‘Fate Of The Furious’ Becomes The Second ‘Fast And The Furious’ Movie To Earn $1 Billion

The “Fast and the Furious” pedal earned another medal this weekend, with “The Fate of the Furious” grossing $1 billion.

As of Sunday, the eighth “Furious” installment has earned $192.7 million domestically and a whopping $867.6 million overseas, according to Universal Pictures’ estimates. It’s the 30th movie in history ― and the second in the franchise, after 2015’s “Furious 7” ― to join the billionaires’ club. 

“The Fate of the Furious” pulled this off after just 17 days in theaters, the same amount it took “Furious 7.” The year’s first billion-dollar release, “Beauty and the Beast,” required almost a month to hit that mark. “Fate” is also the highest-grossing film directed by an African-American. 

This news comes as no surprise, given the increasing international fervor surrounding these high-octane movies. Since “Fast & Furious,” the fourth movie in the series, was released in 2009, each installment has outpaced its predecessor domestically and globally. Universal, which is enjoying a bang-up year at the box office thanks to “Fate,” “Get Out” and “Split,” already has two more “Fast and the Furious” sequels planned, and studio executives have reportedly discussed a potential spin-off surrounding Dwayne Johnson’s and Jason Statham’s characters. Plus, as we pointed out a couple of weeks ago, “The Fate of the Furious” introduces a certain baby who could extend the story’s shelf life far beyond its current expiration date

Other franchises with multiple $1 billion earners include “Star Wars,” “The Avengers,” “Transformers” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

In other weekend box-office news, “How To Be a Latin Lover” opened to a decent $12 million, while the big-screen adaptation of Dave Eggers’ popular cyber-panic novel “The Circle” collected $9.1 million, a drowsy figure for a title released on more than 3,000 screens. The weekend’s big surprise was the Indian fantasy “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion,” which took in an estimated $10 million despite a mere 425-theater opening. 

The rest of the Top 10 includes “The Boss Baby,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Going in Style,” “Gifted,” “Smurfs: The Lost Village” and “Born in China.”

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Francis Ford Coppola Says ‘The Godfather’ Wouldn’t Get Made Today

You haven’t seen devotion until you’ve been in a room with nearly 6,000 “Godfather” disciples. The manic fandom typically reserved for Comic-Con and “Star Wars” assemblies was front and center when Francis Ford Coppola and the cast reunited Saturday at the Tribeca Film Festival’s closing night. 

Capping off a nine-hour event that included screenings of “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II,” a 45th-anniversary panel discussion found Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, James Caan, Talia Shire and Rubert Duvall recounting the messy process of making a movie they never expected to become such a defining Hollywood signature.

The sold-out crowd at Radio City Music Hall had been boisterous throughout both films, cheering at iconic dialogue and almost every gruesome death or Corleone victory. Just imagine how enthusiastic they were by the time this A-list group took the stage. 

“The Godfather” is one of the most chronicled movies in history, as proven by the nearly 800-page annotated book Coppola published last year. Much of Saturday’s panel retread well-told stories: Paramount’s resistance to casting the crotchety Marlon Brando, the studio threatening to fire Coppola out of fear that his directorial choices would jeopardize the success, the fateful single take in which Coppola added a cat to the opening scene

Frenzy erupted when moderator Taylor Hackford asked the audience to shout out questions. One fan posed something that further explained the film’s fervent following: Could “The Godfather” be made today?

The answer, according to Coppola, is no.

Well, it could be made, he said, but it would be an offer major studios would have to refuse.

The first “Godfather” cost $6.5 million, Coppola explained. That’s the equivalent of about $38 million today, which would make it a mid-budget project in a market that’s overrun by tentpole titles costing well over $100 million apiece, he said. The “Godfather Part II” budget swelled to “$11 or $12 million,” or about $64 to $70 million nowadays. 

“It would never get through the process of getting an OK, or what they now call a green-light,” Coppola said. Contemporary Hollywood studios, he pointed out, are mostly interested in movies with built-in franchise potential ― “pretty much a Marvel comic,” a comment that provoked chuckles from the audience. 

