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Trump Says He Will Hold Rally While Skipping Correspondents’ Dinner


President Trump’s decision to hold a rally on the night of the annual black-tie event comes after months of tension and acrimony between himself and the White House press corps.

Al Drago/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — After refusing to attend next weekend’s annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner — a traditional night of comity between presidents and the news media — President Trump announced Saturday that he would hold a rally away from the capital while the dinner was underway.

In a Twitter message on Saturday morning, the president said he would be “holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania” on April 29, the same night the press corps will be gathering for its annual black-tie event at the Washington Hilton.

Mr. Trump’s decision is another thumb in the eye to the White House press corps after months of tension and acrimony between the president and the reporters who cover him. Mr. Trump has called several news organizations “fake” or the “enemy of the people” and has repeatedly said The New York Times is “failing.”

After the president announced in February that he would not attend the dinner, the White House indicated that none of his staff members would attend, “in solidarity” with their boss — a move that was widely interpreted as an order by Mr. Trump that they should not go.

The dinner has for decades been attended by sitting presidents and scores of administration officials. In recent years, it has become a destination for A-list celebrities and has raised money for scholarships that the Correspondents’ Association gives to aspiring student journalists.

Instead, Mr. Trump will use the evening to trumpet his administration’s early accomplishments at the rally. April 29 is the president’s 100th day in office, a milestone that Mr. Trump mocked as “ridiculous” in a Twitter post on Friday.

Jeff Mason, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association and a reporter for Reuters, said after Mr. Trump’s tweet that “we will be celebrating the First Amendment at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner next week, and we look forward to doing just that.”

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Could Young Blood Boost the Aging Brain?

By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) — A new study hints that young blood may harbor clues to a “fountain of youth” for older brains.

Researchers say blood from human umbilical cords appears to have helped reverse memory loss in aging mice.

The findings suggest that something in young blood is important in maintaining mental acuity.

No one, however, is saying that cord blood could be a magic bullet against Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

For one, any effects seen in elderly rodents may fail to translate to humans.

Instead, the findings might set the stage for new drugs that target the dementia process, said study lead author Joseph Castellano. He’s an instructor in neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

“Part of what makes this exciting is that it suggests there’s more communication between the blood and brain than we’ve thought,” Castellano said.

The study builds on earlier work by the same Stanford team. There, the researchers found that old lab mice benefited from infusions of plasma (the liquid portion of blood) from young mice.

Specifically, the old mice showed improvements in learning and memory. This was measured by the ability to accomplish tasks like navigating a maze or building a nest.

The aim of the new study, Castellano said, was to see whether injections of human plasma given to mice could have similar effects.

It turned out that they did — at least when the plasma came from umbilical cords. Plasma from young adults had less of an impact. And plasma from older adults, ages 61 to 82, had no benefit at all.

That led to a critical question: What is it about umbilical cord blood that’s special?

The researchers found evidence that it might be a protein called TIMP2. It is present in high levels in cord plasma, they said, but declines with age.

What’s more, injections of TIMP2 benefited older rodents’ brains in the same way that cord plasma did.

Castellano said it was “surprising” that a single protein had such effects.

But, he noted, TIMP2 could be “upstream” of many biological processes. It belongs to a family of proteins that regulate other critical proteins. Those proteins, in turn, have the task of “chopping up” yet more proteins that exist in the matrix surrounding body cells.


But researchers know little about how TIMP2 acts on the brain, Castellano said.

“Now, we really need to get a better understanding of what it’s doing in the brain,” he said. “We are not saying we’ve found the protein that’s responsible for brain aging.”

Dr. Marc Gordon is a professor at the Litwin-Zucker Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y.

He agreed that the study identifies a protein “target” that should be studied further.

“But this is not saying that cord blood is a cure for aging,” Gordon stressed.

And it’s probably unrealistic to use cord blood as a dementia treatment, said Castellano.

Nor can anyone predict whether TIMP2 will point researchers toward new drugs for dementia. Findings in lab animals often fail to pan out in humans.

