a pair of movies than the end of a TV season. Needless to say, a lot goes down in Hawkins and in the Upside Down in the season’s conclusion.
Here’s everything to know about the events of the final part of Stranger Things season 4, including how the first part of the season fits into the plot, details on the plans to defeat Vecna, an in-memoriam for the characters who died, updates on where various love triangles and relationships stand, and a look forward at where Stranger Things could go from here.
How did Stranger Things 4: Part One end?
An in-depth recap of the first part of season 4 is available here. But in short, here’s where part one left things: Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Murray (Brett Gelman) go to the Soviet Union to rescue an imprisoned Hopper (David Harbour) and his turncoat gulag guard ally Dmitri (Tom Wlaschiha) from a Demogorgon fighting pit. Meanwhile, somewhere in the Nevada desert, Eleven trains with Doctor Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) and the still-alive Doctor Brenner (Matthew Modine) to get her powers back. Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Will (Noah Schnapp), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), and Argyle (Eduardo Franco) are on the run from a faction of the army that wanted Eleven eliminated and in search of their friend. Back in Hawkins, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Max (Sadie Sink), Robin (Maya Hawke), Steve (Joe Keery), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), and Eddie (Joseph Quinn), investigate a new threat from the Upside Down, a creature they called Vecna (after the Dungeons & Dragons villain) who is possessing and killing people. He targets Max, but Kate Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” saves her life by tethering her back to reality.
The mid-season finale concludes with intertwined revelations. Eleven, who has been revisiting her past in a sensory deprivation pit, remembers that a young man she knew in the facility where she had been trained had misled her so that he could get a chance to go on a rampage and boast about his plans to reshape the world with his power. Eleven engages in a psychic duel with him, casting him into a gateway to the Upside Down where he becomes the creature we know of as Vecna. Nancy and the Hawkins crew, meanwhile, had ventured into the Upside Down to rescue Steve but Vecna psychically kidnaps Nancy’s consciousness right before she’s about to escape and reveals that he is Pennhurst Asylum patient Victor Creel’s son, and that he was responsible for the infamous killings before Doctor Brenner took him in and dubbed him “001.” The season ends with Hopper and Joyce reunited but still in Siberia, Eleven re-powered but still in an uneasy alliance with Brenner, and Nancy in danger.
What happens with Hopper, Eleven, and Nancy?
The penultimate episode of season 4 resolves some plot points introduced in part one, while laying out the stakes for the finale. Vecna torments Nancy, revealing more of his backstory and laying out his evil plan before letting her go. Every time Vecna kills, he opens a gate to the Upside Down, and when he opens four he’ll be able to wreak havoc on Hawkins (and the world). Max realizes that she is still Vecna’s fourth and final target, so they come up with a plan to fight back by using her as bait. For it to work, they’re going to need weapons, so Eddie hotwires an RV and they go on a little road trip to a gun store. Inside, Nancy encounters Jason (Mason Dye), the captain of the Hawkins High basketball team. Jason is still out for revenge because he believes Eddie is responsible for his girlfriend Chrissy’s death, and the fact that he’s also armed is ominous.
Back in the U.S.S.R., Hopper and Joyce get a better look at the prison/Upside Down research lab, and learn that the Soviets also have a bunch of Demodogs and a swirling mass of Mind Flayer-like particles. While the Demogorgon attacks the guards, our heroes escape through some sewage tunnels. Yuri, the pilot who was supposed to smuggle Hopper out but instead betrayed them before being taken hostage himself, has a DIY helicopter that can help them escape to America—if he can get it working.
Eleven, having recovered her powers, learns that Max and her Hawkins friends are in danger. She wants to leave to go help them, but while Owens agrees, Brenner betrays her, saying she’s not yet strong enough. He has his men handcuff Owens and puts a power-inhibiting collar on Eleven rather than let her go again. At just this time, though, the other faction of the government raids the facility, and Brenner is shot several times while trying to escape with Eleven. Despite the collar, Eleven takes down an army helicopter before she too can be killed, and Mike and his cohort arrive just in time to get her to safety. In his dying moments, Brenner deactivates Eleven’s collar. Ultimately, on some deeply messed up and fundamentally irredeemable level, he did care for her. Although Brenner was an abusive monster, it’s still traumatic for Eleven to see her “papa” die.
What happens in the battle against Vecna?
The fight against Vecna comes to a head in the season finale. The Hawkins gang has a plan: When Vecna possesses people, his physical body has to be somewhere, just like with Eleven’s powers. Max goes to the Creel house and stops listening to Kate Bush so that Vecna will make another attempt to kill her, and Lucas and Erica (Priah Ferguson) go with her. The rest of the gang will go to the Upside Down. Eddie and Dustin will cause a distraction to lure Vecna’s creepy bats away from his body while Nancy, Steve, and Robin will go to the house and kill him.
Eleven, having realized they can’t get from Nevada to Indiana in time to help their friends, realizes she can “piggyback” into Max’s consciousness. Argyle creates an impromptu sensory deprivation tank in a Surfer Boy Pizza, and Eleven goes into Max’s head so that she can psychically battle Venca when he shows up.
Hopper and Joyce have the least to do, but they make a risky phone call to the States and learn what’s going down. In an effort to help, they break back into the prison so they can kill the particles, because those particles are part of the Upside Down, and eliminating them should help all the kids in their struggle.
Hopper and Joyce succeed in their mission, and Hopper gets to decapitate a Demogorgon with a sword before Yuri comes through with his helicopter to get them to safety. The rest of the characters have a worse time.
Vecna appears to be prepared for the Hawkin’s crew’s assault. Although Eddie draws the attention of all the bats with an extremely metal bit of guitar playing, the bats overwhelm him and Dustin. Eddie sacrifices himself to buy his friends more time. Nancy, Steve, and Robin make progress, at first, but they’re soon ensnared by Vecna’s gross tentacle-vines. Max is able to evade Vecna for a while once she’s been possessed, but eventually, he gets to her. Perhaps worst of all, Jason has found Max and Lucas, and he accuses Lucas of being in cahoots with Eddie’s satanic club, prompting the two of them to get in a brutal fistfight.