“Basically there’s not enough wires,” Caan joked, referring to the suspension technique used to film superheroes and Hogwarts wizards in flight. 

Coppola and Caan’s assessment is painfully accurate: Original movies are no longer Hollywood’s breadwinners. The mid-budget adult release ― ranging from about $10 million to $70 million ― has become something of a relic over the past 15 years, replaced instead by comic-book adaptations, reboots and pre-determined cash cows. 

Even though it’s based on the popular novel by Mario Puzo, were Coppola to pitch “The Godfather” today, he would have a tough time securing the funds and support needed. The first installment made $245 million worldwide, which today amounts to $1.4 billion. For a film without animation or dazzling technical effects, that seems impossible in 2017.

Coppola said former MGM owner Kirk Kerkorian once asked how one makes a movie that is both financially and artistically successful. “I said to him, ‘Risk,’” he said. “Nobody wants the risk when you get into business.”

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70 Years On, Primo Levi’s ‘If This Is A Man’ Is Still A Powerful Reminder Of What It Means To Be Human

Nicholas Heron, The University of Queensland

When he was captured by the Fascist militia in December of 1943, Primo Levi (1919-1987) preferred to declare his status as an “Italian citizen of the Jewish race” than admit to the political activities of which he was suspected, which he supposed would have resulted in torture and certain death. The Conversation

As a Jew, he was consequently sent to a detention camp at Fossoli, which assembled all the various categories of persons no longer welcome in the recently established Fascist Republic. Two months later, following the inspection of a small squad of German SS men, he was loaded onto a train, together with all the other Jewish members of the camp, for expatriation from the Republic altogether.

His destination, he was to learn, was Auschwitz; a name that at the time held no significance for him, but that initially provided a sense of relief, since it at least implied “some place on this earth”.

Of the 650 who departed Fossoli that day, only three would return. Yet Levi’s magnificent testimony of the Lager, Se questo è un uomo (If This is a Man) – which he would compose in the immediate aftermath of the resumption of his life in Turin, and which was first published 70 years ago in 1947, making it one of the earliest eyewitness accounts we have – is far from a heroic description of his “survival in Auschwitz” (as the American title given to his text would have it). Although in an important sense it is also that.

Indeed, what is striking about Levi’s contribution, still today, is the conspicuous absence of a heroic register from its pages, whose appropriateness in this context – which is in large part what Levi teaches us – must surely be as questionable as the temptation to invoke it is strong.

With characteristic, but unsettling irony, it is the word fortune that appears instead in the very first sentence of his text (“It was my good fortune to be deported to Auschwitz only in 1944…”) and that sets the tone for all that follows. In the camp, it is not virtue that governs fortune; it is fortune that governs virtue.

Levi was sent to the detention camp at Fossoli after his capture.

Jacqueline Poggi/Flickr, CC BY-SA

It is the original title of Levi’s book that in truth gives expression to what will be his principal concern. Yet this is easily misunderstood. It is not exactly a question, and certainly not one that solicits an answer. But it is not even a question whose answer would be provided by the text itself, which claims no such privilege.

As we learn from the poem that opens the text, it must be understood instead to contain an implicit imperative: “Consider if this is man…” It is an order, a command (“I command these words to you”); one that is linked, moreover, to an imprecation:

Carve them in your hearts

… Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,

May illness impede you,

May your children turn their faces from you.

It is thus an admonition that we (“You who live safe/In your warm houses”) not avert our gaze. But since Levi, remarkably, includes even himself in this category, it functions also as a kind of self-admonition.

For the description of what Levi calls the “ambiguous life of the Lager” alters our understanding of the very structure of witnessing. And it does so by bringing to light the existence of a distinct oppositional pair much less evident in ordinary life: the drowned (i sommersi) and the saved (i salvati).

In Auschwitz, all the ritual humiliations appeared as if designed to hasten the prisoner’s descent to what Levi termed “the bottom”. But this process was especially accelerated in the case of those he called the drowned: “they followed the slope down to the bottom, like streams that run down to the sea”.

These were the prisoners who, for whatever reason (and the reasons were many), never adjusted to the brutal regimen of life in the camp; whose time in the camp was thus consequently very brief; yet whose number was apparently endless.

