"Self-Partnered" and the Limits of Rebranding Relationship Statuses

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“If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live on after he's dead, then maybe he was a great man.”—James Dean.

Being Self-Partnered

Being "Single"

Are you “romantically hanging out” with someone special, or are you home busy being “self-partnered”? These are just some of the new terms, as of this week and according to the celebrity gossip-sphere, for what most of us would call being “single” or “dating.”

Indeed, “self-partnered” was coined by Emma Watson herself, who told British Vogue, “I’m very happy being single. I call it being self-partnered.”

The Internet, as the Internet does, immediately compared Watson’s choice of words with Gwyneth Paltrow’s euphemism for divorce, “consciously uncoupling.”

The other phrase was used by tabloids to describe the as-yet-unclear situations that appear to be developing between both Kylie Jenner and Drake on one coast and Kaia Gerber and Pete Davidson on the other. No one is really sure what’s happening in either situation, other than that these people happen to be “romantically hanging out.”

What exactly does that mean, though? Sending memes back and forth to each other by candlelight? Whatever the case may be, we wonder how far the culture will allow these relationship euphemisms to go. How soon until we’re all saying we’re “post-poly” (moving past a misguided experiment with openness), “digitally committed” (too busy stalking your Instagram crush to engage with real-life prospects), or “California celibate” (only open to mouth stuff)?

The Acting Return of James Dean

Letting The Dead Rest

In 1997, a long deceased Fred Astair appeared dancing alongside a vacuum in a commercial for Dirt Devil. Tupac materialized, in hologram form, at the 2012 Coachella Valley Arts and Music festival. Despite being dead for 51 years at the time, Marilyn Monroe famously fronted a campaign for Chanel No 5 in 2013. Carrie Fisher will appear in some form in the upcoming Star Wars finale.

Bodies may pass on, but apparently fame (and the ability of the famous to make money) takes much longer to extinguish. Technological advances that allow for the possibility to use (or some would say exploit) the visages of late celebs have advanced to controversial levels.

Upcoming plans for re-creating the likeness of Hollywood icon James Dean may prove to be a step too far, for many. Despite dying 64 years ago, Dean is now slated to “star” in a new film about the Vietnam War (a war America didn’t even enter until 10 years after Dean’s death). Directors Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh have reportedly “cast” Dean in the film Finding Jack alongside real, live (emphasis on live) actors. With permission from the actor’s family, they’ll use photos and videos of Dean to reconstruct him using CGI. However, another actor will supply his lines. Notably, no other actors have signed on to the project yet.

The Next Fleabag?

Sequel Sense

Hollywood is so eager to churn out sequels that sometimes we’re not even sure what these movies are supposed to be sequels of, exactly. Take this weekend’s Doctor Sleep for example. It is based on a Stephen King novel of the same name that serves as a sequel to his 1977 novel The Shining.However, the Ewan McGregor–starring movie is not technically supposed to be considered a sequel, per se, to Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation of The Shining.

Yet director Mike Flanagan asserts that they do exist within the same “cinematic universe.” Figuring this all out, as it turns out, is exhausting. No surprise, then, that the Film Critic class went into the film with low expectations, but, while they have notes, they’ve been mostly kind to the movie as entertainment.

They’ve been less kind to Last Christmas, the Holiday-themed rom-com that brings together Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke with Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding. The general verdict is that Clarke shows much promise in the rom-com genre, but perhaps deserved a better launching pad than this.

Limited release this weekend brings Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, which, despite the title, is technically about (spoiler alert?) divorce. Baumbach has been an American art-house treasure for years now, but this film seems poised to push his work into Oscar contender territory. It’s considered a major player for nominations in several marquee categories, including Best Actor for Adam Driver, Best Actress for Scarlett Johansson, and Best Supporting Actress for Laura Dern (together they play the three key figures in any divorce narrative: the husband, the wife, and the wife’s divorce attorney).

Honey Boy, the movie where Lucas Hedges plays a version of Shia LaBeouf and Shia LaBeouf plays a stand-in of his own father, has likewise been greeted with strong reviews, but doesn’t appear headed toward awards glory.

From French and Saunders to Phoebe Waller-Bridge, British television has always been light-years ahead when it comes to letting female wits channel their visions into unique and often unforgettable television shows. Not all of them, necessarily, go on to be worldwide successes, but that doesn’t mean they’re undeserving.

Daisy Haggard’s Back To Life is the next in the lineage worth checking out (indeed, it was brought to TV by the same producers as Fleabag), and follows Haggard’s character, a woman just out of jail after serving an 18-year sentence. After premiering on BBC platforms earlier this year, it’s been called a “a real, unexpected gem of a series and one of the better surprises of 2019.” It premiers on Sunday on Showtime in episodic format, and is already available to binge in full on the network’s digital platform.

In case you’re wondering, yes, Haggard already has a deal for an American series to premier next year. Aside from some cult favorites returning this weekend (Shameless and Rick and Morty among them), you’ll otherwise have to wait until Tuesday for the premier of the Disney+ streaming service for any other major new content.


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Austin Smith


New York City artist Austin Smith has taken beauty to the next level by using his own face as his favorite canvas.

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