Eleven wanders through Max’s memories before coming to her psychic rescue just in time, but Vecna is able to overpower her after they duel. Vecna tells Eleven that she’s responsible for creating him and that she enabled his plan to take over the world and reshape it in his twisted image. He also explains that he is the brains behind the Mind Flayer, having come across its potential while wandering the Upside Down’s wastelands after Eleven first cast him here. He resumes his assault on Max, and Lucas watches in horror as her limbs snap in the real world. But, Mike, acting on advice that Will gave him earlier, acts as the group’s “heart” and tells Eleven to keep fighting. The encouragement gives Eleven what she needs and she bursts free of Vecna’s restraints, giving Nancy and Steve, and Robin an opening to assault his physical body.
At first, it seems like a victory, but all is not what it appears, and Vecna even warns Eleven that this is only “the beginning of the end.” Eddie has died from his injuries, and he and Dustin share an emotional moment before he passes. Vecna has been set on fire and shot multiple times, but he disappeared, Halloween-style, after falling out a window, so he’s not necessarily dead. And, worst of all, although Eleven stopped Vecna before he could make Max’s eyes explode, she still succumbs to her many injuries, dying in Lucas’ arms. Her death opens up the fourth gate, and four massive crevasses leading to the Upside Down streak across Hawkins to create a mega-gate. (One of the crevasses bisects and kills Jason, the only upside to the disaster).
Eleven is not willing to let her friend die, though, and she tries to use her powers to save Max’s life. The screen goes to black, and cuts to “two days later.”
The Upside Down comes to Hawkins
At first, it seems like Eleven was able to undo most of the damage, but we learn that’s not really the case. She saved Max (or brought her back to life) but Max is hospitalized and the doctors don’t know if she will ever wake up. More troublingly, Eleven can’t find any sign of Max when she tries to psychically reach out to her.
Though many Hawkins residents are leaving the town in the wake of the deadly “earthquake” (nothing overtly supernatural has emerged from the cracks… yet), the California crew has arrived. They work on fixing up Hopper’s old shed in the woods so Eleven can stay there, but their cleaning is interrupted when Hopper and Joyce—with the help of one of Doctor Owens’ allies—arrive. Hopper and Eleven have an emotional reunion. Will, however, having been possessed by the Mind Flayer before, is uneasy. He knows Vecna isn’t dead. Sure enough, ash starts raining from the sky and a gray wave of death consumes the nearby vegetation. The Upside Down has come to Hawkins.
Does anyone die in Stranger Things 4: Part Two?
Two fairly major characters die in the last two episodes of season 4, one nearly dies, and one character’s fate remains unknown. Brenner dies in episode 8. It’s not too shocking, given that fans were under the assumption that he had already died (and since he’s a pretty horrible person), though it is surprisingly affecting. Eddie also dies, and although he was only introduced this season, he’s a natural addition to the crew and it’s sad to see him go—especially since all of Hawkins thinks he’s a satanic murderer instead of a hero who just liked playing Dungeons & Dragons with his fellow weirdos.
Max was technically dead before Eleven revived her, though it’s unclear if she’ll ever actually get better. The TV-savvy viewer can assume that Sadie Sink probably won’t play a comatose body for all of season 5, so it seems reasonable to think Max will recover in some form. Even so, Vecna really did a number on her.
It’s unclear if Doctor Owens survived or not. Last we saw him, he was handcuffed and begging for Eleven’s life. Would his rivals in the military summarily execute him? Maybe, but we didn’t see a body.
We also didn’t see Vecna’s body, but Will confirmed that he is indeed still alive.
Where do all the love triangles stand?
While it may seem kind of petty given all the death and the potential Upside Down-ification of the world, season 4 also shook up the love lives of many of the characters. Joyce and Hopper are back together, which is nice. And, it appears that Robin and her bandmate/crush Vickie (Amybeth Mcnulty) might be playing for the same team after all.
Lucas and Max reconcile their relationship by the end of the season, but Max is in a coma.
Nancy and Steve—who you may recall were dating way back in season 1—spent a lot of quality time together this season, and it seemed like they were rekindling their romance. However, once Jonathan was back in Hawkins, he and Nancy played the boyfriend and girlfriend part together again even though it’s very clear that there are problems in their relationship that predate Vecna. Steve is being a good sport about the situation, but the love triangle will probably come into play in the fifth and final season, so get ready, shippers.
There appears to be one more love triangle. Though Will’s sexuality has never been explicitly confirmed, the series has implied that he’s gay. Will’s crying after his talk with Mike about he’s the “heart” of the group seems to imply that he might have feelings for his best friend. It doesn’t appear that Mike has any idea and Will doesn’t seem like he’s going to act on those feelings just yet, but this could be a potential plot point in season 5.
Where does this leave us for Stranger Things season 5?
Between the gateway to the Upside Down and all the various bits of personal drama, there’s a lot that Stranger Things needs to tackle in the next season, which the Duffer Brothers have said is the final one of the series (However, the end of the show is unlikely to mark the end of the would-be Stranger Things franchise—Netflix has hinted there could be spin-offs in the pipeline).
It’s unclear what will happen in the final season, which doesn’t yet have a release date. The Duffer Brothers previously said they were looking into a time jump between the fourth and fifth seasons (in large part because the child actors are growing up). But since the season finale ends with the imminent incursion of the Upside Down into the real world, a big time jump seems a little less likely.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 1 Jul 2022 | 8:01 am
Nonsense is underrated, particularly as we struggle to make sense of the soul-grinding wheel of torture known as the news cycle. Minions can help—a little. Nonsense is their brand of logic, and to key into their little yellow brains for a few hours can help recharge our own gray matter, for a short time at least. Minions: The Rise of Gru is hardly the best of the Despicable Me movies or spinoffs. (That dual honor goes to the first film in the franchise, from 2010, and its equally silly-delightful sequel, from 2013, Despicable Me 2.) But the ridiculousness quotient of The Rise of Gru—directed by Kyle Balda, Brad Ableson and Jonathan del Val—is still high enough to spark at least mild rejuvenation. And whether you have one eye or two, six hairs sprouting from your pate or none at all, you could probably use a little of that right now.
