Articles/Essays/Talking as a Head
"A Night Among the Trump Believers Way Up North," Rolling Stone, 6/21/2018
"By the time Trump reached the end of his speech, it felt familiar even if you hadn’t heard it before. The phrases had the too-neat, predictable parallelism of a jingle: 'We will never give in, we will never give up ... we will never stop fighting for our flag, or our freedom. We are one people, and one family, and one nation under God.' The last lines were chanted out in half-unison, half-hum, the way you might mumble-vamp through the verse of 'Sweet Caroline' only to land with ecstasy at the chorus: 'We will make America safe AGAIN! We will make America strong AGAIN! We will make America GREAT AGAIN!'
That’s the way the end of democracy sounds, I think: People so eager to join a chant they do it before they know all the words."
"Space the Nation: Is the Trump Administration Resident Evil," Syfy, 6/19/2018
"Here's my favorite part about the Resident Evil franchise: you really have to stand back and admire the breathless incompetence of the Umbrella Corporation. If you think of the Umbrella Corporation as really being like the Trump organization, it works remarkably well. Because think about it, the normal problem in most of the zombie genre is that you introduce the living dead, there is no cure to the living dead, and because, you know, zombies have a 100% infection rate, eventually they go global and the world as we know it ends. What I love about the Umbrella Corporation is that it is this ostensibly all-powerful, all-seeing, omnipresent, omniscient, multinational corporation that actually has a cure to the zombie virus and yet, nonetheless, still manages to screw up enough to allow the world as we know it to end. And, you know, can't defeat either the living dead without Milla Jovovich and her rag-tag group of resistors.:
"Space the Nation: How 'The War of the Worlds' Changed The World," Syfy, 6/12/2018
"This latitude granted broadcasters is part of what has made American pop culture so vibrant, of course. One could argue that the porous nature of what Americans consider 'news' is what gives power to every 'found footage' horror movie and all the different iterations of the late night comedy 'desk piece.' It is also what allowed Russian hackers to easily manipulate the emotions of Facebook partisans.
I have no easy answers about the problem of censorship versus public safety. I do wonder what might have happened if the FCC hadn’t addressed the Welles issue so close to considering another broadcast controversy — one not nearly as sexy and much further removed from public debate. It was over the use of the word 'flash.' As in, 'news flash.' A week after 'The War of the Worlds,' the FCC held an already-scheduled 'summit' on the issue, calling the heads of all the major networks to Washington discuss the abuse of that term, as well as 'bulletin.'"
"Celebrities aren't the only ones who struggle to appear perfect -- or who need help," Washington Post, 6/9/2018
"As someone with bipolar disorder, I have been through times when my depression was too intense not to break through to the surface, even if it was inconvenient or embarrassing. On Friday morning, after reading about Bourdain’s suicide, I posted on Twitter about a specific incident when I lived in New York, trying to keep a crying jag to myself while commuting on the F train. My head was hung down and it was crowded; I thought I was doing a pretty good job of keeping it to myself. Then, at one stop, a hand appeared under my nose, holding a packet of tissues. I instinctively grabbed them, but the person who held them for me moved on before I even saw who it was. That stranger kept me going for another day, which led to other days, which eventually led to long-term help. I asked at the end of my post Friday for people to share examples of other times someone had just gotten them through the day."
"Space the Nation: Drugs and Addiction in Genre," Syfy, 6/5/2018
"As consumers, we have some idea that drugs are capable of more than doctors tell us, and that’s the appeal of “right-to-try” bills, allowing patients to obtain experimental treatments directly from manufacturers. But all that legislation really does is allow patients to present themselves as uncompensated test subjects who will have to foot the bill for any complications that occur and who are statistically more likely to receive a new compound that doesn’t do much rather than one of the rare true advances. Perhaps we’re drawn to the untold, unearned promise of medications because there is something inherently magical about even the idea of ingesting some substance that can change you. Substances can alter our bodies, our perceptions, our personalities, and can do so invisibly. No wonder imaginary drugs have been a presence in genre literature since literature began."
