Slaves, nannies, and maids: Oscars value women of colour – in subservient roles | Film | The Guardian

For Oscar voters, what makes a great performance has disturbingly narrow criteria for non-white performers. The observation that people of colour are only ever recognised for playing slaves and criminals, that their stories are only ever seen as important when they deal with tragedy and suffering, does not strictly belong to the unenlightened past. This week’s Oscar nominations prove that such judgments are planted firmly in the present.

The kinds of roles being written for people of colour over the past decade have begun to expand to encompass a wider range of experiences. Just recently we were graced with the luminous Jennifer Lopez as savvy stripper Ramona in Hustlers; newcomer Nora Lum (Awkwafina) as the conflicted granddaughter of a dying matriarch in The Farewell; Lupita Nyong’o in a remarkable two-in-one turn in Jordan Peele’s Us. This all goes without mentioning the incredible performances that never quite picked up steam: Alfre Woodard in Clemency, for instance, or Song Kang-Ho in Parasite. But never mind the fertile pickings. This year the Academy has nominated one person of colour – Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman in Harriet. This outcome is dismaying, partly because it falls neatly into a familiar pattern: a person of colour performing a racially specific form of suffering, the outlier in a sea of white nominees.

Erivo’s nomination for Harriet, a film that received middling reviews, is not a preposterous decision. Actors are often recognised for individual work that might stand out in an otherwise mediocre film (take Renée Zellweger in Judy). I’m not bothered by the quality of Erivo’s performance. There are far more egregious entries on that front, with the likes of Charlize Theron for Bombshell, or Scarlet Johansson for Jojo Rabbit, reaping nods (have the Oscars ever been a legitimate meritocracy?). Far more worrisome is what Erivo’s nomination suggests about the way Academy voters evaluate performers of colour, who seem to be the most visible, and taken the most seriously, within the trappings of white pity.

That voters overlooked a performance like Nyong’o’s in Us, a chilling interpretation of two sides of the same self, is telling. It doesn’t matter that this performance matches, if not surpasses entirely that of Joaquin Phoenix’s in Joker, even though both actors play, with tremendous physical commitment, psychologically tormented characters in genre films. Instead, the Academy prefers the Nyong’o who starred in 12 Years a Slave (2013), a film in which she is a slave, raped and humiliated. For these efforts, so difficult for the conscience to ignore, she was awarded best supporting actress.

In the last decade, only 14 women of colour were among the 100 women nominated by the Academy for the best actress and best supporting actress awards. There were even fewer men of colour (nine out of 100). That the same types of roles – slaves, nannies, and maids – continue to be the magic ticket to the red carpet, feels particularly ugly considering the range of parts played by white nominees. This year, for instance, the characters of Erivo’s fellow best actress nominees include a Fox newswoman, an icon of classic Hollywood, an aspiring young writer, and a hopeful divorcee. In 2019, Yalitza Aparicio was nominated for her performance in Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma. Aparicio is one of the few Latin American actresses to receive the honour, joining Adriana Barraza as a deported nanny in Babel, and Catalina Sandino Moreno as a drug mule in Maria Full of Grace.




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As moving as these performances are, these films leave a bitter taste as they reaffirm tired conceptions of Latin American women. Aparicio plays a housemaid silently enduring racism and neglect, which recalls another Academy favourite – Tate Taylor’s The Help (2011), which stars Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis as resilient maids, as well! Such slim parameters betray the desire, perhaps even the need by Oscar voters, for a particularly cheap form of pathos, one that simplifies and minimises the experiences of non-white people by placing them on the margins or in the past. Those performances that don’t square with this mould are often considered too “light,” too niche, or too subversive for the Academy, all of which indicates the incredible myopia of its voting body and the thinly veiled racism that guides it.

Perhaps hoping for a consistently diverse pool of Oscar nominees is blind optimism; the more time passes, the anomalous triumphs of films such as Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, feel like a fever dream. By opening up its membership to more women and people of colour, and enlisting diverse talent such as John Cho, Issa Rae, and Tiffany Haddish to present its nominations, the Academy has attempted to create an image of inclusivity. But given this year’s batch of nominees, that commitment has proven to be both superficial and a bad joke.

