Why Americans Love a Dance Challenge

From the Early 20th-Century Grizzly Bear to Lizzo’s Latest, Social Dancing Has Always Been Silly and Subversive

In what already feels like a different year—but was really just a few weeks ago—Reese Witherspoon, Selena Gomez, and just about every single person on the internet was posting a video of themselves trying to do the Lizzo “About Damn Time” dance, first credited to TikTok personality Jaeden Gomez.

Lizzo has a lightning-in-the-bottle talent for capturing catharsis in a song, and the moves to this early summer anthem—clap your hands three times to the words “About! Damn! Time!”—are pure fun, even if you’re bungling the choreo, or for that matter, the …

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tktk | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Elvis Is an American Tragedy. Elvis Is Just Tragic

The Singer's Story Has a Lot to Say About This ‘Pitiful Country’—But Baz Luhrmann's Biopic Ain’t Nothin’ But a Dog

There’s much to be said about Elvis Presley, the quote-unquote King of Rock ‘n’ Roll who shook the country as a white kid singing Black America’s music.

But despite its nearly …

The Buffet Is Dead. Long Live the Buffet!

The Swedes Have the Smorgasbord; Americans, Vegas and Sizzler. Can All-You-Can-Eat Return Responsibly?

Growing up, few things loomed quite as large as a trip to the buffet. I say the buffet because the chafing dishes all blur together—part and parcel of one great, …

You’re No Trickster, Elon Musk | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

You’re No Trickster, Elon Musk

The Real ‘Agent of Chaos’ Does More Than Disrupt the Status Quo

The term “agent of chaos” has been rattling around in the back of my brain since a billionaire announced his intention to acquire a “sporadically profitable social company,” to quote …

Why Do We Love ‘Choose-Your-Own-Adventure’ Stories?

From the I Ching to an Upcoming Netflix Romcom, Interactive Fiction Dares Us to Decide What Happens Next

The new Netflix original horror movie Choose or Die turns on an interactive computer game called “CURS>R,” which resembles a classic ’80s adventure program in which a user inputs text …

importance-earnest | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Importance of Watching Other People Being Earnest

From Abbott Elementary to TikTok, Pop Culture Is Having a Rosy Moment with Victorian Roots

There’s an old adage that goes something like, “Be always sincere but never earnest.” The idea being that while sincerity engenders honesty, earnestness is hampered by its strength of conviction.

Maybe …