Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. Photo: Allan Amato
Show Hide image

Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer to guest-edit the New Statesman

The theme of the issue, due out on 28 May, will be "saying the unsayable". 

Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman will guest edit an issue of the New Statesman on 28 May, with the theme of “saying the unsayable”.

The guest-edit will be accompanied by an event at the Hackney Empire, which has already sold out.

Palmer is a ground-breaking musician and the author of the bestselling book The Art of Asking, which began as a TED talk which has received 6.8 million views. She discussed some of the issues raised - about the evolving relationship between artists and their fans - in this New Statesman piece from 2013.

Gaiman is an award-winning writer of novels, short stories, comics and television; his books Coraline and Stardust have been turned into films, and he has written two acclaimed episodes of Doctor Who. In 2013, he was interviewed by Laurie Penny for the New Statesman, which you can read here

The issue will address the ideas of censorship, taboos, offence and free speech, and contributors include Art Spiegelman, Michael Sheen, Kazuo Ishiguro and Stoya. 

Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman, said: “Together and separately, Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman are two of the most talented, innovative and unpredictable artists in our culture. In the wake of the debates around Charlie Hebdo, 'call-out culture' and hate speech online, and with so many governments around the world repressing their citizens' ability to speak freely, this issue is incredibly timely.” 

Amanda Palmer said: “As a long-time devourer and admirer of the New Statesman, it’s thrilling to be able to curate an issue like this. We’re aiming to make it read like the footnotes to a great dinner party with an eclectic bunch of friends - where politics collide with art and economics collide with human feelings. I hope the New Statesman folks don’t regret giving over the wheel of their respectable vehicle to the artists, as we tend to drive off-road . . . but hopefully we’ll at least crash somewhere interesting. Neil and I have been working together (sometimes side-by-side, sometimes on opposite sides of the planet) to make this a real reflection of who we believe, who we trust, who we’d want over for wine at our place to discuss the state of things.”

Neil Gaiman said: “I persuaded my slightly baffled parents to get me my first subscription to the New Statesman when I was 12. I was willing to put up with the political writing, and the people who wanted to change the world* because I loved reading the competition results in the back: I liked watching people playing with literature. And I liked the points of view. I still love the New Statesman, although I'm slightly more interested in the political writing these days than I was when I was 12.

“Guest editing an issue with Amanda Palmer has been a delightful, strange, occasionally frustrating, never boring process. We have agreed and we have argued and we have carved out our respective territories. Fortunately our interests overlap, along with our desire to curate a conversation about the things people do and do not talk about, the things we can and can't say, the culture of offence vs. the notion of free speech... and then there's rock, literature, refugees and so many other things. We have as many points of view as we have contributors (and a motley and glorious bunch of contributors they are). ” 

Previous guest editors have included Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury; comedian Russell Brand, whose essay on why he was not voting went viral and led to his appearance on Newsnight; Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei; Jemima Khan, who sent Hugh Grant undercover to investigate phone hacking; and Grayson Perry, who coined the influential term “Default Man”.

The issue will go on sale on Thursday, 28 May, and will also be available on iPad and Kindle. You can pre-order a single-issue by emailing sbrasher @ newstatesman co uk

 

 

*a good thing. 

 

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

Getty
Show Hide image

Why are we surprised to see Jenny Slate at the movies with Jon Hamm?

 It’s like your best friend just turned around and told you she’s dating Jon Hamm.

An announcement: two human people have been pictured at the movies together. Those two people are known attractive persons Jenny Slate and Jon Hamm. There’s no word yet on what they actually went to see, whether popcorn was or was not consumed, or if either went for a mixed fountain drink.

But the internet was very interested regardless. The news comes after Slate’s high-profile break-up with another Hollywood actor generally considered to be A Hunk™: Chris Evans (aka Captain America). Speculation about whether the two are now dating was rife. New York Magazine’s The Cut sold their coverage of the pictures with the line, “Jon Hamm and Jenny Slate, who are both attractive and currently single, went to the movies together”, noting that “In February, eternally delightful person Jenny Slate broke up with your crush, Chris Evans. And now, she’s been pictured at the movies with your other crush, Jon Hamm.”