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The Sandman Says Women Main Eventing Is Wrong, Chris Jericho Reacts

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• ON THIS DAY IN WWF HISTORY (December 1, 1997) – WWF RAW IS WAR

On this day in 1997, the World Wrestling Federation aired another episode of their weekly TV show ‘WWF RAW IS WAR’.

It was broadcasted from the Civic Center in Roanoke, Virginia and featured matches, interviews & storyline segments on the road to the ‘WWF In Your House 19: D-Generation X’ PPV.

Here’s the card:

1. TAKA Michinoku vs. Mr. Aguila

2. D-Lo Brown vs. Recon vs. Chainz vs. Miguel Perez Jr.

3. Rocky Maivia vs. Vader

4. Brian Christopher vs. Scott Taylor

5. Ahmed Johnson vs. Jeff Jarrett

6. Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Jim Neidhart

• The Sandman Says Women Main Eventing Shows Is Wrong, Chris Jericho Reacts

Impact Wrestling star Jordynne Grace noted on Twitter that ECW Legend The Sandman said to her that women main eventing wrestling shows is “wrong”.

Below is what she tweeted:

“Hey remember that time The Sandman came up to four women about to main event to tell us that women main eventing is “wrong” and “any male wrestler with any sort of experience would agree”?

Was this in 1998?

No, it was tonight. December 2019.”

Hey remember that time The Sandman came up to four women about to main event to tell us that women main eventing is “wrong” and “any male wrestler with any sort of experience would agree”?

Was this in 1998?

No, it was tonight. December 2019.

This led to multiple wrestlers, including current AEW World Champion Chris Jericho, standing up for the female wrestlers:

— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) December 1, 2019

Gross. I hope he stuck around to see the match and eat his words.

— ❌adison Rayne (@MadisonRayne) December 1, 2019

Really???

Most of the women wrestlers are pulling off more innovating & exciting stuff then the ever before.

Can’t tell you the amount of times I go watch a Stardom match & want to retire cos their matches are INSANE!

Let’s not interfere with progress, everyone keep killing it https://t.co/dbHTDSTZuG

— ᵂⁱˡˡ ᴼˢᵖʳᵉᵃʸ • ウィル・オスプレイ (@WillOspreay) December 1, 2019

I… am speechless

— “HEARTcore” Shazza McKenzie (@Shazza_McKenzie) December 1, 2019

— Melissa Santos (@ThisIsMelSantos) December 1, 2019

WATCH: Hot Video Of WWF Diva Sable Stripping & Showing Off Her Assets:

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This Theory Explains Why So Many ‘Real Housewives’ Get Divorced | Betches

I have been watching The Real Housewives since 2008, and a common criticism I hear, other than the fact that it’s trash reality television (what can I say, I’m a raccoon because I love garbage), is that for a show that’s supposed to be about housewives, many of the women are not actually married. And I think the show plays a part in that, but maybe not for the reason a lot of people think. Many Housewives have come onto the show with the seemingly “perfect life” and then two seasons in, they’re filing for divorce. As viewers, we have witnessed countless Housewives’ relationships fail, then watched as they begin to date someone new and then get the inevitable wedding special. Remember when Tamra got married to Eddie and there was a bicycle hanging above them? Ah, memories. I’ve noticed a pattern in my decade-plus watching this franchise, one I call the “Lily Pad Effect”. It is when women join the show, and the show serves as a stepping stone (or Lily Pad, if you will) to a better life for the women—which leads to the demise of their marriage.

Statistically the divorce rate in the United States is about 50%, but in The Real Housewives universe it feels like almost every marriage we see crumbles. That’s not actually true—there have been 115 Housewives (only including U.S. franchises). 78 joined the show married and of that 78, 30 of them have gotten divorced on the show or shortly after. That means roughly 38% of the married women who join The Real Housewives get divorced. When considering this percentage, you also have to take into account that two of the cities are still in their infancy (Potomac and Dallas), and Miami and DC are no longer airing.

