In light of recent events, The Brown Bookshelf — an online community of African American authors who write books for young readers — has drafted a pledge to undermine the kind of fear and ignorance they observe taking root in communities across America, and to use their creativity to offer kids the kind of support they might be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Entitled “A Declaration in Support of Children,” the resulting document has been signed by literally hundreds of authors, such as Mo Willems, Linda Sue Park, Bruce Coville, and Jewell Parker Rhodes. “In the words of Ella Baker,” their pledge concludes: “‘We who believe in freedom cannot rest.'”
Meanwhile The New Yorker is working on our national identity crisis from a different angle. Sarah Schulman revisits Lionel Schriver’s much-discussed speech about the responsibilities (or lack thereof) of white writers in times such as these — described here by Schulman as “a cultural moment that has made white writers look in the mirror and wonder if we have been confusing it with a window.” Carson McCullers is held up here as a fascinating example of an author whose work transcended the shallow expectations for diversity, and whose personal life (which Schulman herself is exploring as a subject for both literature and cinema) may yet reveal insights into what makes certain writers more skillful at imagining themselves in another person’s shoes.
A teaser for a very special Dr. Phil episode began making the rounds this week, in which the bestselling self-help guru reveals the apparent mental state of “The Shining” star Shelley Duvall, who’s remained out of the public eye for many years. Stanley Kubrick’s daughter Vivian has issued a call to common human decency, voicing concerns that in her current state, the beloved actress is obviously vulnerable to being exploited: “I hope others will join me in boycotting your utterly heartless form of entertainment, because it has nothing to do with compassionate healing.” The episode in question is scheduled to air this evening.
Twenty-five years later, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” remains the apex of the studio’s modern-age offerings — according to the AV Club anyway, which lingers over the details that put this fairy-tale adaptations a cut above everything we’ve seen before or since. Much of this is credited to Howard Ashman, the film’s brilliant lyricist, who died of AIDS-related complications before ever getting to see the finished result of his work — which would go on to be the first animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Below you can hear an early rendition of Angela Lansbury’s title song, “Beauty and the Beast,” sung by Ashman himself.