Class of 2020, I’m not going to waste your time with a lot of platitudes. This is a weird time to be graduating—downright dystopian, some would argue. The future you face is uncertain well beyond the usual fears about the pressures of college, unstable job markets, and adulthood’s rapid encroachment. On top of that, most of you aren’t even getting an actual ceremony this year. Instead, this once-in-a-lifetime moment is being commemorated with diplomas handed off like curbside takeout, and cap-and-gown photos awkwardly staged on your parents’ lawn. It’s all a bit alien, a little anticlimactic, kind of depressing. I can only offer you these two bits of consolation: First, you’re part of a generation that will always have this uniquely tragicomic story to whip out at dinner parties, should we ever be allowed to have those again. And also, this year’s commencement speaker will be Beyoncé.
The Houston-born megastar has been confirmed to take part in YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” graduation event on June 6 at 2 p.m. Central, when she’ll be offering her uniquely Beyoncé-d words of inspiration alongside other luminaries including Barack and Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Janelle Monáe, Taylor Swift, Bill and Melinda Gates, and fellow Texan celebrities Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, and Kelly Rowland. Granted, like everything else nowadays, this is all happening virtually, livestreamed via the YouTube app to millions of your fellow graduates stuck at home. Nevertheless, I can assure you that even a virtual Beyoncé beats the hell out of my commencement speaker, which I think was some local car dealer and who definitely trotted out some hoary old Robert Frost. Even if you just spent graduation watching the “Run rhe World (Girls)” video, it would be more memorable than that.
ATX Television Festival Announces Its Virtual Lineup
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Another advantage that virtual graduation has over a real one: if you get bored, you can always just switch over and watch something else. You could even watch the entire ATX Television Festival, which this year has rebounded from its own COVID-19-related cancellation by moving its programming online. ATX TV… From the Couch! will stream June 5–7, and recent weeks have brought a raft of new programming from HBO: a sneak preview of the network’s Perry Mason reboot; a first look at the true-crime docuseries I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, about the late author Michelle McNamara’s investigation into the Golden State Killer; and the debut of Michaela Coel’s new series, I May Destroy You. The festival also includes panel conversations with the casts and creators of shows like Justified, Scrubs, Cougar Town, One Day at a Time, New Amsterdam, Little Fires Everywhere, Search Party, A Black Lady Sketch Show, Chicago Fire, and many more—and it’s all available to watch free via the fest’s official YouTube channel, no fees or badges required.
Friends Is Texans’ Most-Watched Show During Quarantine
Tuning into the ATX festival would mean you’d have to stop watching Friends reruns—which, according to a new study, may prove difficult for many of us. CableTV.com recently conducted a survey to determine which show each state has been turning to most often during the coronavirus pandemic, and it seems Friends won handily, with residents in eleven states streaming the quintessential nineties sitcom for comfort. Some other states went with their own homegrown shows—Breaking Bad in New Mexico, Chicago P.D. in Illinois—possibly as a sentimental reminder of the world waiting just outside their walls. But here in Texas, where social distancing guidelines have been comparatively lax, there’s perhaps less need to watch Friday Night Lights again, and a much greater need for escapist fantasy that’s as far removed as possible from our everyday existence, like the romantic foibles of twentysomethings in New York.
Ted Cruz Demands China Stop Messing With Our Movies
Even our lawmakers have been using this downtime to revisit old pop culture favorites—and if they’re Senator Ted Cruz, wield them as a cudgel against China. Last month, Cruz proposed cutting off Department of Defense cooperation with any Hollywood filmmaker who edits films to appease Chinese censors, a proposal that stemmed from Cruz’s outrage over the apparent digital scrubbing of Taiwanese and Japanese flags from Tom Cruise’s Top Gun jacket. Last week, Cruz expanded his crusade with a new bill that would deny those studios any assistance from any part of the federal government, and he introduced it on the Senate floor with a bizarre speech that name-checked Skyfall, Pixels, and Red Dawn. Whatever comes of his proposal, it’s probably all been worth it to hear Ted Cruz, in his solemn pastor’s cadence, grousing on the congressional record about how “The Ancient One” was changed from the Doctor Strange comic book, and lamenting, “In Bohemian Rhapsody, the Chinese Communist Party edited out references to the fact that Freddie Mercury was gay.”
Breaking: Post Malone Cut His Mullet
Arguably, no one has made quarantine boredom work for them quite like Grapevine’s Post Malone, who’s spent lockdown hosting charity beer-pong tournaments, covering old Nirvana songs, rolling out his own wine, and otherwise (and much like his music) turning his self-indulgences into semi-art. But sometimes he does something just for him, and this week that meant cutting his own hair. Denied access to barbershops and salons, plenty of people have turned to trimming their own bangs, and that includes enough celebrities that they made a whole TV special out of it. But Malone generated actual (multiple) headlines just for hacking off his mullet, ostensibly to appease his mom.
Not nearly so controversial as that time Malone said goodbye to his braids and man buns, this haircut has been received mostly positively—at least, judging by the hundreds of heart-eyed emojis in his Instagram comments. Welcome to 2020, graduates! You can’t walk the stage, you don’t know when you’ll see your friends again, and you may not even be able to start college in the fall, but at least we can all come together to talk about Post Malone’s mullet.
THIS WEEK IN MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY
Arguably, Matthew McConaughey has become a greater force for good while stuck at home than most of us are on the streets. But this week he was back to dominating the outside world as well, personally delivering 110,000 face masks to Texas hospital workers with his wife, Camila. The masks were donated by Lincoln and packed to the brim of McConaughey’s truck, which he then drove to “rural hospitals in need” while we were all home watching Friends.
But McConaughey was also back where we’ve come to depend on him most—social media—by posting another “McConaughey Takes,” this time on the 2012 drama Mud. Somewhat surprisingly, the actor called Mud “my favorite film I’ve ever done,” explaining that it was the kind of movie his late father would have wanted to watch with him when McConaughey was a boy. He also related it to his own, treehouse-filled upbringing in East Texas, which he called the beginning of his ability “to dream.” Speaking of dreaming, this week McConaughey also hooked up with Austin restaurateur Aaron Franklin, of Loro and Franklin Barbecue, to collaborate on designing a burger for Uber Eats’ Burger Showdown. Somewhat unsurprisingly, McConaughey gave his full-throated endorsement to cheese, bacon, and jalapeños, while airing his grievances with nearly all other vegetables. You can order the end result of Franklin and McConaughey’s brainstorm, the “And…” burger—and you’ll have to watch the video to get the full explanation behind that name—through Uber Eats wherever available, with a portion of proceeds going to coronavirus relief. We’re just guessing, but the And… is bound to be a much better burger than whatever Paris Hilton comes up with.
Finally, if even the promise of a Beyoncé-enhancéd ceremony still leaves all you 2020 graduates wanting, consider capping off your youth with a Matthew McConaughey monologue instead. The man who can induce a coming of age with just a few perfectly drawled profound truths has recorded his own commencement speech for this year’s graduates—a proud group of “originals,” as he points out, who are the first (and hopefully last) class to be entering the adult world during a pandemic. McConaughey also congratulates all you youngsters for ushering in the exciting phase of “experiential” learning, when you really figure out who and what you want to be—something even McConaughey says he’s still going through. “I’m fifty! I have many days where I’m still not quite sure what I want to be! But I work on it, stay the process, and try to enjoy it as much as I can,” he says. Hopefully his words will inspire you, too, to work on becoming Matthew McConaughey.