So what exactly goes wrong in these marriages? Now, I don’t claim to know the inner workings of these relationships; I am strictly going off of what I have seen over a 10-year period. The one commonality is the dynamic in the relationship simply changes. More specifically, it becomes more equal, and that equality brings about the end of the marriage, even if it doesn’t directly cause it. A lot of the divorces follow the same pattern: because of the show, the Housewives are no longer as financially dependent on their husbands, they find confidence by doing something on their own, and they outgrow their relationship. It’s not a coincidence; it’s the Lily Pad Effect.

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Tamra Judge from Real Housewives of Orange County joined the show while married to her now ex-husband Simon Barney. She seemed to be walking on eggshells when it came to pleasing him and making sure he was the dominant one in the relationship. Tamra was constantly being told to be more lady-like (whatever the hell that means) or told what she could and could not wear. Simon wanted his wife to be seen and not heard, and let me tell you, that is not Tamra. I think joining the show magnified their problems, and her newfound success gave her more confidence, thus making her more outspoken and him more resentful. The more she pulled away and became stronger, the more he tried to hang on, and at the end of season 5 it all came to a head in the back of limo when Simon told Tamra she isn’t with her kids enough and she screamed “F*CK YOU, I want a divorce”. 

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Another Housewife who I believe was helped by the show was Taylor Armstrong from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (seasons 1-3). Taylor had one of the darkest storylines we have ever seen. We met Taylor when she was married to Russell Armstrong, who was extremely unlikable from the first episode, and their relationship felt strained. They just didn’t seem to mesh. As the show progressed, we got to see the dark side of Russell: he was extremely controlling and began to isolate her from the group by threatening lawsuits against other cast members, most of whom knew what was going on behind the scenes. 

Slowly the truth started to come out, when Taylor confided in a therapist on camera, showing the dark underbelly of their marriage. And when Camille Grammer came out and said on camera that Russell abuses Taylor, it was a shock. I remember watching it, and my heart just sinking for her. As viewers we knew things were going on behind the scenes but to hear it out loud and confront the issue head-on was a lot to process. At the finale she showed up to an event with a heavy side bang covering a black eye, and announced her divorce. Then, before the reunion taped, Taylor’s husband Russell committed suicide. Truly, I think joining RHOBH might have saved her life because it gave her the strength to leave her abusive marriage and held a mirror up to things she possibly wanted to ignore for the sake of their child.

Emily Simpson, a relative newcomer who is on her second season of The Real Housewives of Orange County, is married to Shane (or as Kelly Dodd calls him, “little dork”). She is an accomplished lawyer who passed the California bar on her first try and a notable party planner, all while balancing being a mom to three kids. So that’s why her relationship with Shane is so strange. She is already independent and successful, so I am convinced she joined the show knowing they had huge cracks in their relationship, and that being on camera would only amplify those cracks into craters. She of course defended him her first season, saying “oh you don’t understand him, he’s just sarcastic” or “it’s his sense of humor”…but no one is buying that. He kind of just seems like an asshole. This season, though, we are watching their relationship crumble right before our very eyes, and TBH she seems okay with it.

It’s too soon to know whether their relationship will hold up or end in divorce, but it definitely shows some of the telltale signs. Being around a group of strong-willed women, most of whom have gone through their own divorce journeys, might inspire Emily to take a deeper look at her own relationship. A sarcastic sense of humor is fine, but her husband skipping her birthday because he just doesn’t feel like it? That’s not what a healthy marriage looks like. And honestly, she deserves better. Most of these women do.

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A lot of people think that being a Real Housewife is all starting catfights and getting drunk, and while that’s true to a certain extent, it’s also really empowered a lot of its cast members. It’s kind of amazing what these shows can do for some of the women. Being on TV will either make or break your relationship, but sometimes when a relationship breaks, it’s for the better. Maybe the women don’t realize it in the moment, but divorce is the best thing to happen to them. Look at Shannon Beador—she is THRIVING. When she first came on the show, she almost seemed scared of her husband David, who is easily one of the worst Real Househusbands. She made a valiant effort to fix her relationship after he cheated her, but he really didn’t deserve her. Now she’s killing it with her line of frozen meals, she lost a bunch of weight, and she seems the happiest she’s been in six seasons. Basically, the divorce was exactly what she needed.