Plus, Gordon said, this study involved mice that were old, but did not have an “animal model” of Alzheimer’s. That refers to lab mice that are genetically modified to have Alzheimer’s-like brain pathology.

“What this could mean for human disease is purely speculative,” Gordon said.

Drugs for age-related brain disease have so far been “elusive,” Castellano said. The available medications for dementia symptoms have limited effects, and cannot stop the disease from progressing.

“We’re excited,” Castellano added, “about this knowledge that there are proteins present in the blood that evolve over the life span, and may affect brain function.”

The findings were published April 19 in Nature.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Joseph Castellano, Ph.D., instructor, neurology and neurological sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif.; Marc L. Gordon, M.D., professor, Litwin-Zucker Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, N.Y., and chief, neurology, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, N.Y.; April 19, 2017, Nature, online

Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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David Spade May Not Love Girlfriend Naya Rivera But He ‘Really Likes’ Her, OK?!

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Early on we might have thought this was an April Fools’ Day joke… but now sources are trying to push that it’s not only legit, it’s SERIOUS!

We still might have trouble believing David Spade and Naya Rivera are a thing, they’ve also gotten serious enough that Spade “really likes” the woman with whom he’s been linked for a month now.

Related: David Spade’s Impressive Dating History

According to a source who knows the goings-on between the couple, things aren’t, like, so serious that the pair is in love, but it’s all going well between the comedian and the former Glee actress, OK?!

The source said:

“David really likes Naya. They are still trying to keep things private, but they have hung out a couple of times since Hawaii.”

This is that dreaded “really likes” thing — not loves, but really likes — that just feels like a kiss of death, doesn’t it?!

Related: Melissa Joan Hart & Ryan Reynolds Were Almost An Item?

They’ve only hung out a couple times since their rendezvous in Hawaii, they’re keeping things SUPER private, and nobody else is commenting publicly save for one funny Instagram video moment Rivera posted a few weeks ago.


Is this couple for real?! We STILL can’t really tell!!

[Image via FayesVision/WENN.]

Tags: david spade, hawaii, love, love line, naya rivera, pool, relationship

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Remake of Classic ‘Your Brain on Drugs’ Ad Slams Disastrous Drug War

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.


Twenty years ago today, one of the most memorable ads of all time was launched, when Rachael Leigh Cook and her frying pan starting smashing up eggs in her infamous, “This is Your Brain on Drugs” ad.

Today, Rachael Leigh Cook, her frying pan and eggs are back but this time in a new ad that slams the drug war and its racist enforcement.

The new video, made by Green Point Creative, opens with Cook and her frying pan. She holds up a white egg and explains that it represents one of the millions of Americans who uses drugs but never gets arrested. She then picks up a brown egg and says, “This American is several times more likely to be charged with a drug crime.”

The animated ad, narrated by Cook, then shows what happens to the brown egg that is arrested and funneled through the criminal justice system. The ad highlights a range of harmful collateral consequences that result from drug arrest, including the loss of student financial aid, hindered job prospects and broken up families. The add contrasts the white egg’s family that was never arrested, despite also using drugs.

The ad ends with Cook looking into the camera, holding her pan and with a smashed egg and saying, “The war on drugs is ruining peoples’ lives. It fuels mass incarceration, it targets people of color in greater numbers than their white counter parts. It cripples communities, it costs billions and it doesn’t work. Any questions?”

It is gratifying and promising to see the evolution in Rachael Leigh Cook and in the American public over these last 20 years. The war on drugs is a disastrous failure that has ruined millions of peoples’ lives, especially people of color. Let’s hope this ad is seen by as many people as the original and inspires folks to end this unwinnable war.


This piece first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog

Tony Newman is communications director for the Drug Policy Alliance.

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Robert Taylor Found a Way to Nurture Computer Visionaries

Robert Taylor nurtured researchers who created the forerunners of today’s internet and easy-to-use computers.

