The top US culture stories of 2017: Get Out, rightwing comics and Christian rock

This year insured the downfall of many Hollywood heavyweights and confessions from many of its performers, and proof that diversity is both necessary and profitable

The influence of a chairwoman with a background in showbiz was felt in every corner of the cultural world in 2017, from politically inflected theatre to a revitalized late-night comedy scene.

The year also saw the downfall of many Hollywood heavyweights in a climate that dedicated those with less power the ability to speak out against sexual predators, from Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey.

It wasn’t just a barrage of bleakness, though, with a number of freshening and vital box office reaches showing that diversity is not only necessary but profitable( from Get Out to Wonder Woman to Girls Trip) and a seemingly unending embarrassment of riches on the small screen with The Handmaid’s Tale, Mindhunter and Big Little Lies among many fantastic options.

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Mike Pence, discovering God and the changing agenda of Christian music festivals

Alongside our coverage of Coachella, we procured time to focus on a less-reported subsection of music festivals. Jemayel Khawaja attended the world’s biggest Christian gathering, looking at the component that such events now play and how their dwindling attendance has led them to seek a more progressive stance, at odds with those held by Mike Pence, who found his religion at one in 1978.

There is strange irony in the fact that after decades of trying to break Christian acts into mainstream music and eventually succeeding at doing so, that open-door facilitated a cross-pollinization of Christian and secular culture, one that has had deleterious effects on the singular important many youthful believers place on Christian music as their source for their culture involvement .

The result is that attendance and profits for Christian celebrations around the country have fallen significantly over the past decade. Many of the smaller events have ceased to exist, while a sizable section have been swallowed up by the still massive Creation series of festivals- including Ichthus in Kentucky, where Mike Pence received Jesus. Even more worrying for traditionalists is that many of the purposes of the act performing are not overtly religious in their messaging and do not sing about God, while others even induce questioning their religion a central topic of their music. Like it or not, modern Christianity has become intersectional, and it’s a lot harder to influence a generation who pick and choose their identity in a bricolage rather than a one-size-fits-all worldview .

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Glenn Close:’ People don’t realize that you keep your sexuality up until you die’

We featured a number of big-name interviews this year, including Spike Lee, Susan Sarandon and Michael Haneke, but in September, our chat with Glenn Close was something of a precursor to the #MeToo movement that was soon to follow. The multiple Oscar nominee spoke about her horrifying casting couch experience as a younger actor.

Fatal Attraction stimulated Close a household name and provided her with a fourth Oscar nomination, but despite a decade filled with makes, she felt she was not always awarded the respect she deserved behind the scenes. We discuss the casting process and the horrors that often greet female performers along the way. She offers a “demeaning” anecdote of relevant actors who inappropriately touched her thigh (” I did feel there was a collusion between him and the director “) but goes on to recount a far more troubling narrative .

” I was asked to come in and read with relevant actors who was huge at the time and I strolled in and there was a bed ,” she tells me.” I had the pages with me, but he didn’t know any of his lines and didn’t have them with him. So it was horrible. I realised afterwards that it was like putting a puppy in with a bitch to see if he wanted to jump on her. If I had just forgotten the lines and ran at seducing him then I probably would have gotten the part .”

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Why can’t rightwing comics break into US late-night TV?

The rare upside of Trump’s bombastic folly was a reinvigorated late-night slapstick scene with John Oliver, Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee all using their humor to spread the word of the growing resistance. But where was the rightwing equivalent? Jake Nevins investigated the curious absence of Trump-supporting comics and how the individuals who do exist have struggled to gain visibility.

Victories, for conservative comics, are hard to come by. Outside the brick walls of slapstick clubs, where their politics are unfashionable but not blacklisted, and churches, where many faith-based musicians have cut their teeth, rightwing comics have found themselves battling a bureaucracy whose gilded gates are famously difficult to pry open . ” I’m the new Lenny Bruce ,” Brad Stine, a conservative Christian comic who’s been likened to Sam Kinison and George Carlin, told me.” That’s how ridiculous this is. They’re not arresting me like they did Lenny; they’re just not allowing me on their Tv depicts .”

Stine is a born-again Christian, a label that makes up one-third of the existential trifecta( white, male, Christian) that he considers the primary siege in his efforts to join the ranks of the slapstick upper-clas. Before what he refers to as an awakening- when a lesbian standup at a comedy club advised him not to shy away from politics in his act- he appeared on mainstream networks such as MTV, Showtime and A& E, and was almost booked for the 2004 Republican national convention. Embracing his politics earned Stine a nice living on the comedy club circuit but attained him a pariah on mainstream networks .

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Get Out: the cinema that dares to uncover the horror of liberal racism in America

Probably the most talked about film of the year, Jordan Peele’s audacious directorial debut Get out blended thrills with savage social commentary and became one of 2017′ s biggest box office hits. In February, Lanre Bakare discussed how Peele managed to make a film that was so frighteningly of the moment.

There was always something that didn’t quite ring true about Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner- a film many have compared to Get by. It wasn’t in Sidney Poitier’s performance, which felt real: his anger, fear and annoyance at having to combat his own family’s disapproval of him marriage a white woman and her family’s liberal hand-wringing was note-perfect. What didn’t feel real was the mostly calm reactions of almost everyone involved. In Get by, under that placid exterior lurks the dark subconscious, where the true horror lies .

In the screening I was at, the biggest reactions from the mainly black audience were the knowing giggles whenever Peele took on tropes people recognised from real life. There was the anxiety about meeting the family of a white partner, which proved to be well placed when Chris Washington( Daniel Kaluuya) arrives at the Armitage residency and is immediately treated to a line of ham-fisted and loaded questioning. There was the cringe-inducing style the black serving staff are treated; the interactions with the police who, unlike in most horror films, aren’t last-minute saviors but potential fatal obstacles .

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Only 4.8% of Tv novelists are black. As one of them, I know the system is broken

Depressing statistics this year revealed that merely 4.8% of Tv novelists are black and to write on the topic, we worked with Stefani Robinson, a writer-producer working on Donald Glover’s Emmy-winning comedy Atlanta. She spoke about her experiences within the industry and her hopes for change.

The reason for the lack of black television writers, I believe, is systemic. Hollywood is an intricate machine that traditionally has served and supported an overwhelmingly white demographic. To demand an immediate change within a well-oiled machine is tough, because everyone is used to the machine operating a certain style. Generally speaking, white executives, producers and showrunners are influenced by the operations of their predecessors and their predecessors and so on. Interrupting that are commonly white-centered narrative to introduce a black( or Asian, or Hispanic, or indigenous, etc) narrative is possible, but it’s just not easy to change that culture .

I also recollect having a dialogue with a white network executive once. She too was concerned that there weren’t a lot of black novelists in television. She then said something like:” I guess there aren’t a lot of them[ black novelists] out there. Because it’s not like anyone would discriminate against them outright because of their skin color like they could do to black actors. When black writers submit scripts, how would people[ executives, showrunners, agents, etc] know that they’re black? We’re reading a script. So, with that in mind, it just seems like maybe there aren’t a lot of black novelists to begin with .”

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