As you settle in to watch the Rio Olympics, eager for the first news of someone getting sick from the terrible conditions on site, there might be a nagging thought in the back of your mind: Isn’t there something else that I’m supposed to be thinking about right now? The answer, almost certainly, is yes, which is why this column exists, to remind you about the things that you might have missed on the Internet over the last seven days while more important things have been going on. So turn on that streaming sports coverage, relax, and keep one eye right here to discover the strange and wonderful stories from the rest of the web from the last week.
Floss or Floss Not, There Is No Try
What Happened: Everything we know about dental hygiene is wrong! Or, at least, science is now claiming that flossing is pointless. That’s roughly the same thing, right?
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports
What Really Happened: So, you know how dentists are always telling folks to floss? Well, an Associated Press reporter decided to look into the pros and cons of flossing, only to discover that, really, it’s not incredibly obvious that it does any good at all.
It was a story that provoked all kinds of response, including disbelief, concern, and suspicion.
On Twitter, the response was more or less the same:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: All dentists are liars. https://t.co/d4zVW2FUhV
— David Sims (@davidlsims) August 2, 2016
Nine out of ten dentists are bald faced liars. #flossgate
— Jay Fallon (@jayfallon) August 2, 2016
I don’t care what science says. Floss, I’m not quitting you. pic.twitter.com/vDg0hMceuG
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) August 4, 2016
Meanwhile, as the reporter behind the story got his moment in the sun, flossing fought back with new stories convincing people to keep flossing after all.
The Takeaway: And even if you do give up flossing, there are other things you can do with that leftover floss, apparently.
Don’t throw out your dental floss just yet. It has plenty of other uses. https://t.co/fkLwzovPU4 pic.twitter.com/FN7y8iQ8UN
— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 3, 2016
Potter No More
What Happened: The new Harry Potter book is out–but it’s not a novel, which seems to have upset some fans.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, Amazon reviews, media reports
What Really Happened: It’s got to be tough to be J.K. Rowling sometimes. No, really. You create the Harry Potter books and everyone loves them and demands more. So you decide to create more, and everyone complains that it’s not exactly what they wanted. Fresh off the controversy over racism in the prose Fantastic Beasts prequel from Pottermore, now she’s facing backlash over the fact that the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is, well, not what fans expected.
Multiple stories have appeared about the disappointment over the book, for reasons of plot, tone and, best of all, the format of the damn thing.
Here are some excerpts from reviews from Amazon.co.uk:
“This is an odd book. Rowling was obviously too lazy to write it properly, she just did the bits were [sic] people say things and left out describing the stuff like sweets and wands.”
“I’d been looking forward to this, if I’d have known it wasn’t a proper book just a play manuscript I wouldn’t have bothered.”
“The book that all Harry Porter fans have waited for and not impressed very hard work to read as written in scrip form WHY !!”
“Not what I expected at all.”
“It was horrible to read as a script and I won’t be duped into buying anything else from the Potter brand. Farewell Harry.”
The best thing is, despite the book actually being titled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — Parts One & Two: The Official Script Book of the Original West End Production–meaning that no one should really be that surprised by the fact that the book is a script–people still saw this disaster coming:
I’m dying to know the amount of people who bought the cursed child without realizing that it’s a script for a play and not a book
— Tricia Kissinger (@trishtophers) August 1, 2016
The Takeaway: If only Harry himself could respond to these fans, somehow…
When people don’t realize #CursedChild is a script because it’s actually a play and not a book. pic.twitter.com/WM3FQhdOfH
— Jenna Deisher (@JennaDeisher) August 3, 2016
Groot for President
What Happened: The collective Internet realized that fictional characters might make better presidential candidates than anyone currently on the ticket.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter
What Really Happened: Now that the election season is fully turning into a national nightmare, the reality of who we have to choose between to lead the United States of America is beginning to sink in… leading Twitter to ask itself the not unlikely question, “Wouldn’t it be better if we could choose, like, Groot or something?”
#BetterFictionalCandidates Mickey pic.twitter.com/2EavlBLMNU
— funk all day (@funkygreens) August 4, 2016
Obiwan Kenobi (he’s our only hope) #BetterFictionalCandidates pic.twitter.com/YBTRmDQnrG
— ?Nikki? (@The_mrstouch) August 4, 2016
The Kool-Aid Man. He breaks walls, not builds them. #BetterFictionalCandidates #ohyeah
— Hulia (@OverhypedHipstr) August 4, 2016
#BetterFictionalCandidates: #Pinocchio. At least you wouldn’t have to wait for Washington Post’s fact checkers. pic.twitter.com/ZnC1rpd1nI
— Jermaine Watkins (@JermaineWatkins) August 4, 2016
#BetterFictionalCandidates. “I am Groot” will always be the truth. pic.twitter.com/NsuK6vrtTM
— Tammy Salyer (@TammySalyer) August 4, 2016
The real surprise is that no one as yet has selected President Jed Bartlett from The West Wing. People, he has the experience! As the Best Fictional President Ever(TM), he’s the clear pick to take the nation where it needs to go. Namely, to an impressively verbose alternate version of the early 2000s where Josh Lyman keeps everyone safe behind the scenes.