Mr. Taylor, who led research teams at the Pentagon and a Xerox Corp. lab from the 1960s to the early 1980s, had a talent for finding brilliant people and coaxing them to cooperate. He said it was a mistake to hire people who were merely good at their jobs; it would take 10 or 20 good people, he argued, to match the contribution of a single great one. While giving researchers room to follow their own instincts, he…

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Trump Reaches Beyond West Wing for Counsel


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WASHINGTON — Relationships have always been President Trump’s currency and comfort, helping him talk his way into real estate deals over three decades in New York. Those who know him best say that his outer confidence has always belied an inner uncertainty, and that he needs to test ideas with a wide range of people.

As Mr. Trump’s White House advisers jostle for position, the president has turned to another group of advisers — from family, real estate, media, finance and politics, and all outside the White House gates — many of whom he consults at least once a week.

The media mogul Rupert Murdoch is on the phone every week, encouraging Mr. Trump when he’s low and arguing that he focus on the economy rather than detouring to other issues. The developer Richard LeFrak is a soothing voice who listens to Mr. Trump’s complaints that cost estimates for the border wall with Mexico are too high. Sean Hannity tells the president that keeping promises on core Republican issues is crucial.

Mr. Trump’s West Wing aides, like President Bill Clinton’s staff two decades before, say they sometimes cringe at the input from people they can’t control, with consequences they can’t predict. Knowing these advisers — who are mostly white, male and older — is a key to figuring out the words coming from Mr. Trump’s mouth and his Twitter feed.

Here, based on interviews with more than a dozen friends, top aides and advisers inside and outside the White House, are 20 of Mr. Trump’s outside touchstones.


President Trump in the Roosevelt Room this week. Outside the White House, Mr. Trump has kept a small group of informal advisers whom he speaks with at least one a week.

Al Drago/The New York Times

The Mogul

Rupert Murdoch

Mr. Trump’s relationships depend on two crucial measures: personal success and loyalty to him. Mr. Murdoch excels in both categories. His New York Post vaulted Mr. Trump from local housing developer to gossip-page royalty, and his Fox News Channel was pro-Trump in the 2016 general election.

The two share preferences for transactional tabloid journalism and never giving in to critics. (Mr. Trump said the fallen Fox star Bill O’Reilly should not have settled sexual harassment complaints.) The president’s relationship with Mr. Murdoch is deeper and more enduring than most in his life, and the two commiserate and plot strategy in their phone calls, according to people close to both.

Mr. Murdoch even called the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, to buck him up after Mr. Spicer was savaged for a remark about Adolf Hitler.

The Media

Sean Hannity

Presidents always deploy surrogates to appear on television to spout their talking points, but Mr. Trump has expanded on that by developing relationships with sympathetic media figures like Mr. Hannity who also serve as advisers. Mr. Hannity, the Fox News host, defends Mr. Trump’s most controversial behavior in public, but privately, according to people close to Mr. Trump, he urges the president not to get distracted, and advises him to focus on keeping pledges like repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Chris Ruddy

The chief executive of Newsmax Media is a longtime Mar-a-Lago member and was a Trump cheerleader among conservative media well before the website Breitbart joined the parade. He employs writers and editors who tracked Mr. Trump’s career when they were at The New York Post. He recently visited the Oval Office, and he and Mr. Trump kibitz in Florida and by phone.

The Lawyer

Sheri A. Dillon

Ms. Dillon seemed out of place when she spoke at a too-large lectern in the lobby of Trump Tower on Jan. 11, describing the steps Mr. Trump planned to take to separate himself from his business. But Ms. Dillon, an ethics lawyer who worked out a highly criticized plan for Mr. Trump to retain ownership of his company but step back from running it, has repeatedly counseled the president about the business and made at least one White House visit. (Michael Cohen, a veteran Trump aide, has been serving as his personal lawyer.)