In the jargon of the camp, these were the Muselmänner, the “Muslims”, whose tenuous existence, even prior to their imminent selection for the gas chamber, already hovered in an indistinct zone between life and death, human and non-human. These, according to Levi, were the ones who had truly seen all the way to the bottom: the ones who (as he would later powerfully record) had truly seen the Gorgon.

With respect to the “anonymous mass” of the drowned, the number of the saved, on the other hand, was comparatively few. Yet by no means did it consist of the best, and certainly not of the elect. To invoke the guiding hand of providence in the midst of such atrocity was nothing short of abhorrent to Levi.

Primo Levi in the 1950s.

Wikimedia Commons

He is unflinching on precisely this delicate point: with rare exceptions, the saved comprised those who, in one way or another, whether through fortune or astuteness, had managed to gain some position of privilege in the structured hierarchy of the camp.

More often than not, this entailed the renunciation of at least a part of the moral universe that existed outside the camp. Not that the saved, any more than the drowned, are to be judged on this account. As Levi insists, words such as good and evil, just and unjust, quickly cease to have any meaning on this side of the barbed wire.

It was nonetheless his conviction that those who had not fathomed all the way to the bottom could not be the true witnesses. Yet far from invalidating the survivor’s testimony this made it all the more urgent.

According to Levi, it is the saved who must bear witness for the drowned, but also to the drowned. For in him is mirrored what he himself saw.

“Consider if this is a man…”: the imperative issued by Levi’s text is thus not that one should persist in seeing the human in the inhuman. It is more like its opposite: that one bear must witness to the inhuman in the human. And that our humanity in some sense depends on this.

Nicholas Heron, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, The University of Queensland

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Summing Up Donald Trump’s First 100 Days In A Trump-Like Tweet

WASHINGTON ― Given President Donald Trump’s incessant Twitter usage, HuffPost asked guests at comedian Samantha Bee’s “Not The White House Correspondents’ Dinner” on Saturday to sum up the president’s first 100 days in a Trump-style tweet.

“You have to tweet from the toilet, obviously,” Bee said. “Whatever it is, it feels like it came from someone sitting on the toilet and shrieking an idea to an assistant nearby.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper theorized about Trump’s preferred tweet formula before thinking about his answer.

“Declarative statement. Declarative statement. Adjective,” he said.

Actress and comedian Retta, star of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” put it simply: “Hot. Mess.”

Watch everyone’s responses in the video above.

Video by Will Tooke, Mike Caravella, and JM Rieger.

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Samantha Bee On Trump’s First 100 Days: ‘My Jaw Has Been On The Floor 300 Times’

WASHINGTON ― Comedian Samantha Bee roasted President Donald Trump Saturday at her “Not The White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” a star-studded alternative to the actual dinner taking place the same night in Washington.

Saturday was also Trump’s 100th day as president. In an interview with HuffPost before her event, the host of TBS’ “Full Frontal” said she didn’t know where to begin when trying to describe what has shocked her the most about Trump’s first 100 days in office.

“I’ve been shocked every day,” Bee said. “I didn’t know I had it in me. Are you kidding? My jaw has been on the floor 300 times in the first 100 days.”

Bee also found humor in Trump’s recent attacks against her native Canada.

“That’s exciting for Canada,” she said. “It warmed my heart.”

Watch Bee’s interview with HuffPost in the video above.

Video by Will Tooke, Mike Caravella and JM Rieger.

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Inside Samantha Bee’s ‘Not The White House Correspondents’ Dinner’

WASHINGTON ― Until its taping on Saturday, comedian Samantha Bee’s “Not The White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” billed as a response to the storied Washington tradition, remained a mystery.

The show’s producers kept details about the special event under wraps, only revealing that they aimed to honor journalism and that proceeds would go to the Committee to Protect Journalists. 

After President Donald Trump announced that he would not attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, suggesting that it would be a more muted affair this year, Bee’s event became rumored as “the hottest ticket in town,” adding even more intrigue and speculation.