The Takeaway: Nope. Nope. Nope.
#BetterFictionalCandidates easy answer. pic.twitter.com/MmZjBw1aCn
— e (@lyricsninja) August 4, 2016
Let’s Be Glad That Clint Eastwood Isn’t In Charge of Official Generational Naming Conventions
What Happened: Clint Eastwood has some feelings about the world today. The world today felt it appropriate to respond.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports
What Really Happened: So, apparently Clint Eastwood just starts having things to say every election year. Four years ago, he spoke at the Republican National Convention to an empty chair that he pretended was President Obama, much to the confusion of the nation, and now he’s giving an interview where he derides political correctness and proclaims that “we’re really in a pussy generation,” adding, “when I grew up, those things weren’t called racist.” (Clint Eastwood was born in 1930, 34 years before the Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.)
Unsurprisingly, the interview drew a lot of attention from an admittedly dumbfounded media surprised by Eastwood’s views. Twitter also took to the keyboards to respond in kind:
Emmett Till was murdered for “back talk” while Clint Eastwood grew up so no, we didn’t often call out racism then. pic.twitter.com/rou7f0yfMA
— Ira Madison III (@ira) August 3, 2016
Oooof. please go back to talking to chairs https://t.co/h4FUBa8ZIV
— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) August 3, 2016
Clint Eastwood Yells at Cloud
— Sam Adams (@SamuelAAdams) August 3, 2016
The Takeaway: If the endorsement of Donald Trump left many Eastwood fans distraught, it would be worth considering the wider perspective for a second.
To be fair, four years ago Clint Eastwood endorsed a chair.
— Alex Zalben (@azalben) August 3, 2016
We Did It For the Fans
What Happened: Suicide Squad got some brutal reviews, and fans (who hadn’t even seen the movie yet) were really not impressed with critics being, you know, critical.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports
What Really Happened: Look, Suicide Squad has all kinds of problems as a movie (the hyper-active editing in the first act, especially), but overall it’s an OK summer flick that gets by on the charm of Will Smith and Margot Robbie. That opinion means that we are some of the most ardent supporters of the movie in the media community, considering that Suicide Squad currently has a 27 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film was savaged by critics, who described it as “an all-out attack on the whole idea of entertainment,” “a giant dumpster fire of perplexing plotting, erratic pacing, racial stereotypes and a problematic male gaze”, and “the year’s most muddled piece of storytelling.” This really, really didn’t sit well with an audience that desperately wanted to like it:
I haven’t seen Suicide Squad yet but the reviews are turning me into Tyra pic.twitter.com/KXr7IxL3Hc
— Victoria Aveyard (@VictoriaAveyard) August 2, 2016
These Suicide Squad reviews got me like… pic.twitter.com/HIyqcHqtdh
— Greg Miller (@GameOverGreggy) August 2, 2016
The suicide squad bad reviews are making me want to see it more. Like?? Are the reviews lies??
— Lauren Giraldo (@LaurenGiraldo) August 2, 2016
Some fans were so upset by the reviews that they launched and signed an online petition to shut down Rotten Tomatoes altogether, although the aim of the petition was later amended to the more achievable “deliver a message to the critics that there is [sic] a lot of people [that] disagree with their reviews.” Apparently so; as of this writing, more than 19,000 people have signed the petition.
The cast of the movie have also been reacting to the criticism, with Jay Hernandez (El Diablo) saying that “it sucks [because] we worked hard and tried to give the fans what they wanted,” while Cara Delevingne (Enchantress) complained that critics “have been absolutely horrific, they’re really, really horrible.” Director David Ayer, meanwhile, told reporters that he’s not bothered about the critical response, because he “made the movie for real people who live in the real world. I made the movie for people who actually love movies and go and see movies.”
It seems, at first blush, that real people might actually want to see the movie: its Thursday night box office haul was an impressive $20.5 million, beating both Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy. The success at the box office probably won’t last, but the cast and crew should definitely take their victories where they can.
The Takeaway: A must-read piece on why Suicide Squad is the way it turned out to be is here. If nothing else, there’s a lesson to be learned here for those who want their movies to have a somewhat more consistent tone in future.