In 1962, a middle-aged cookbook author named Julia Child made an impromptu omelet on educational television. On the program “I’ve Been Reading” to discuss her new book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, she commanded a hot plate and whisked up lunch for the tweed-clad academic host.
Fifteen years ago, I was in my final semester as a graduate student at the Columbia University School of Journalism, preparing to begin a fellowship program at NPR headquarters in Washington, DC. Instead of an encouraging send-off, however, the school’s lead radio professor—himself an alumnus of the network—told me my fellowship was nothing more than a corporate diversity scheme, adding that “diversity hires” were recruited through such programs to increase visibility but that they ultimately failed because those fellows were so underqualified for such roles.
When I was growing up in Pakistan in the 1980s, the combination of cultural censorship by the Islamic Republic and the ban on foreign imports stunted any prospects for global cinephile development. With cinemas shuttered, VHS bootlegging thrived but was largely focused on Bollywood’s tackiest melodramas. During any rare evening broadcast of an English-language film on state television, scenes deemed “non-halal” would abruptly transition into large pixelated forms instead of being spliced out altogether.