Paste friend Sean Doyle had a suggestion: during this highly fraught week, while Paste will certainly be publishing plenty of serious features, it might be helpful if we put together a list of light-hearted/cheerful/delightful media or ideas that we turn to in these moments; really, anything that keeps us sane during the next several days. I asked Paste staffers to compile a staggering list of heart-dazzling brilliance, so all may taste the rainbow.
In this winter of discontent, we bring you the winners of this content.
Jason Rhode, Staff Writer
When I consider media which brings me good cheer, one movie immediately comes to mind. In any moment, for any reason, for any question, there is a single answer, and that is Brian DePalma’s The Untouchables. You know that movie you love? Well, all the movies you love secretly adore this flick, and have been writing fan letters to this piece of pure American kino. Oh, the greybeards and Philip Roth will say that this is not a cheerful movie. You know what makes me cheerful? Knowing when they go to sleep and wake up they are wrong, wrong, wrong.
The Untouchables is one of most encouraging movies ever made. I’ll spare you a recitation of the plot, since we have all watched at least five minutes of TBS in our lives and thereby absorbed DePalma by means of osmosis. What can account for the cultural cachet of this epic tale of brotherhood and bloodspill?
You know all of those empires which have fallen? Looks like they weren’t Untouchable. There are Oscar-winning movies that cover tweens learning violin, kids discovering that dinosaurs were just like us, and how the yam farmer is the noblest of God’s creatures … but they don’t have Kevin Costner pushing a Prohibition baddie off a roof and into a car. Does your beloved Jennifer Lawrence vehicle feature Sean Connery chasing an assassin out of his house in his suit-vest, only to be shot himself? No? Oh, how disappointing that must be for you.
Does your movie happen to be the most heartwarming bro-picture of all time? In the other movies, does an accountant discover in the moment of trial that he can go full truffle-shuffle and wreck shop on Capone’s illegal hooch empire with a gun in his hand, and an even bigger gun in his chest—his heart? Yes, the heart is a gun. The Untouchables teaches this lesson, and so many more. DeNiro’s Capone isn’t even acting; it’s as if the memes from all his Scorsese movies (“To-day! To-day! To-day!”) plugged into a feedbacking amp the size of the world. This movie does not chew the scenery, it devours the backdrop for the fuel to rise above the concept of scenery. That’s the Chicago Way.
Amy Amatangelo, Assistant TV Editor
I’ve got two words for you: Boy Bands. The Boy Band oeuvre will be our collective saviors. I’m telling you it is impossible to be in a bad mood when listening to ‘NSync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye.” The song makes you want to get up and do Justin Timberlake and co.’s dance moves (oh, don’t even pretend like you don’t know them. Don’t. Even. Pretend.). And just listen to how prescient the lyrics are: “I know that I can’t take no more. It ain’t no lie. I want to see you out that door. Baby bye, bye, bye.” From that infectious pop tune, I humbly suggest you move on to the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” (“Tell me why. Ain’t nothin’ but a heartache”), NKOTB’s “Step by Step” and One Direction’s “Story of My Life.” No matter how troubled the world gets, harken back to a time when posters of these boys hung on your walls and the biggest news story in your life was when Justin and Britney broke up.
Steve Foxe, Assistant Comics Editor
, one of the most delightfully chill comics in recent memory. Like a John Hughes movie except much calmer, and also the protagonist is a dog and the conflict is less conflict-y. Also STEVEN UNIVERSE, which is the best show on television, as far as I’m concerned, and represents major strides in inclusive media.
Lucas Iberico Lozada, Assistant Books Editor
I’ve been going in on It’s Always Sunny re-runs recently. Somehow, watching a group of psychopaths go even lower than our new mad king is insanely refreshing.
Emily Ray, Visual Arts Editor
This isn’t cuter than the otters or the sounds of the gleeful children watching him twirl, but it makes me feel marginally better to be reminded that Janis Joplin was a Cat Lady … taken in Haight.
Also this. Never you fear!
Alicia Kort, Theatre Editor
I would say “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray is one of the upbeat Broadway songs out there. It’s pretty hard to continue to be in a bad mood when that comes on. Personally though, lately I’ve been escaping by watching a lot of period dramas on streaming, like The Crown and Versailles.
