The Discourse Report: September 20, 2021

The 50 best animated movies, what is the worst tweet ever?, Biden calls for overhaul to our child care system, and more

Welcome to DiscRep, Berny Belvedere’s guide to the public discourse. To support Arc Digital, the publication that makes this newsletter possible, become a member for $8 per month or $80 for the year.


  1. The Economic Mistake the Left Is Finally Confronting by Ezra Klein in The New York Times on 9/19/21

Progressives are often uninterested in the creation of the goods and services they want everyone to have. This creates a problem and misses an opportunity. The problem is that if you subsidize the cost of something that there isn’t enough of, you’ll raise prices or force rationing. You can see the poisoned fruit of those mistakes in higher education and housing. But it also misses the opportunity to pull the technologies of the future progressives want into the present they inhabit. That requires a movement that takes innovation as seriously as it takes affordability.

  1. The 50 Best Animated Movies by Ben Travis, James White, Ian Freer, and Beth Webb in Empire on 9/14/21

For nearly 100 years, the animated movie as we know it has existed – an artform that, like live-action cinema, sprung from shorts and grew into a major medium in its own right. If the biggest landmark was the arrival of 1937’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs – which marked the start of feature-length output from Walt Disney Animation Studios – from there the animated film flourished and evolved, spawning brand new pioneering technologies, new narrative possibilities, new studios, and new visual styles. Today, that gives us a field that encompasses nearly a century of Disney favourites, other major studios like the game-changing Pixar, British claymation titans Aardman, and Japan’s legendary Ghibli, and styles that range from traditional hand-drawn 2D features, to lavish computer-generation confections, painstakingly-produced stop-motion, and everything in between.

Team Empire got together to vote for the 50 greatest animated movies ever made – and since animation is a medium rather than a genre, the full list comprises a banquet of tastes and tones. We have traditional family adventures, black-and-white coming-of-age stories, self-referential meta-features, superhero stories, devastating war films, and imaginative flights of fantasy – all showing that animation can be far more than just cartoons for kids (though we do, of course, love those deeply too).

  1. The Rage of the Career Defenders by Charlie Warzel in Galaxy Brain on 9/14/21

Two weeks ago, I published a piece entitled “What If People Don’t Want 'A Career?” It was roughly three times as popular as anything I’ve ever written for Galaxy Brain, which was a surprise. What wasn’t a surprise was how the reaction was violently split between people who felt the piece spoke to something they’d felt and hadn’t seen articulated and those who saw career skeptics as entitled, coddled complainers looking for handouts and, in the process, sullying the American work ethic for good.

Again, I expected some of that. The career skepticism movement — honestly, it probably hasn’t even reached movement status yet, it’s merely a loose conglomeration of people who are burned out and wary of investing in a system that feels overly precarious and owes them nothing — is a potential threat to the status quo and a critique of most systems of management. It is psychologically painful when a younger generation comes along, points out flaws in a system/set of rituals you were forced to tolerate, and then opts not to participate.

I tried to prepare for this objection, noting that career skeptics do, generally, want to work (“for places that see them as three-dimensional human beings and that actually invest in them and their futures without expecting workers to sacrifice everything”). But, alas. People got mad online. Within a few hours, my comments section went from about a dozen or so people having a productive back and forth to a veritable disaster. Around 450 comments in, I turned off the discussion (this was around the time somebody commented on the post with the display name “Guy above sure is a Moron”).

I’m not usually one to linger on the angry parts of the comments section, but I think the rage expressed in some of these responses is instructive — if only to truly understand the extent of the callousness currently baked into American work culture.

  1. How Tucker Carlson Lost It by Alex Shephard in The New Republic on 9/16/21

Carlson has aggressively focused on culture war stories that seemed smaller than much of what else was on the news, particularly during the Trump years: Immigrants were littering a lot, private schools were teaching wokeness, the metric system was a conspiracy theory. He has focused extensively on minor journalism faux-controversies—he loves to mock female journalists for complaining about online harassment in segments that, of course, result in waves of online harassment—but also on weird animal stories: raccoons that act like zombies, pandas having aggressive sex. While Fox News tightly focused on following Donald Trump anywhere he went, Carlson pursued stories that only he covered.

Nothing exemplifies Carlson’s shtick quite like his repeated questioning of the purpose and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine. For Carlson, the vaccine is a potent metaphor for the creeping hegemony of Democratic elites. “Democrats believe vaccines are the answer to everything. ‘Shh. Don’t ask questions. Just take the shot,’” he told viewers late last year. At the same time, it is also an example of how elites police discourse to hold on to power. “From the moment that coronavirus vaccine arrived, the most powerful people in America worked to make certain that no one could criticize it,” he said in February. In July, Carlson compared vaccine passports to Jim Crow.

Above all, Carlson portrays bad faith attacks as good faith inquiries, simple questions that should be answered by the powers that be. “Don’t dismiss those questions from anti-vaxxers,” Carlson said in March. “Don’t kick people off social media for asking them. Answer the questions.” And: “It turns out there are things we don’t know about the effects of this vaccine—and all vaccines, by the way. It’s always a trade-off.” Carlson is raising concerns with little basis in fact under the guise of asking legitimate questions. The answers to these inquiries exist. Carlson simply pretends they don’t. The result is a mendacious muddle, in which only one conclusion can be drawn: The elites are hiding something—likely something very sinister—from everyone else. Only Carlson has the courage to state plainly what’s under everyone’s nose.

  1. The California Recall and Antivax Republicans by Nicholas Grossman in Arc Digital on 9/17/21

Millions of Republicans are vaccinated, and the unvaccinated population includes many non-Republicans. For example, there’s an “all-natural” version of antivax sentiment popular in some “wellness” communities (including in blue areas of California). Millions of Americans don’t vote or pay attention to politics, so any opposition to vaccines from that subpopulation is unrelated to partisan identity.

But the evidence from California indicates that, for a variety of reasons, being Republican makes an American more likely to oppose to COVID-mitigating measures, and therefore more likely to face waves of the virus months after vaccines became easily available to everyone over 12 years old.

These shots are, by far, the best way to reduce the risk of COVID, and masking also helps reduce spread. Politicized Republican opposition to those measures is unnecessarily prolonging the pandemic.


  1. Mike Benner (@benner)

  1. Hussein Kesvani (@HKesvani)

  1. Don Moynihan (@donmoyn)

  1. Ben Casselman (@bencasselman)

  1. Rax King (@RaxKingIsDead)


  1. Biden Administration Calls for Overhaul of “Unworkable” Child Care System (CBS)

  1. How the Chip Shortage is Forcing Auto Makers to Adapt (The Wall Street Journal)

  1. Is America in Decline? (The Economist)

  1. Life Under Taliban Rule One Month On (BBC)

  1. From Aunt Jemima to AI, How Racism Lingers in Design (Bloomberg Quicktake)