Moving America Forward

10 Pieces of Art We Loved in 2018

December 26, 2018
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10 Pieces of Art We Loved in 2018
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(Left to Right): Rose McGowan holds a copy of her book, "Brave," at NYC's 92Y; The cover of Jon Chopan's 2018 book; Aly Raisman speaks at the 2018 Glamour Women of the Year Awards. (L to R) Photos by Noam Galai/Getty Images, Caitlin Duffy and Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.
From rap albums to classic books, here are 10 cultural artifacts that moved NationSwell’s editorial team in 2018.

Believed

Podcast published by NPR/Michigan Radio

When former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was convicted of abusing over 300 girls over several decades, the question on everyone’s mind was — how? And how did he get away with it for so long? Believed delves into the stories of the people on the ground, including survivors and Nassar himself, to find out how so many people missed what was happening right under their noses. The podcast is a powerful reminder to listen to survivors and to empower women to come forward with the truth, with the hope that they too will be believed.

Suggested by Digital Media Producer Hallie Steiner

 

The Democratic Party Wants to Make Climate Policy Exciting

Long Read by Robinson Meyer, Atlantic

Admittedly, I am not as voracious a reader of long things as I could be, but one recent article truly galvanized me: this one on the Green New Deal, made mainstream by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s involvement with the protests.

It’s a bit light on details, but even in broad strokes, it’s the boldest, most exciting policy proposal I’ve seen in my lifetime (that isn’t called M4A). And IMO it’s worth “taking to the streets” for. Because I want the human race to make it, I’m considering joining one of Sunrise’s demonstrations to make sure that it happens. Our nation deserves it, and future generations will reap the benefits simply by being able to go outside in the winter without gas masks and sunscreen.

Suggested by VP of Published Content and Growth Anthony Smith

 

“America To Me”

Film directed by Steve James

This ten-part docuseries zeroes in on one of Chicago’s most progressive schools, located in suburban Oak Park. Despite its reputation as one of the city’s most liberal and diverse schools, more than half of the student population is white and stubborn inequalities among students persist.

The firm crew were given unprecedented access to the school throughout an entire academic year, and they in turn gave students their own cameras to record personal confessions. The result: An observational and confessional film that shows how divided America’s purported diversity can be.

Suggested by Video Producer Alan Thompson

 

“Brave”

Autobiography by Rose McGowan

As a woman and a fan of McGowan’s, I felt it was my duty to read her story as one of many voices raised as part of this year’s #MeToo movement. I was disgusted by what McGowan had to endure, and really proud of her candor and steadfastness in the face of unrelenting criticism. Her story, as well as that of Christine Blasey Ford and other high-profile women who have endured sexual violence, has made me certain we can work towards ending such violence and continue to demand equal treatment of women in industries that routinely protect men. But to do so, we need to change the conversation around consent, and get to a place where women can feel proud of embracing their sexuality and using it as a way to feel empowered, without having to endure shame, hatred or criticism for doing so.

Suggested by Managing Editor Alison Kotch

 

“Veterans Crisis Hotline”

Collection of Short Stories by Jon Chopan

By focusing almost exclusively on the moments of crisis experienced by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, “Veterans Crisis Hotline” takes on a topic largely missing from today’s mass-market literature. These 12 stories explore the lives of people who volunteer for America’s front lines and the price they pay for doing so. Author Jon Chopan doesn’t dance around issues involving PTSD, sexual violence, the price of war and the complex reality of masculine identity. Instead, he peels back the glossy veneer of valor to intentionally spark a meditation on how America supports its veterans today.

Suggested by Social Audience Director Caitlin Duffy

 

“Our Towns: A 1000,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America”

Nonfiction by James and Deborah Fallows

When I first got the assignment to interview James Fallows about “Our Towns: A 1000,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America,” the book he wrote with his wife, Deborah Fallows, my first thought was: Annnd it’s 100,000 pages long! But I was quickly won over by its deft prose and incisive look at what’s working to bolster the economies and bonhomie of small towns and cities across America. Since reading it this summer, I keep seeing how its lessons might be applied in the real world. When everything seems to be going wrong on the national stage, it’s more important than ever to realize that some things are actually going very right.

Suggested by Senior Editor Adrienne Day

 

“Blindspotting”

Directed by Carlos López Estrada

A film that explores the themes of gentrification, incarceration, racism, police brutality and violence in Oakland, California, “Blindspotting” will pull you to the edge of your seat and leave you hanging there until the final minute.

Starring Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, who are also the talent behind the screenplay, “Blindspotting” is a must see for anyone seeking insight into the lived experiences of those being displaced by the Silicon Valley tech boom.

Suggested by Social Audience Director Caitlin Duffy

 

“Travels With Charley In Search of America”

Novel by John Steinbeck

After the dust from WWII settled in America, Steinbeck set out on a road trip, with his dog, Charley, along for the ride. Steinbeck’s optimism throughout the novel — combined with his jaded patriotism and ultimate dissatisfaction with where America was headed at that time — also resonates particularly well in today’s America. While it’s a personal reminder to try to live outside the comfort zone I was born into, it’s essential reading for anyone who has grown comfortable with the bubbles we often refuse to step outside of.

Suggested by Video Producer Alan Thompson

 

“Championships”

Artist: Meek Mill

This past year has seen Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill transform into one of the most compelling voices in criminal justice reform, and Mill’s latest album, “Championships,” serves as a booming soundtrack to that movement.

Mill’s legal troubles came to a head last year when he was sentenced to up to four years for violating his probation, a move that sparked national furor. Now, with a trial still looming, Meek’s fourth studio effort roars with a barrel-chested intensity, forming a raw and emotional plea for substantive criminal justice reform.

Suggested by Senior Video Producer Sean Ryon

 

“The American Meme”

Documentary by Bert Marcus

While the rise of social media has meant it’s now easier than ever to stay “connected” — and connect with others who have similar interests — it also has contributed to social anxiety, depression and self-image problems. But for every study on how the rise of its popularity makes some people depressed and anxious, there are others who profit, or even thrive off of, its varied forms. The American Meme looks at the lengths some people will go in order to obtain followers on the most popular social platforms (Vine and Instagram).

Equal parts honest, sad and disturbing, “The American Meme” begs viewers to question the role social media plays in our lives, and whether we’re using it as a force for good, as a healthy creative outlet, or as a reason to feed our own self-absorbed narcissism.

Suggested by Managing Editor Alison Kotch

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