Culture

James Patterson Giving Cash to Independent Bookstores

James Patterson/Photo © Deborah Feingold; Money © Shutterstock

Editor's Note: James Patterson is giving cash to help the future of indies, the motivation of 'The Lego Movie' is questioned, and more in our Friday roundup.

Author James Patterson is playing the long game when it comes to book sales. A new program he's started will offer financial support to independent bookstores all over America, to the tune of one million dollars. By helping them stay in business and become more deeply rooted their communities, he's helping to create a new generation of readers. It's a beautiful gesture, from which we all benefit in the long run -- Patterson included.

Remember how "The Lorax" was somehow supposed to be anti-capitalist propaganda, even though they licensed his furry face to sell station wagons? Now some of the same culture critics are turning a suspicious eye on "The Lego Movie," which The Weekly Standard has deemed insidious in its ultimate message: "Like Winston Smith, who loves Big Brother at the end of 1984, we love Lego. Only, for George Orwell, that was the ultimate horror; in 'The Lego Movie,' that’s the ultimate point." I'm pretty sure it's really just a kid's movie about one of the least photogenic toys ever made -- the fact that adults can even stand watching it is kind of a happy miracle.

The casting announcement for the "Fantastic Four" reboot hit some not-unexpected turbulence with the news that Johnny Storm (the s0-called Human Torch) would be played by Michael B. Jordan, who happens to be black. Comics Alliance has a great run-down of why these kinds of changes help us. Storm's the product of a bygone era, and as the article says, "the decision to marginalize black people in our media to the point of invisibility is not a value that we should seek to perpetuate." Oh snap. Comics editor Tom Brevoort expressed a similar sentiment on his Q&A blog, reminding a distressed FF fan: "There are probably characters for whom race is a crucial component ... but I don’t think the Torch is one of them." Heck, we should all just be happy if the movie turns out to be slightly better than the 2005 installment.

While we're on the subject of colorblind casting, Funny or Die has a mock-up of Denzel Washington auditioning for the role of Lex Luthor in "Batman vs. Superman." Uncanny impression, but it's his lack of comics knowledge that makes this howlingly funny. "Who's playing my wife?" Sorry Denzel, Luthor doesn't have one.

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