"More obscenity happening in the Oval Office than on late-night tv," MSNBC, 6/1/2018
Ana Marie Cox, host of 'With Friends Like These' podcast, reacts to President Trump's apparent frustration with comedian Samantha Bee who came under fire for calling his daughter, Ivanka, the 'c-word' during her show: "I think there is a lot more obscenity and vulgarity happening in the Oval Office than there is on late night television, that said, Samantha Bee did herself no favors by using that word."
"Confessions of a serial networker," Columbia Journalism Review, 5/31/2018
"Toward the end, I had a new ritual: Instead of putting away a few or five glasses of wine at the open bar, I’d sip gingerly at my club soda, feeling as distant and fragile as if I were the one encased in glass. I’d gracelessly mingle until I couldn’t stand it anymore and then make for the restroom, where I’d sob as silently as possible, chest tight not with grief but a burning mix of self-pity and anger. In the hot resentments of my addiction, I extrapolated beyond the adolescent conviction that “everyone was having fun without me”; I mourned that everyone else was absentmindedly partaking in something that was only a recreational drug for them, whereas for me it was a cure.
So, of course, I’d eventually drink, a failure of willpower I could tally as evidence of my inherent worthlessness. It would take months of grinding through the motions of sobriety—all the meetings and sayings and steps and prayers—before I finally came to realize that succumbing to my addiction was never a sign that I was weak. I was just looking to the wrong things for strength."
"Space the Nation: The Future is Female... Sex Robots," Syfy, 5/22/2018
"I have written elsewhere about the wrong-headed notion that such simulacra could help lower the body count of toxic masculinity. Essentially, there is little proof that being able to virtually subjugate others does much to minimize the urge itself. Initially, I thought the racist playgrounds of 4chan and Reddit were proof enough of that idea, but as I dove into the history of sex and robots, I learned there’s been an even longer-running experiment along those lines. Dutch sailors made fabric female puppets to keep them company back in the 1600s. In other words, straight men have been screwing inanimate objects that look like women for centuries, and yet they’re still pretty pissed when they can’t get the real thing."
"Geek's Guide to the Galaxy," Wired, 5/19/2018
Ana joined Wired's "Geek's Guide to the Galaxy" podcast. She talked about why Ted Cruz likes Star Trek, her own love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter, and much more.
"Space the Nation: Jaime King on Transformers, Gender and the Beauty of D&D," Syfy, 5/15/2018
"I think there’s maybe something about being a feminist and being drawn to sci-fi in general. They both take a lot of imagination—you have to be able to suspend disbelief to imagine the world can change in dramatic ways.
Hell, yes. Needing to have that imagination, that reminds me of something. You're gonna — you're gonna make me cry because [ahem] Alright, so — let me take you to the scene. [A few months ago, my husband and I] open up a new Dungeons and Dragons game. New players. Very excited about it. I had decided that I was going to be a high elven wizard. And the little twist was going to be that I thought I came from one background, but discovered that I really came from another. I was told that essentially I was going to be like Jesus but that it was all a lie — my whole life, it was a burden put upon me. And as I'm making this character, they're like, “Well, what do you want to be called? Are you male or female?” And I said, “I’m everything. I'm they. Their. Them.” And as I started playing this — I can't tell you…I just start getting so emotional. So emotional. Because I was playing out my life. Here, in this group of people that I love so much and trust so much. I was playing out my own suppressed unconscious thing.
