Even for those not dealing with terrible weather this week, there’s been a lot going on over the last seven days. So much so, in fact, that you’ve probably been prioritizing what needs your attention and what can just slide. That is why we’ve come up with this short guide to what’s been happening on the Internet over the last week, in case someone suddenly demands your opinion on Justin Bieber’s new hair and you have no idea what they’re talking about.
Oh, spoilers: Justin Bieber has new hair. It’s blonde.
Stephen Colbert Takes A Victory Lap
What Happened: As The Colbert Report prepares to wind up its nine-year run, its host is suddenly appearing on the cover of Entertainment Weekly as the cast of The Hobbit, and the President is taking over his show (temporarily).
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs
What Really Happened: Following Monday’s Colbert Report in which President Obama hijacked the traditional “The Word” segment—renaming it “The Decree”—ahead of a straight-up interview, Stephen Colbert ended up on three different covers of the latest Entertainment Weekly , cosplaying as Bilbo, Legolas, and Gandalf, respectively. A sign of a grateful nation recognizing Colbert’s contribution to America’s strength just before the Report comes to an end? Maybe so, maybe no—but considering the speed at which the images (and behind-the-scenes footage in GIF format) spread across Twitter and Tumblr, we feel confident saying Colbert’s approval ratings are definitely on an uptick this week.
The Takeaway: If this is how a nation chooses to celebrate a hero at an important crossroads in his life, then it’s an odd choice, but let’s be honest: he deserves this and probably more.
Sony Leak Proves Your Hollywood Preconceptions Didn’t Go Far Enough
What Happened: As a result of last week’s Sony hack, private emails and memos from Sony’s movie division went public, revealing plans that never came to fruition and the way movie executives talk to each other.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media thinkpieces
What Really Happened: As expected, the fallout from the Sony hack is continuing to … well, fall out. This week, we found out that the studio had discussed Spider-Man showing up in Marvel’s movies, and also a crossover between the 21 Jump Street and Men in Black movie series, but what caught more attention were emails between studio executives in which Angelina Jolie was called “a minimally talented spoiled brat,” President Obama’s movie tastes were discussed in a pretty racist manner, and Aaron Sorkin suggested there aren’t an Asian movie stars, closing out a banner week for the increasingly besieged writer (see below). There are, doubtlessly, many more such emails to be discovered amongst the leaked dump to date, but the short version is, Sony is clearly as dysfunctional as you might have suspected.
The Takeaway: As much as everyone is upset by the more outrageous things said in the emails, it’s worth pointing out that Sony shouldn’t be singled out as the one studio where all the bad people work. It’s simply the one studio that’s been unfortunate enough to have its private correspondence leaked so that we know these conversations are taking place.
The Newsroom Goes Out With The Wrong Kind Of Bang
What Happened: An episode of Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series provoked a lot of response from viewers—and from one former member of the show’s writing staff.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media thinkpieces, blogs
What Really Happened: In addition to a part in the embarrassing Sony leak, Sorkin got into more hot water this week after “On Shenandoah,” the latest (and penultimate) episode of The Newsroom, aired and featured a plotline about an alleged rape on a college campus.
The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg wrote that the show had become “the sourest, most staid series on television,” while Time’s James Poniewozik called the installment “a terrible episode even by the standards of the series’ earlier, most terrible ones.” The Atlantic’s David Sims described it as “the kind of down-in-flames wreck that sets the Internet to red alert,” and judging by the pushback on social media, he wasn’t wrong.
It wasn’t just those outside the show who took exception to it, however; Alena Smith, who’d been on the writing staff for the show this year, took to Twitter to share her experience of the writing of the episode, saying, “So when I tried to argue, in the writers’ room, that we maybe skip the storyline where a rape victim gets interrogated by a random man I ended up getting kicked out of the room and screamed at…” (She later deleted the tweets.)
Sorkin released a statement in response to Smith’s comments, in which he characterized the writers room response as “passionate debate,” and wrote, “I heard Alena’s objections and there was some healthy back and forth. After a while I needed to move on (there’s a clock ticking) but Alena wasn’t ready to do that yet. I gave her more time but then I really needed to move on. Alena still wouldn’t do that so I excused her from the room.” Elsewhere in the statement, he said that Smith gave the final scene “her enthusiastic support,” and said he was surprised “she had so casually violated the most important rule of working in a writers room which is confidentiality … I’m saddened that she’s broken that trust.”
Speaking at a public event later, Sorkin would go on to suggest that people’s problems with the episode were born of specific animosity against him personally, saying that if he’d written the series “under a pseudonym, the reaction would’ve been different.”
The Takeaway: Saying “Aaron Sorkin needs an editor” sounds like the setup for a joke, considering his renowned verbosity. Given the episode itself—which seemed curmudgeonly and self-righteous even to Sorkin fans—and his response to the subsequent criticism, maybe it would be better to say that he needs a handler. Or, you know, a long, long break to reflect on some stuff.
How To Get Away With Humbly Accepting Awards
What Happened: The creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away With Murder was given the Hollywood Reporter’s Sherry Lansing Leadership Award, and went on to quote Beyoncé in front of an appreciative crowd.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs
What Really Happened: Shonda Rhimes received the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award during this week’s Hollywood Reporter Women in Entertainment Breakfast, in recognition of her work and, in her speech accepting the award, proved once again why she is worthy of our adoration. “Getting an award today because I’m a woman and an African-American feels … I was born with an awesome vagina and really gorgeous brown skin,” she said at one point. “I didn’t do anything to make either of those things happen. To get all Beyoncé about it, people: ‘I woke up like this.'”
Later, she suggested that she didn’t deserve the award. “I have not broken through any glass ceilings,” she said. “If I had broken through any glass ceilings, I would know. If I had broken through a glass ceiling, I would have felt some cuts, I would have some bruises. There’d be shards of glass in my hair. I’d be bleeding, I’d have wounds.” Instead, she argued, she was simply building on the work of her forerunners. “My sisters who went before me had already handled it,” she said. “I just hit at exactly the right time in exactly the right spot.”
The Takeaway: Rhimes’ speech went viral, as expected, thanks to the good humor and humility on display. In a week when the fickle, brittle side of the entertainment industry was on full display, it provided a welcome reminder of the other side.
Justin Bieber Bleaches His Hair, Internet Explodes
What Happened: Continuing the impressively-lengthy trend of being as famous for his hair as for anything else in his life, Canadian pop moppet Bieber went public with his new peroxided ‘do this week. It turns out, a lot of people cared.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media thinkpieces
What Really Happened: Justin Bieber dyed his hair and the Internet was, surprisingly, very interested to know why. Beyond the obvious Twitter backlash (sample tweet: “Justin Bieber’s new blond hair makes him look like Screech, the time he wore a blond wig & pretended to be Zack to trick Penny Belding, no?”), websites asked the important questions: Did he do it to look like Miley Cyrus? Was he channeling his inner-Eminem? (Oh God, please no.) Was he trying to get Selina Gomez’s attention? (If so, it didn’t seem to work.) Perhaps he was merely trying to point the way for his entire gender; the sight of a blonde Bieber prompted the Daily Telegraph newspaper to suggest “every man should experiment with his hair,” which is just mean for those of us who are bald.
The Takeaway: Sometimes, the Internet has too much time on its hands.