Becca Beberaggi, Email Marketing
Kittens make me happy.
Michael Burgin, Movies Editor
I look at a picture of my daughters and imagine where Daddy will need to take them first during the Drumpf-pocalypse. (Spoiler: I’ll need all the thyroid medication I can find.)
That said, I’ve also been marathon listening to In the Heights. And playing PS4 games the family can participate in ( The Last Guardian, King’s Quest Collection).
Matt Brennan, TV Editor
My two recent escape hatches have been Netflix’s The OA (which I’m writing about this week and has one of the most remarkable climaxes I’ve seen on TV in some time), and House, which I’ve been watching to decompress. Neither is light, really, but the utter unpredictability of the former and the total predictability of the latter have been, in tandem, my form of self-medicating—like having a glass of wine after one too many cups of coffee.
Annie Black, Social Media Manager
If I’m needing a bit of a pick-me-up, I’m a sucker for learning a simple song or two on piano or ukulele and relishing in the fact that in that moment, I am my own musical genius. It doesn’t even matter than I am using three major chords that never change, I am Chopin and this is my Mazurka. A glass or two of red wine doesn’t hurt, either.
Amy Glynn, Staff Writer
The scene in Casablanca where they drown out the Nazis with that chorus of “La Marseillaise” has always been a huge uplift for me.
Shane Ryan, Politics Editor
[A poem by] Goethe called “Wanderer’s Nightsong II,” written in his old age, that is sometimes called the most perfect poem ever written in the German language (I wouldn’t know). I found out about it because it’s a favorite of John LeCarre’s, and it has a similar theme:
Over all the hilltops
In all the treetops
hardly a breath of air.
The little birds fall silent
in the woods.
you’ll also be at rest
It’s beautiful in German:
Über allen Gipfeln
In allen Wipfeln
Kaum einen Hauch;
Die Vögelein schweigen
Warte nur, balde
Ruhest du auch.
If I had to argue for inclusion on this list (which is hard, I know, since this isn’t very lighthearted at all), I’d say that I think what’s behind a lot of the fear of Trump, at the deepest level, is the sense of death speeding up. Our country’s, our planet’s, our own. And I think there’s some comfort in the idea that even if this is the case, we are simple bodies with simple rhythms, and death isn’t something to be afraid of, just a promise that brings rest and silence.
Seth Simons, Assistant Comedy Editor
This is one of my favorite poems. It was written by the American poet Steve Scafidi, who is also a cabinetmaker. As in many of his poems, he takes a subject almost inconceivably big and presents it with all the shimmery smallness of a lullaby. Gentle lolling rhythm, soft percussive rhymes, tiny words peppered occasionally with bigger ones. What I find especially astonishing is the way it opens up between the third and fourth stanzas. In just two words the emotional life of the poem completely transforms. Then, between the fourth and fifth stanzas, it transforms again. I don’t think I’ve ever seen form and content align so exquisitely. It’s not exactly cheerful but I think it’s at least hopeful, or graceful. I don’t know. I think it’s magical.
Jacob Weindling, Business/Media Editor
Speaking of songs to make you laugh, Natalie Portman has the greatest gangster rap of all time
Not sure if I’d call that light-hearted, but Trump is president so the meaning of words clearly isn’t as important anymore.
Frannie Jackson, Books Editor
I’ll watch dancing Baby Groot on repeat for a bit when I need to smile.
Holly Green, Assistant Games Editor
In the videogame side of things, I’d like to mention Abzu (which I wrote about for our end of the year list about art direction). Or rather, all the work of Matt Nava, who was also the art director on Journey and Flower. He makes the type of games for which the term “virtual experience” was coined; they are light on traditional gameplay conventions and for the most part steer away from skill-based challenges. Usually videogames are my go-to means of distraction, but I like post-apocalyptic works like Fallout and This War Of Mine, and to be honest, those aren’t very comforting right now. Abzu feels like taking a peaceful swim through a tropical aquarium and it’s about all my poor brain can handle. I find it very soothing.
Sarra Sedghi, Assistant Food Editor
Do pictures of my sister’s dog count?
Garrett Martin, Comedy/Games/Wrestling Editor
Could three to five glasses a night of bourbon and ginger ale be considered “light-hearted/cheerful/delightful media”?
Josh Jackson, Editor-In-Chief