Mixed Media

How Conservative Brits Tried to Use the Beatles to Win Elections

| Fri Feb. 7, 2014 3:27 PM PST
The Beatles arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport on February 7, 1964.

February 9 marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' historic performance on The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS. It was one of the opening salvos of the British Invasion of the mid-1960s, and the broadcast drew 73 million viewers. It is consistently hailed as one of the most influential and biggest (if not the biggest ever) televised moments for rock n' roll and popular music.

"The Beatles are delightful," Sullivan said shortly after the performance. "They are the nicest boys I've ever met."

You can watch their 1964 Ed Sullivan performance of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (along with some other gigs) below, via Rolling Stone:

Many tributes and commemorative packages have been prepared for the anniversary. On Sunday, CBS will air a special all-star salute, featuring Stevie WonderGary Clark, Jr., Katy Perry, and ex-Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, among others. The Ed Sullivan appearance was just one of many indicators of The Beatles' immense popularity and influence. Concert promoters, cultural observers, and screaming teenage girls weren't the only ones who understood this—British politicians did, too, and they weren't shy about trying to exploit Beatlemania for electoral gain.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

8 Badass Photos From the Real-Life "Monuments Men"—Who Saved Art and Treasure From the Nazis

| Fri Feb. 7, 2014 7:42 AM PST

On Friday, George Clooney's new film, The Monuments Men, hits theaters. It's based on the true story of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) program (whose men and women were known as "Monuments Men") established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943 to help rescue art and cultural property from obliteration during World War II. The Monuments Men included servicemembers and art historians who aided in tracking down, identifying, and returning priceless works of art stolen by Hitler's forces.

Here's an example of their heroic efforts being used during the Nuremberg Trials as evidence of the Nazi's large-scale looting of cultural treasures:

Before you decide whether or not to see Clooney's film (which also stars Matt Damon, Bill MurrayCate Blanchett, John Goodman, and Jean Dujardin), here are some badass photos of the real-life Monuments Men and other members of the US armed forces as they uncovered hidden and stolen art and treasure:

 

1.

Monuments Men
MFAA officer James Rorimer (who inspired Damon's character) supervises American soldiers recovering paintings from Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons

 

2.

Monuments Men
In a cellar in Frankfurt, Germany, Chaplain Samuel Blinder examines Saphor Torahs (Sacred Scrolls) stolen from across Europe. National Archives

 

3.

Monuments Men art
Loot found at a church in the German town of Ellingen. National Archives

 

4.

Monuments Men
  Master Sergeant Harold Maus of Scranton, PA, checks out an Albrecht Dürer engraving uncovered at the Merkers salt mine. National Archives

 

5.

Monuments Men
General Dwight D. Eisenhower inspects art stolen by the Nazis. General Omar N. Bradley and Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr. are also pictured.  National Archives

 

6.

Monuments Men
Officials inspecting and posing with a Goya painting at Le Grand-Lucé in France. National Gallery of Art

 

7.

Monuments Men gold
  Gold and art uncovered by the US army in the Merkers salt mine in April 1945. National Archives

 

8.

monuments men
  The truck is transporting paintings recovered by the US Army to Florence, Italy. National Archives

 

UPDATE, February 11, 2014, 1:53 p.m. EST: Bob Clark, the supervisory archivist at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, emailed me a PDF of the following approval document initialed by President Roosevelt. This initialed memorandum essentially created the Monuments Men. "In customary fashion, President Roosevelt initialed and 'OK'd' the memorandum proposing the creation of the commission that had been prepared by Secretary of State Cordell Hull," Clark writes. "In the Roosevelt administration, FDR's 'OK' on a document was considered presidential consent for the action proposed in the document. Subsequent to the President's approval, membership on the commission was finalized and on August 20, 1943, a press release was issued by the Department of State announcing the creation of the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in Europe."

The approved memorandum is four pages. Here's the initialed first page:

 

Now, here's a trailer for Clooney's The Monuments Men:

Christian Right Gears Up to Protest Religious Movie's Rescinded Oscar Nod

| Thu Feb. 6, 2014 4:00 AM PST

The song "Alone Yet Not Alone" is the latest skirmish in the American culture war. It's performed by 64-year-old quadriplegic evangelical author Joni Eareckson Tada, and comes from the little-known 2013 Christian film of the same name. The film, set in 1755, is based on the story of two young sisters threatened by religious persecution and Native American tribes. It was made on a roughly $7 million budget and produced by a team of evangelical filmmakers, outside of the sphere of a secular Hollywood. Very few in the entertainment industry and film press have seen it, but the movie has received endorsements from a who's who of Christian-right big names, such as Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and former Republican presidential contender (and Christian movie man) Rick Santorum, and, to the surprise of many in the industry, an Academy Award nomination for best original song.

The film scored the nod along with four others, including "The Moon Song" from Her and "Let It Go" from Frozen. But on January 29, the Academy announced that it was rescinding the nominations for songwriter Bruce Broughton and lyricist Dennis Spiegel due to a breach of ethics: Broughton, a former rep on the Academy's board of governors, was accused of improperly lobbying (via email) at least 70 Academy music branch members during the voting period.

