Speaking of Britney Spears, What About the Others?: The Week in Narrated Articles

Five articles from around The Times, narrated just for you.

Speaking of Britney Spears, What About the Others?: The Week in Narrated Articles 1
Credit…Illustration by The New York Times; Texture Fabrik (torn paper)
March 12, 2021

Take out your headphones and put down your phone. Now you can listen to New York Times journalism narrated by the reporters who wrote the story, or by world-class narrators.

This week: Jessica Bennett looks at the current re-examination of how famous young women were treated in the 1990s and early aughts; Maya Phillips on how the film “Judas and the Black Messiah” misses an opportunity to connect to current politics; Sabrina Tavernise recounts the story of two police officers who attended a Black Lives Matter rally then went on to storm the Capitol; Ginia Bellafante explores why people overlooked the warning signs of Woody Allen’s “Manhattan”; and Erin Griffith’s piece on how Silicon Valley’s newly rich are spending their money in a pandemic.

Listen to The Article

Reappraisals have become common in recent years in light of #MeToo and the reckoning on racial justice — art, music, monuments and characters have all had their cultural significance re-examined and analyzed against modern sensibilities.

But this current wave — which includes not only Britney Spears, but also Janet Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, Brandy, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Whitney Houston, Monica Lewinsky and many more — revolves not just around individuals so much as the machine that produced them.

Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) onstage, and Bill O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield), an F.B.I. informant, in beret. Was O’Neal actually a supporter of the Black Panthers?
Credit…Glen Wilson/Warner Bros.

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“Judas and the Black Messiah,” a film about the Black Panther Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), opens with a question: How does Bill O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield), an F.B.I. informant who embedded himself within Mr. Hampton’s inner circle, account for his actions? It’s a question that the film examines, but does not answer, hindering its ability to connect to current politics.

In her narrated piece, Maya Phillips draws comparisons with another recent biographical film, 2018’s “BlacKkKlansman.”

Written and narrated by Sabrina Tavernise

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Last summer, two police officers from rural Franklin County, Virginia, attended a Black Lives Matter protest. They were friendly participants, dancing with activists, holding their signs and posing for pictures. This year, on Jan. 6, they stormed the Capitol.

Credit…United Artists, via Photofest

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Between the years of 1979, when Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” was released, and 1984, Ginia Bellafante, the writer of this narrated article, watched the film 11 times — after which she stopped keeping count.

Here she re-examines how and why she, as a teenager, and seemingly an entire cultural class, gave the film — which is essentially about a middle-aged man who beds a 17-year-old girl — a pass.

Written and narrated by Erin Griffith

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During the pandemic, Silicon Valley’s newly rich are eschewing blowout parties and round-the-world travel. Instead the vibe is cautious. “It’s a weird time to get rich,” says Erin Griffith in her narrated story. Here’s how they are adapting.

The Times’s narrated articles are made by Parin Behrooz, Carson Leigh Brown, Anna Diamond, Aaron Esposito, Elena Hecht, Emma Kehlbeck, Marion Lozano, Anna Martin, Tracy Mumford, Tanya Perez, Margaret Willison, Kate Winslett and John Woo. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Ryan Wegner, Julia Simon and Desiree Ibekwe.