The-Atlantic

ADHD is Different for Women by Maria Yagoda / April 3rd 2013

ADHD does not look the same in boys and girls. Women with the disorder tend to be less hyperactive and impulsive, more disorganized, scattered, forgetful, and introverted. “They’ve alternately been anxious or depressed for years,” Littman says. “It’s this sense of not being able to hold everything together.

Confused and ashamed by their struggles, girls will internalize their inability to meet social expectations. Sari Solden, a therapist and author of Women and Attention Deficit Disorder, says, “For a long time, these girls see their trouble prioritizing, organizing, coordinating, and paying attention as character flaws. No one told them it’s neurobiological.”

So raise a glass to teenage girls for their linguistic innovation. It expands our expressive vocabulary, giving us new words and modes of expression. Speakers may nostalgically look to a previous golden era of English, but the truth is that Shakespeare’s English is an abomination of Chaucer’s English, which is an abomination of Beowolf’s. Language is inherently unstable. It’s in a constant state of flux, made and remade—stretched, altered, broken down and rearranged—by its speakers every day. Rather than a sign of corruption and disorder, this is language in its full vitality—a living, evolving organism.

This morning, The Atlantic published a piece by Noah Berlatsky about the “irresponsible portrayal of men” on Orange Is the New BlackOrange, a groundbreaking show with a wonderful and admirably diverse cast, is set inside a women’s prison, and the characters definitely reflect that setting. It’s a show created by a woman (Jenji Kohan), based on a memoir written by a woman (Piper Kerman). It’s a show that aims to tell women’s stories —and it succeeds masterfully— but Berlatsky’s complaint, naturally, is that the show “barely, and inadequately” represents men.

“This may seem like a silly complaint,” he writes before launching into a truly silly complaint. Berlatsky’s first, most basic argument for why Orangeshould include more men is the fact that real-life prisons are populated by far more men than women. This is very true and unfortunate, but that shouldn’t have much bearing on a show set inside a women’s prison. If HBO’s Ozwere failing to adequately portray men, then by all means, let’s talk about it! But this isn’t Oz, nor is this a male-centric show. There is, without a doubt, a lot to discuss and debate when it comes to male prisons and prisoners, and the cultural attitudes surrounding them — particular black male inmates — but a piece on Orange Is the New Blackis hardly the place to discuss it. It’s a subject that deserves a more nuanced and thoughtful take, not one haphazardly attached to Netflix program about women.

No, ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Doesn’t Need to Focus on Men’s Stories

When Spike Lee Became Scary

In his [New York editorialist Joe Klein] words, the film has only two messages: “the police are your enemy” and “white people are your enemy.” And, like many white critics, he seized on Mookie throwing the trash can as the film’s turning point, not the death of Radio Raheem. “It is Spike Lee himself—in the role of Sal’s deliveryman—who starts the riot,” Klein wrote, proceeding to describe that action, with jaw-dropping hyperbole, as “one of the stupider, more self-destructive acts of violence I’ve ever witnessed.” It should be noted, in contemplating that sentence, that (as Lee points out) Klein’s editorial never even mentioned the murder of Radio Raheem, to say nothing of describing it in those terms. In Lee’s view—which is hard to argue with, reading a piece like Klein's—many white critics are more concerned with the loss of “white-owned property” than with “another nigger gone." 

How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood

If you use Netflix, you’ve probably wondered about the specific genres that it suggests to you. Some of them just seem so specific that it’s absurd. Emotional Fight-the-System Documentaries? Period Pieces About Royalty Based on Real Life? Foreign Satanic Stories from the 1980s?

If Netflix can show such tiny slices of cinema to any given user, and they have 40 million users, how vast did their set of “personalized genres” need to be to describe the entire Hollywood universe?

This idle wonder turned to rabid fascination when I realized that I could capture each and every microgenre that Netflix’s algorithm has ever created. 

Through a combination of elbow grease and spam-level repetition, we discovered that Netflix possesses not several hundred genres, or even several thousand, but 76,897 unique ways to describe types of movies.

There are so many that just loading, copying, and pasting all of them took the little script I wrote more than 20 hours. 

We’ve now spent several weeks understanding, analyzing, and reverse-engineering how Netflix’s vocabulary and grammar work. We’ve broken down its most popular descriptions, and counted its most popular actors and directors. 

To my (and Netflix’s) knowledge, no one outside the company has ever assembled this data before.

What emerged from the work is this conclusion: Netflix has meticulously analyzed and tagged every movie and TV show imaginable. They possess a stockpile of data about Hollywood entertainment that is absolutely unprecedented. The genres that I scraped and that we caricature above are just the surface manifestation of this deeper database.