Because they way I grew up, I did feel like I was told a lie. I did feel like I was told I was supposed to be one thing, this amazing beautiful glorious blah blah blah. But then in reality, who knows what's true, right? I’m just ordinary. We're all just ordinary. And the only thing that makes us extraordinary is our love, our compassion, our understanding and our ability and willingness to fight for ourselves and for other people. And that's why some kids love sci fi. Kids that love sci-fi are always the ones that are pushed aside. We were always the ones that were told that we were weird or something was wrong with us. But isn't it interesting how the kids that love sci-fi are the ones that are now changing things? And what's so great about Transformers? Honestly, what I love about Transformers is that all anyone really wants is the ability to transform from one thing to another. "
"Retweet to Impeach," Lovett or Leave It, 5/11/2018
Ana joined Crooked Media's Jon Lovett for a live episode of Lovett or Leave It in Columbus, OH. She helped Lovett dissect the problems posed to our society by social media.
"When men act like Eric Schneiderman in private, who cares how they act in public?" Washington Post, 5/10/2018
"There is no ideological monopoly on misogyny or patriarchy or sexual harm, a fact that most women have learned from bitter experience. I’m not so naive as to believe that a man’s voting record is going to be predictive of his potential for violence. That he seems to go to the same political rallies as I doesn’t mean he won’t draw me into an inappropriate conversation. The cool bumper stickers on his car won’t guarantee my safety if he drives slowly by while I’m on my evening run. And whenever I hear about the latest political comrade or well-respected colleague to be the subject of other women’s stories, I am never surprised when his actions do not match up with his attested ideals. When the difference is great, I am only disappointed. Surprise is the privilege of someone who has never been assaulted by someone they know."
"Space the Nation: Weaponizing Data," Syfy, 5/8/2018
"Micro-targeting and mass data-mining is, perhaps, less sexy to portray in fiction — or at least it’s not as easy. In Minority Report, it’s a throwaway visual joke of sorts. But it shapes the world of the novel Feed, where having the wrong sort of consumer profile can sentence you to death. The background social contract of Infomocracy is that people have given up their privacy in exchange for the ease and safety provided by The Information, a Google-ish stand-in that is both corporation and governing platform. The idea that corporations know us too well seems to be the subtext of almost every episode of Black Mirror. And the season premiere of Westworld teased that the Delos corporation was keeping a record of guests’ experiences alongside a sample of their DNA — is that foreshadowing the ultimate tailored experience or merely blackmail?"
"Here's The Truth About Robot Sex Culture," Rolling Stone, 5/4/2018
"See, if you read him in the good faith he may not deserve, his discussion of sex robots is a cautionary tale about the probable outcome of a culture in which "the sexual revolution" has "privileg(ed) the beautiful and rich" while "the sexes seem to be struggling generally to relate to each other" – even as the "essentially Hefnerian" (!) message about sex is that "the greatest possible diversity in sexual desires and tastes and identities should be not only accepted but cultivated." In that self-indulgent but soulless environment, people will "place their hope for escape" in some form of revolution – "political, social or technological." In other words, step three: SEX ROBOTS, obviously. And if you find them creepy? Good. Blame the liberals."
"Space the Nation: Worlds Without Men," Syfy, 5/1/2018
"The trope: Lady Land, where men are barred or nonexistent. Noted futurist Rush Limbaugh vocalized the fear that undergirds much of the reaction to the still-growing #MeToo movement: The empowerment of women leads, obviously, to the disappearance of men. This is a fear (or fantasy) as old as gender itself. Anxiety about gender is so fundamental to humanity that stories of female-only societies and alien worlds — dystopian and utopian alike — have been a staple of not just science fiction, but all storytelling basically since we first started telling stories.
Where to find it: There are many lists! You could start here, or here, or here. The question isn’t where to read about these worlds, perhaps, but what they mean. The idea appears in Western literature first with the Amazons, who appear in The Iliad, written in the eighth century B.C., set 500 years before that — but they are mentioned only twice, almost in passing, as “the peers of men.”
The concept was so stirring that the Greek writers who followed continued to embroider on the alluring but dangerous notion that women could be equals. This eventually led to the creation of a full-fledged mythology and origin story for the tribe — one that addressed, for instance, how it is that an all-female society could reproduce itself, eventually settling on the idea of an annual f*ckfest with a neighboring village, nine months after which the boys were sent back to live with their fathers and the girls were raised as warriors."