Campaign Advisers

Corey Lewandowski

Despite his “you’re fired” slogan, the president dislikes dismissing people. Mr. Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s hot-tempered first campaign manager, was fired in June but never really went away. A New England-bred operative whose working-class roots and clenched-teeth loyalty earned him Mr. Trump’s trust, he continued to be in frequent phone contact with Mr. Trump until the election and beyond. Friends of Mr. Lewandowski say that he can see the windows of the White House residence from his lobbying office on Pennsylvania Avenue, and that the view is even better during his visits to the West Wing, including when the New England Patriots were there this past week.

Newt Gingrich

The former House speaker talks more with Mr. Trump’s top advisers than he does with the president, but his presence permeates the administration. Mr. Gingrich’s former spokesman is at the State Department, and two former advisers work in the West Wing. Mr. Gingrich has relentlessly promoted Mr. Trump’s policy adviser, Stephen Miller, as the West Wing conservative ballast as the chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, has been under fire.

Childhood Friend

Richard LeFrak

Their fathers were developers together in New York, and the two men have been friends for decades. Mr. LeFrak is a Mar-a-Lago member, and he agreed to be part of an infrastructure effort that Mr. Trump hopes to put forward. Mr. Trump has turned to him to vent frustrations about the slow pace of bureaucracy.

The Peers

Thomas Barrack Jr.

Mr. Trump divides the people around him into broad categories: family, paid staff and wealthy men like Mr. Barrack whom he considers peers. A sunny and loyal near-billionaire who has socialized with the president for years, Mr. Barrack is less a strategic adviser than a trusted moneyman, fixer and sounding board who has often punctuated emails to Mr. Trump with exhortations like “YOU ROCK!” He has urged Mr. Trump to avoid needless, distracting fights.

Under Mr. Barrack’s leadership, Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee raised a record $106.7 million, much of it from big corporations, banks and Republican megadonors like the Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Barrack also helped usher Paul Manafort, the international political operative now under scrutiny for his ties to Russia, into the Trump fold last year. The velvet-voiced Mr. Barrack does not seek out attention for himself, one of the most important and elusive qualities by which the president judges people.

Stephen Schwarzman

The chairman and chief executive of the Blackstone Group, Mr. Schwarzman is the head of Mr. Trump’s economic advisory council. He and the president don’t speak daily, West Wing aides said, but do talk frequently. Mr. Schwarzman has counseled him on a number of topics, including advising him to leave in place President Barack Obama’s executive order shielding young undocumented immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” from deportation.

Steve Roth

A good way to get on Mr. Trump’s side is to do a deal with him, particularly if it means rescuing him from his own financial crisis. That’s what Mr. Roth, a real estate tycoon, did a decade ago when he bought out Mr. Trump’s share in a West Side real estate deal that went sour. Mr. Roth, head of Vornado Realty Trust and a longtime Democratic donor, also helped Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, when he injected $80 million into 666 Fifth Avenue, a Kushner family property in danger of defaulting on $1.1 billion in loans. Mr. Trump speaks with Mr. Roth frequently, and is leaning on him to help develop a trillion-dollar infrastructure package expected this year.

Phil Ruffin

Mr. Trump has 20-odd business partners, but none is closer to him than Mr. Ruffin, 82, a Texas billionaire who has lent his ear and private jet. The president was best man at the 2008 wedding of Mr. Ruffin to his third wife, a 26-year-old model and former Miss Ukraine. Mr. Ruffin has a knack for showing up when Mr. Trump needs him most and remains a die-hard defender. “This stuff about him having financial investments all over Russia — that’s just pure crap,” Mr. Ruffin told Forbes. “I went to Russia with him. We took my airplane. We were having lunch with one of the oligarchs there. No business was discussed.”

Carl Icahn

Rounding out Mr. Trump’s roster of wealthy octogenarians is this 81-year-old corporate raider and real estate mogul, who occupies perhaps the most respected perch in the president’s circle of businessmen buddies. The affection is longstanding: The Queens-bred Mr. Icahn has known Mr. Trump and his family for decades. It’s also numerical: Mr. Icahn is worth an estimated $16 billion, a major plus in the eyes of a president who keeps score. Mr. Icahn serves as a free-roving economic counselor and the head of Mr. Trump’s effort to reduce government regulations on business.