“You can’t compare the two events, really, because we’re filming a television show, and they really are having a dinner,” Bee told HuffPost before the show’s taping, while crew members milled around, wearing shirts saying “FREE PRESS.” “I mean, we’re having a dinner too, but it’s not the same type of event. You know, the purpose of our event is to celebrate freedom of the press, primarily.”

“We’re all here, partially because Samantha’s a brilliant insightful comedian, but also because we’re in support of a free press, and that’s an important thing to continue having a conversation about in a really regular way,” Ana Gasteyer, actress and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member, told HuffPost.

But at times, the event, airing as a special episode of Bee’s TBS show “Full Frontal” on Saturday night, simultaneous to the real White House Correspondents’ Dinner, could easily be mistaken for the dinner itself.

The show successfully delivered in both honoring journalism and roasting the president — whom Bee called the “geriatric orangutan” — in a variety of onstage and pre-taped segments.

Like the actual dinner, the scene outside of Bee’s taping was a strange confluence of the politics and entertainment worlds, with reporters from news outlets like the Associated Press, CNN and NBC conducting interviews next to video crews from “Access Hollywood” and “Extra.”

Inside DAR Constitution Hall, comedians hobnobbed with journalists at banquet tables, while waiters handed out cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Bee and the “Full Frontal” cast sought to highlight media outlets of all stripes, during the show. Some have been targets of the Trump administration, from the “failing New York Times,” to the “failing ‘what the fuck is ProPublica, it sounds Mexican,’” Bee joked.

But the show also noted the Weather Channel’s coverage of climate change and local newspapers and TV stations, including a shoutout to the Storm Lake Times, the twice-weekly Iowa community newspaper that won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.

“We hope we’ve made you proud by taking your amazing reporting and adding our dick jokes,” cast member Allana Harkin said.

A slideshow of “great moments for the press and the presidency” throughout history kept audience members entertained between the onstage segments.

Like the actual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Bee’s show also ripped the media, primarily cable news. But it sought to distinguish the networks’ journalism from entertainment, like in a segment mocking CNN head Jeff Zucker for characterizing his approach to political coverage as sports in a recent New York Times magazine interview.

“CNN employs some of the best journalists out there. Please, Jeff, use their journalistic skills,” Bee said, with several CNN journalists in the audience, including Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

Bee left no stone unturned in her jabs at Fox News, riffing on the twin downfalls of former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes and host Bill O’Reilly, as well as Trump’s penchant of live-tweeting the network and praising its slanted coverage of him.

Mocking cable news’ penchant for overdramatic, wall-to-wall coverage of Trump’s speeches and appearances, Bee teased a “special guest” throughout the show, with on-screen chyrons like “BREAKING: SPECIAL GUEST’S PLANE IS ON THE TARMAC” and live shots of an empty presidential lectern.

That “special guest” did turn out to be a president, sort of: Will Ferrell reprising his celebrated George W. Bush impression, roasting Trump and honoring journalists.

“It’s like being on the Titanic,” Ferrell as Bush said of Trump, joking that journalists “are playing the violin while the ship goes down.”

The parallels between Bee’s event and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner were brought full circle in the show’s concluding segment, which imagined an “alternative timeline” with Hillary Clinton as president and Bee as the featured comedian at Clinton’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Like during Bee’s show, the president and his first 100 days in office were not entirely the focus but loomed large, dominating the conversation among guests on the “purple carpet” before the taping. 

“I think the inability of people who know better to convince the president to stop saying things that are just patently false has been a surprise,” CNN’s Jake Tapper told HuffPost. “Because at some point, one would think somebody around him, whether it’s Jared [Kushner] or [Steve] Bannon or whomever, would say: ‘37 percent of the public thinks you’re honest and trustworthy, and that’s a really low number. You can rebuild that, and people are willing to give you another a shot…let’s stick to facts.’ Because I think there’s a lot of leeway the public gives the president, but for whatever reason, they have not been able to do that, and he has not been able to listen.”

Alternatively, “The Daily Show” co-creator and reproductive rights activist Lizz Winstead took aim at Trump’s ability to convince people to “give him a chance.”

“He can not execute things because they are inexecutable,” she said. “And he fooled people into thinking the inexecutable is executable. And so, with this whole ‘let’s give him a chance!’ it’s like, ‘Oh, people, there’s no chance.’