Also, being surrounded by other strong women really makes some of them see the light when it comes to their sh*tty relationships. All in all, I just love watching the women grow and really come into their own. Most of the women who get remarried while filming are with men who celebrate their independence and have major BDE. We love to see it. 

Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (3)

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Actor and comedian Rip Taylor is dead at 84

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(CNN)Actor and comedian Rip Taylor died on Sunday, his publicist Harlan Boll said.

Taylor acted on Broadway, film and television.


Actor and comedian Rip Taylor is dead at 84 - CNN

(CNN)Actor and comedian Rip Taylor died on Sunday, his publicist Harlan Boll said. He was 84.

Taylor acted on Broadway, film and television. He was known for his over-the-top personality.

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On my radar: Salman Rushdies cultural highlights

The novelist on his favourite new writing, the thrill of baseball and the director whos adapting Midnights Children for Netflix

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Born in 1947 in Mumbai, Salman Rushdie is the author of 14 novels including Midnights Children, which won the Booker prize in 1981, and has twice been named the best of all the Booker prizewinners. The 1988 publication of The Satanic Verses led Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran to issue a fatwa calling for Rushdies assassination. The author now lives in New York, where he is a writer in residence at NYU. His latest novel, Quichotte, is published on 3 September.

1. Documentary
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

Toni
Toni Morrison in a scene from The Pieces I Am. Photograph: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders / Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

I saw this before Toni Morrison died and it seemed like a wonderful portrait of her, but now it feels even more significant. Its directed by the American photographer and film-maker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, who secured amazing archival footage as well as extensive access to Morrison herself, even in these last years when she wasnt very well. I was lucky enough to know her a little bit. People sometimes think she was a very grand lady, a giant figure in literature, but actually she was very down to earth and great fun to be around she loved dancing, for example and the film does a good job of getting this across. Its a beautiful piece of film-making.

2. Music
The Rolling Stones live in New Jersey

The
The Rolling Stones performing in New Jersey. Photograph: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Last month, I went to see the Rolling Stones live at the MetLife stadium and it was an amazing evening. Ive seen the Stones a lot over the years the Observer sent me to report on the Voodoo Lounge tour at Wembley stadium in 1995 and Ive seen their latest show twice. Its extraordinary that theyre still doing it and are as good as they ever were. Mick appears to have recovered from his heart procedure hes still zinging around the stage as fast as he ever did, while Keith remains firmly planted. When I went to see the show in London with my sons, I have never seen them so excited about going to a rock concert. It demonstrated to me that their music really has transcended all generations. Its music that everybody can share.

This

3. Nonfiction
This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrants Manifesto by Suketu Mehta

This is a brief, extremely passionate polemic on the issue of immigration, which of course is a very heated subject in America, where the book was aimed at originally, as well as everywhere else. Mehtas book is a brilliant, deliberately political rebuff to the increasingly popular view that immigrants are a problem. He talks about the history of empire and quotes someone in his family who answered the question, But why are you here? by replying, We are here because you were there. And he has a comic line about how immigrants are the creditors weve come to collect the debt. Its a very powerful book, but it also has a wit about it, which makes it very attractive. Mehta has been getting the usual hate messages and threats on social media, which seems to be the inevitable consequence of putting your head above the parapet these days.

4. Sport
The New York Yankees

Masahiro
Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees pitches in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium. Photograph: Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports

Im a pretty addicted New York Yankees fan these days and going to Yankee stadium is for me one of the great pleasures of living in New York. Apart from anything else, I really like the atmosphere at baseball games, which is rather different from football. Here, its very much a family occasion and very good-natured. And its really a good time to be a Yankees fan: theyre runaway leaders of their division and have the equal best record of the season along with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In general, its more fun than being a fan of Tottenham Hotspur, who I started supporting in 1961, when they won the double, but who have never won the league again. More than half a century Ive been waiting to see it.

