Jordan Peele's 'Us' is a Creepy Tale That Sadly Mirrors Our Reality

On May 25, 1986, approximately 6.5 million Americans stood hand in hand forming a human chain that stretched from New York to California for an event called Hands Across America. It was a fundraiser project from USA for Africa (the same people who produced the “We Are the World” single the year before) in hopes of raising $100 million to fight hunger and homelessness. The hope was that everyone who participated would donate $10 for the cause. Families stood and sang together for 15 minutes. And then it was over.

I had trouble remembering if Hands Across America really happened or if it was a gimmick for the film when the original commercial for the event flashed on the big screen during the opening of Us. I only vaguely remember the event, which might have to do more with the fact that I have lived in Washington State my whole life and we weren’t involved in the project. I doubt that I’m the only one and I suspect that was also some of Jordan Peele’s reasoning as well whe…

This Day in Pop Culture for August 25

(Thierry Sollerot/Wikimedia)
Alexander Skarsgard is Born
It was on this day in 1976 in Stockhom, Sweden that Alexander Johan Hjalmar Skarsgard was born. It was his father’s friend who helped Skarsgard get his first film role when he was just seven years old appearing in Ake och hans varld (Ake and His World) and at age 13 he received the lead role in the Swedish TV production of Hunden som log (The Dog That Smiled) which made him quite famous. However, this fame didn’t suit him well and he quit acting for the next seven years and served in the Swedish military. After enrolling in a theater class at Marymount Manhattan College, he considered acting once more. His first appearance in an American film was playing the role of Meekus in Zoolander in 2001, but continued to working on Swedish productions earning him the title of “Sexiest Man in Sweden” five times! He starred in HBO’s True Blood from 2008-2014, made a cameo appearance in Zoolander 2 and played Tarzan in The Legend of Tarzan in 2016 and appeared in the HBO limited series Big Little Lies in 2017.

The Great Moon Hoax
It was on this day in 1835 that a series of six articles describing the discovery of life on the moon began in the New York Sun newspaper. The newspaper, which started up just two years earlier, was known as a “penny press” paper that was cheaper and its journalism was a little…off. The whole thing of course was a hoax, but sales of the paper shot up anyway as readers did not understand the joke. The stories were written by “Dr. Andrew Grant” who claimed that the Edinburgh Journal (which no longer existed at this time) reported that evidence of fantastic animals such as unicorns, two-legged beavers and winged humanoids had been found. Committees of Yale University scientists traveled to New York to read these articles, but were sent home. On September 16, 1835, the paper finally admitted that the whole thing was a satire and sales of the paper did not suffer.

(Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia)
Tim Burton is Born
The American director, producer, stop-motion animator and screen writer, Timothy Walter Burton, was born on this day in 1958. Heavily influenced by both Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl, Burton attended the California Institute of the Arts in Velencia, CA to study animation. His first film, Stalk of the Celery Monster, which is more pencil drawings than anything else, grabbed the attention of Walt Disney Studios and was offered an apprentice position with the company. While he did create some concept art for The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron and Tron, none of his art made it to those films. However, in 1982, he created his first short, Vincent, a stop-motion animation project that fantasized what horror actor Vincent Price was like as a child. Burton’s next project, a live action short called Frankenweenie was completed in 1984 and was reportedly what got him fired at Disney. (The studio complained that the film was too dark and scary for children). Ironically, he was called back in 1993 to produce The Nightmare Before Christmas movie and again in 1996 for James and the Giant Peach and was even asked to create a full-length, stop-motion version of Frankenweenie in 2012. His most recent directing role was for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016) and his next big film is creating the upcoming live action version of Dumbo.


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