The Rise of Gru is, as you might guess from the title, an origin story, though unlike most recent origin stories it comes with a minimum of expository throat-clearing. It’s 1976 and 12-year-old Gru (voiced, as usual, by Steve Carell) already has his sights on becoming a supervillain. He’s sent off an application to join the Vicious 6, a crew of evildoers with a top-secret lair in the basement of a local record store. He’s delighted when he’s asked to come in for an interview, only to be rebuffed when they realize he’s just a kid. Disgruntled, he vows to show them he has what it takes to be truly evil by stealing one of their recent, and highly prized, acquisitions, an extremely powerful jade-studded pendant known as the Zodiac Stone. They’ll be so impressed by his wiles, he believes, that they’ll surely welcome him into their gang.
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It doesn’t work out that way. Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), a comely baddie in a fuchsia satin jumpsuit, has recently become the leader of the Vicious 6 after overthrowing its founder, the aging hipster Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin, with his marvelous Brooklyn lilt), ironically just after he’s risked his life to procure the Zodiac Stone for the group. That’s why she and her fellow gang members—Jean Clawed (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who comes equipped with a lobster-pincer arm, musclebound wrestler Stronghold (Danny Trejo), Nordic hothead Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren) and my personal favorite, Nun-Chuck (Lucy Lawless), who brandishes a crucifix that unfolds into a you-know-what—find themselves with an opening for a sixth villain. But even though Gru successfully boosts the Zodiac Stone, his loyal and eager-to-help servants, the Minions (all voiced, in trademark gibberish-speak, by one of the franchise’s masterminds, Pierre Coffin), aren’t as meticulous. In a moment of weakness, Minion Otto, who has been entrusted with the precious thingie, trades it for a pet rock. The rest of The Rise of Gru shows how Gru and his little yellow helpers scramble to reclaim the Zodiac Stone, with Belle Bottom and her gang in pursuit.
The Minions, delightful as they are, can’t carry a movie by themselves, as they proved with their dismal 2015 self-titled standalone. They’re much more appealing when they can bounce their madness off Gru: his affection and exasperation are the dual motors that keep the plot mechanics whirring at optimal levels. This time around our chattering, peripatetic heroes swing through San Francisco’s Chinatown, where they’re schooled in the ancient art of Kung Fu by Master Chow (Michelle Yeoh). They host a Tupperware party, taking great pleasure in the highly realistic farting sound of the famous Tupperware seal. Rather than whistling while they work, their squeaky voices rise in unison to bring a wordless version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecilia” to life. (The movie’s soundtrack, curated by Jack Antonoff, features a number of 1970s covers by the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and Gary Clark Jr.) In Minions: The Rise of Gru, they have their work cut out for them, and mess it up at every turn. But the chaos they bring to bear is nothing compared with the madness of the real world. Their entropy is its own kind of order, one sure thing in a universe spinning out of control. Now, as always, let’s thank them for their service.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 1 Jul 2022 | 8:00 am
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Virgil Abloh knew how to get people talking. In 2012, when he launched his first fashion brand, Pyrex Vision, Abloh bought deadstock flannel shirts from Ralph Lauren for $40 a piece, screen printed them with the word “Pyrex” and the number 23 (an homage to Michael Jordan), priced them at $550—and sold out his stock in minutes. The shirts became an instant lightning rod, setting the internet ablaze with debates about design ethics, streetwear’s bootlegging tendencies, and the profitability of hype—and making Abloh a figure of major interest in fashion.
For Abloh, the controversy was part of the point. For the 2016 runway show for Off-White, Abloh’s cult brand, the designer enlisted graffiti artist Jim Joe to emblazon a rug with a quote from a menswear blog about the infamous Pyrex shirts: “It’s highly possible Pyrex simply bought a bunch of Rugby flannels, at retail no less, slapped ‘PYREX 23’ on the back and re-sold them for an astonishing markup of about 700%.” Brandishing the quote was a fitting metaphor for Abloh’s design philosophy, in which he contended that everything, even dissent from the haters, was an opportunity to create. The late Ghanian American designer, who died at age 41 in November 2021 from cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer, was always less concerned with past critiques than he was with making something new. The rug from that early show is now prominently displayed in the Brooklyn Museum as a part of Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech,” a new exhibit, opening on July 1, that bears witness to the dizzying expanse of Abloh’s work and creativity, from his early creations through the designs he produced as the artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton.
During his lifetime, Abloh wore many hats: fashion designer, artist, DJ, civil engineer. He refused to limit his work to a singular medium or genre, famously rejecting labels like designer or artist, and instead preferring to describe himself simply as a “maker.” For Abloh, creation was about re-imagining the possibilities of what something could be, bridging the gaps between high and low, between the institutional and the underground. In his world, art could be commercial, streetwear could be high fashion, and a civil engineer-turned-DJ could be a world-renowned creative.
“Figures of Speech” exemplifies that breadth and sense of possibility. The show, which spans the first floor of the museum, features two decades of Abloh’s work, from high school architecture assignments and college sketchbooks to selections from his Off-White and Louis Vuitton fashion collections. Like Abloh, the exhibit defies convention, skipping standard wall hangings in favor of displaying colorful sneakers and visual collaborations with artists like Kanye West and Takashi Murakami on unfinished wooden tables designed by Abloh himself. To some, the exhibit may feel more like a studio or streetwear convention—a gift shop filled with Abloh-branded merch adds to this sense—but for curator Antwaun Sargent, breaking with tradition feels fitting for a show about Abloh.