"Evangelicals, Facebook, Cultural Suicide," Real Time with Bill Maher, 4/27/2018
Ana sat down with Ronan Farrow, John Podhoretz, Ian Bremner, and Ross Douthat on Real Time with Bill Maher to discuss the latest developments in the Trump Administration, Bill Cosby's guilty verdict, and much more.
"Space the Nation: Jess Phoenix Is On A Rock Hurtling Through Space," Syfy, 4/24/2018
"I mean, we are on this rock hurtling around a star, in the Milky Way, and yet we think that we are what lives. We think the trees and animals are what lives. But in reality, our planet is alive and changing and it's going through processes. It's going through a life-cycle, right now. And we are fortunate enough to be able to witness new earths being created."
"Space the Nation: Elaine DiMasi Isn't Afraid to Fail," Syfy, 4/17/2018
"I sometimes say when I'm giving my speeches, look, I promise not to do anything that's impossible, even if I want to do things that are really, really hard, like save the planet with clean energy and protect the environment. Scientists do things that seem impossible all the time. But they weren't impossible, they just required tenacity."
"Space the Nation: Chrissy Houlahan Could Handle The Millennium Falcon, No Problem," Syfy, 4/10/2018
"I'm really hopeful that we're making a difference not just in the media, but also frankly where it matters as much in terms of representation — in business or representation in government, as well. I spend as much as I'm able to talking to young girls and young women about this run. I know that they're not necessarily voters, but I don't really care. I think that it is important to see somebody who is like you, who might be somebody you could be someday. And I certainly never remember seeing anybody standing in front of me running for office or hopefully holding office. You know, Pennsylvania is the largest state in the country that has no females representing it."
"Space the Nation: We Are Refugees," Syfy, 4/3/2018
"For decades, if not centuries, genre fiction has had played with the idea of immigration by making the differences between cultures galactic rather than merely continental. As Charlie Jane Anders has argued, science fiction, broadly speaking, is itself the literature of refugees. Whether it’s Superman or Arthur Dent, everyone’s always fleeing from somewhere. When the aliens are not recognizably humanoid, the stories become metaphors for assimilation and the threat and promise of diversity (Alien Nation, the Zygons of Doctor Who, District 9). Yet however well-intentioned, older stories about immigration often tend to reflect the biases of white privilege; it’s still the aliens invading, they just are green or from Mars instead of the Southern Hemisphere. The critical commentary emerges from caricaturing our panic rather than questioning it or subverting it."
"Space the Nation: We Could Be Heroes," Syfy, 3/27/2018
"But however clear the literary antecedents, there is one obvious difference between the subversive heroes of previous decades and the ones seen on the streets today: they’re seen on the streets today. My generation saw lots of tragedies and I’ve personally marched in the name of various causes since I could hold a sign — but even I didn’t think to bring Princess Leia with me until just last year."
"Dislike her. Disavow Her. But don't count Nancy Pelosi out," LA Times, 3/25/2016
"I'm not a fan of the maxim that if one is angering "both sides," you must be doing something right. I think it's more likely that if you're angering both sides, you might be doing something right … or you might just be a woman. Pelosi is a woman who is also doing something right."
"Space the Nation: Looking at the "Deep State" and the Hazy History of Shadow Governments," Syfy, 3/20/2018
"Maybe the shadow government is more than a handful of masterminds in a cabal. Maybe it’s a whole group of people, linked by membership to an organization that might even have a legitimate front (like the Trump administration’s contentions regarding the FBI). It could be the Bilderberg Group (indie mockumentary The Conspiracy has a particularly witty take), or the Illuminati (see, well, The Illuminatus Trilogy, Angels & Demons, Tomb Raider). The Knights Templar are a cottage industry as well, showing up high-minded novels such as Foucalt’s Pendulum and shlocky fun like National Treasure. Want some racism with your paranoia? There’s always the Elders of Zion (a tract that began its tortured life as parody and fiction, oh, and hi, again, Umberto Eco!) — or, as Trump kept putting it during his campaign: "international bankers” and “global elite.”'