When asked to grade Trump’s first 100 days in office, Winstead struck a more comic tone.

“Expired meat? Is that a grade?” 

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Here Are Some Of The Best Signs From The People’s Climate March

Demonstrators gathered in Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world on Saturday for the 2017 People’s Climate March, a rally to demand political action to fight climate change.

This year’s march takes on increased significance, as it occurs on the 100th day in office of President Donald Trump. Trump has derided climate change as a “hoax” and “bullshit” and vowed to roll back regulations for the fossil fuel industries. He’s also said he would pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a global pact to cooperate to cut greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impact of climate change. His advisers are reportedly still debating about whether the U.S. should pull out.

As people who care about the planet’s future prepared to march on Saturday, many carried funny, creative or just plain beautiful signs to amplify their voices. Here are some of our favorites.

From Bend, Oregon! #climatemarch

A post shared by Deb Leon (@deb_leon) on

Let's march #peoplesclimatemarch #climatechangeisreal #climatemarch2017 #resist

A post shared by Jo (@singingjo) on

We're off to D.C. for the People's #ClimateMarch to stand up for our planet and its people!

A post shared by Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) on

Time to people's #climatemarch !!! Because there's no planet B

A post shared by Delia (@deliabrigitte) on

Ready for #climatemarch

A post shared by @elisamalin on

#actonclimate #peoplesclimatemovement #climatemarch #climatemarchme

A post shared by Jesse McMahon (@scuppers1314) on

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The ‘Happiest Moment’ Of Quentin Tarantino’s Life Came During ‘Reservoir Dogs’

As one of America’ star directors, Quentin Tarantino has become a larger-than-life personality. He seems relentlessly cocksure today, but there was once a time when Tarantino had to prove to himself that he was capable of this whole filmmaking thing.

Given how trying it can be to forge a movie career, Tarantino had a relatively auspicious start. His first project, “Reservoir Dogs,” made him an instant up-and-comer amid the 1990s’ independent-film boom. Celebrating the crime thriller’s 25th anniversary, Tarantino reunited with Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen and Tim Roth on Friday night for a screening and panel discussion at the Tribeca Film Festival. There, he spoke of his signature memory from the film, which doubles as the “happiest moment” of his life.

It came at the end of a two-week rehearsal period, during which the actors bonded in Los Angeles. Keitel hosted a cast dinner at the house he was renting in Malibu. Tarantino was staying with his mother in Glendale, about 40 miles away. That night, perched around Keitel’s table, he realized the dream he’d maintained since his Tennessee days as a teenage video-store clerk had real potential. Thanks to the “Reservoir Dogs” cast’s harmony, Tarantino’s career was born.

“We’re sitting there and we’re having a great time, and I really realized that, gosh, a lot of the pressure was off my shoulders cinematically,” Tarantino said. “These guys were so perfect in their parts, they were so vibing with each other, they so understood the material. By rehearsing two weeks, they knew the material. I was like, ‘Fuck, if I just keep this movie in focus, I’ve got a movie.’ Anything else I bring to it will just be frosting, but the cake is here — it’s these guys. I watched it at dinner that night. It was a really nice thing for Harvey to do. But I remember that night getting in my car and just taking that drive all the way from Malibu to Glendale, just on [Sunset Boulevard], never getting off Sunset, all the little, windy roads. And that was the happiest time of my life. That was the happiest moment of my life. This thing that I had thought about for so long — not just ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ just making movies in general — this might just work out.”

Of course, things did work out, despite projector problems and a power outage during the first “Reservoir Dogs” screening at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival. Tarantino saw it as a mark of achievement that people walked out during the scene were Mr. Blonde tortures the kidnapped police officer. The number of exits during a single screening peaked at 33, according to his count. Even Wes Craven walked out at Spain’s horror-focused Sitges Film Festival. “The guy who did ‘Last House on the Left’ walked out of my movie,” Tarantino roared. “I guess it was too tough for him.”