Man of Mystery

Roger J. Stone Jr.

Few alliances in politics are as complicated as the 40-year relationship between the Nixon-tattooed Mr. Stone and Mr. Trump. Mr. Stone won’t say how frequently they speak these days, but he shares the president’s tear-down-the-system impulses and is ubiquitous on cable news, radio and the website InfoWars defending Mr. Trump.

The Clubgoers

Ike Perlmutter

Mr. Perlmutter, the chief executive of Marvel Comics, who is so reclusive that there are few public photographs of him, has been informally advising Mr. Trump on veterans issues. The two men are old friends, and Mr. Perlmutter has been a presence at Mar-a-Lago.

Robert Kraft

The owner of the New England Patriots is a Democrat, but his loyalty to Mr. Trump, Mr. Kraft once said, dates partly to the president’s thoughtfulness when Mr. Kraft’s father died. Mr. Trump loved talking about the Patriots during the campaign, and Mr. Kraft has been a Mar-a-Lago presence since the transition.

The First Lady

Melania Trump

Mrs. Trump is uninterested in the limelight, but she has remained a powerful adviser by telephone from New York. Among her roles: giving Mr. Trump feedback on media coverage, counseling him on staff choices and urging him, repeatedly, to tone down his Twitter feed. Lately, he has listened closely, and has a more disciplined Twitter finger.

The Governor

Chris Christie

Mr. Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and palace gatekeeper, has shown a capacity to hobble his rivals, but few have been finished off. The most durable has been Mr. Christie, whose transition planning, several West Wing aides now concede, should not have been discarded. He has been a frequent Oval Office visitor and has worked with the White House on the opioid addiction crisis.

The Speaker

Paul D. Ryan

Mr. Trump and the clean-cut and wonky Wisconsinite aren’t exactly best friends forever. But their relationship is closer than in the bad old days of the 2016 campaign when Mr. Ryan delayed a hold-my-nose endorsement of Mr. Trump, whose morality he had long questioned. But as the president’s agenda passes through the razor-blade gantlet of the House, where Mr. Ryan faces the constant threat of opposition and overthrow, the two men have become foxhole buddies.

The Sons

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump

The two sons and the president insist they no longer discuss company business. But the family is close, and Mr. Trump still speaks to his sons frequently, inquiring about their lives and searching for gut-checks on his own.

Correction: April 22, 2017

An earlier version of a graphic with this article misspelled the given name of the chief executive of the Blackstone Group. He is Stephen Schwarzman, not Steven.

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Banquet Chicken Nuggets with Mac & Cheese Recalled

April 21, 2017 — Possible salmonella contamination has led to the recall of a brownie mix dessert included in frozen breaded chicken nugget meal trays produced by Conagra Brands, Inc., the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) says.

The recall is for 7.4 oz. vacuum-packed trays containing “Banquet Chicken Nuggets with Mac & Cheese” with Code 3100080921 and a “best if used by” date of July 20, 2018. The FSIS establishment number “P-9” is printed on the side of the box.

The 110,817 pounds of recalled frozen meals were shipped to stores nationwide. No confirmed cases of illness linked with the recalled products have been reported, according to FSIS.

For more information, consumers can call Conagra Brands Consumer Affairs at 1-800-289-6014.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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The Stars Are Out To Play During Weekend Two Of Coachella 2017 — See All The Celeb Sightings HERE!


Coachella Weekend Two is in full swing!

From Ariana Grande supporting her man Mac Miller from the crowd to Jared Leto going incognito, Hollywood’s A-listers are definitely taking advantage of the last weekend of Indio’s hottest festival!

Ch-ch-check out all the fashion and see which celebs are heating up the desert (below)!!

CLICK HERE to view “Coachella 2017: Celebrity Sightings!”

CLICK HERE to view “Coachella 2017: Celebrity Sightings!”

CLICK HERE to view “Coachella 2017: Celebrity Sightings!”

CLICK HERE to view “Coachella 2017: Celebrity Sightings!”

