TIME Culture

Leave Shorts-Wearing Men Alone!

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Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie.

What if a man said that women should not be wearing miniskirts unless they’re models?

There are always going to be old cranks going through life saying, “It was better in my day.” It’s sad, however, when that crank is Fran Lebowitz, the New York City wit known for her insightful barbs, her unique sartorial sense, and her urbane sophistication. It’s also unfortunate that her latest cause célèbre is one that comes around every spring and is as tired and small minded as the clichéd shouting at the kids to get off the lawn.

Yes, Lebowitz is the latest to tell men that they shouldn’t be wearing shorts.

In an interview with Elle magazine, Lebowitz says, “Men never wore shorts when I was young. There are few things I would rather see less, to tell you the truth. I’d just as soon see someone coming toward me with a hand grenade. This is one of the worst changes, by far. It’s disgusting.”

As someone who wears shorts every day from May until September – yes, even to work – I would have to disagree.

Lebowitz isn’t the only one griping. Last summer, Alan Tyers took to The Telegraph to complain about men wearing shorts, even with suits. In 2011, fashion designer Tom Ford issued his five fashion rules in AnOther magazine, and one was, “A man should never wear shorts in the city.”

Lebowitz biggest complaint seems to be that she thinks these men look silly. “It’s repulsive. They look ridiculous, like children, and I can’t take them seriously,” she says. I have a few problems with this argument. First of all, no one is condoning all shorts, just like no one can condone all sandals or all raincoats. A main wearing a pair of tailored, knee-length shorts with business attire (or, heck, even a polo shirt) is completely acceptable. I’m not going to argue for those baggy khaki cargo shorts that are a scourge to fashion. But there are definitely pairs of shorts out there that are as fashionable and acceptable as a pair of pants. If Lebowitz doesn’t like an extra bit of skin, that’s her problem.

Why shouldn’t men wear shorts? First of all, it is hot in the summer, especially on the New York City subway, one of the places where Lebowitz complains about men wearing shorts. Why shouldn’t men get to be as comfortable as women in the heat?

Every day in the summer I wear a suit with shorts, a look J Crew got some heat for introducing last summer. The main reason I like this is because I ride a bicycle around New York, and it’s a lot easier with no fabric below the knees. Lebowitz herself says that she liked New York back when George Plimpton used to ride his bike around wearing a suit. I do the same thing, just with my ankles in the breeze. You would think that Lebowitz, a woman who has been wearing men’s suits since the ‘70s, would prize such eccentricity. No, instead she’s slagging them off and becoming as conservative as everyone who grumbled behind her back 40 years ago.

Lebowitz’s other problem is that she doesn’t like the caliber of men who are wearing shorts. “It’s like any other sort of revealing clothing, in that the people you’d most like to see them on aren’t wearing them,” she says. “And if they are, it’s probably their job to wear them. My fashion advice, particularly to men wearing shorts: Ask yourself, ‘Could I make a living modeling these shorts?’ If the answer is no, then change your clothes. Put on a pair of pants.”

Now, I hate to give any ammunition to the awful and juvenile men’s rights activists who lurk in the darker parts of Reddit, but could you imagine what would happen to a man saying these same things about a woman? What if a man said that women should not be wearing miniskirts unless they’re models? What if he said that they should cover up? What if said that they were disgusting for showing so much skin? He would be pilloried and buried under all the ample outrage that the Internet can muster. And rightfully so. There’s a reason that Michelle Obama was celebrated for baring her head in Saudi Arabia, a country that makes its women cover up.

In the summer, women can wear skirts and shorts and be comfortable in the sweltering weather. They can even wear such attire to work if it’s tasteful and well-tailored. Shouldn’t men be offered the same relief? Shouldn’t we be able to catch a little bit of a draft on our lower extremities? There are more and more options for menswear these days (mostly because it’s the fastest-growing segment of the garment industry), and something other than pants for the warmer months should be just as accepted in the subway cars and boardrooms of the country as women wearing garments that show off their calves.

Sure, there is a time and a place for everything, and no one should show up rocking a pair of brotastic Chubbies to the White House or a pair of ‘70s basketball nuthuggers to a job interview, but a man in a pair of tasteful shorts can be just as fashionable and dressed up as a dandy in a three-piece suit. Just look how good fashion icon Nick Wooster looks wearing shorts with blazers. Oddly enough, one of his fashion essentials is Metropolitan Life by none other than Fran Lebowitz. I’m sure he’ll be sorry to learn what a crank she has become.

In this interview, Lebowitz shows that she’s biased against progress and change by hewing to a conservatism that not only shames men and their bodies, but also shows just how behind the times she truly has become. That’s the long and short of it.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME relationships

Eva Mendes Is Right, Sweatpants Can Lead To Divorce

Eva Mendes seen filming a commercial on Feb. 18, 2015 in New York City.
Charles Bladen—GC Images Eva Mendes seen filming a commercial on Feb. 18, 2015 in New York City.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie.

The real sweatpants are the emotional sweatpants: not bringing flowers home, gaining 20 pounds, and not buying a present just because

Yesterday, Extra published an interview with professional attractive person and new mother Eva Mendes where she took umbrage toward people wearing the slouchiest of wardrobe staples: sweatpants. “No, no, no! You can’t do sweatpants,” she said. “Ladies, number one cause of divorce in America? Sweatpants! No, can’t do that.” You know what, she’s right!

Now, of course, Eva Mendes was joking, and our culture of knee-jerk outrage went into a tizzy claiming that people can wear whatever they want at home alone or that sometimes busy moms just need to wear something simple. I don’t disagree with those points either, but they seem to be intentionally misunderstanding what Mendes has to say.

I will be the first person to defend any person’s right to do and wear whatever they want in their own home, even if they want to parade around in their birthday suit while watching old episodes of Nashville on the DVR. Hey, it’s your life, buddy. The difference is when you share your life and your home with someone else. My boyfriend, a man who spends more on clothes than some people do on rent, gets in the door after work and strips off his immaculately conceived outfit and puts on a pair of navy blue Adidas basketball shorts, what he likes to call “comfy pants.” I can’t stand it, and I see how it could lead to divorce.