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If You’re Looking For A Good Time, Just Watch Tom Hanks & Bruce Springsteen Talk About Life

The excitement in the room was contagious as fans filled the Beacon Theatre in New York City on Friday evening to watch legendary actor Tom Hanks interview legendary singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen for Tribeca Talks: Storytellers

The crowd, made up of mostly middle-aged men and women, sipped on some cold beers and took photos of the empty stage, capturing the seats in which Tom and Bruce would soon to be sitting. A few minutes before showtime, former first daughter Malia Obama, alongside a friend, found her seat in the orchestra section. Then, Hanks’ wife, Rita Wilson, and Springsteen’s wife and bandmate, Patti Scialfa, walked in together with people screaming, “Patti! Woo, Patti!” She waved to the crowd as she found her seat while Wilson and Gayle King stopped to say hello and check in on Malia.

Showtime was fast approaching. 

And, soon enough, Hanks and Springsteen were introduced to stage and the crowd went wild. “BRUUUUUCCCEEE,” fans chanted, as they do at every one of his shows. Of course, Hanks made a joke about how he doesn’t understand why we “boo” The Boss, before leaping into a discussion on director Jonathan Demme and his recent death to cancer

“The strongest union of our two names is from the motion picture ‘Philadelphia,’ Hanks, who won a Best Actor Oscar for his role in the Demme-directed 1993 film about a man with AIDS, said. “God bless Jonathan Demme. We just lost him.”

Springsteen also won an Academy Award for the movie for his work on the song “Streets of Philadelphia.”

“I had some lyrics and, eventually, I just came up with that tiny little beat and the track. I figured it wasn’t what [Demme] wanted, [but] I sent it to him anyway. He sent me that opening piece of film where the camera moves slowly through Philly and I said, ‘What do you think?’ And he says, ‘Great.’ And that was it,” Springsteen explained. “Took about two days.” 

Hanks chimed in, “If you ever want to have a great moment in a motion picture, walk out the door and make sure they put on a Bruce Springsteen song.” The audience cheered yet again. 

Throughout the conversation, Hanks would weave in Springsteen lyrics ― like “My machine, she’s a dud / out stuck in the mud” ― and then request the crowd play a game of “call and response” to finish the phrase ― like “Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey.” Let’s just say true, hardcore Springsteeners were in the building.

Hanks spent the next 50 minutes or so chatting with Springsteen about a lot of what was mentioned in his recent memoir ― everything from his humble beginnings to meeting with Clive Davis and the success of the “cinematic” “Born to Run.” But what really struck a chord was Springsteen’s take on living your life and not letting it pass you by. 

We make our own little worlds. They can change the way you approach your own life, but they can’t give you a life.
Bruce Springsteen to Tom Hanks

“All artists at some point believe they can live within their art. What you learn, either quickly or painfully and slowly — what you learn is it’s just your job,” he said. “You get outside of those things in music. We make our own little worlds. They can change the way you approach your own life, but they can’t give you a life. That took me a long time to learn that lesson. Thanks Patti,” he added of his wife, “It was a tremendous struggle to me.”

Springsteen spoke about making his “own little worlds” within his music, explaining that writing lyrics is all about storytelling. 

“Basically, you tell a story to save your life,” he said. “When I was very young, I felt like I was drowning. You are not living. A writer tells a story to save his life. Three minutes of bliss and compressed living, that’s why you can get so excited in such a short period of time. It was that life or death hunger. That is what I wanted my characters to be about. Life awaits you, but taking it is a rough and tumble business.”

As for Hanks’ interpretation of all this, the actor put it simply when describing what Bruce, and his concerts, mean to his fans. 

“We will follow you into hell, sir.”

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Women In The U.S. Don’t Live In A Dystopian Hellscape. Yet.

You’d have to be fairly clueless about the current political moment not to feel a shiver of recognition watching “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the new dystopian drama on Hulu.

Based on Margaret Atwood’s bestselling novel, the show debuted Wednesday after weeks of politically fueled anticipation. The timing is apt. The action takes place in Gilead, a fictional future America that has been taken over by a fundamentalist group of men who systematically strip away women’s rights.

That description might remind viewers of President Donald Trump’s first Monday in office when, surrounded by other men, he signed off on the global gag rule ― an anti-abortion order that restricts women’s reproductive rights around the world. Or, perhaps it also brings to mind Vice President Mike Pence, who chooses not to socialize alone with women who are not his wife.