"The Axe Files with David Axelrod," Ep. 225, 3/15/2018
Ana joined David Axelrod at SXSW to discuss her journalism career from Wonkette to Crooked Media, and how an attempted suicide seven years ago changed her life and led her to turn to faith.
"Space the Nation: Something Fishy About Sex," Syfy 3/13/2018
"But even then, the Star Trek universe — and most popular science fiction — tends to err on the familiar side of odd couples; the romantic pairings may raise questions about gender or identity, but usually stop short of exploring intermingling with species whose bodies or notions of reproduction are truly different from ours. I’d categorize multiple sets of breasts as comical wish fulfillment, not actual boundary-pushing. Mork getting pregnant with an egg, however, is more radical than primetime usually gets credit for."
"The Gifts of Faith: Cultivating Resilience" Panel at SXSW with Bree Newsome, Noor Tagouri, and Ben Howe, 3/13/2018
Ana joined Bree Newsome, Noor Tagouri, and Ben Howe for a thought-provoking conversation at SXSW. You can hear the whole thing here.
"Space the Nation: Why Are Guns So Rare In Genre Fiction?" Syfy, 3/6/2018
"Even in futuristic science fiction, however, a strain of “Fantasy Gun Control” is at work: One of the most prevalent innovations in fighting weapons of sci-fi is that they are non-lethal. Sure, there are tasers in our world, but they are both cumbersome and not as reliably harmless or graceful as simply 'setting phasers to stun.'"
"Monday Morning Politics with Ana Marie Cox," The Brian Lehrer Show 3/4/2018
Ana joined The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC to talk about the latest developments in the Trump Administration.
"Trump actually thinks executing drug dealers would help. That's the problem." Washington Post 2/28/18
"There’s no real need to explain that the summary execution of drug dealers is a bad idea, though it is a very, very bad idea. It’s enough to note that the country already tried an aggressive enforcement approach to drug crimes — the four-decade-long war on drugs — and among experts and law enforcement officers themselves, it is almost universally acknowledged as a massive failure in economic and practical terms. (Trump’s Justice Department is a notable outlier in that assessment.)"
"Space the Nation: To the Victor Go the Spoils," Syfy 2/20/18
The Trope: The Olympics themselves are an overstuffed vehicle for corruption and graft — a more honest approach to the spectacle would include events like “palm greasing” and “indoor pocket padding.” But they manage to captivate us nonetheless; overnight curling experts are born, and gender expectations fade away when you’re watching a breathtaking figure skating routine. Is the appeal of sports truly universal? In genres that reward imagination, what kind of feats get the gold?
The Last Word, 02/09/18
"The unifying theme for all the things we're talking about really is abuse of power, and the personalization of power."
"Overdue Diligence," The New Republic, 02/08/2018
"I’m not the first and won’t be the last to note that the hyperbole of #MeToo skeptics who equate one’s career and one’s life never seems to apply to those who suffer harassment."
"Space the Nation: Are We Being Watched?" Syfy, 2/6/18
"Perhaps the catalyst for nightmares about surveillance as a tool of authoritarianism, then, wasn’t any leap forward in the means of surveillance but an innovation in the means of authority. You don’t need modern communications technology so much as a modern police force and its lethal efficiency."
WNYC SOTU Reaction 1/31/2018
Ana joined the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC in the wake of a State of the Union like no other. Check out her thoughts here.
"Embracing the Frog: My Winding Journey to Becoming a TCU Diehard," Sports Illustrated 12/21/2017
"By now, you may have put together that I became a TCU fan not long after I got sober. I can’t pin down the exact moment that Frogs football moved from something to chat about on Saturday to something to fight about with strangers online, but I do remember being smitten in the 2012 season."
