Required Reading


  • Being “fashionably late” is not a thing anymore, according to the New York Times. Well, at least not since the COVID-19 pandemic started. “Punctuality is having a moment,” writes Katherine Rosman. She adds:

During the first phase [of the pandemic], when videoconferencing became the norm for many office workers nationwide, people who had previously struggled with being on time found themselves no longer held up by commutes or workplace gossip sessions. Collaboration among those in different time zones has become almost seamless, and people are able to weave school pick-ups and other child care duties into their workdays.

“Punctuality is paramount as we are going through a re-evaluation of our relationship to time,” said Linda Ong, the chief executive officer of Cultique, a consulting firm in Los Angeles that advises companies on changing cultural norms. “There has been less tolerance for lateness because there is expectation that you have more control over your time and so you should be on time.”

  • Top Gun: Maverick (2022), Tom Cruise’s sequel to his 1986 aviation hit, is receiving rave reviews and breaking box office records, but Jacobin‘s film critic Eileen Jones thinks it’s nothing but a long military recruitment video:

Is it any use pointing out that the first Top Gun was a ludicrous piece of shit? That it was a functioning part of the Ronald Reagan administration’s insane military buildup and aggressive pro-war policies of the 1980s? Or that in a 1990 interview, playing dumb about the obvious way the Navy made use of the film, Tom Cruise refuted the idea of ever making a sequel?

But that was then, this is now, and Tom Cruise is about to turn sixty and wants to be a star forever. So a sequel to Top Gun looked good, not only to him but to the desperate film industry mavens trying to figure out some way to get audiences back into theaters en masse. The result is Top Gun: Maverick, every bit as vile and idiotic as the first film, but slicker, better edited, featuring more gripping action scenes, and now awash in tears of nostalgia for the 1980s when Hollywood was booming and “It’s Morning in America” was a slogan people actually believed in.

Of course, it wasn’t morning. It was a grim twilight with a hard polluted rain pouring down. And now it’s midnight, and we’re at it again with another Top Gun. Plus the new movie is somehow even more ludicrous than Top Gun I, which I didn’t think was possible.

  • While we’re discussing films, it appears that Martin Scorsese’s 2013 blockbuster The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, has become one of the most-watched Hollywood movies in Russia since the beginning of its war against Ukraine. Pjotr Sauer of the Guardian explains:

Disney, Warner, Sony and other production companies have halted the release of films in Russia, with Moscow cinemas now re-running old Hollywood blockbusters and premiering Chinese action movies.

“We will be lucky if we make it till autumn without shutting down. People simply don’t want to go to see The Wolf of Wall Street for the fifth time,” said the manager of a popular cinema in central Moscow, referring to the 2013 Martin Scorsese movie that is currently being reshown on some screens in the capital.

  • Warren Kanders, who resigned from the Whitney Museum’s board of trustees in 2019 after months of protests against his tear gas business (following a story that Hyperallergic broke in 2018), announced in 2020 that he would divest his company, Safariland Group, from divisions that sell tear gas and riot gear. However, an investigation by the Intercept‘s reporter Sam Biddle found that Kanders is still involved in manufacturing tear gas. Here’s an excerpt:

Florida-based Cadre Holdings bills itself as a “premier global provider of trusted, innovative, high-quality safety and survivability products for first responders, federal agencies, and outdoor/personal protection markets,” with a large portfolio of companies that manufacture protective equipment, gun holsters, and other tactical accoutrement. Among the many companies owned by Cadre, itself run by Kanders since 2012, is Safariland LLC, whose website today is devoid of tear gas and smoke grenades and rather bills itself as “providing trusted and innovative life-saving equipment to law enforcement, military, outdoor recreation and personal protection markets.”

Defense Technology is not mentioned anywhere on Cadre’s website. But when Cadre Holdings filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission last year as part of its initial public offering, among its 23 disclosed international subsidiaries was Defense Technology LLC. Defense Technology was again listed as a subsidiary in Cadre’s March 2022 annual shareholder report. Amid the many risk factors disclosed in the report, Kanders’s company stated explicitly that it continued to sell chemical weapons, noting, “We use Orthochlorabenzalmalononitrile and Chloroacetophenone chemical agents in connection with our production of our crowd control products,” two of the most popular toxic compounds used to create tear gas. “Private parties may bring claims against us based on alleged adverse health impacts or property damage caused by our operations.”

  • Four LGBTQ+ groups — Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, Stonewall Democrats of NYC, Equality New York, and Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens — are boycotting New York City’s Pride Parade to protest Mayor Eric Adams’s recent anti-gay hires. Read their statement here:
  • It’s not just these groups that aren’t happy with Mayor Adams’s performance. His approval rating among New Yorkers is down to 29%, compared to 63% six months ago, according to a poll by the Siena College Research Institute. Still, 53% said that they “like his style.” This is from Siena’s report about the poll:

“If New Yorkers had a honeymoon with Mayor Adams, it was brief and it’s clearly over. Only 29% give him a positive rating for the job he’s doing as mayor, compared to 64% who give him a negative rating,” said Dr. Don Levy, Director, Siena College Research Institute. “About 40% of adults over 65 and Black New Yorkers view him positively, but his positive rating does not exceed 33% with respondents based on party, gender, political ideology, or borough.”

“Even worse for Adams are his job performance ratings on specific issues. About three-quarters of New Yorkers give him negative grades on both addressing homelessness and fighting crime. And at least 59% give him negative grades on transforming the NYPD, managing city services, tackling safety at Rikers Island, and running the public schools,” Levy said.

  • How annoying is this Disneyland Paris worker, who killed the joy of a couple during their most romantic moment? Disney apologized after this video went viral:
  • Turns out that Swedish people don’t like feeding their children’s friends when they’re visiting. They might cast them away to another room or send them home when it’s time to eat. This custom has been the subject of fierce discussions on Reddit. Now, Swedes are scrambling to explain themselves, according to Amanda Holpuch of the New York Times:

Professor Jonsson said he had not studied the custom, and it was not one his family practiced, but he guessed it could be traced to several parts of Swedish identity.

Before advances were made in food storage, he said, Swedish people would have three to four months to harvest a year’s worth of food in the cold climate, so spontaneous dinners have never been a part of the culture. He said Swedish people also want to respect the independence of the family and offering another person’s child a meal could be seen as a critique of the other person’s ability to support a family.

“There has been a very strong urge of independence, to not rely on others’ good will for having a good and independent life,” Professor Jonsson said. “It was a very strong driver toward the welfare state, to create this impersonal assistance, where you did not have to rely on any other person.”

  • A recent study by Qi Ge of Vassar College and Stephen Wu of Hamilton College found that people with hard-to-pronounce names face more difficulty getting jobs in academia. They write:

Job candidates with difficult-to-pronounce names are much less likely to be placed into an academic job or to land a tenure track position, and also are placed in jobs at much lower ranked institutions, as measured by research productivity. These results are statistically significant and economically large in magnitude. A one standard deviation increase in the median time it takes to pronounce a candidate’s full name lowers the likelihood of obtaining an academic or tenure-track job by roughly 8 percentage points and results in placing in an institution that is ranked nearly 100 spots lower on RePEc’s global ranking.

  • It’s been 50 years since the release of the Solaris, Andrei Tarkovsky’s sci-fi masterpiece based on Stanisław Lem’s 1961 novel. Here’s a reminder of the movie’s iconic levitation scene:
YouTube Poster

Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.


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