Even Trump fanatics saw the connection, calling the show anti-Trump propaganda.

But there’s plenty of reason to believe American women are not headed toward the extreme fate faced by their fictional counterparts, whose highest purpose is to serve their husbands and bear children ― and if they can’t do the latter, so-called handmaids are forced to serve as surrogates.

That’s not us. The resistance in the U.S. is very much alive and well. And in the first 100 days of the Trump administration, it’s been remarkably effective. Indeed, just last week ― under pressure from activists energized by the election ― Fox News was forced to oust longtime star news host Bill O’Reilly, who was under fire for sexually harassing women.

Other executives at the network seem to be headed for the chopping block, as well. It’s a sign that even at one of the most conservative, pro-Trump companies in the country, women are finally being heard.

Paradoxically, O’Reilly’s ouster seemed to be made possible by Trump’s election. Putting a man in office who’d been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women didn’t scare anyone into silence ― it sparked a massive wave of outrage, energy and activism.

So much so that Trump’s first nominee for labor secretary, Andy Puzder, was forced to withdraw his name from consideration after decades-old domestic violence allegations resurfaced.

The day after the inauguration, millions of women took to the streets in dozens of major cities around the world wearing pink pussy hats and decrying the patriarchy. The marches were largely peaceful.

There’s more: The first shot at Obamacare repeal ― which would have left so many women without health care ― didn’t work. His anti-immigration orders have been stopped by the courts, with the help of a huge number of female immigration lawyers, as New York magazine noted.

Emily’s List, the nonprofit progressive group that helps women run for office, says it has seen an “unprecedented” level in interest since November.

What is happening now in the United States is actually real progress for women. 

It’s easy to forget that up until the 1990s, it was still legal for a husband to rape his wife. Until the 1970s, a woman accusing someone of raping her wasn’t considered a reliable witness in court (a situation eerily recalled in a terrible courtroom scene in a later episode of the Hulu show). And we haven’t even noted how women’s rights are curtailed around the world. 

Of course, there’s no doubt that putting a misogynist in the Oval Office is an enormous setback. There’s not a single woman in Trump’s inner circle, aside from his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and a spokeswoman, Kellyanne Conway, who’s been recently silenced. Only 23 percent of his White House staff is female.

But he’s hardly alone. There are only 21 women who run Fortune 500 companies out of 500. Congress is 81 percent male

Despite progress, women in the U.S. still have a frighteningly long way to go. 

The overwhelming majority of married women in this country still take their husband’s names, some without questioning why. And only recently, a Republican state representative from Oklahoma referred to women as “hosts” for fetuses.

More troubling? A majority of white women voters went for Trump, an echo of “Handmaid’s Tale,” too. In the book, elite white women ― the wives of the new political leaders ― seem to be true believers in the new world. Internalized sexism is a modern-day plague.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” came out in 1985, a perfect comment for those times, when Reagan-era conservatives were working feverishly to restore “traditional” values, i.e., restricting women’s reproductive rights, demonizing single mothers (particularly ones of color) and generally making it harder for women to choose to work outside the home. The Hulu show got the green light before Trump’s candidacy turned real.

Atwood, for her part, based the book on real historical examples.

“One of my rules was that I would not put any events into the book that had not already happened in what James Joyce called the nightmare of history,” Atwood explained in the New York Times this year. She explains that she’s grounded the book and its setting in 17th century puritanical American values (remember those witch trials).

One of Atwood’s favorite signs at the Toronto women’s march read “I can’t believe I’m still holding this fucking sign,” the 77-year-old author told The New Yorker.

When asked whether her book is a prediction for our future, Atwood offers hope and a warning.

“No, it isn’t a prediction, because predicting the future isn’t really possible: There are too many variables and unforeseen possibilities,” she writes.  “Let’s say it’s an antiprediction: If this future can be described in detail, maybe it won’t happen. But such wishful thinking cannot be depended on either.”

Progress does not happen in a straight line. Setbacks are inevitable. What’s critical is what comes next.  

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