Elle went for the headline, “Jenny Slate Is Unequivocally Winning The Hollywood Dating Game Right Now”, while Buzzfeed opted for “Jenny Slate Might Be Dating Jon Hamm And Her Life Really Is A Dream Come True”. Twitter posts called Slate “an icon”, or posited, “if Jenny Slate is dating Jon Hamm right after breaking up with Chris Evans she is truly the most powerful heterosexual in the world”.

Always the tone of surprise. The implication of all these pieces is that Slate is, if not exactly batting above her average, something of a non-traditional choice for Hamm and Evans. Slate is not a 6 foot blonde supermodel, but she is an extremely successful and beautiful Hollywood actress who has also proved herself to be funny, charming, intelligent, emotionally self-aware and generally seems like really good fun. So what’s the issue?

Many of Slate’s fans noticed the backhanded elements to these compliments. “Jenny Slate is way hotter than Jon Hamm,” one Twitter user wrote. “Stop acting like she won the lottery.” Another wrote, “First Chris Evans, now Jon Hamm: neither of those men deserve Jenny Slate and her perfection.” One added, “Full disclosure, I would also like to throw my hat in the ring and try to date Jenny Slate if that is a possibility?”

In a widely-read interview with Vulture, Slate addressed the surprise that greeted her relationship with Chris Evans – including her own.

To be quite honest, I didn’t think I was his type,” she says. (Evans has dated Jessica Biel and Minka Kelly). “Eventually, when it was like, Oh, you have these feelings for me?, I was looking around like, Is this a prank? I mean, I understand why I think I’m beautiful, but if you’ve had a certain lifestyle and I’m a very, very different type of person — I don’t want to be an experiment.” Evans never made her feel that way, but it was hard to get past how so many people seemed to feel some ownership of him and view her as an interloper. “If you are a woman who really cares about her freedom, her rights, her sense of being an individual, it is confusing to go out with one of the most objectified people in the entire world,” she says. Especially when she’s aware that in Hollywood, she says, “I’m considered some sort of alternative option, even though I know I’m a majorly vibrant sexual being.”

Although she is a conventionally attractive, very successful actress, Slate knows she is “considered some sort of alternative option” when put next to stars like Jessica Biel.

But is there something else going on? 35-year-old Slate has enormous popularity amongst 20 and 30-something women, both thanks to her warm and funny performances in Obvious Child, Girls, and Parks and Recreation, and her generally warm and funny persona. Just look at this selection of tweets, which, with their blend of feminism, humour, self-deprecation and encouragement, are obviously written by the funnier, wiser older sister you never had:

And that Vulture piece is a rare thing in celebrity profiles – a genuinely candid and exposed interview. She talks openly about her feelings for Evan, the difficulties of meeting him at the same time as her divorce was going through, her lack of “prudence” in dating again so quickly. She even compares herself to ornamental mice:

Slate introduces me to the mascots of her new home, two cute mice figurines in jaunty outfits who look like they’re off to travel the world. “The way I feel now is I’ve stepped out of the woods and I’m a forest animal and I’m standing on the lawn,” she says. “And if anybody tried to approach me right now, they’re seeing a creature that’s just trying to figure out what the lawn is like. All I’m thinking about is the lawn. I’m not thinking about whether or not they are going to be a fun person to be on the lawn with, because I am just trying to be on the lawn.” And what or where is this lawn? “It’s just where I am,” she says. “I like the lawn. It’s filled with air, freedom, sunlight, and I’m alone.”

Part of the reason people feel so surprised by, and so invested in, Slate’s love life, and her closeness to society’s paragons of male attractiveness, is because they see themselves in her. Slate is generous enough to be open and vulnerable in a very public way, and that makes her simultaneously relatable and aspirational. It’s like your best friend just turned around and told you she’s dating Jon Hamm. You love your best friend. You think anyone would be lucky to date her. You’ve always thought she is radiant and beautiful and special. But you’re still shocked and excited to learn she’s dating Jon fucking Hamm.

The delight onlookers feel in glimpsing Slate’s love life in tabloids might be creepy, or misplaced, or even vaguely patronising. But, to me, it doesn’t seem malicious or insulting. Because who wouldn’t want to be Jenny Slate?

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.

0800 7318496