The problem with Mendes’s quote is that it was a joke and is not intended to be taken literally. I’m not going to divorce my boyfriend because, well, we’re not married (neither are Mendes and her super fine babydaddy Ryan Gosling), but I’m also not going to break up with him over the “comfy pants.” But while the sweatpants in my case are quite literal, the spirit of the comment is not quite literal.

When I heard what Mendes had to say, what I heard was not “sweatpants” and “divorce” but something more along the lines of, “If you let yourself slide in your relationship, it’s going to spell trouble.” The sweatpants could be anything. The “sweatpants” are a guy who doesn’t bother ironing his shirt anymore before date night. The “sweatpants” are no longer making the bed even though your partner prefers hospital corners. The “sweatpants” are not waiting for your spouse to catch up on House of Cards so that you can finish staring at Robin Wright’s perfect hair together. The “sweatpants” are not bringing flowers home or not having sex regularly or gaining 20 pounds or peeing with the door open or buying your partner a present just because.

The sweatpants are familiarity and the contempt that they breed. Familiarity is one of the great things about being in a long-term relationship, the possibility to be so comfortable around another person that you can just be yourself. But it’s also dangerous territory. The problem is when your real self is sometimes a little bit less desirable than the ideal version of you that your partner saw in your first few months of courtship, when the emotion was high and those intoxicating love hormones in your brain were freely flowing. That’s why, sometimes, we have to give up our comfort and do something a little special for our significant other.

That’s what Mendes was talking about, giving up on her sweatpants sometimes to show that she’s making an effort for Ryan Gosling. (After all, who wouldn’t make a bit of an effort for Ryan Gosling?) And it is a very easy way to derive pleasure in your relationship. My favorite days are when I come home from work and my boyfriend is sitting on the couch still in his suit and tie looking just like the handsome man who picked me up for our first date. Not only does he look better in real clothes (sorry, Adidas) but it also shows that he’s putting my opinion first and that he cares enough to be a little bit uncomfortable for an extra hour or two.

If my boyfriend stopped doing things like that, well, then it might be time to consider a breakup. Relationships are about two people and knowing when you need to put someone else’s needs and preferences above yours. The sweatpants aren’t a real thing, but they are a symptom of a larger complacency that can be toxic to a lifetime of happiness. The sweatpants, whatever they are, should be taken very seriously.

Mendes later apologized both to her sweatpants and anyone who took offense on Instagram, saying she knows that they aren’t the number one cause of divorce, orange Crocs are. Gosling also piped up to defend his partner, tweeting that it was a joke and that he was wearing sweatpants while typing. This is a symptom of a healthy relationship, having each other’s back when the other is facing adversity. But we already knew these two had a strong bond, because Mendes truly understands that sometimes you have to put a little bit of work into keep the spark alive, even if that means keeping your pants on for a little bit longer than you would like.

Read next: Eva Mendes Takes a Stand Against the Tyranny of Sweatpants

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Culture

Take Jared Leto’s Lead and Chop Off That Man Bun—You Look Ridiculous

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Angela Weiss—Getty Images Jared Leto attends NBC Universal's 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards After Party at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie.

Top knot-lovers around the world, listen up: this trend is (thankfully) over.

Yesterday, Jared Leto, who for years looked like he was impersonating the guest of honor in da Vinci’s “Last Supper” painting, shocked the world by posting pictures of himself with short hair and no beard to his Twitter account. The reason he looks like fresh-faced Jordan Catalano again is presumably for his role in the DC Comics sure-to-be-blockbuster Suicide Squad. But maybe there’s another reason for the change. Maybe Jared Leto is just as sick of a trend that he presumably started as everyone else. Maybe he wanted the man bun to be gone for good.

Leto wore his infamous ombre locks (RIP) in a man bun to the Golden Globes in 2014 when he won an award for his role in Dallas Buyers Club. He changed it up for the 2015 Oscars, where he let his mane roam free to present an award. Just as plenty of guys are growing out their hair to try to copy his signature look, maybe Leto knows the style is already passé.

A meaty man bun like Leto’s wasn’t so horrible (especially when immaculately styled), and it was functional. There’s a reason you never see a female jogger with her long hair flapping in the breeze, and guys need a way to get their locks out of the way as well. What is annoying is the gross mutation the man bun has wrought—the undercut and top knot phenomenon. This style is achieved when a guy wears his hair long on the top and very short or shaved on the sides (which is called an undercut), and then fashions the long portion into a little beaver tail that shoots out the back of his head. Man, this look is so played out it might as well be The Rachel in 1996.

Leto is presumably one of the progenitors of the look, along with Jake Gyllenhaal, who was spotted wearing the top knot as early as 2013. In fact, as early as 2012 The New York Times spotted the man bun trend coming out of Brooklyn, but as with so many fashion trends these days, it was these celebrity spokesmen (and others) that took the look to the masses.

After Leto’s 2014 win, we were completely saturated with these pygmy ponytails on dudes. It’s as if they wanted his hairstyle but didn’t have the time or dedication to grow out an actual man bun, which is how we ended up with its bastard stepchild the top knot, to begin with. In April, the Awl had a photographer snapping the look on the wild on the streets of New York. Then there was the YouTube tutorial on how to make one, the BuzzFeed listicle about hot guys with top knots, and even a Tumblr called Guys with Top Knots devoted to…well, you get the picture.

That’s when the problems started. Stylish guys who had long hair to start with and the fashion sense to pull off such a hardcore look adopted the man bun early. But then the trend, as it always does, went too far. Now we have schlubs just putting an elastic in the back of the head without their hair cut to accentuate a top knot. Instead of looking hip, they look like they have a fuzzy pencil eraser hovering over their skull. Just because a guy’s hair is long enough to be gathered at one concentric point doesn’t mean it should be. Now we’re stuck with all sorts of bros with randomly pulled back hair looking like they’re trying too hard. The great thing about a man bun was it looked like the guy was barely trying at all. Nonchalance is the key to cool. This erroneously coiffed look is far too self-aware to inspire anyone.

