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SN2K: David Duke Frets About Portrayal in ‘BlacKkKlansmen’, and More

From “BlacKkKlansman,” by Blumhouse Productions

Editor's Note:

Also in your Signature Need-to-Know: Rebecca Hall to adapt “Passing,” and an Anne Frank production with an ICE angle.

On the eve of what’s likely to be a rehash of last year’s deadly Charlottesville “Unite the Right” event, with white supremacists preparing to march on Washington D.C., it seems fitting that Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” – adapted from Ron Stallworth’s memoir – is currently in theaters. Appearing on NBC Nightly News this week, Stallworth revealed that notorious white power leader David Duke personally reached out with concerns about his buffoonish portrayal in the film, also revealing that he’s “always respected” Lee’s work. (“That’s a compliment I don’t need,” the director laughs.) Let Duke’s whimpering serve as a lesson to those massing in D.C. this week: when you stand on a platform of hatred and violence, you can’t expect history to treat you kindly. Watch this interview in its entirety, embedded below.

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If you think Elizabeth Taylor was the epitome of excellence in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, Kathleen Turner would like to have a few words with you. In this deliciously candid Vulture interview, the husky-voiced leading lady makes a solid case for the superiority of her own performance in the role that netted Taylor an Oscar, recalling that playwright Edward Albee “disliked the film intensely.” She also weighs in on the enduring gender gap in the film business, which often still determines who ends up being considered “difficult.” Quoth Turner: “If a man comes on set and says, ‘Here’s how I see this being done,’ people go, ‘He’s decisive.’ If a woman does it, they say, ‘Oh, fuck. There she goes.'”

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When Nella Larson wrote Passing in the 1920s, people of mixed heritage often ended up “passing” as one race or another for survival, or status, or simply because it reflected who they believed themselves to be. This Harlem Renaissance novel is about to enjoy a renaissance all its own, thanks to news that an adaptation written by actress Rebecca Hall, which will also serve as her directorial debut, is on its way in the next year, starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. “I came across the novel at a time when I was trying to reckon creatively with some of my personal family history,” Hall has said, “and the mystery surrounding my bi-racial grandfather on my American mother’s side. In part, making this film is an exploration of that history, to which I’ve never really had access.” This speaks to a recurring dilemma for historians and genealogists: In cases where someone passed successfully, there’s often very little info to be found about the obscured part of their life.

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If evolution were to happen all over again, would the results be the same – or vastly different? That’s the subject of The Verge’s interview with author and biologist Jonathan Losos, which is chock a block with details from the latest scientific research, such as this: “There’s a great study on mice in Nebraska that’s wrapping up. They put mice on different-colored soils to see if they would evolve to match their soil’s color, and they did.” Losos works mainly with anole lizards which have evolved separately on four different neighboring islands, but still “produced more or less the same set of traits, and that’s a pretty unusual phenomenon.”

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There seem to be more books and articles than ever about the super-close platonic relationships that arise between women, whether focused on lifelong friends or those who discover the advantages of having a “work wife.” Writing for Broadly, Sadie Graham explores a painful truth about these relationships: they often involve someone who doesn’t want the intimacy to remain platonic. “As a queer woman, it’s damaging.” Graham comments. “Not to be undesired – that’s a fact of life for anyone – but to be pulled into a closeness that can’t exist on its own.” Her article also points out how all our easygoing jokes about the queerness of these friendships serve to subtly reinforce society’s heteronormative aspirations.

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Conservatives were in a tizzy this weekend over reports that a California theater company was putting on a production of The Diary of Anne Frank that had been adapted current events, portraying a family in hiding from ICE agents instead of Nazis. Speaking to Fox News, a producer clarifies that nothing has been altered: “This will be a word-for-word presentation of the 1997 Broadway script. We are, however, re-imagining the setting with LatinX families reading the play from their Safe House.” She also points to the real events that inspired this production, in which a Jewish woman in California helped hide a family from ICE.

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If you haven’t checked in with adult film star Stoya since she spoke out about James Deen’s misconduct a few years ago, you may be interested to hear that she has a new book, entitled Philosophy, Pussycats and Porn, which spans a wide range of topics that relate to sexuality and sex-work (Stoya’s written work includes recent articles for The New York Times). Speaking to The Guardian, she comments on the challenges and concerns she faces every day due to her occupation – including the chances of being denied housing. “In the US, discrimination laws are tied up with whether the identity [in question] is a choice or not,” Stoya points out. “So sex workers are not protected because we made a choice to go into it.”

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Anyone who reads Philip K. Dick’s fiction might assume really into psychedelic drugs like LSD, but in a 1979 interview reproduced by Dangerous Minds, Dick describes his first and last (that he knew of) dalliance with the popular counter-culture drug. “I went straight to Hell, is what happened,” he recalls, and he meant that literally: “It was the Day of Wrath, and God was judging me as a sinner, and this lasted for thousands of years and didn’t get any better. It just got worse and worse, and I was in terrible pain, I felt terrible physical pain, and all I could talk was in Latin.” Later, it occurred to the author that everything he’d experienced during the acid trip seemed to be drawn from scenarios he’d described in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

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The first ever Wakandacon – a massive celebration of Afrofuturism “as well as black representation and excellence in film, STEM, tech, fine art and media” – occurred this past weekend in Chicago, and reports from those on the scene are inspiring. As The AV Club points out, attendees had far more in common than a love of the “Black Panther” movie and comics: “Wakandacon represented a space where black entrepreneurs, scientists, gamers, activists, and creatives could come together, learn from each other, and work toward building a community.” The Mary Sue noted how various panels and workshops offered young attendees a path to excellence, such as The Shuri Project, “an organization that teaches black girls ages 8-12 how to create their own websites and develop public speaking skills.” Same time next year?