“He was creating space for himself—but within those within creative spaces, he was creating space for other people,” Sargent says. “The fact that we’re having this exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, in an encyclopedic institution, is a testament to how boundaries were reshaped by Virgil in a way that allowed for Black creativity and concerns within spaces of architecture, fashion, and art to be fully recognized.”
While a prior version of the exhibit was shown in 2019 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Abloh’s hometown, the new show builds significantly on its predecessor, with additions like the imposing “Social Sculpture,” a large-scale wood cabin-esque gathering space in the center of the museum that Abloh and Sargent envisioned as a “museum within a museum.” “Social Sculpture” is meant to be a place for performances, DJ sets, lectures, community events, and other gatherings that might not typically be held in a museum. For Sargent, “Social Sculpture” speaks to Abloh’s spirit as a person who blazed a trail for a new type of artist, refreshingly free of institutional gatekeeping or pretension. Throughout his career, Abloh came to be known as much for his collaborations with emerging artists as for working with established people and brands, and was often lauded for his investment in young talent.
Though the exhibit is technically the first posthumous survey of Abloh’s work, Sargent insists that it is not a retrospective, because Abloh was an active collaborator on the curation and execution of the exhibit over a three-year period, even sending Sargent a checklist and notes just days before his passing.
“His legacy is still being made,” Sargent says. “Things are still coming out.” Another new addition to the exhibit is “Functional Art,” a huge chrome sound system that’s a reimagining of Braun’s iconic Wandanlage wall stereo. Abloh designed the piece in collaboration with the brand, but never got to see it materialize. Making its public debut, the stereo is mounted on the wall at the start of the exhibit, set to greet visitors with mixes of jazz and rap. It’s emblematic of Abloh’s appreciation for art that is not only beautiful but also useful, a value that was echoed in his collections with IKEA and the Swiss furniture company Vitra.
For Sargent, the exhibit is ultimately a testament to the ways in which Abloh continues to inspire and empower a new generation of creatives. “His legacy is one of example,” Sargent says. “His work gives a lot of people permission to do the work that they need to do.”
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 30 Jun 2022 | 5:22 pm
The highly anticipated second volume of the latest season of Stranger Things is one of several new programs coming to Netflix this month. Other new arrivals include Bill Burr’s latest stand-up special Bill Burr: Live at Red Rocks, where the comedian sounds off on cancel culture and feminism and Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight, an animated series featuring panda Po’s latest adventure. And Street Food: USA is joining Netflix’s food docuseries catalog, taking viewers to various food destinations in cities like Portland and Miami.
Here’s everything coming to Netflix in July 2022—and what’s leaving.
Here are the Netflix originals coming in July 2022
Available July 1
Stranger Things 4: Volume 2
Available July 6
Control Z: Season 3
Girl in the Picture
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between
King of Stonks
Uncle from Another World
Available July 7
Karma’s World: Season 3
Available July 8
Capitani: Season 2
How To Build a Sex Room
The Longest Night
Ranveer vs Wild with Bear Grylls
The Sea Beast
Available July 11
Valley of the Dead
Available July 12
Bill Burr: Live at Red Rocks
How to Change Your Mind
My Daughter’s Killer
Available July 13
Big Timber: Season 2
D.B. Cooper: Where Are You?!
Hurts Like Hell
Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres
Sintonia: Season 3
Under the Amalfi Sun
Available July 14
Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight
Available July 15
Love Goals (Jaadugar)
Mom, Don’t Do That!
Remarriage & Desires
Available July 18
Live is Life
My Little Pony: A New Generation: Sing-Along
StoryBots: Laugh, Learn, Sing: Collection 2: Learn to Read
Too Old for Fairy Tales
Available July 19
David A. Arnold: It Ain’t For the Weak
Available July 20
Bad Exorcist: Seasons 1-2
Virgin River: Season 4
Available July 21
Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous: Season 5
Available July 22
Blown Away: Season 3
The Gray Man
Available July 25
Gabby’s Dollhouse: Season 5
Available July 26
Street Food: USA
Available July 27
Car Masters: Rust to Riches: Season 4
Dream Home Makeover: Season 3
The Most Hated Man on the Internet
Rebelde: Season 2
Available July 28
A Cut Above
Oggy and the Cockroaches: Next Generation
Available July 29
The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem: Season 2
Case Closed: Zero’s Tea Time
Rebel Cheer Squad: A Get Even Series
Here are the TV shows and movies coming to Netflix in July 2022
Available July 1
A Call to Spy
Catch Me If You Can
Falls Around Her
I Am Legend
Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
Natural Born Killers
The Dark Knight Rises
The Dirty Dozen
The Pursuit of Happyness
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Zero Dark Thirty
Available July 3
Blair Witch (2016)
Available July 4
Leave No Trace
Available July 7
The Flash: Season 8
Vinland Saga: Season 1
Available July 10
Available July 22
One Piece: New Episodes
Available July 26
August: Osage County
Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl
Available July 31
Here’s what’s leaving Netflix in July 2022
Leaving July 1
The Social Network
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Seasons 1-7
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Leaving July 6
Leaving July 7
Leaving July 11
The Strangers: Prey at Night
Leaving July 14
Leaving July 15
Leaving July 19
Leaving July 21
Chicago Med: Seasons 1-5
Leaving July 23
Leaving July 25
Leaving July 31
30 Rock: Seasons 1-7
The Edge of Seventeen
Friday the 13th
The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia
Lean on Me
Texas Chainsaw 3D
You’ve Got Mail
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 30 Jun 2022 | 3:10 pm
It’s not TV, it’s HBO Max, which means instead of mindlessly flipping channels, TV lovers are now endlessly scrolling to find their next great series. For those who feel as if they spend more time looking for TV shows to watch rather than watching TV itself, this list should help make things a little easier.