CLICK HERE to view “Coachella 2017: Celebrity Sightings!”

[Image via Instagram.]

Tags: ariana grande, coachella, fashion smashion, jared leto, music minute

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How reprioritizing aesthetics in formal criticism can save the world

As I plunk down at a too-high bar stool in a coffee shop to write this screed, I’m assailed, out of the corner of my eye, by a headline of a local alt-weekly paper spelled out in big, black, all-caps font: HOW FASHION CAN SAVE THE WORLD. 

The article itself looks at how sustainable, salvaged haute couture can reduce the environmental imprint of the fashion industry, which is all well and good. But the headline itself is more telling. It’s a prevalent theme of late — i.e., that fashion/music/movies/TV shows/that podcast you like can somehow “save the world,” or at least leave some impact on the social/political world as a whole. Such criticism is the subject of a recent, widely shared Vox piece, “Hot takes and ‘problematic faves’: the rise of socially conscious criticism.”

In the detailed, well-argued essay, Jaime Weinmann examines the emergent culture of socially conscious criticism, in which a TV show like HBO’s “Girls” is railroaded for its “monochromatic vision of Brooklyn” while a movie like Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” is lauded for making “unsubtle points about the dangers of being black in America and the hypocrisy of white liberals.” Weinmann argues that such criticism merges the aesthetic and political, bringing issues of representation (see: the panic over “whitewashing” in recent films “Dr. Strange” and “Ghost in the Shell”) and apparent political correctness to the fore. 

The primary concern of contemporary criticism is not whether a given cultural object is good or bad, but how that object reflects the realities of the social world, and how it can potentially (re)shape that same world. For Weinmann, “this new turn of criticism, this emphasis on the politics behind art, may be better for a work’s reputation than criticism that ignores politics.”

Certainly, “Get Out” provides a solid example of a work whose repute emerges from its perceived “correctness” and not from its crackerjack operations as a well-made piece of genre cinema that productively splits the difference between allegorical horror of “The Wicker Man” and the cheeky social satire of “The Stepford Wives.” As Weinmann notes, the politics of “Get Out” are so patent, suffusing the very DNA of the picture itself, that outright ignoring them would be tantamount to critical suicide (to say nothing of the social media drubbing one would likely receive for doing so).

The problem with the argument — and the whole culture of “socially conscious criticism” — is not that it privileges politics over aesthetics. It’s that it tends to totally ignore aesthetics, and form, and craft. It values art purely on the basis of its perceived political efficacy or usefulness. And in doing so, it does a disservice to both art and politics.

* * *

The “new turn” in socially conscious criticism, it should be said, is not at all new. That contemporary critics and practitioners of scorching hot-takery fail to historicize this is not that surprising. The popular term “woke,” often used as a pejorative lobbed at people performing social consciousness online, implies this very kind of blinkered thinking. It’s as if, just now, a generation of writers has arisen bed-headed to the very idea of politics itself. In their haste to bring this new awareness to bear on cultural criticism, they neglect to consider the long history of such thinking. It’s hard to see clearly when your eyes are still heavily crusted with sleep dirt.

Modern critical writing, thinking and theory is marked by turf wars between formalists and those who wish to interpret works of art in their larger social context. In the early 1970s, literary scholars like Kenneth Burke and Hazard Adams (and later, Franco Moretti) drastically revised the prevailing mode of “New Criticism,” which regarded texts as self-contained worlds, by considering the social and historical contexts in which these texts were produced and read. This movement was termed “sociological criticism.”

Around the same time, the great English-Canadian film critic Robin Wood afforded previously maligned genres (horror movies, specifically) with serious critical attention, dividing them into “progressive” and “reactionary” camps that more or less reflected liberal and conservative political ideologies. Even earlier, Marxist thinkers of the Frankfurt School fled Nazi Germany, landed in Los Angeles and studied mass culture as an appendage of totalitarianism that (to paraphrase the seminal work by Frankfurt scholars Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, “The Dialectic of Enlightenment”) toxified society with its sameness. 