Barbie Designer: If We Made Her Look Normal, Her Clothes Wouldn't Fit

| Tue Feb. 4, 2014 3:43 PM PST

By now, it's well known that Barbie's body isn't exactly realistic. If the famous doll were human, her waist would be just 16 inches around—half the size of the average American woman's. She hasn't always been this way; in fact, before 1997, Barbie was even less realistic.

In an interview with Fast Company Design, Kim Culmone, vice president of design for the Barbie doll, spoke candidly about why the doll remains so proportionally different from real women. Her argument essentially boiled down to: We can't make Barbie more realistic because her clothes wouldn't fit anymore.

Co.Design: What's your stance on Barbie's proportions?

Culmone: Barbie's body was never designed to be realistic. She was designed for girls to easily dress and undress. And she's had many bodies over the years, ones that are poseable, ones that are cut for princess cuts, ones that are more realistic…Primarily it's for function for the little girl, for real life fabrics to be able to be turned and sewn, and have the outfit still fall property on her body.

Co.Design: So to get the clean lines of fashion at Barbie's scale, you have to use totally unrealistic proportions?

Culmone: You do! Because if you're going to take a fabric that's made for us…her body has to be able to accommodate how the clothes will fit her.

In actuality, Barbie was created in 1959 so that the daughter of Ruth Handler, co-founder of the Mattel toy company, could imagine herself as an adult. In 1977, Handler told the New York Times she invented Barbie because "every little girl needed a doll through which to project herself into her dream of her future."

When asked whether she thinks girls compare their own bodies to Barbie's, Culmone said no way.

Co.Design: You don't think there's a body comparison going on when you're a girl?

Culmone: I don't. Girls view the world completely differently than grown-ups do…Clearly, the influences for girls on those types of issues, whether it's body image or anything else, it's proven, it's peers, moms, parents, it's their social circles.

When they're playing, they're playing. It's a princess-fairy-fashionista-doctor-astronaut, and that's all one girl.

But a 2006 study in the American Psychological Association found that girls exposed to Barbie had lower self esteem and a desire to be thinner. Another 2006 study showed that young girls ate significantly more after playing with average-sized dolls.

Come for the Crooning, Stay for the Wordplay on Lambchop's "Nixon" Reissue

| Mon Feb. 3, 2014 4:00 AM PST

Lambchop
Nixon
Merge

Nixon album cover

If you know this Nashville collective mainly for recent albums like Mr. M and OH (Ohio), the most striking thing about the reissue of 2000's lush Nixon is how different leader Kurt Wagner sounds. Currently a woozy basso crooner, he was a woozy, much-higher crooner back then, with a intriguingly scruffy falsetto suggesting Curtis Mayfield's degenerate down-home cousin. In any case, Nixon is a fascinating listen that tempers Wagner's penchant for updating and warping the smooth country-politan sounds of the '70s with mellow soul influences, all the better to make his sly, tartly dark observations on human nature more appetizing.

Taking its title from the wonderful Wayne White painting of the same name—which is also the cover—Nixon has little or nothing to say about the late, disgraced former president (unless utterly oblique references count), but it does include "The Petrified Florist," underscoring Wagner's knack for offbeat wordplay. This two-disc set also includes White Sessions 1998: How I Met Cat Power, a five-song Wagner solo set with its own sleepy charms.

Quick Reads: "Extreme Medicine" by Kevin Fong

| Mon Feb. 3, 2014 4:00 AM PST

Extreme Medicine

By Kevin Fong

THE PENGUIN PRESS

The devil's in the physiological details as physician, NASA adviser, and outdoor fanatic Kevin Fong explores how feats at the edge of possibility—from the first major Antarctica expedition a century ago to the first manned landing on Mars at some future date—rely upon and, in turn, inform an ever-greater understanding of our own biology. With clear, evocative prose, he takes readers to ocean depths and mountaintops, and also deep within our bodies, in this entertaining exploration of human limits.

This review originally appeared in our January/February 2014 issue of Mother Jones.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Your Rape Joke Is Bad and You Should Feel Bad

| Sun Feb. 2, 2014 11:02 PM PST

Pornhub, a hub for pornography on the information superhighway, is a little well known for being snarky and amusing on social media. Chasing that reputation may have just got it into trouble.

Sunday night the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos in a football game. This inspired Pornhub to make the following joke:

 

So, stop it.

Pornhub, stop it.

Whoever you are, if you're telling a rape joke, stop it.

It's 2014. We really shouldn't have to say this. Just, dear god almighty, stop.

They aren't funny. You aren't funny. Stop.

UPDATE: Pornhub has apologized in the comments to this post. Their social person seems like good people:

Alright Ben, you're right, I feel bad and I'll stop. The tweet wasn't intended to offend anyone, you have to realize my target demographic on twitter isn't the same as say, Mother Jones.