HBO’s two-year-old streaming service has plenty of recent additions that are worth checking out, especially if you are all caught up on up on Succession or Euphoria, and have already watched every season of The Sopranos and Big Little Lies. From HBO Max Originals to shows that have found new life on the streaming service, like TBS castoff Search Party, these are the 21 best HBO Max shows to watch right now.
SNL alum Bill Hader stars as the dark comedy’s titular hitman who longs to be a professional actor. Unfortunately, even with the help of his acting teacher Gene Cousineau (played by a very against type Henry Winkler), he can’t seem to quit his day job.
When legendary standup Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) needs to freshen up her material, her manager enlists Ava (Hannah Einbinder), a struggling millennial comedy writer, to help her. Think The Odd Couple for hardcore humorists.
The Flight Attendant
After a night of hard partying, flight attendant Cassie (Kayley Cuoco) wakes up to find herself in bed with a dead man. Now, she must figure out how he got there and how much she has to do with his murder. Girls’ Zosia Mamet, Grey’s Anatomy’s T.R. Knight, and Rosie Perez also star in this darkly funny mystery.
The dystopian thriller based on Emily St. Mandel’s 2014 novel of the same name stars Mackenzie Davis as Kirsten Raymonde, a survivor of a flu pandemic that led to the collapse of civilization. Twenty years after the global catastrophe, she’s the leader of a traveling theater group. When the troupe is asked to perform for a mysterious new community, Kirsten encounters a person from her past, who has definitely changed, but not for the better.
Our Flag Means Death
Get ready to ship Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) and Blackbeard (Taika Waititi) in this queer rom-com that wrestles with the toxic masculinity that comes with being a pirate.
If you thought Rosemary’s baby was a problem, then you haven’t met the devilish little star of this horror-comedy about an infant that goes on a murdering spree.
The Sex Lives of College Girls
We Own This City
David Simon’s new series, described as a spiritual sequel to The Wire, delves into the corruption behind the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force. What makes this miniseries starring Jon Bernthal even more chilling is that it’s based on Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton’s book of the same name.
The delightful British rom-com stars creator Rose Matafeo as a cinema loving Kiwi living in London who has a one-night stand with a famous movie star, played by Nikesh Patel. For fans of Notting Hill, who wish that Julia Roberts movie was way sexier.
The anxiety-inducing drama about a group of recent college grads competing for a job at a prestigious investment bank in London might just convince you to hire a personal financial advisor.
Following the death of her sister, Sam (Bridget Everett) finds herself back in her Kansas hometown struggling to process her grief. Luckily, she’s not the only one in town who’s in need of a little cheering up in this dramedy about middle-aged ennui.
The Other Two
What if your kid brother became an overnight pop sensation? The comedy starring Drew Tarver and Hélene Yorke as the siblings of a Bieberesque teen star dares to answer that question with a lot of heart, humor, and straight-up bangers.
It’s a Sin
The surreal Spanish-language comedy centers on three friends, played by Julio Torres, Cassandra Ciangherotti, and Bernardo Velasco–who decide to start a spooky new business in which they provide scares for anyone who needs it.
Those looking for a different kind of superhero show will find it with The Suicide Squad-spinoff series that follows John Cena’s comically patriotic hero as he attempts to eliminate a swarm of parasitic butterflies that are taking over people’s bodies.
A Black Lady Sketch Show
Robin Thede’s sketch comedy series features a who’s who of funny women–Full Frontal With Samantha Bee’s Ashley Nicole Black, Abbott Elementary’s Quinta Brunson, Gabrielle Dennis, and Skye Townsend–skewering the culture.
After a college friend goes missing, Dory Sief (Alia Shawkat) becomes a modern day Nancy Drew in this dark comedy that satirizes the millennial experience.
Harley (voiced by Kaley Cuoco) is single and loving it in this animated series for adults. After breaking things off with The Joker, she heads to Gotham City looking to make a name for herself as the metropolis’ newest girl boss.
This delicious comedy is inspired by the life and career of cooking teacher Julia Child (played by Sarah Lancashire), who pioneered the concept of a TV chef with her long-running series, The French Chef.
From Inventing Anna to The Dropout and everything in between, 2022 has been the year of the docudrama. But if you only watch one of these based on a true story series, it’s this one, which delves into the story of Michael Peterson, an author who was charged with murdering his wife Kathleen after she died on the staircase of their Durham, N.C. home in 2001.
How To With John Wilson
Whether John Wilson is learning to make the perfect risotto or why cities need scaffolding, his charming DIY documentary series is bound to make you smile. Honestly, in 2022, is there a better recommendation than that?
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 30 Jun 2022 | 2:49 pm
There are a million ways to tell even very old stories. Beauty, directed by Andrew Dosunmu and written by Lena Waithe, riffs on a classic theme, the idea of a gifted artist being torn her between career and her family, scrambling to find a balance between her own ambition and the demands of the people closest to her. A scheming parent who sees his offspring as a big dollar sign, a wily manager who tries to force a burgeoning talent into the most lucrative mold, a lover who doesn’t fit easily into the plan for fame and fortune: Beauty has it all, including a winsome young star, Gracie Marie Bradley, as the Beauty of the film’s title, a woman who’s naively sure of her destiny despite all the forces holding her back.
Yet Beauty—set in the 1980s and bearing more than a passing resemblance to the real-life story of Whitney Houston—never quite gels. The movie’s opening introduces us to Beauty and maps out her family’s dynamic: Her father (Giancarlo Esposito) is domineering and verbally abusive toward her two brothers, but adores her—though his love for her comes with certain expectations, and a price. Her mother (Niecy Nash) is a gifted performer who has spent her life singing backup, never daring to reach for stardom herself. She knows how extraordinarily talented her daughter is, and is trying to guide her properly, though her envy sometimes muddies the message. She and Beauty’s father have had stern disagreements about the hard-as-nails manager (Sharon Stone) who’s angling to sign Beauty as a client: Beauty’s father is all for it, but her mother hesitates, fearing that her daughter might be destroyed by the system, and by fame.