Then there are the guys who don’t have enough hair yet but are still trying to jump on the bandwagon. You know them, the ones who wear the “nipple knot,” which is just like a little bump on the top of the head gathered up in a rubber band. It’s almost like these guys are trying to excise a growth from their scalp using an elastic.

These Johnny-come-latelys are ruining it for the top knot pioneers, who now look less like fashionable provocateurs and more like sleazy yoga teachers in bad rom-coms or, even worse, what is going to start passing for “hipster” at central casting in about two months. What used to be a look that showed a guy who was sensitive and unafraid to sport what could be considered a feminine affectation now looks like a douchebag who is trying to fit in with what men’s magazines are telling him the cool guys are doing.

Gyllenhaal advocated for his slimy character in Nightcrawler to put his hair in a man bun every time he did something “larcenous.” Now, people wearing this or similar styles are associated not with a chill guy who wears tank tops and gets all the ladies, but with a criminal who stages crimes so that he can sell news footage of them. Is that really the look we’re going for?

Two weeks ago, a group of South African hipsters (they self identify as the subspecies) created a viral sensation when they went around town cutting off the top knots of gentlemen in public. It was like marauding acts of tonsorial kindness. After 6 million views, the perpetrators admitted the video was staged and all the victims were friends of theirs. But, like Leto, were these willing victims just getting rid of style that had become so mainstream that it was now déclassé? Quite possibly.

Now is the time to liberate all the other straight dudes who are sporting top knots (gay guys are either too good for this trend or, like with most things, have adopted it and abandoned it far faster than the general public). Most of them are doing it wrong and, well, it just looks ridiculous. In 20 years this hairstyle will be like bell-bottoms or butterfly collar shirts, one of those things we look back on and shake our heads, saying, “Why did we ever do that to ourselves?” Don’t do it now. Don’t do it ever. In fact, do what Jared Leto did and put a stop to it before it’s far too late. Tell people your shorter cut is for a movie role, if that makes you feel any better.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

Celebrity Activism Flames Out at the Oscars

Patricia Arquette, best supporting actress winner for her role in "Boyhood," poses with her award during the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood
Lucy Nicholson—Reuters Patricia Arquette, best supporting actress winner for her role in "Boyhood," poses with her award during the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood on Feb. 22, 2015.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie.

Hollywood needs to get off its soap box until it realizes it has the same problems with race, gender, and discrimination as the rest of America

Each year, more and more movies about issues bring home the big trophies at the Oscars, and, as a result, the acceptance speeches are full of people calling for change or visibility for whatever pet cause got them to the podium in the first place.

Last night, Best Actress winner Julianne Moore brought attention to Alzheimer’s disease, while Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne did the same for ALS. Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette, with her reading glasses on and piece of paper in hand, called for the end of the wage gap between men and women. Kicking off the trend, Best Supporting Actor winner J.K. Simmons wanted to make sure everyone in America calls their parents more often. And no texting either. That doesn’t count!

They weren’t the only ones. It seems like almost everyone had some sort of cause to bring to the attention of the world. Best Original Song winners Common and John Legend (or Lonnie Lynn and John Stevens as they were confusingly identified) spoke about continued racial inequality, Best Documentary winner Laura Poitras wants the world to be more leery of government surveillance, Best Adapted Screenplay winner Graham Moore told the weird kids that it gets better, and Best Documentary Short winner Dana Perry wants there to be more suicide prevention.

Let’s not forget Best Director and Best Picture winner Alejandro González Iñárritu, whose Birdman cleaned up at the awards. He asked not only for immigration reform, but also for the Mexican people to band together to create a better government.

But those are not the issues that America will be talking about on Monday morning. No, instead we’ll be rehashing the joke that Sean Penn made while giving Iñárritu his second Oscar. “Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?” he said in front of about 50 million people. No wonder Iñárritu had to make a sincere plea for the country’s immigrant population when this super wealthy white man just made an insensitive racial joke during a Mexican man’s big moment.

Patricia Arquette, who garnered much good will for her call for women’s equal rights during the ceremony (most visibly from Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez), undid some of that when she continued her comments backstage. “It’s time for all the women in America and all the men who love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve fought for, to fight for us now,” she told the press corp. Yes, feminism is a noble cause that we all need to strive for, but isn’t it hard for a privileged white women to tell gay people and people of color, who still don’t have their own equality, that they should give up their fight to help women?

That was the funny thing about these Oscars. Everyone seemed to have some sort of agenda to push, but their real behavior betrayed some sort of deeper reflection of how the system really works in this country.

Neil Patrick Harris, the host of the show, got in on the action early. His first joke of the night (and one of the few funny ones) was that the Oscars were the night to celebrate the “best and whitest.” This was in reaction to the sentiment that many deserving people of color were snubbed this year. However, in a bit where he tried to prove how British people can say whatever they want and get away with it, he made black British actor David Oyelowo, himself snubbed for his excellent performance in Selma, deliver the punch line to a bad joke about the remake of Annie, which reimagined the orphan and her father as black. Harris and his crew of writers probably didn’t see the racial undertones to that joke, but from the look on her face, Oprah Winfrey, who was seated behind Oyelowo, did.

Do I think that Sean Penn, Patricia Arquette, or Neil Patrick Harris is a racist? No, I do not. There are ways you could defend all of their remarks. Penn’s was a joke directed at a friend of his. Arquette was merely reminding those that fight for civil rights that women still don’t have equality yet. Harris, well, he didn’t think the joke was about Annie being black, he thought it was just about the movie being really, really crappy.