 

The Seinfeld-Reunion "Secret Project" Aired During the Super Bowl—Watch it Here

| Sun Feb. 2, 2014 7:23 PM PST

Here's one for those who saw the Seinfeld reunion on Curb Your Enthusiasm and wanted more. During a commercial break in the Super Bowl broadcast on Sunday, Jerry and George (and Newman) were featured in an episode of Jerry Seinfeld's web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. This put an end to recent speculation swirling around Seinfeld's "secret project," which included alums of the beloved NBC comedy series. 

Watch the pseudo-reunion here, via the Verge:  

(You can watch the full episode here.)

We shall wait to see what Elaine thought of it.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dead at 46, Spoke Candidly About Addiction

| Sun Feb. 2, 2014 1:46 PM PST

Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York City apartment on Sunday, according to law enforcement sources. Authorities are investigating the cause of death, but a drug overdose is suspected, according to the New York Times. Hoffman was 46.

There isn't much I can write about the Oscar-winning actor's tremendous talent that others won't be writing. He was one of his generation's greatest. His performances in Capote, Magnolia, The MasterAlmost Famous, 25th Hour, Charlie Wilson's War, Doubt, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, and many other films will all stand the test of time. "Rest in peace Philip Seymour Hoffman," actress and activist Mia Farrow tweeted. "We who marveled at each of your performances, are grateful and very very sad."

Hoffman struggled with drug and alcohol problems, which reportedly included detox following a heroin relapse this past summer. In 2006, Hoffman discussed his substance abuse, and why he went into rehab at a young age, in an interview with 60 Minutes. Here's part of what he had to say, which includes an expression of deep empathy for young Hollywood:

I got sober [when] I was 22 years old…It was…anything I could get my hands on. I liked it all…I was 22 and I got panicked for my life…I always think, god, you know, I have so much empathy for these young actors, that they're 19 and all of a sudden they're beautiful, and famous, and rich. And I'm like, oh my god, I'd be dead! You know what I mean? Nineteen, beautiful, famous, and rich, that'd be it…I think back at that time, and I think if I had…that kind of money and stuff…Yeah.

Around the time of that 60 Minutes broadcast, Hoffman told The Observer that he felt the show's segment verged on being inappropriate: "You talk to your interviewer for a good four hours over a bunch of days, and that was about two minutes of it," he said. "It's not a major part of the story at all—it happened when I was 22. At the time I had to deal with it, in retrospect it was one of the major events in my life, but there are other events that form you. So to single it out as the one would not only be inappropriate, but not true."

During that Observer interview, Hoffman also talked about how he found it weird that he was becoming a big movie star. "The strange thing is I never thought I'd do films," he said. "I was studying theater, and my dreams were about riding my bike to the theater on Sunday afternoons to do a play, and they still are."

Needless to say, both the theater and film world have lost a remarkable talent.

Dylan Farrow Writes Open Letter Claiming Horrific Sexual Assault by Woody Allen

| Sat Feb. 1, 2014 6:03 PM PST

On Saturday, Nicholas Kristof's blog at the New York Times published an open letter by Dylan Farrow, the adoptive daughter of celebrated filmmaker Woody Allen. The letter describes, in horrifying detail, sexual assault she claims to have suffered at the hands of Allen—when she was seven years old. As Kristof notes, this is the first time that Farrow has written about this in public.

Here's an excerpt:

What's your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we'd go to Paris and I'd be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.

[...]

What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?

Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.

(You can read the rest of her letter—which isn't easy to get through—here.)

Allen's representatives did not immediately respond to Mother Jones' request for comment regarding the letter. I will update this post, if that changes.

Update: Allen's attorney Elkan Abramowitz sent Mother Jones the following statement on Sunday afternoon:

It is tragic that after 20 years a story engineered by a vengeful lover resurfaces after it was fully vetted and rejected by independent authorities. The one to blame for Dylan's distress is neither Dylan nor Woody Allen.

Update 2: Allen's publicist Leslee Dart emails the following on Sunday afternoon:

Mr. Allen has read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful. He will be responding very soon...At the time, a thorough investigation was conducted by court appointed independent experts. The experts concluded there was no credible evidence of molestation; that Dylan Farrow had an inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality; and that Dylan Farrow had likely been coached by her mother Mia Farrow. No charges were ever filed.

Accusations of the abuse surfaced in the early 1990s, shortly after the relationship between Allen and long-time girlfriend Mia Farrow ended after she discovered Allen had been having an affair with Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and composer/conductor André Previn. Allen denies the allegations, and has never been prosecuted in this case. Allen and his defenders say that Dylan was coached to make the allegations by Mia Farrow. Discussion of the alleged assaults was renewed following a recent tribute to Allen at the Golden Globe Awards.

Update 3, February 7, 2014, 9:09 p.m. EST: On Friday, the New York Times published Woody Allen's response online: "Of course, I did not molest Dylan."

Update 4, February 7, 2014, 11:49 p.m. EST: On Friday, Dylan Farrow responded, in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter, to Allen's piece in the New York Times: "His op-ed is the latest rehash of the same legalese, distortions, and outright lies he has leveled at me for the past 20 years."