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There’s another complication: Beauty is deeply in love with Jas (Aleyse Shannon), and the two want to build a life together. But Beauty’s father hates Jas and sees her as a deterrent to Beauty’s success. Meanwhile, Jas tries to get Beauty to think for herself, urging her to get a lawyer before she signs any contract, which only fuels her father’s ire.
Through it all Beauty is something of a ghost, a point that’s made repeatedly by Dosunmu, who treats us to many, many shots of Beauty watching taped performances of her idols—chief among them Mahalia Jackson and Ella Fitzgerald—as we see her face, rapt yet somehow featureless, reflected in the glass of the television tube. This is a device with a capital D, a style choice that comes to feel rote. We never hear Beauty sing, another stylistic choice but one that does make some sense: at one point Beauty’s brassy manager, as portrayed by Stone, urges her to sing “Over the Rainbow” on her first TV appearance as a way of ingratiating herself with white audiences. She also admonishes Beauty to keep her relationship with Jas in the background, seeing it as a major stumbling block on Beauty’s road to stardom.
The point is that to most of those around her, save Jas, Beauty is more a vessel than an actual person, an idea that’s poignant if you know anything about Houston’s story and how her life was orchestrated by those around her, at the expense of her own happiness. But Waithe and Dosunmu—the filmmaker behind the 2013 indie film Mother of George, a beautifully wrought drama about infertility—flirt with tense dramatic developments only to shrug them off without exploring them. It’s often hard to tell exactly what’s happening in a scene and why; certain characters behave in ways that are convenient to the plot but don’t wholly make sense. Dosunmu favors oblique camera angles and swimmy soft-focus views, again, perhaps, to mimic Beauty’s smudged sense of herself as a person. But Beauty ends before it has really dug into anything of consequence. Its heroine, whom we know is headed for trouble, is left stranded in the middle of her own story. When she opens her mouth to sing, no sound comes out, and she’s stuck in that cycle of voicelessness for eternity.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 30 Jun 2022 | 1:18 pm
June should probably be the weakest month of the year for TV. Not only have the handful of network shows worth watching gone on summer hiatus, but also, because Emmy eligibility ends on May 31, June has become the television equivalent of January’s movie-release wasteland. A lot of the titles we’re getting now are ones that platforms didn’t see the point of rushing out in the spring for awards consideration—which makes it kind of unnerving that this has turned out to be my single favorite month of 2022, to date, when it comes to new series. Below, you’ll find two excellent British character studies, an immersive crime drama set in Navajo country, an inspired update of a ’90s arthouse favorite, and the only superhero show since Jessica Jones that I wholeheartedly endorse. They may not be bombarding you with For Your Consideration ads, but they certainly deserve your consideration nonetheless. For more recommendations, here are my top 10 shows from the first half of the year.
Becky Green doesn’t want to be Becky Green anymore. And who could blame her? The protagonist of Chloe, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, is a study in abjection. Played with protean inscrutability by Erin Doherty (The Crown’s Princess Anne), Becky works a demeaning temp job and lives in a shabby apartment with a mother (Lisa Palfrey) who’s sinking into early-onset dementia. Social media is her escape. She scrolls endlessly through posts by a childhood friend, Chloe Fairbourne (Poppy Gilbert), who lives a glamorous life surrounded by her ascendant-politician husband (Billy Howle) and a tight clique of photogenic bourgeois-bohemian pals. Then Chloe dies, in an apparent suicide, and Becky discovers that one of the last things her estranged pal did was try to call. [Read the full review.]
Dark Winds (AMC and AMC+)
Dark Winds, the latest crime drama from AMC, opens with a heist scene worthy of a summer blockbuster. The year is 1971. Two uniformed guards emerge from Gallup Savings & Loans, in the small city of Gallup, New Mexico, lugging padlocked bags stuffed with cash, which they load into an armored van before driving off. Suddenly, a helicopter descends, blocking the road in front of them. One of its occupants hops out and throws a bomb under the van; the explosion lifts the vehicle’s back end into the air like the hind legs of a bucking bronco. A gunfight ensues, the masked bandits make off with the money, and as the helicopter ascends, the generic cityscape gives way to panoramic shots of the golden, butte-studded vistas surrounding Monument Valley.
We won’t find out, right away, where the helicopter ends up. But the journey has taken us to the show’s true setting: the Navajo Nation. This isn’t a common backdrop for the kind of TV epic whose elaborate action sequences run up a tab of $5 million per episode; neither do its overwhelmingly Native American cast and crew fit the profile of the typical storyteller Hollywood sees fit to bless with such a generous budget. Dark Winds would be a remarkable crime drama—at a time when unremarkable ones dominate television—even if it wasn’t a groundbreaking showcase for Native talent. The fact that it is gives the show resonance far beyond its overcrowded genre. [Read the full review.]
Irma Vep (HBO Max)
Film-to-TV adaptations aren’t exactly rare in this era of television as insatiable content maw, but I promise you’ve never seen one like this before. In his cult-classic 1996 feature Irma Vep, French auteur Olivier Assayas—who created an indelible portrait of Carlos the Jackal in his three-part epic Carlos and gave Kristen Stewart her two best roles in Clouds of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper—traced the mutually destructive connection between a director (New Wave legend Jean-Pierre Léaud) obsessed with remaking the silent serial Les vampires and the international star (Hong Kong icon Maggie Cheung, playing a version of herself) he casts as its bewitching lead. The film lingered over other tortured, symbiotic relationships: art vs. celebrity, famous actors vs. fanboy reporters, inspiration vs. madness. A quarter-century later, it’s also an artifact of mid-’90s indie cool, with Cheung sneaking around in her Irma Vep catsuit to the spiraling guitars of Sonic Youth.
