Tom Carson

Tom Carson won two National Magazine Awards during his stint as Esquire's "Screen" columnist and has been nominated twice more as GQ's movie reviewer. Formerly a staff writer at LA Weekly and The Village Voice, he is the author of Gilligan's Wake (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 2003) and Daisy Buchanan's Daughter.

Recent Articles

I Fought PBS and PBS Won

Downton Abbey gives the network a bona fide guilty pleasure.

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
Maybe I should have heeded Joe Strummer's obscene warning back in 1980. "He who fucks nuns/Will later join the church," the Clash's front man sang biliously on London Calling— and here I am 32 years later, watching Downton Abbey. I guess Joe had my number all along. No doubt, this betrayal of my Jacobin youth won't seem excessively poignant to too many of you. That's not least because you're probably hooked on Downton Abbey yourself, but indulge me. When I was starting out as a TV reviewer—lured, like so many bright-eyed naifs, by the promise of groupies, big bucks, and high living— Village Voice readers soon got used to my heartlessness about PBS: "Off with those three little heads!" I once merrily wrote. More than anything else, public broadcasting's wan mania for importing high-toned Brit taradiddle got my goat, a prejudice dating back to my restless puberty. The original Forsyte Saga, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Brideshead Revisited —the PBS versions of the Rosetta Stone, in...

Who Would Joe Hill Root For?

A liberal's guide to the NFL playoffs

AP Photo/Bill Baptist
T here is a myth abroad in this great land that liberals can't stand pro football. Like so many myths, it's partly true, definitely so in refined circles. The violence, the beer commercials—these are an affront to civilized minds. When left-leaning op-ed columnists want to demonstrate that they're in the American swim, they're far more likely to out themselves as baseball fans. But that tic seems to apply across the political spectrum, and geez, isn't it nauseating? Reading George Will on baseball is like watching a praying mantis suit up as a Good Humor man. Well, I don't care. True, I root for absolutely anyone to beat the New York Yankees when they're in a World Series, because I know Moloch when I see him. Otherwise, baseball may be a national pastime to most, but it never meant squat to me. The NFL, on the other hand, I purely love. Because I was in my twenties before I got hooked, I'll always be the kind of fundamentally unserious football nut whose enthusiasm is untainted by...

The Yahoos Are Winning

A longtime movie critic's departure from the Village Voice signals a changing cultural tide.

Two unrelated but oddly congruent events riled up the movie blogosphere at the turn of the year. One was the inclusion of Forrest Gump— the 1994 Best Picture winner about a Candide-like naïf (Tom Hanks) stumbling through the 20th century from Kennedy's New Frontier to Reagan's morning in America—in the National Film Registry's annual choice of 25 "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant films" worth preservation by the Library of Congress. The other was the Village Voice 's January 4 firing of senior film critic J. Hoberman after 24 years in the top slot and a decade more than that of contributing to the paper. Besides the timing, one link between the two was how many of the same people were dismayed about both. In other words, a certain sensibility felt under threat, while—in Hoberman's case, anyhow—a brasher one shaped largely by backlash against the first was making merry. And neither kerfuffle was apolitical. To be sure, some earnest cinephiles objected to Gump 's...

Yes We Camelot

What cultural artifacts will come to embody the current presidential administration?

F eel free to try this at home, but I guarantee you won't get anything out of it except a migraine. Imagine you've been a bit prematurely asked to fill a time capsule with telltale cultural artifacts of the Age of Obama—the evocative movies, TV shows, hit tunes, and other creative whatnots that will someday exemplify the ineffable atmosphere of our 44th president's first term. Realizing nobody has called these times "The Age of Obama" since early 2009 should be your first clue that this is no easy job. Try to persevere, though. Um—J.J. Abrams's Star Trek reboot, maybe? Obama's partisans and detractors alike do dig comparing him to Mr. Spock. TV's Glee and Modern Family? Hey, how about post – everything pop diva Lady Gaga? That's the best I can do off the top of my head, and they're all a bit of a stretch. The multiculti on steroids—OK, asteroids—of James Cameron's Avatar may be less of one. Yet the movie's conception predated not only Obama's presidency but George W. Bush's. Anyway,...

Snobs Like Us

When did cultural disdain become the province of the left?

Y ou can always count on Hollywood panjandrum Harvey Weinstein to be bombastic about his own restraint. “In 20 years of coming to the Toronto Film Festival, I’ve never released a statement for a film,” read the statement e-mailed to journalists in mid-September. “But I would like to take this moment to formally invite Republican Congresswoman from Minnesota and Republican presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann, to co-host with me the big premiere of Butter in Iowa in a few months from now. I know Michele will already be in Iowa for the caucus, so we can save some money on airfare and travel. I would of course be more than happy to fly in the other leading members of the Tea Party movement to make an entire day of it.” The Weinstein wit has clearly stayed hidden under a bushel too long. Note the effortless contradiction between the joke about saving money on airfare and the munificent offer to fly in—well, how many dozens of Tea Partiers might qualify for Harvey’s largesse? There...

Pages