Author: Bonnie Honig

To Be Real! “Barbie” as a “Bacchae”

  Reviewing the film, Barbie, Leslie Jameson depicts her young daughter’s first wish for a Barbie doll as a kind of fall from grace, or is it a fall from Greece? “I worried that her desire for a Barbie would signal the end of an era: her two-year fascination with the goddesses of Greek mythology,” Jameson says. She has something of the same worry for us, as a culture. What spaces of pure, positive high cultural self-imagery will Barbie deprive us of? Writing in The New Yorker, no less, Jameson casts director Greta Gerwig as an “artist interrogating the...

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Maid in America: Whiteness as Property

  What is the appeal of the MAGA mantra “stop the steal”? The answer may have something to do with whiteness as property. “Whiteness as Property” is the title of a 1993 Harvard Law Review article, in which Cheryl Harris argues that U.S. law has constructed “’whiteness’ as an objective fact, although in reality it is an ideological proposition imposed through subordination.” For Harris, being white comes with a “set of assumptions, privileges and benefits” that make whiteness “a valuable asset” that many are keen to defend. Its suppleness is one of its strengths. “Whiteness at various times signifies...

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Promising Young Country (warning: spoilers)

Promising Young Woman tells the story of Cassie, whose best friend Nina was raped by some of their classmates while the two women were in medical school together. Nina was top of their med school class, the smartest of them all, Cassie recalls. After the violence, however, Nina never recovers and, in the end, she commits suicide. Cassie has to go on living without her other half. She struggles to do so. The phrase “promising young man” is familiar, but it surfaced famously in 2016 at the sentencing of Brock Turner. A member of the swim team at Stanford,...

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Waiting for John Kelly?

Waiting for John Kelly? He cannot save the Republic from what ails it.* Bonnie Honig   In the New Yorker, John Cassidy refers to the story that Trump routinely refers to deceased and injured members of the US military “suckers” and “losers” as a “controversy” and calls on John Kelly, the General who served as Trump’s Chief of Staff, from 2017 to 2019, to settle it by saying “publicly what he knows.” But it is not a “controversy.” It is a well-reported and multiply confirmed story that the Administration denies. And John Kelly is not the one to settle...

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Spitballing in a Pandemic

Spitballing in a Pandemic Bonnie Honig   Isn’t it ironic that bleach, an agent of whitening, may bring about Trump’s downfall? After all he has done for whiteness? And that television, the medium that gave life to his personal and political ambitions, may be the instrument of his demise? Social distancing recommends we stay 6 feet apart from each other lest our speaking, sneezing, or coughing spread viral droplets to others. Spit is a carrier of Covid 19, a danger to public health. So is spitballing, which is what Trump dangerously did at the White House Press briefing on...

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