The new 8-episode series, also helmed by Assayas and featuring music from Sonic Youth co-founder Thurston Moore, strikes the right balance between honoring the gritty original and updating it to better reflect the entertainment industry of today. (How could Irma Vep, in 2022, be anything but a TV show about people making a TV show?) Alicia Vikander steps into the Cheung role, though in this telling her name is Mira, she’s an American actor fresh off the set of a soulless superhero, and her persona feels closer to that of Stewart than to Vikander’s own. The elongated runtime gives Assayas the opportunity to expand the cast of characters, yielding an ensemble piece that spends time with everyone from Mira’s vengeful former assistant and ex-lover (Adria Arjona) to an actor who vacillates between nihilistic provocateur and drug-addled mess (Lars Eidinger). The looseness feels like a luxury. So, if the devolution of Netflix has you scared for the future of TV as an art form, watch this to hang on to some hope. [Read Stephanie Zacharek’s review.]
Ms. Marvel (Disney+)
Despite all the fanfare that has surrounded them, most Disney+ original series are competently made, mildly clever Marvel or Star Wars brand extensions—necessary viewing for fans who don’t want to miss a beat between movies but easily skippable for the rest of us. Ms. Marvel is different. A coming-of-age tale that centers on Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American, Muslim teenager with overprotective immigrant parents who lives in Jersey City and worships Captain Marvel, the six-episode action dramedy takes off when our hero sneaks out to an Avengers convention wearing an heirloom bangle from her grandmother that activates Kamala’s own latent superpowers. The series has a playful visual style, boasts a lovable lead performance from Iman Vellani, and draws on its characters’ ethnic and religious backgrounds in fascinating ways. If superheroes are contemporary American gods, then Ms. Marvel is a delightful reminder that modern American culture is rooted in traditions imported from around the globe. [Read Sanya Mansoor’s feature on how Ms. Marvel celebrates Pakistani and Muslim culture.]
This Is Going to Hurt (AMC+ and Sundance Now)
You might, at first, take the protagonist of this British medical drama, OB-GYN Adam Kay (the wonderful Ben Whishaw) for the kind of badass maverick doctor that TV produces in bulk. But he’s not a Gregory House or a Cristina Yang. Nor is he incompetent. Based on a widely read 2017 memoir by the real physician Adam Kay, which drove an international conversation about health care, he’s a more-or-less regular guy struggling to build a sustainable career in the UK’s inspiring but underfunded National Health Service. Hurt is the best medical drama in years because, instead of celebrating idealized superhuman doctors, it observes how broken systems force real doctors to attempt superhuman feats. And it weighs the impact, on providers as well as patients, of setting up public-health programs to fail. [Read the full review.]
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 30 Jun 2022 | 7:01 am
V is for vaccine.
Elmo got a COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, according to Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind “Sesame Street.”
In a public service announcement posted to YouTube, the beloved 3-and-a-half-year-old “Sesame Street” star talked with his dad about what it was like to get the shot.
“There was a little pinch, but it was OK,” Elmo said in the video.
Elmo’s dad said he had a lot of questions for the pediatrician, who assured him that vaccinations are safe and effective for children.
“Was it safe? Was it the right decision?′ I talked to our pediatrician so I could make the right choice,” Louie said in the PSA. “I learned that Elmo getting vaccinated is the best way to keep himself, our friends, neighbors and everyone else healthy and enjoying the things they love.”
COVID-19 vaccinations for the youngest Americans started last week. That means U.S. kids under 5 — roughly 18 million youngsters — are eligible for the shots.
U.S. regulators authorized shots from Moderna and Pfizer. The Moderna vaccine is two doses and the Pfizer shot is three.
Last November, Big Bird got vaccinated — sparking criticism from some conservative politicians. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican, called it “government propaganda.”
The CDC advises vaccination even for those who already had COVID-19 to protect against reinfection, and says it is OK to get other vaccines at the same time.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 30 Jun 2022 | 5:24 am
When the Grammy Award-winning rapper Young Thug, real name Jeffery Lamar Williams, was arrested May 9 on conspiracy and street gang activity charges, the indictment heavily cited his lyrics, music videos, and social media posts—and reignited a controversial debate on the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal cases.
Williams, a veritable hip-hop superstar from Atlanta with three No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200, has been credited with shaping the contemporary sound of rap. His distinctive flow and sound are often heralded as the preeminent example of “mumble rap,” a microgenre named for the unclear or slurred vocal delivery of its artists. Young Thug’s music is rife with emotions, freestyles, and ad-libs, and draws on a dizzying range of influences, from psychedelia and punk to Lil Wayne. His lyrics are both familiar and absurd, referencing the realities of the world in which he grew up as a Black man in Atlanta and his own capricious flights of fancy.
Williams, along with 27 other people associated with his record label Young Stoner Life (YSL Records), including his protegé, the rapper Gunna (real name Sergio Kitchens), was named in an 88-page indictment. The document lists 56 counts of racketeering charges dating back to 2013, including accusations of possession of drugs and illegal firearms, armed robbery, assault, and attempted murder.
The indictment, which cites lyrics like “I’m prepared to take them down,” and “I never killed anybody but I got something to do with that body,” alleges that Williams is a founder of Young Slime Life, a criminal street gang started in 2012 that’s affiliated with the national Bloods gang. Williams’ record label refers to its artists as the “Slime Family,” and he is often referred to as “King Slime.” The label has also released two collaboration albums featuring the Slime Family: 2018’s Slime Language and last year’s Slime Language 2.
Williams, who was denied bond twice, is currently being held at Cobb County Jail in Marietta, Ga. His lawyer Brian Steel did not respond to a request from TIME for comment. In a May 9 interview with the New York Times, Steel said the rapper is innocent: “Mr. Williams came from an incredibly horrible upbringing, and he has conducted himself throughout his life in a way that is just to marvel at,” he told the paper. “He’s committed no crime whatsoever.”
At Hot 97’s Summer Jam in mid-June, Williams made a pre-recorded audio statement, thanking fans for their support and urging them to sign a Change.org petition started by music industry executives Kevin Lilles and Julie Greenwald that condemns the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal cases.