But the way Hollywood was behaving was like John Travolta putting his hands all over Idina Menzel’s face. He thought he was doing something nice, but he was really sexually harassing her before our very eyes. All of these other assertions, that plenty of people will deem offensive, weren’t meant as such, but they were, regardless. They were born out of privilege and ignorance and are the product of a system that has racism, sexism, homophobia, and all sorts of other ills baked into it. None of these stars were out to cause harm, but because racism and sexism are so intrinsic to the ways that we think and communicate they can’t help but rear their heads.

And I’m glad that these are going to be the things that people are talking about when rehashing the Oscars with their coworkers. After all, who cares what Margot Robbie had on when we can get into discussions of American racial privilege over donuts in the break room. And that is the real issue that this country needs to face. Yes, Alzheimer’s is awful as is ALS (and not calling your mom enough), but Hollywood needs to get off its soap box until it starts addressing the fact that it has the same problems with race, gender, and representation that so many other segments of our society have as well.

Sadly some of this will overshadow the inspirational moments from those issues-based speeches. It’s sad that we have to talk about Sean Penn rather than letting a very successful Mexican director make a heart-felt plea to his people to better their government and for our government to allow more people like him to succeed in our country. It’s sad that we’re going to be talking about Patricia Arquette’s views on race rather than Common and John Legend’s impassioned speech to end racism and the imprisonment of so many black men. Oprah especially liked that part, so it must have been good.

Though it was detracting, hopefully this thoughtless (though I don’t think malicious) behavior of Penn and others could be the catalyst to illicit frank discussion about these topics and might illicit real change. Or maybe it will get someone to produce a movie about racism in Hollywood, which will go on to be nominated for some Oscars of its own. Ha! Who are we kidding? A movie like that would never get nominated.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Culture

What Kanye West Can Learn From the Olsen Twins

Vivien Killilea—Getty Images Kim Kardashian and Kanye West attend the Robert Geller show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2015 at Pier 59 on Feb. 14, 2015 in New York City.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie.

To become a successful fashion designer, Kanye needs to retire from music

Kanye West wants very, very badly to be accepted by the fashion establishment. Remember his 2013 rant about how he invented the leather jogging pant but didn’t get the credit? As usual this New York Fashion Week, Kanye is ubiquitous, including a show for his Kanye Wext X Adidas Originals collection. Sorry, Kanye, but there’s only one way you’re going to do fashion justice, and that’s to quit music.

The collection, West’s first since a mocked 2011 debut in Paris, looked a lot like a bunch of torn up sweatshirts and other items of clothing you might find on a trendier hobo. Many noted that the work was derivative of others, but many also noted that this was his best effort to date and the one that looked the most like a collection. “He is an amazing performer, but his merits as a designer are still in doubt,” Cathy Horyn writes in The Cut. “Kanye’s clothes…just fine if you want to look like you’ve forgotten to get dressed,” says the always colorful Daily Mail.

Yes, Kanye has made great strides, but if he ever want to be taken seriously by the fashion establishment, if he really wants to run his own fashion house, then he needs to quit music and focus on his design work. Otherwise he’ll be like James Franco, doing a million different projects and not doing any of them well.

There are plenty of musicians who have tried their hands at fashion (including Jessica Simpson, whose line of basics brings in literally billions, with a B), but as far as celebrity fashion designers go, Kanye couldn’t have a role model better than the Olsen Twins.

Mary-Kate and Ashley’s line The Row is a super-high-end luxury brand that makes $39,000 backpacks and is a favorite of fashion editors around the world. This did not happen by accident. The pair decided that they were done with acting and, in 2006, launched their brand. Since then, they have attended to that and a handful of other fashion lines including Elizabeth & James. They don’t make movies, they don’t sing songs, they just design. While we see Kanye trying to rush the stage at just about every awards show, we only see the Olsen twins on stage at the award show for the Council of Fashion Designers of America. And when they’re up there, they’re winning for best accessories designer of the year.

By keeping a low profile and showing the fashion world that it has their undivided attention the Olsens have not only honed their skills, but they’ve also paid their dues, something Kanye doesn’t want to do. And he knows it! “As I work on clothing more, I’m not rapping as much. . . I’m not rapping as much, I’m not having as much finances,” Kayne said in that 2013 interview. “I’m losing relevancy. The relevancy is part of my power that allows my brand to be big.”

It’s that relevancy, not his fashion prowess, that gets Anna Wintour seated in the front row of his show next to his crying baby. Kanye does have a lot of powerful fashion friends in his corner, like Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, but is that because he’s such an interesting person who can bring the spotlight that follows him to their brands, or because he really is a talented designer?

The one thing that is certain is that those who opt for fashion as a second career need to work hard and show that they’re serious. The Olsens have done it, as did Victoria Beckham, the artist formerly known as Posh Spice. Gwen Stefani tried her hand at it for some time while on hiatus from No Doubt, but decided, in the end, that she wanted to go back to music.

Kanye clearly has a choice in front of him: quit music and dedicate all of his time and talent to the fashion world, with its year-round schedule of shows, orders to ship to retailers, and other sundry details. Or he needs to quit fashion and get back to the mic. For my money, I’d rather have him rapping than sewing. He can still influence the fashion world through his style and his other public output (tour costumes, video shoots, what he wears when he tells everyone Beyoncé deserves more awards). But the choice is his to make. Sadly, he can’t have his cake and force someone to wear it too.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Media

Just Cancel The Daily Show

It’s the best thing for Stewart, for whichever poor soul has to step into his shoes, and for the audience.

The news that we’ve been expected but hoping not to be true finally came on Tuesday night. It was sort of like finding out that Santa Clause wasn’t real or that the epic twerk fail video was a hoax. Yes, it was the news that Jon Stewart is leaving his place behind The Daily Show desk after 17 long years of skewering just about every administration since then and earning more Emmys than Anna Nicole Smith had pills.

It was sad news indeed and both Twitter and the press reacted with its typical “oh it’s so sad” keening. There have already been the inevitable “Who Should Replace Jon Stewart” posts in various corners of the Internet. I’m sad about the news as well and that’s why I think the best person to replace Jon Stewart is absolutely no one at all. In fact, Comedy Central should cancel The Daily Show entirely.