What the new socially conscious criticism — which isn’t really new so much as it is accelerated, in which the same way that the internet and social media accelerate pretty much everything — take from this genealogy of thought is an underlying belief that all media is inherently political. What such writing so often forgets is the emphasis on aesthetics and form as the very expression of that political potential.

In 1977’s “The Aesthetic Dimension,” philosopher and critical theorist Herbert Marcuse synthesizes this long history of theory on the relation between art and politics into a (relatively) clear thesis: that art is valid not in its ability to represent (or shape) the social world, but in its ability to stand outside of it. As he writes in his introduction, “I see the political potential of art in art itself, in the aesthetic form as such.” For Marcuse, it wasn’t just that aesthetics — form, style, craft, the very way a work of art is made and presents itself — could reflect the political. It was that all these things were political in and of themselves. In rising above (or in Marcuse’s words, “transcending”) their social and material bases, works of art held potential to radically oppose those very bases, and to reshape the public consciousness.

* * *

Maybe some examples will help make sense of this idea. When motion pictures became the rage in the United States in the early part of the twentieth century, there was a genuine moral panic about their professed deleterious impacts on impressionable audiences (read: women, children, the working class). It had little to nothing to do with the contents of a given film strip, but with the medium itself, and its tendency to rouse audiences in rowdy urban nickelodeons. Until 1952 in the U.S. movies were not afforded the constitutional protections of the First Amendment granted to other arts, precisely because they were seen as too vivid and corrupting. (For more on this check out Tom Gunning’s edifying essay “Flickers: On Cinema’s Power for Evil.”)

There are also the legendary stories of audiences running out of the way of a moving train at early movie screenings, or rioting when Igor Stravinsky premiered his ballet “Rite of Spring” at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris in 1913. Musical sub-genres from hip-hop (with its repurposing of turntables as themselves musical instruments) to noisy, violently unlistenable black metal (with its aesthetic assault against the very idea of music) have likewise formally reoriented our expectations of the very idea of art. In so doing they challenge that rigidity and sameness from which the governing political regimes draw their power and tacit authority. Such art invites us to consider new forms, to conceive of alternatives to the grinding status quo.

It’s not merely that art can do this. This is what art is. Its function is to transcend the constraints of functionality. These are true, radical stakes of art and culture. These are the real “politics behind the art.”

What’s troubling and dispiriting about contemporary socially conscious criticism is that it forgets all of this. Instead of considering forms and alternatives, it narrows the possibilities of thinking and critiquing, playing squarely to the bland, destructive ideology of modern liberal democracy. If they’re not altogether ignored, then aesthetics are at the very least instrumentalized: marshaled in the service of one or another ideology instead of affronting, or even flicking at, the existence of that ideology. We talk about casting, about release strategies, about how Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” was made with beats created on an iPhone 6. We talk about industry and play into the marketing buzz in a way that renders art itself irrelevant.

There’s no doubt that a more rigorous formal criticism is hard work. At the very least, it’s harder work than dismissing a movie out of hand for casting choices that are perceived as egregious or racially insensitive. It’s also harder than wildly inflating a work’s “radical” (usually equivalent to “conventionally liberal”) political content when it manages the modest feat of not being wholly appalling. But yoking art to the project of a given political agenda — even if it’s the “good” agenda of representation, identity politics, and so on — isn’t just dreadfully boring, it’s fundamentally antithetical to the very project of art. The problem with this line of thinking and writing is not that it takes movies and TV shows and albums recorded on iPhones too seriously. It’s that it doesn’t take them anywhere near seriously enough.

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Novartis Tests New Alzheimer’s Drug on People Who Don’t Have the Disease

Novartis AG thinks its best bet for testing two new Alzheimer’s drugs is on people who don’t actually have Alzheimer’s.

The Swiss drug giant is looking for people whose genes put them at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but who haven’t yet fallen victim to the mind-robbing disease. It hopes such early treatment proves more successful than past efforts to tackle the disease once it has taken hold.

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