“You know, this isn’t about just me or YSL,” Williams said in the clip. “I always use my music as a form of artistic expression, and I see now that Black artists and rappers don’t have that freedom. Everybody please sign the Protect Black Art petition and keep praying for us. I love you all.”
The racial implications of using rap lyrics in criminal cases
Williams’ case is a pivotal example of a controversial legal trend where rap lyrics are used as evidence against defendants—a tactic that has been critiqued for disproportionately targeting Black and other BIPOC men as the predominant groups in rap, relying on racist stereotypes, and infringing on First Amendment rights. In his 2019 book, Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics and Guilt in America, co-authored with Andrea L. Dennis, University of Richmond professor Erik Nielson identified about 500 criminal trials over the past decade in which rap lyrics were used as evidence—many more cases than during the ’90s-era war on crime, when the practice originated.
Nielson argues that the focus on the issue shouldn’t center on free speech as much as on systemic racism, emphasizing that artists in other genres like country or heavy metal hardly see their work being used to prosecute them. In a March 30 opinion piece for Type Investigations and the New York Times, journalist and researcher Jaeah Lee, who worked with Dennis, noted that her research uncovered only four examples of artistic works like fiction or lyrics being used as evidence of assault or violent threats in mediums and genres aside from rap dating back to 1950.
Meanwhile, rappers, whose art form often relies as much on figurative language and hyperbole as it does on rhymes and beats, are disproportionately fighting against their work being taken literally. “This is almost exclusively something affecting young Black or Latino men,” Nielson says, “so this practice is sort of emblematic of the much larger, more systemic inequalities that we see throughout the criminal justice system.” These cases have become more common as hip-hop has grown to become the most popular genre of music in the U.S., eclipsing rock in streaming consumption in 2018.
This year in Atlanta, the city that many consider to be the capital of rap, Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis has said her “number one focus” is targeting street gangs. She contends that street gangs are responsible for the majority of violent crime in her city—a line of reasoning that led to Williams’ indictment. And earlier this year in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams seemingly blamed the deaths of two aspiring rappers on the drill rap music scene, recommending that music videos for the genre not be allowed on social media. (Following a meeting with a group of drill rappers, Adams later clarified that he does not want to ban drill music, but would like to work with the artists to prevent gun violence.)
For Nielson, this paradox of rap becoming mainstream while continuing to face legal and societal scrutiny is a telling metaphor for larger issues surrounding race in America—and one that isn’t going away anytime soon. “This is a newer and alarming practice on one hand, but it also resides in a centuries-long tradition in the United States of law enforcement suppressing and often punishing Black expression,” he says.
The origins of the legal trend
According to Nielson, the first cases where rap lyrics were used as criminal evidence emerged in the early ’90s amid a moral panic about the influence of gangster rap, which was associated with radical politics (examples such as NWA’s “F-ck Tha Police”), explicit content, and violence. The case most commonly cited as the first to use rap music as evidence in a criminal trial was 1991’s United States v. Foster, where a 7th-circuit appeals court upheld the conviction of Derek Foster, whose prosecution relied on rap lyrics he wrote about drugs and narcotics trafficking.
An early, high-profile example was Snoop Dogg’s 1993 murder trial, in which he was acquitted. The prosecution used lyrics from his track “Murder was the Case” during closing arguments. But it was People v. Olguin in 1994 that has arguably had the biggest influence on the use of this tactic. For the case, in which Cesar Javier Olguin and Francisco Calderon Mora, a part-time DJ, were convicted of second-degree murder for the killing of a rival gang member who had defaced their gang-related graffiti, the prosecution submitted rap lyrics found in Mora’s home that made reference to violence and gang culture generally. While the defense argued that it couldn’t be proven that Mora wrote the lyrics and that their use as evidence could mislead the jury, the prosecution successfully used them. The case is largely considered the seminal precedent for citing lyrics as evidence.
As recently as 2018, the late rapper Drakeo the Ruler (real name Darrell Wayne Caldwell) was arrested on murder charges, and his lyrics were used in an effort to connect him to a shooting and to posit that his rap collective the Stinc Team was a criminal street gang. (Caldwell was acquitted in 2019; he was killed in 2021.)
How artists might be impacted in the future
Despite the increase in cases citing lyrics as evidence over time, Williams’ stands out because of his level of fame. The majority of cases have involved amateur or emerging rap artists. Since Williams’ lyrics and social media presence were used heavily as evidence in his indictment, Nielson argues that if prosecutors are successful, it could set precedent on how other prominent artists in the industry will be tried in the future.
“What’s important about this case is that it could signal to other DAs across the country that the artists you thought were once out of reach are now within reach, including really well-known artists,” he says. “That’s really concerning, for not just rappers and rap music, but for popular culture and criminal justice reform.”
Williams’ case coincides with legislation that’s been in the works to combat the practice of using rap lyrics as evidence in criminal cases; in November 2021, Democratic New York State Senators Brad Hoylman and Jamaal Bailey introduced the “Rap Music on Trial” bill, backed by the likes of Jay Z, Meek Mill, and Fat Joe, which would ban “the use of art created by a defendant as evidence against them in a courtroom” in most cases. The bill, which has so far passed in the New York State Senate, is currently awaiting approval from the State Assembly and Governor Kathy Hochul.
What’s next for Young Thug and the other artists in the lawsuit
Williams and Kitchens are both currently being held without bond in Cobb County Jail in Marietta, Ga. Williams was denied bond twice; his first request for bond was denied on May 12, following a raid on his home after his arrest that resulted in seven new felony charges. A second emergency request for bond, filed after Williams’ attorney Steel claimed the rapper was facing “inhumane” conditions in jail, was denied during a hearing on June 2, under concerns from Judge Ural D. Glanville that bond would result in potential danger to the community and witnesses, as well as flight risk. Kitchens was also denied bond during a May 23 hearing.
According to WXIA-TV, both Williams and Kitchens’ trials will begin on Jan. 9, 2023.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 29 Jun 2022 | 4:57 pm
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