Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

7 Badass Comedians Who Refused to Sell Out

Editor's note: This article was first published in 2011.

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The 10 Top Films in Which Humanity Gets Its Comeuppance

Humankind’s intelligence combined with our unrelenting desire to live longer and dominate the planet is, ironically, our fatal flaw. Pop culture forever reminds us that we are disgusting creatures with deplorable habits that will ultimately be the end of us, and fortunately for fans of the apocalypse, cinema in particular loves to depict our agonizing deaths in vivid, epic color.

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Why Do We Pressure Sexy Women to Lose Weight? 8 Beautiful Stars Who Still Get Called Fat

The type of woman’s physique that is popular in the media varies over time—recall the way healthy, toned ‘90s supermodels like Cindy Crawford gave way to the “heroin chic” of emaciated Kate Moss—but in the last decade, the demand for a hyper-emaciated frame has reached a fever pitch. High-end fashion models, plagued by the constant fear of being called too fat for a job, throw themselves into starvation mode, some to the point of death: Ana Carolina Reston, Isabell Caro, sisters Luisel and Eliana Ramos. And it’s not just fashion models—the end of the aughties brought weight-obsessed stylist Rachel Zoe’s anorexic clients into vogue, including Nicole Ritchie and Mary Kate Olsen.

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The 8 Best Time-Travel Flicks

Film critics and the social media grapevine are gushing about recent cinematic release Looper. I won't be quoting any of these reviews thanks to a tweet by the New York Times Magazine's Adam Sternbergh, which warns us off of them: "I'm generally not super-spoiler-averse but Looper is worth going into as blind as possible (beyond what's in the trailer). It pays off."

I am spoiler-averse, so instead, the barest summation of the trailer: time travel is illegal in the future, but a mafia-esque organization hires a hitman (Joseph Gordon Levitt) in 2078 to eliminate all the foes they send back in time. All goes swimmingly until one day the kneeling man who materializes before him is...himself, older, in the form of a weathered Bruce Willis. What does it mean? Who sent him? What did he do? The shit hits the fan, or at least the future collides with the past, and it looks like at some point a bullet might hit a body, too. Check it out:

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9 Movies With Evil Corporations That Want to Destroy Humanity

A terrible virus is unleashed by an evil corporation that turns humans and animals into voracious zombies: it's a plot point so popular with Americans that the Resident Evil franchise has released a fifth movie based on the premise, in theaters now. It's already leading at the box office ($21 million this weekend) and will likely remain wildly popular (it's made upwards of $100 million worldwide, per film), thanks to its star, Milla Jovovich, and its ability to crossover into horror, sci-fi, gaming, and Maxim audiences.

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9 Great TV Shows That Subvert the Right-Wing Worldview

Culture is a flashpoint for social change, both a mirror and a catalyst for our world, and primetime network television is the medium with the greatest reach. Over 290 million people own a television in the United States (that's over twice as many people as those who voted in the 2008 presidential election) and as a primary source of entertainment for most Americans, any sort of progressive politics on the major stations is going to have an impact. Not to mention the over 140 million Americans who watch television on the internet, whether through providers like Hulu, YouTube, and Netflix, or through good old fashioned video platforms on websites with domain names registered in unregulated countries. The average American tends to watch television about 35 hours a week total on both platforms—that's close to a full-time job. You could see why anybody would want to get into the TV racket, but if you're a showrunner with a political point of view, nudging in on primetime is particularly advantageous for spreading your ideals.

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5 Things "The Office" Taught Us

"The Office" is closing. Last week it was announced that the forthcoming season will be the last for the beloved sitcom, which for almost a decade has regaled audiences with tongue-in-cheek, knowing-dumb humor and has changed the face of comedic television. Greg Daniels, executive producer, told Variety,"This year feels like the last chance to really go out together and make an artistic ending of the show.”

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8 Killer Dance Movies With Great Politics

Step Up Revolution is the fourth film in the Step Up franchise, and its screenwriters clearly wrote what they knew. Other than a few plot points and various subtle character developments, its basic narrative barely diverges from that of its predecessors—rich dancer and poor dancer meet and fall in love, overcoming class differences along the way. This version follows protagonist Emily, an aspiring dancer who moves to Miami with her wealthy father and falls in love with fellow dancer Sean, whose choreography is fully of the impoverished streets where he grew up. (Also, flash-mobbing?) But there's an element straight from the headlines of gentrification: Emily's greedy father wants to plop a luxury hotel in Sean's lower-income community, so they must dance in protest in order to keep the neighborhood intact.

Contemporary dance movies are almost across-the-board steeped in class and race issues, even if the plot is cardboard-thin, for various reasons. West Side Story set a precedent: everyone loves a star-crossed love story; everyone loves a redemption story. Plus, class-and-race distinctions provide opportunities to show various styles of dancing in one film, like ballet and breakdancing. Some reviews have noted Step Up Revolution's distinctly political bent and thought it was a first; as a connoisseur of the contemporary dance film over the past few decades, I'm here to tell you: they've long been silent vehicles for politics, delivering revolutionary morals to unsuspecting dance fans for years. Here are eight of the best, but trust: almost every single dance movie since at least 1983 is based on the premise of race-and-class strife.

1. Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985). Long before Sarah Jessica Parker transformed into Carrie, she played 17-year-old Janey, a plucky army brat new to Chicago who has a passion for dance and gymnastics. She dreams of appearing on local "Solid Gold"-like dance show, "Dance TV," which has just announced citywide tryouts to cast a new couple on the series. Unfortunately, her overbearing father forbids her to do anything but Catholic school activities, so she has to sneak out to meet her "Dance TV"-appointed partner, Lee, after she makes the semi-finals.

Lee loves to dance, too, but comes from a deeply working-class background, and his father expects him to go to trade school—mirroring Janey's father issues, but with a motorcycle and a mechanic's license in his future. He scoffs at her prissy lifestyle and stodgy school uniform, but soon they bond over their mutual love for jetés and work on their chemistry as well as their choreography. But the plot takes on an interesting subtext, particularly for the Reagan '80s: the blue-collar and military nature of the leads' upbringing is presented a foil in rival Natalie, a wealthy, devious dance competitor who wears furs to high school and complains to her father, "My therapist is right: I'm unloved, unappreciated, I only have two cars." When it becomes clear that Janey and Lee are major contenders to win the "Dance TV" contest over Natalie and her beefcake partner, Natalie calls on her industrialist father: Lee's dad works for Natalie's dad, and if Lee's team wins, Lee's dad will be out a job.

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America Doesn't Need Another 'Total Recall' Movie -- And it Says a Lot About Us That There Is One

For both sci-fi nerds and movie fanatics, Total Recall is a holy grail of a film, one of three made in the 1990s that base their premises on stories by hailed writer Philip K. Dick. Shot in 1990 during the high point of Arnold Schwarzenegger's career (including the governorship in this timeline), it's a high-stakes, futuristic spy story as seen through the colorful, pop-arty lens of director Paul Verhoeven. The film was made at the start of a Dick-ensian renaissance, in which filmmakers began to mine the cult sci-fi author's strange, often paranoid, usually brilliant works. Total Recall was no different. 

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