Just think about it, though it was created two years before Stewart started, The Daily Show is infused with Stewart’s indelible DNA. No one remembers that tall blonde guy who hosted it before him (his name was Craig Kilborn and he’s gone on to do, um, not much else) or that the show was more like a late-night version of The Soup and didn’t get nearly as political as it did once Stewart took over. The structure of the show, the tenor of the jokes, the way that Stewart ranted and raved and yelled and screamed and made you angry at the news but not at him is a trademarked approached. He’s the one that did it first and he’s the one that did it best.

So why should someone else try to out-Stewart Stewart? They shouldn’t. The show should be cancelled.

That’s what Comedy Central wisely did with The Colbert Report when Stephen Colbert announced that he was taking David Letterman’s old post at CBS. They did the right thing and gave the slot over to Larry Wilmore who is creating a panel show that is shaped in his own image, one that has less to do with aping right-wing idiocy and more about creating consensus around the stupidity of the world at large.

The Daily Show seems like it is something like The Tonight Show, something that can be passed down from host to host and remain somewhat intact. In fact, Stewart said in his goodbye, that it’s time for someone else to have the opportunity. He is wrong. No one watches “The Tonight Show.” They watch Johnny Carson or Jay Leno or, for that brief shining moment, Conan O’Brien; even though the format was similar, it was the host people favored. Recently Jimmy Fallon came along and converted The Tonight Show for the internet age. He’s shortened the monologue considerably, gotten rid of all of Leno’s old formats like Headlines and Jay Walking, and replaced them with sketches of his own and games with celebrities. It is an entirely new show. So why is it still called The Tonight Show?

I feel like the same thing needs to happen to The Daily Show. When John Oliver took over so Stewart could go shoot his first feature film, he pretty much was just a mouthpiece for Stewart, working with the same writers and serving as a place holder until the boss could come back from sabbatical. His show on HBO is so much different from what The Daily Show does, and it’s so much better for it. It’s allowed Oliver to do actual journalism, find his own voice, and see what he has to contribute to the conversation.

That’s what was always so great about The Daily Show. It was entirely Stewart’s vision, and we won’t have that vision without Stewart. Now that he’s gone, let’s give the show a rest and let someone new figure out how to take down our establishment one comedic peg at a time.

These think pieces and all their needless speculating are asking the wrong thing. It should not be “Who should replace Jon Stewart on The Daily Show?” they should be asking, “Who out there has a new voice to create the next revolutionary show in late night television?” Whoever that is shouldn’t be shackled with the legacy that Stewart created any more than Larry Wilmore should have to put on an American flag pin and try to be “Stephen Colbert.” Cancel The Daily Show and find someone out there who can create a wonderful gem of her own. It’s the best thing for Stewart, for whichever poor soul has to step into his shoes, and for the audience — whether or not they’re willing to get over their grief and admit it.

Read next: 7 Potential Replacements for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show

TIME Media

Amal Alamuddin Clooney and the Rise of the Trophy Husband

When George drags his human rights lawyer wife to the Golden Globes, we realize how petty these awards truly are

It started when she arrived on the red carpet, the star of the Golden Globes show, the woman who came across as the big winner at last night’s ceremony. The funny thing is, she wasn’t nominated for anything. She has never even been in a movie or TV show or even a high school musical. But the Guardian got it exactly right when it said, “Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and her husband have arrived.”

It’s not an overstatement to say everyone fell in love Sunday night with Amal Alamuddin Clooney, the woman who finally nabbed confirmed bachelor George Clooney.

I can’t say it better than Amy Poehler and Tina Fey (can anyone say anything better than these two?), who joked, “Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria and was selected for a three-person U.N. commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip. So tonight her husband is getting a lifetime-achievement award.”

MORE Watch George Clooney Pay Tribute to Wife Amal in Golden Globes Speech

On the red carpet, when asked what she was wearing, Amal didn’t discuss the designer who made her dress (it was Dior), perpetuating the marketing scam in which celebrities, the richest people around, are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by billionaire designers to get attention for their gowns. No, she pointed out that there was a “Je Suis Charlie” button on her purse to show solidarity with the men and women of Charlie Hebdo who were killed by terrorists for exercising their right to free speech. She couldn’t care less about the garment industry; there are real-world issues that she wants to give attention to.

She wasn’t the only celebrity to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Paris, but she was one of the few wearing gloves on the red carpet, a choice many of the professional fashion advisers thought was tacky. But Amal does not care. Those gloves said, “O.K., fine, I will play along and get dressed up in formal wear for this event, but I think these gloves are cute and I’m wearing them, and I don’t care how many episodes of Fashion Police I’m on because I don’t even own a television set, so there.”

When George finally had his big moment, he tried to make it not about himself but about his wife and the Charlie Hebdo attacks. “Amal, whatever alchemy brought us together, I couldn’t be prouder to be your husband,” he said, before reminding people about what was going on in France. Clooney’s speech tried to take away the importance of his movie roles (remember Leatherheads, anyone?), and instead focused on what is important—and that is Amal. Even George defines himself not as a movie star but as a man who is married to an amazing woman. He could have settled for Stacy Keibler or Renée Zellweger, but instead he married an Oxford graduate who could probably beat Hillary Clinton for President, if only she were American.

MORE Review: From Cosby to Charlie, This Golden Globes Had Something to Say

Husbands were getting ignored all over the place Sunday night. Channing Tatum, currently one of the biggest box-office draws in Tinseltown, was on “train patrol” for his wife, the much-lesser-known Jenna Dewan Tatum, fanning out her long dress for the wide shots on the red carpet. When Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber walked down the red carpet, he was generally ignored next to his wife, even though they were both nominated. That’s what being on television will do to you, Liev. Reese Witherspoon’s power-agent husband was with her at her table inside the event, but Cheryl Strayed, the woman she played in Wild, was the one who walked beside her when they stood next to Ryan Seacrest.

