CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER

The Slaves of La La Land—and South Los Angeles

What the Lilting Musical and an Acclaimed Satire Reveal About California’s Dark Heart

Damien Chazelle, director of La La Land, at the 28th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala on Jan. 2, 2017, in Palm Springs, Calif. Photo by Chris Pizzello/Associated Press.

The brilliant new film musical La La Land is being celebrated as a love letter to Los Angeles. But the darker heart of the movie lies in a brief and devastating critique of Southern California, delivered by the jazz pianist played by Ryan Gosling.

“That’s L.A.,” he tells his lover, an aspiring actress played by Emma Stone. “They worship everything and they value nothing.”

There has been no better recent summary of the California struggle—with the very notable exception of the 2015 novel, The Sellout, whose author Paul Beatty recently became the …

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