Friday’s news roundup explores the proliferation of Chinese censorship as well as one book’s conspiracy to buy its way onto the bestseller list. It’s your Daily Blunt!
The creepy clown craze of 2016 will go down in history as more than just a passing phase, and we have an “IT” remake to prove it. However, the vintage King extravaganza isn’t just about clowns… it’s also for them, as evidenced by the Alamo Drafthouse’s upcoming clown-only screening of the film on September 9th. This idea is made all the sweeter by the fact that it was apparently inspired by a negative comment about the theater’s women-only “Wonder Woman” screening, in which someone griped: “Will there be a male only screening for ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ or a special screening for ‘It’ that’s only for those who identify as clowns?” And the rest, as they say, is history.
Pajiba is exploring a strange case in which a book from a brand new publishing house, which doesn’t seem to be available in any stores, suddenly landed at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Usually the Times denotes which books that buy their way to the top of the list, but for some reason Lani Sarem’s Handbook for Mortals didn’t receive an asterisk. If you read through the numerous updates to this article, you’ll be awed at exactly how brazenly this scheme was executed. And they might have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those Twitter sleuths: yesterday the NYT revised its list, evicting Sarem’s book from its unearned place.
Meanwhile, publishers the world over are confessing to a certain amount of self-censorship in order to court book deals in China, which is raising questions (and hackles) among those who count on the book industry to light the way for freedom of speech. Reports from a book fair in Beijing show that many publishers aren’t ready to follow in Cambridge University Press’s controversial footsteps and stand up to Chinese censorship standards. As one representative of a major US publisher acknowledged: “Books that are censored in China often sell better abroad. It’s usually a major selling point.”
If you want to check out a real life conspiracy theory worthy of a Thomas Pynchon novel, look no further than this 1937 painting which appears to show a Native American holding an iPhone. At least, that’s one interpretation of the art, which depicts none other than William Pynchon, the earliest colonial ancestor of the aforementioned Thomas. Don’t worry, Motherboard has included voices of reason as well, in the form of historians who acknowledge that the object in question does in fact look like one our modern gadgets, but is very likely meant to be something else. “There are so many things wrong with this image that it’s hard to know where to begin,” one of them explains. “This artist obviously had never seen many of the objects he depicts.” For a few brain-twisting moments, though, you’ll want to believe.