Maybe Reese’s man just didn’t want any part of the spectacle. When the camera would cut to her at any time during the evening, it was like she was considering all the things she would rather be doing with her time, like fighting for civil rights and making the world a better place. For her part, Amal looked like she was barely tolerating being there, like a wife dragged to her husband’s boring work dinner. And that’s all this was with her in attendance: someone else’s professional convention.

In fact, having Amal at the ceremony certainly threw the whole thing into perspective and threatened to undermine the legitimacy of the proceedings. We’re being duped into thinking that very rich people who are given every advantage in life, getting more accolades and awards, is somehow news. That it is something that should be covered rapturously by every news outlet in the world, with even more slide shows and reviews than the protests in Paris or Ferguson or wherever they’re happening these days.

MORE Golden Globes 2015: See All the Winners

When George drags Amal to the Golden Globes, we realize how petty these awards truly are, just more of Hollywood breaking its arm patting itself on the back and duping us into buying more movie tickets, watching more shows, consuming more commercials, feeding the consumerist beast that Amal Clooney is trying to fight back into a cage every damn day. We always thought that she was the woman who finally snared George Clooney, but it’s the other way around. And we’re all better off for it.

Moylan is a writer and pop-culture junkie who lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Gawker, Vice, New York magazine and a few other safe-for-work publications.

Read next: Great Storytelling Was the Real Winner at the Golden Globes

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TIME women

Russell Crowe Doesn’t Seem to Have a Clue About Hollywood’s Sexism

TURKEY-AUSTRALIA-FILM-CROWE
OZAN KOSE—AFP/Getty Images Russell Crowe is seen during a press conference at Turkish the premiere of "The Water Diviner", on December 5, 2014 in Istanbul.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie.

The actor thinks women in Hollywood should 'act their age'

Russell Crowe, a man who once threw a phone at a hotel employee, has some thoughts about actresses in Hollywood, namely that they need to “act their age.” He has no idea how wrong and sexist his remarks are.

When shilling for his latest film (and directorial debut), The Water Diviner, the 50-year-old actor told Australian Women’s Weekly, “The best thing about the industry I’m in – movies – is that there are roles for people in all different stages of life… To be honest, I think you’ll find that the woman who is saying that (the roles have dried up) is the woman who at 40, 45, 48, still wants to play the ingénue, and can’t understand why she’s not being cast as the 21 year old.” Remember, he said this to a women’s magazine. I have a feeling Russell Crowe is one of those guys who does something really jerky to his wife and when she gets angry he doesn’t know why and when she won’t tell him, he throws his hands up in the air and says, “Ugh, women,” and then sits down to have a beer and watch a rugby match like he never did anything wrong even one second of his life.

Anyway, he uses Meryl Streep to prove his point. “Meryl Streep will give you 10,000 examples and arguments as to why that’s bullshit, so will Helen Mirren, or whoever it happens to be,” he said. “If you are willing to live in your own skin, you can work as an actor. If you are trying to pretend that you’re still the young buck when you’re my age, it just doesn’t work.”

Strangely enough, Meryl Streep agrees with Russell Crowe. She told The Telegraph, “I agree with him. It’s good to live in the place where you are,” pointing out thatCrowe even said that he couldn’t play his Gladiator character now at age 50. She tells the reporter that when she turned 40 she was offered three different roles of witches and turned them all down. Now, at 65, she is playing one in Into the Woods. Why the change of heart? “Because I felt it was age appropriate. I felt it was time, and it was not time at 40.”

Because I love Meryl Streep, I would like to believe that she didn’t quite understand what Crowe said, or it was given to her in an odd context. I would like to believe that if you ask Meryl Streep about roles for women in Hollywood, she would say that there are not nearly enough, especially for women her age. The fact that Streep, generally considered the greatest actor of this entire generation, is the one exception to this rule shows just how bad it is for women of that age. Of course Meryl Streep can play whatever part she wants, and of course she’s still getting offered roles at 65. She’s Meryl Goddamned Streep! What about all the other actresses out there who do not have three Oscars?

Now let’s try to be sympathetic to Mr. Crowe for a minute. I understand what he’s saying about women not being comfortable in their own skin. There are several actresses (Meg Ryan, for instance) who have done such damage to their faces with plastic surgery that it is hard for them to get work. I agree that this is a problem, and I bet Meryl thinks this is a problem too. And I have a feeling that is what she is responding to.

However, it is a problem because there aren’t enough roles for women over 40, so of course actresses need to continue to look younger longer than someone like, let’s say, Russell Crowe, who can get wrinkles and gray hair and look “distinguished.” These actresses inject and lift and burnish their faces so that they can extend their working lives as long as possible. If there were more roles for mature women, maybe they won’t have to go through such horrible facial mutilations to try to maximize their earning potential.

Earning is part of the problem. A study of the top 265 film actors by the Journal of Management Inquiry showed that actresses’ salaries plummet after the age of 34. However, men make their most money at the age of 51. Let’s ask Crowe how he feels about how much he makes in 20 years, when he’ll finally be on par with the actresses who are his age now.

A look at the winners of Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars also shows that men peak older than women. The average age for Best Actress winners is 36 and the average age for Best Supporting Actress winners is 40. The comparable male winners ring in at 44 and 50, a full decade older than women in similar categories.

And it’s not just the age of available roles, it’s the availability of roles in general for women. Only 15% of the top movies in 2013 featured women in leading roles. A study of movies made the same year shows that only 31% of speaking roles were for women.

Let’s get this straight: there are fewer roles for women and when those roles are available, they only get paid for them until their mid-30s. No wonder women always want to play the ingénue. I would only write for teen magazines if they were the only ones paying me too! Then Crowe goes and blames this all on the women, as if they are somehow creating the problem for themselves. Maybe if they could go to all the female studio heads and complain about it. Oh wait, most Hollywood executives are men. Never mind.