"Al Franken isn't being denied due process. None of these famous men are." Washington Post 12/7/2017
"Most Democrats who spoke up for him initially were reluctant to reach for the weapons that less woke partisans might use: It is unseemly for a good liberal to slut-shame an accuser, and outright denial of the women’s stories run up against the progressive value of believing the powerless when they speak against the powerful."
"Some Thoughts On My Senator, Al Franken," Esquire 11/21/17
"I am a constituent of Senator Al Franken. I voted for him. I gave a copy of his latest book to my dad. I've met him a handful of times. I think he's done good, if not great, work in office representing my interests.
In light of the allegations against him, I think he can do even more good by stepping down."
"President Trump thinks he understands addiction. He's wrong." Washington Post 10/27/2017
"One has to wonder sometimes if Trump is truly ignorant of history — in this case, the country’s costly and monumentally ineffective war on drugs — or simply so besotted with his own inner monologue that he rambles from one pat psuedo-revelation to another without bothering to check it against his still-probably-scanty knowledge of what’s come before."
"Goodbyes Can Be Awkward," New York Times 10/19/2017
"I suspect that feigning interest in anecdotes that must test even the teller’s own patience also let them know that I was in this for the long haul; even better, the questions I asked after some interminable yarn showed them I wouldn’t be satisfied by the narrative trinkets they’d bought others off with. I was genuinely curious; I wanted more."
"This Week in Garbageville: Tapes or No Tapes? That is the Question," MTV News 6/23/2017
"The Senate’s health care bill finally emerged from its secret drafting process and was made public on Thursday. The so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 reads like a political suicide note, promising to do things that are sure to make an already unpopular Obamacare repeal process absolutely toxic, such as make increasingly severe cuts to Medicaid that would disproportionately affect the poor and elderly. In other words, while this act would continue the health care system’s disproportionate cruelty toward women and communities of color if enacted, it would also hit the so-called white working class."
You can find the rest of Ana's MTV columns here.
"President Trump is Now a Possibility. And That's Terrifying." Daily Beast, 1/31/16
"Like many members of the media, I have spent much of the past six months pretending I have some idea of what will happen in the presidential election. Specifically, I have maintained a sanguine and somewhat bemused certainty that, whatever else happens, there will be no President Trump.
Today, with every meaning of this phrase, I fear I have been mistaken."
You can find the rest of Ana's Daily Beast columns here.
"These Are the Reasons Why Cats Still Rule the Internet," Mother Jones 5/13/15
"I was at a small conference on religion and public policy recently—the Faith Angle Forum, it’s called. It’s a pretty heady affair with Serious Journalists talking Serious Subjects: the theological-versus-cultural origins of ISIS’s brutality, whether you can use “principled pluralism” to bring together the left and right regarding gay marriage, and—headiest of all—a presentation from the former chief rabbi of England on “religious solutions to religious environments.”
So, obviously, I was sneaking in some cat-picture viewing between sessions. (This is a proven productivity practice and a much needed source of solace in discussing these troubled times.) I was also particularly tickled to inform the other attendees, during the Islamic State panel, that one of my favorite cat photo platforms, BuzzFeed, also has been doing some pretty stellar reporting on ISIS’s use of social media. There were surprised but polite murmurs!"
You can find the rest of Ana's Mother Jones columns here.
"Politicians: They're Not Like Us. But Some Folks Sure Love to Eat Photo-Op Corndogs," Guardian 8/15/14
"Adopting a summer-y populist pose reached an absurd level of vulgarity here in Minnesota, where independently wealthy US Senate candidate Mike McFadden released an ad that shows him getting hit in the nuts while coaching little league football. Nothing says “man of the people” like a groin injury."
You can find the rest of Ana's Guardian columns here.
"Breaking! Day One for Obama's New Press Secretary!" GQ 2/15/11
"The standing-room-only crowd in the White House briefing room might lead one to believe something important was going to happen there today, but you could ask any one of them there: Former Time magazine White House correspondent Jay Carney's debut on the other side of the podium was less a news event than a ritual."
You can find the rest of Ana's GQ columns here.