The

5. Novel
The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

This is a novel I read in manuscript and is just about to be published in the US. Mengiste is an Ethiopian writer based in New York and The Shadow King, her second novel, is about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia during world war two, showing history very much from a female perspective. Its on the edge of magic realism, but an amazing portrait of that moment in Ethiopian history. It seems to me that there is a new wave of wonderful writing from younger African women writers, from Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, and I think that Mengiste is very much a part of that. Her book is tightly written and has a visionary quality.

6. Film
Vishal Bhardwajs Shakespearean trilogy

Shahid
Shahid Kapoor in a scene from Haider. Photograph: UTV Motion/Vishal Bhardwaj/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

An adaptation of my novel Midnights Children is currently being developed for Netflix. The showrunner is an Indian director called Vishal Bhardwaj, who made a trilogy of films based on Shakespeare plays. Omkara is basically Othello and the subject of an angry, jealous husband murdering his wife for an imagined infidelity fits so easily to India. In Maqbool, he brilliantly transposes the story of Macbeth into the Bombay criminal underworld. And Haider took Hamlet into Kashmir. Considering whats happening there right now, its an even more important film than when it came out, because it really shows you what life has been like for people in Kashmir under the heel of the Indian security forces and military. His films are visually astonishing and Im very interested to see how he brings all that talent to Midnights Children.

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Graffiti-covered Banksy truck to be auctioned

Bonhams to sell massive artwork at Goodwood Revival sale next month

Art and design

Among the gleaming Bugattis, Aston Martins and Porsches at one of the UKs premier car auctions next month will be a 17-tonne truck with a price tag to match them all.

Bonhams has announced it is selling what can arguably be called Banksys largest art work at its Goodwood Revival sale on 14 September.

The truck was covered with graffiti by Banksy in 2000, when he was still very much under the art worlds radar. While a used Volvo FL6 box truck might cost a buyer somewhere in the low thousands of pounds, this one is estimated at between 1m-1.5m.

Ralph Taylor, Bonhams head of postwar and contemporary art, said he was thrilled to have the work in the sale.

Banksy is arguably the most important artist to have emerged since the millennium and this, his largest commercial work, represents a new high watermark of quality for works of his to appear at auction, Taylor said.

The composition bears all the hallmarks of this peerless agent provocateur.

The artist was at an open-air party in Spain to celebrate the millennium when he was presented with the truck by Mojo, the co-founder of Turbozone International Circus.

He started on the truck during the party and continued to work on it for a fortnight. It was then used, for years, as the companys transport around Europe and South America.

The truck is called Turbo Zone Truck (Laugh Now But One Day Well Be in Charge). It is funny and anarchic and has flying monkeys, soldiers running away from a cannon and a man about to smash a TV screen with a hammer.

Bonhams said the over-riding message of the piece was anarchy its us against them and were going to win..

Taylor said there was no getting away from what the work was. It is an enormous great lorry, he said. Contemporary art can be anything, from a small painting to an installation that takes up an entire room. This is a 17-tonne lorry and it is completely painted. Its an immersive experience it is incredibly impressive when you see it.

Taylor said the work was from a pivotal moment in Banksys career, a time when he was beginning to work in the studio, as well as on the street, producing work that he would show in self-staged exhibitions.

The lorry has motifs seen over and again in Banksys work, particularly monkeys. One image is a riff on Soviet-era posters of industrial work, with Banksy showing a factory worker with a Mohican smashing a television.

There are references to art history and to social history, said Taylor. Banksy is always at his best when there is that kind of vicious black humour. When its funny, thats when its good and thats why he is so successful, that is why he keeps on being voted the nations favourite artist. It feels like hes been coming top of those polls for a decade.

The lorry was done at a time street artists were often considered a menace, the reason why Banksy always pictures himself as a rat and calls his company Pest Control.