The problem is not that Crowe said what he said about actresses. At least he was being honest and we finally can see the sexism of the institution laid bare. No, the problem is that Crowe doesn’t even realize what he said was wrong. He thinks that everything is fine and dandy for women in films and the problem is that they want younger roles or are getting too much plastic surgery. It doesn’t occur to him that the problem might be, hmm, that the Hollywood system is inherently broken and only values women when they are young and beautiful and can pair 50-year-old male stars with 20-year-old romantic interests without anyone batting an eyelash.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie who lives in New York. His work has appeared in Gawker, VICE, New Yorkmagazine, and a few other safe-for-work publications.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Opinion

‘Offensive’ Is the New ‘Obscene’

LENNY BRUCE AT AIRPORT
John Lindsay—AP Photo Lenny Bruce, refused entry to Britain earlier in the day "in the public interest," makes a V-sign as he leaves U.S. customs office after returning to New York's Idlewild Airport on Apr. 8, 1963.

50 years after Lenny Bruce's sentencing, the world is still deciding what a comedian is allowed to say on stage

Reading about Lenny Bruce’s arrest for obscenity 50 years ago makes me think about a popular sketch Amy Schumer recently did on her Comedy Central show. On Dec. 21, 1964, Bruce was sentenced to four months in a workhouse for a set he did in a New York comedy club that included a bit about Eleanor Roosevelt’s “nice tits,” another about how men would like to “come in a chicken,” and other scatological and overly sexual humor.

How does this relate to Amy Schumer? In the sketch called “Acting Off Camera,” Schumer signs up to do the voice of what she thinks will be a sexy animated character, because Jessica Alba and Megan Fox are doing the voices of her friends. When she arrives to work she sees that her character is an idiotic meerkat who defecates continuously, eats worms and has her vagina exposed. She says to her agent, “My character has a pussy.” Schumer is the first woman to say that word on Comedy Central without being censored, a right she fought for. Her struggle was commended by the press for advancing feminism because the word had been banned even though four-letter words for male genitalia were given the O.K.

A word that could have landed Bruce in the slammer 50 years ago is now available for public consumption, and its inclusion into the cuss-word canon is applauded. These days each of George Carlin’s “seven words” seems quaint. There is nothing so raunchy, so profane or so over-the-top that it could land a comedian in jail.

However, they have other reasons to censor themselves — namely Twitter.

The most dangerous thing that a comedian has to face today is offending political correctness or saying something so racist or sexist that it kicks up an internet firestorm. In 2012, Daniel Tosh made a rape joke at a comedy club, which everyone on the internet seemed to have an opinion about. Many were offended and he later apologized for the joke. Just last month comedian Artie Lang tweeted a sexist slavery fantasy about an ESPN personality and was met with harsh criticism. Saturday Night Live writer and performer Leslie Jones, a black woman, also took heat for making jokes about slavery; her critics said they were offensive, but she defended her comments, claiming they were misunderstood. Most of this exchange took place on Twitter.

This is a common cycle these days and one that can derail a comedian’s career (just look at what happened to Seinfeld alum Michael Richards after his racist rant became public). It’s also something that comedians are hyper-aware of. “I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative,” Chris Rock said in a recent interview in New York magazine (referring to over-prudence, not political ideology). “Kids raised on a culture of ‘We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.’ Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say ‘the black kid over there.’ No, it’s ‘the guy with the red shoes.’ You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.” In a world where trigger warnings are becoming popular, how can a comedian really push the envelope?

In the interview, Rock says this policing of speech and ideas leads to self-censorship, especially when he’s trying out new material. He says that comedians used to know when they went too far based on the audience reaction within a room; now they know they’ve gone too far based on the reaction of everyone with an Internet connection. Now the slightest step over the line could land a comedian not in the slammer but in a position like Bill Maher’s, where students demanded he not be able to speak at Berkeley because of statements he made about Muslims.

That’s the difference between Lenny Bruce and someone like Leslie Jones. A panel of judges decided that Bruce should face censorship because of what he said. Now Leslie Jones gets called out, but the public is the judge. Everyone with a voice on the internet can start an indecency trial and let the public decide who is guilty and to what degree. (The funny truth is, depending on whom you follow on Twitter, the party is usually universally guilty or universally innocent.)

What hasn’t changed as we’ve shifted from “obscene” to “offensive” is just how unclear the scenario could be. The Supreme Court famously refused to define “obscene” but instead said they know it when they see it. The same is true of “offensive.” One comedian can make a joke about race or rape and have it be fine, another can make a joke on the same subject matter and be the victim of a million blog posts. There was even an academic study to determine which strategies were most effective for making jokes about race.

Whenever one of these edgy jokes makes the news, a rash of comedians come to defend not the joke, necessarily, but that the person has the right to tell it in the first place. The same thing happened at Bruce’s trial when Woody Allen, Bob Dylan, Norman Mailer and James Baldwin all showed up to testify on Bruce’s behalf. Bruce never apologized for what he said. Though he passed away before his appeal could make its way through the courts, he received a posthumous pardon in 2003. Then-Governor of New York George Pataki noted that the pardon was a reminder of the importance of the First Amendment.

In 50 years a lot has changed, but comedy, like the First Amendment, really hasn’t. There are always going to be people pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable, because that’s what we find funny. What has changed is who is policing that acceptability — and that makes a big difference. We no longer have too-conservative judges enforcing “community standards” about poop jokes, telling people like Lenny Bruce that they can’t say one thing or another. Instead, today’s comedians are policed by the actual community, using the democratic voices of the Internet and social media to communicate about standards around race, religion, sexuality, gender and identity. The community doesn’t say comedians can’t offend, but that they’ll face consequences if they do. Their First Amendment rights are preserved and, though it may get in the way of the creative processed once used by people like Chris Rock, online feedback can often lead to productive conversations.

In a world where nothing is obscene, it doesn’t mean that things can’t be offensive, as murky as both those ideas might be. At least we’ve taken the government out of comedy, which seems to be safer for everyone. Now they can stick to dealing with the important things, like Janet Jackson’s nipple.