Read more. [Image: @darth]

theatlantic.com
Why Does Television Still Portray Bisexuals as Being Evil?
LGBT representation in pop culture is getting better, with some big exceptions.
By Spencer Kornhaber

The 2015 edition of GLAAD’s annual report on the state of minorities on TV mostly looks like progress … But larger pools of diverse characters make it easier to spot cliches … One observation: It appears that what the website TV Tropes calls “the Depraved Bisexual” is only getting more common.

while gay and lesbian characters on TV increasingly are portrayed in a way that doesn’t make their sexuality into a large and dubious metaphor about their character, bisexuality often is portrayed as going hand-in-hand with moral flexibility. The tropes, as identified by GLAAD:

• bisexual characters who are depicted as untrustworthy, prone to infidelity, and/or lacking a sense of morality;
• characters who use sex as a means of manipulation or who are lacking the ability to form genuine relationships;
• associations with self-destructive behavior;
• and treating a character’s attraction to more than one gender as a temporary plot device that is rarely addressed again.

Studies have revealed widespread stigma and disbelief facing people who identify as bisexual. Women are frequently seen as experimenting when they identify as bisexual; men have it arguably worse because they’re often seen as lying to themselves and others about just being gay. In both cases, the upshot is: untrustworthy…

As for why any of this matters, GLAAD’s Alexandra Bolles explains in the report,

“Though bisexual people make up the majority of the LGBT community, they are less likely than their gay and lesbian peers to be out to the people they love, because their identity is constantly misconstrued as either a form of confusion, a lie, or a contrived and hypersexualized means to an end. Perpetuating these tropes undermines the truth that bisexuality is real and that bi people deserve to be treated equally and fairly.”

Kellogg’s spent $32 million last year in advertising Pop Tarts alone. Coca-Cola spent $269 million advertising its flagship product (Coca-Cola). Pepsi spent $150 million just to advertise the brightly colored sugar-water that is Gatorade. It’s the sugar water for people who do sports. These are numbers that Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health, highlighted in a lecture at New York University on Thursday night. ‘Think about what that money could do for education, for social welfare,’ Nestle implored. 'But that money is spent getting people to buy sugar.’

In praise of finishing every book you start: “The most common defense of book-dropping I hear is that because there are more good books than any one person could possibly read, it’s stupid to waste time on a dull or otherwise unsatisfactory novel. That argument makes sense if the novel is utter trash—if it’s so bad that the reader needn’t respect the author and would possibly get dumber by going forward. But if a novel starts well and descends into trash, then it seems to me that it’s worth continuing to see if it gets better, or to see where the writer went wrong.”

One thing I’ve said in terms of the word likable, and Netflix got mad at me for saying it: Fuck likability. I don’t give two shits if someone likes my characters. I do care whether they’re attracted to them. And there’s a big difference. I don’t mean sexually attracted. I mean attracted so that you can’t keep your eyes off them, you’re invested in them. He’s not likable, but you have to know where he ends up, you have to follow his path. I’m interested in the tension where one moment you might like them and the next you abhor them, or maybe simultaneously.
— 

Beau Willimon, screenwriter for House of Cards, in a panel discussion covered by The Atlantic.

This is what I mean when I say characters don’t have to be “likable”, but they do have to be “sympathetic” (the word sympathisch in German has a slightly different meaning from our “sympathetic”, so I think that’s why I choose that term over another one, such as “attractive”). How else would a character like Humbert Humbert be a protagonist?

When I heard that my 21-year-old son, a student at Harvard, had been stopped by New York City police on more than one occasion during the brief summer he spent as a Wall Street intern, I was angry.

On one occasion, while wearing his best business suit, he was forced to lie face-down on a filthy sidewalk because—well, let’s be honest about it, because of the color of his skin. As an attorney and a college professor who teaches criminal justice classes, I knew that his constitutional rights had been violated.

As a parent, I feared for his safety at the hands of the police—a fear that I feel every single day, whether he is in New York or elsewhere.

Moreover, as the white father of an African-American son, I am keenly aware that I never face the suspicion and indignities that my son continuously confronts. In fact, all of the men among my African-American in-laws—and I literally mean every single one of them—can tell multiple stories of unjustified investigatory police stops of the sort that not a single one of my white male relatives has ever experienced.

What I Learned About Stop-and-Frisk From Watching My Black Son - The Atlantic

But it takes no valor and costs precious little to joke about these things safely oceans away from North Korea’s reach. When a North Korean inmate in a political prison camp or a closely monitored Pyongyang apparatchik pokes fun at Kim Jong Un and the system he represents—that is an act of audacity. It very literally can cost the person’s life, and those of his or her family members. To pretend that punchlines from afar, even in the face of hollow North Korean threats, are righteous acts is nonsense.

What’s more, crowding the North Korea “story” with anecdotes of nutty behavior and amusing delusions may ironically benefit those in charge in Pyongyang. It serves to buffer and obscure the sheer evil of a regime that enslaves children and sentences entire families to death for crimes of thought, while building ski resorts, dolphinariums, and other luxury escapes for elites with funds that could feed its malnourished people for several years.

—  “North Korea is Not Funny”, Adrian Hong

The Toxins That Threaten Our Brains

Leading scientists recently identified a dozen chemicals as being responsible for widespread behavioral and cognitive problems. But the scope of the chemical dangers in our environment is likely even greater. Why children and the poor are most susceptible to neurotoxic exposure that may be costing the U.S. billions of dollars and immeasurable peace of mind.

Read more. [Image: Jackie Lay]