Also in the news: The Stanford Prison Experiment debunked, and a list of books by women for Fathers Day. It’s your Daily Blunt!
Just how epic is the new trailer for “Mortal Engines,” the new movie adapted from Philip Reeves’ 2001 quartet of books? Twice in its two-and-a-half minute running time, we’re reminded that we have “the filmmakers of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit'” to thank for this fantasy feature, in which the entire city of London has become a mechanical juggernaut, roaming the land in search of resources. It appears Peter Jackson’s sprawling imagination and hyperkinetic imagery is just the right fit for a story of this scale – but we won’t find out for sure until December.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to get your dad what he wants for Fathers Day and still broaden his horizons a bit. Electric Literature has pulled together a list of books written by women that will satisfy a variety of different dadly interests, from those against toxic masculinity (try A.M. Homes) to mainsplaining-apologist dads (in which case, chuck Rebecca Solnit at them). If you manage to score a hit, you can share the list with them afterward, pointing out all the different directions it’s still possible for us to travel, even after we’ve decided we know it all.
Sometimes we don’t know what we think we know at all – that seems to be the lesson of the oft-cited Stanford Prison Experiment, which famously seemed to prove how imbalances of power can create conditions that inspire ordinary people to adopt abusive behaviors. An essay on Medium attempts to set the record straight, comparing urban legend with fact as well as revealing flaws within the SPE that completely undermine its findings – which, it’s worth noting, other researchers have been unable to create. (This is not unlike the basis of the so-called Bystander Effect, a verifiable phenomenon popularized by the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese, even though the details of her case do not seem to qualify it as an example.)
While we’re casting an eye back to the sixties, here’s an essay Joan Didion wrote for Vogue back in 1961, on the subject of self-respect. As the magazine notes in its intro: “Didion wrote the essay as the magazine was going to press, to fill the space left after another writer did not produce a piece on the same subject. She wrote it not to a word count or a line count, but to an exact character count.” Whether or not her piece will affect our self-respect remains to be seen, but that detail is certainly upping our esteem for Didion. Enjoy!