Read TIME’s original coverage of Lenny Bruce’s conviction, here in the archives: Tropic of Illinois

TIME Media

Forgive Mark Wahlberg’s Cinematic Crimes, If You Like—But Not His Real Ones

AFI FEST 2014 Presented By Audi - "The Gambler" Premiere - Arrivals
Gregg DeGuire—WireImage Actor Mark Wahlberg arrives at the AFI FEST 2014 Presented By Audi - "The Gambler" Premiere at Dolby Theatre on November 10, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie.

The actor wants to be pardoned from a violent and hateful crime he committed as a teen

That Mark Wahlberg has a long and varied rap sheet may not surprise many. And I’m not talking about his cinematic crimes, like the latest Transformers movie and that M. Night Shyamalan movie he made with Zooey Deschanel. In 1988 Wahlberg served 45 days in jail when he was 16 for beating up two Vietnamese men (one with a five-foot-long wooden pole) who he called “gooks” and other racial slurs. He also had an injunction against him for chasing down fellow residents of Dorchester, Massachusetts, and calling them racial slurs while throwing rocks at them. In 1992, after he had morphed into rapper Marky Mark, he repeatedly kicked another man in the head. And there was also a 1996 arrest for driving a boat under the influence.

Wahlberg is looking for a pardon from his arrest for beating up those two men, for which he was charged with attempted murder and convicted of assault. No one should grant him one.

On November 26, Wahlberg filed a petition to have his conviction expunged from his record. If Governor Deval Patrick issues any pardons, he should not waste one on Mark Wahlberg. Patrick’s record of being stingy with clemency will only make it look like a rich white celebrity can get anything he wants, even if that includes having his past forgiven from any youthful indiscretions. But based on the racially motivated nature of Wahlberg’s crimes, they seem to be a lot worse than shoplifting, small amounts of drug possession, or the odd DUI (though he has one of those too) that can plague many people.

This comes at an especially bad time with the protests in Ferguson and New York City, where black Americans are expressing their anger at being treated unfairly by the cops. Then in walks Mark Wahlberg, with his huge wallet, showing everyone that if you are white and privileged in this country, you should get special treatment. Wahlberg may have the necessary funds to pay for all the lawyers to shepherd through his pardon (again, something many people can’t afford), but he needs to pay for a better publicist. Not only is this appeal bringing more attention to his past arrests, but also making him look more like a jerk than he really is.

Having a conviction on your record can keep many people from voting or securing a job, so why is the artist formerly known as Marky Mark so concerned? It’s not like he has any shortage of money. So why the need for a pardon? He lists a few reasons.

“My prior record can potentially be the basis to deny me a concessionaire’s license in California and elsewhere,” he writes. Well, that hasn’t stopped him from opening several restaurants, including Wahlbergers, which has it’s own A&E show. And should the court really be concerned that a very rich man is not able to get even richer in a certain field? No, it should not. Doesn’t Wahlberg and his considerable capital have every available outlet to expand his fortune? Yes, he does.

He has other reasons. “I have become close with many members of the local law enforcement community in Boston and Los Angeles, including as a member of the board of directors of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Youth Foundation, which is dedicated to helping at risk youth,” he writes. But his record keeps him from working with at-risk youth.

This seems like a legitimate concern, but that doesn’t mean it’s insurmountable. As Gwynn Gilford points out on Quartz, the issues that effect Wahlberg because of his conviction affect many recovered felons. Rather than making things easier for a mediocre film actor, there should instead be new policies that make it easier for all recovered felons.

Why isn’t Wahlberg out there speaking out for reform in those areas and trying to repeal the silly laws that keep convicts from working in food service, for instance? That’s the sort of policy work he could do quite easily with his public profile. Look at what Jenny McCarthy has done for vaccine nuts, and she’s not nearly as famous or as likeable. Just like Wahlberg can have any job he wants, he can also do any sort of outreach he wants for any number of other issues, conviction be damned.

But that isn’t the real reason that he wants a pardon. “The more complex answer is that receiving a pardon would be a formal recognition that I am not the same person that I was on the night of April 8, 1998,” he writes. “It would be formal recognition that someone like me can receive official public redemption if he devotes himself to personal improvement and a life of good works.”

Wahlberg seems to be on a bit of a redemption tour. In 2013, Wahlberg finally got his GED. He’s gotten some tattoos removed. But not everything is erased as easily, and not everything should be. I don’t doubt that Wahlberg is a much different person and regrets what he did, but the state isn’t the one that needs to tell him that. If he decides that he is a different person and has cleaned up his life, he should work that out in therapy and keep the prison board out of it. Seeking recognition from others isn’t a reason to do good things. Wanting the approval from the world at large is the kind of vanity you would only see from a celebrity. I’m sure the men he beat up, one who was left partially blind, wish that they could file some paperwork and never have been senselessly beaten on the street, but they can’t. Why should their attacker be able to do it? Because he executive produced Entourage?

Finally, and incorrectly, Wahlberg makes his plea for forgiveness seem altruistic. “My hope is that, if I receive a pardon, troubled youths will see this as an inspiration and motivation that they too can turn their lives around and be formally accepted back into society,” he writes. No, Mark, they won’t. They will see that if they get rich enough or famous enough, it won’t matter what they did as kids, they’ll be able to make it go away like a bad Etch-a-Sketch doodle. They will see his fame as the mitigating factor, not his redemption or considerable charity work. It will just give everyone another reason to want to be famous.

Also, shouldn’t he want to go in there and change these kids’ lives before they commit a felony? Shouldn’t he be speaking at schools saying, “Kids, before you commit a crime, remember that if you are convicted you won’t be able to work in a restaurant or help a charity. If you commit a crime, even if you become as rich and famous as I am, your life will still be incredibly messed up. So, kids, don’t commit crime, because that can never be erased”?

That is the message that Wahlberg should be putting out in the universe if he really wants to help kids. Now all he’s saying is that he’s above the law and, contrary to what he would like everyone to believe, that helps no one but himself.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie who lives in New York. His work has appeared in Gawker, VICE, New York magazine, and a few other safe-for-work publications.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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