For someone to give him free rein to paint an entire lorry that would then travel around would have been such a huge gift and opportunity, to have such a big canvas with no risk of getting arrested.

The market for Banksy is a strong and global one, said Taylor. The auction record is for one of his works is $1.9m a Damien Hirst spot painting on to which Banksy has stencilled a maid doing the cleaning.

Last year the art world was left stunned as a Banksy work, Girl With Balloon, began to shred itself after the hammer went down at Sothebys in London for 1.04m. It was given a new title by Banksy, Love is in the Bin and is the only artwork ever created live during an auction.

Bonhams said it expected strong interest from institutions as well as collectors passionate about collecting unusual vehicles.

The truck will be sold by the auction house on the Goodwood estate in West Sussex, the ancestral home of the Duke of Richmond, founder of the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival.

One of the more traditional highlights of the 14 September sale is an ultra-rare 935 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante Faux Cabriolet, which has an estimate price of 1m-1.5m.

Three years ago Bonhams sold a Banksy Swat van which he created for his break out Barely Legal show in Los Angeles. It fetched 218,500.

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The Democratic Presidential Debates

Reality TV is meant to trick the eyes. The high drama of housewives bickering about who said what over a bottle of wine. Cast members secretly scheming to avoid elimination off the island. Contestants blatantly lying to rig the game in their favor. What unfolds before us, to quote Susan Murray and Laura Ouelette in 2008’s Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture, “is an unstable text that encourages viewers to test out their own notions of the real, the ordinary, and the intimate against the representation before them.”

This week, inside Detroit’s Fox Theatre, Democratic presidential hopefuls participated in the second round of debates. Last night found two of the top candidates—Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Joe Biden, along with Senator Cory Booker—center stage. The whole ordeal played out like an episode of The Real Legislators of America.

Remember: Absorbing, can’t-look-away TV is not about stability, however much we yearn for—and need, really—politics to be. The value of the unstable text is in its consistent guarantee of popcorn-worthy entertainment. Those who watch, myself included, find a perverse comfort in it because it’s entirely reliable; it gives us something to bicker about with family, friends, colleagues. It challenges us in ways for which we are unprepared, and sometimes for the better.

The primary architecture of debates, like reality TV with its twisting plots and snaking subplots, obeys a simple formula: an adoption of disorder. Biden, who remains the frontrunner despite his moderate establishment policies and a thrashing from Harris in June during the first round of debates, was again assigned the role of villain. A textbook archetype of the genre, the former VP doesn’t quite find a kindred spirit in the diabolical savvy of Spencer Pratt (The Hills) or Jax Taylor (Vanderpump Rules), but all great TV hinges on the roles characters submit to. That’s one of the more fascinating parts about Murray and Ouelette’s theory: Although the text itself is prone to unpredictability, the characters must conform to stationary roles.

Depth of Field: The Charged Uncertainty at the Tijuana Border


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  • Depth of Field: On Pose, the Past Is the Present

     

“You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign,” Booker said to Biden, railing into him. “You can’t do it when it’s convenient and then dodge it when it’s not.” Later, Booker again pounced on him over the matter of criminal justice reform, and Biden found himself caught in the heat of Harris’ agitation on the topic of health care and paralyzed by former Housing Secretary Julian Castro’s criticism of his shaky immigration record.

But before drama turned rapid-fire, there was the sly splendor of the 10 candidates on stage, standing side by side, captured with a trippy canniess by Brendan Smialowski. There’s a static, almost robotic feel to the vertical poses they take; their top halves have been severed by the camera’s frame. The linear symmetry of their lower limbs, the uniformity of their display, suggests an analogy: Not unlike reality TV, we all have a role to adhere to.

But then, almost instantly, the photo challenges its very hypothesis by displaying the full-body reflection of the politicians on the stage floor (Jordan Peele’s tethered beings from Us sprang to mind). And so, here in the democratic upside down, a counter suggestion is proposed: that even the roles candidates were assigned—The Hero, The Antagonist, The Everyman—are not, in fact, as stable as we anticipate.


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